What media do you turn to for immersive unwinding? For many people I know, serial TV shows and movies are their chosen forms; for my partner, music is very important.
When I answer this question for myself, I tend to say “books,” whether novels or poetry. But another form that I love but rarely talk about is the narrative webcomic. I know very little about comics in their traditional paper form, especially the expansive superhero universes of Marvel and DC. Probably the series I am most familiar with is Neil Gaiman’s Sandman, which is now two decades old. But I’ve been reading webcomics since university. I’m especially attracted to long-running secondary-world fantasy and vibrant, colorful art.
So I’ve decided to make a list of five webcomics I’ve been enjoying recently! Some of these comics are completed, while others are ongoing; some I’ve been reading for years, others I’ve discovered in the last month.
- Rice Boy: Completed. An ethereal, imaginative quest-fantasy that takes place in an expansive and brightly-colored world called “Overside.” The narrative is highly figurative, and moves almost by dream-logic. The artist, Evan Dahm, has subsequently set two more long webcomics in this world: one completed, one ongoing.
- Gunnerkrigg Court: Ongoing. An epic, myth-heavy spin on the magic boarding-school genre set in a steampunkish alternative mid-20th-century Britain. The comic is sprawling but still carefully-plotted, with thoughtful worldbuilding and well-rounded characters whose adolescence proceeds believably.
- Mare Internum: Ongoing. I’ve been following Der-Shing Helmer’s gorgeous secondary-world fantasy The Meek for years. Mare Internum is her newer effort. It follows the first scientists to colonize Mars. It’s intricate hard sci-fi whose characters are researched and written with the same care as its science (Helmer is trained in biology and loves reptiles and it shows). CW for sexual abuse.
- Stand Still, Stay Silent: Ongoing. A post-apocalyptic plague story set in Scandinavia. The artist, Minna Sundberg, is Finnish-Swedish, and one of the most talented landscape artists working in webcomics: her backgrounds, whether industrial or natural, are eerie and breathtaking. This comic also updates three times a week to compensate for the slow (but earned and luxurious) unfolding of its story.
- The Glass Scientists: Ongoing. The Jekyll and Hyde story rewritten as a queer steampunk romance. The artist is a storyboarder by trade, and it shows in the crisp professionalism of her panels. Also everything about it is goddamn adorable.