Written by Sam Allen
Peanuts. Garfield. Family Circus. All of these cherished strips are regulars amongst the nation’s funny papers. Most of us have read one, if not all, and while we cherish the life lessons learned from Snoopy, it’s likely that us fancy-pants college students might not read these as regularly as we once did. I mean, with textbook prices the way they are, who can afford a newspaper anyway?
That’s where the Internet comes in to save the day. Besides giving us the opportunity to watch David Blaine transform orange soda into Cheez-Its, the glorious World Wide Web offers up a plethora of deliciously entertaining comics.
It must be said, though, that enthusiasts of serious, socially challenging graphic novels might fare better at their local Borders. For the rest of us that are just looking for a chuckle during our work-study hours, paradise and abundance await.
Web comics, like crappy metal bands on MySpace, are dime-a-dozen—there are thousands of different strips. For the patient and the dedicated (or the readers of this article), there exist choice gems out there. But, due to space constraints, I can only list what I feel are the best.
One strip that might be a good introduction to the wild, wacky world of web comics is Qwantz, also known as Dinosaur Comics. The title pretty much explains the premise: It’s about a T-Rex and his two dinosaur friends and their trip through this amazing Dark Age we call life. The comic’s uniqueness lies in its incredibly silly dialogue. That’s really the only way to describe it. Author Ryan North only writes fresh dialogue for new strips— the actual artwork of the strip has remained exactly the same for the three years of the comic’s life. All in all, Qwantz is a very delightfully random strip, and it’s updated every almost day, to boot. It can be found at www.qwantz.com.
Web comics, though now in rampant abundance, were not always as plentiful as they are today. One strip that was important in bringing popularity and attention the medium is the famously sardonic Penny Arcade. Written by Jerry Holkins and illustrated by Mike Krahulik, the strip concerns the lives of two game fanatics known as Tycho and Gabe, each of which is an alter ego for Holkins and Krahulik, respectively. The strip’s humor is spot-on and incendiary, and often profanity-laced. While it appeals largely to video game geeks like myself, there still might be a strip or two that makes you silently giggle. PA is of the web’s most popular comics, netting several thousand visits daily. Its initial and continuing popularity eventually led to an increased interest in the web comic genre.
In every art form there exists a widely held masterpiece, be it “OK Computer” (a seminal album by a seminal band) or “Pootie Tang” (a masterpiece of cinema that has no rivals).
For web comics, there is no more highly regarded strip than The Perry Bible Fellowship. Nicholas Gurewitch’s brilliant humor is matched only by overwhelming aesthetic sensibilities. The artwork in each strip perfectly complements the writing, whether it’s a pirate down on his luck or Arthurian knights playing whack-a-mole. Undoubtedly, the PBF, though rarely updated, squarely hits the surreal, Bizarro-esque humor nail square on the head.
All in all, if you’re just looking for a quick laugh or for a break from your local comics page, these strips (and a slew of others as well) will surely fit the bill.