Webcomics: an underrated form of visual storytelling

Three free and incredibly varied reading recommendations

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Collage of webcomic characters
Webcomics offer stories that will stick with you for a long time. Image: Sara Wong / The Peak, with images courtesy of John Allison, Minna Sundburg, and E.K. Weaver

By: Jacob Mattie, Opinions Editor

Under traditional publishers, writers and illustrators are bound to the decisions of management. This has led to a conservative trend in publishing, restricting comics to what is perceived to be marketable. By contrast, webcomics aren’t faced with such prohibitive publishing costs, and are often free to explore the author’s most creative ideas. While there are many comics that fall flat, others fuse into something incredible — joining humour and horror, or addressing topics from directions that, at first glance, seem contradictory. 

Many of these comics have been updating for close to a decade, and not all of them are finished yet. As a result of their length, the artists’ styles are often refined over time with storylines diversifying. The bulk of a comic is not necessarily represented by its first few pages. Unlike a book, which has a fixed ending, webcomics are like friends you can catch up with at your leisure. Looking to dip your toes into something new to read? I’ve got you covered:  

The Less Than Epic Adventures of TJ and Amal by E. K. Weaver 

CW: sex, nudity, drug use

TJ and Amal is as cute of a love story as you can imagine. If you like watching two men fall for each other over a road trip, then this is the comic to read. This slice-of-life story describes the ups and downs of life, as well as what motivates two strangers to drive across the country together. Friendly and occasionally explicit, the comic is delightfully human — full of the small moments that fill adventures and provide foundations for a relationship you’ll find yourself cheering for. 

Bad Machinery by John Allison 

Bad Machinery follows the adventures of a few plucky British youth as they take on the problems of maturity, civil issues, and the occasional paranormal phenomenon — often all at once. This comic is somewhat reminiscent of Scooby-Doo, except with better characters, plot, and mystery. It’s hard not to feel affection for the cast of eccentric characters, whose banter gives the comic its charm. The comic is characterized by an off-kilter humour and a delightful representation of British pronunciation.

Stand Still. Stay Silent by Minna Sundberg

CW: body horror, plague, blood, illness, firearms, death

The world has been destroyed by a disease that turns mammals into aggressive lumps of flesh. The remaining “known world” consists of the Scandinavian countries, which have barely been able to survive. Stand Still. Stay Silent follows the story of a low-budget team assembled to gather books from the remains of the old world before it is burnt down in the reclamation process. Sundberg has won the Reuben award for best long-form online comic for her work. This comic stands out for its stunning illustrations; full page spreads of ruined cities, landscapes, and pertinent scenes make the comic really shine.