I’m doing yet another link dump like post. Sorry about that. I will get these out of my system soon. In the meantime they allow me to knock out a few quick posts in a rather short amount of time with quite narrow topic constraints which prevent me from rambling – like I’m doing now for example. I catch up with the backlog, you get something to click on and everyone wins. I’ll have something more characteristically verbose tomorrow.
Today I wanted to talk about webcomics. There are millions of them out there, and they all pretty much suck. Among all the garbage however there are few gems that consistently deliver high quality humor. I picked out couple of my favorites to share with you here
XKCD proves that you do not really have to draw well to produce a very popular comic. It uses stick figure drawings, but what it lacks in artistic polish, it more than makes up in content. XKCD is consistently brilliant, hilarious and thought provoking. It delivers a very high brow humor and it’s common themes are science jokes, unix gags and geek culture. The name itself is a meaningless acronym which Randall Munroe then assigned to a very large number you get after calling the Ackerman Function with Graham’s Number as both arguments. This should probably give you an idea which kind of humor you can find here. My favorite is probably this joke – I actually own a t-shirt with it.
My second favorite after XKCD. It serves a very similar brand of geeky, high brow humor but can be edgier. It sometimes ventures into philosophy, theology or sheer absurdity. It consistently delivers a concentrated dose of smart, academic comedy.
Probably the only comic I follow which actually had an ongoing story arc. As opposed to the two titles listed above, Dresden Codak has a stunning graphical style. It also tends to be wordy at times, but it will captivate you. It is funny, smart and thought provoking. Here are some of my favorite stand-alone panels that do not belong to the story arc – they should give you an idea about the sheer brilliance of this title: Dungeons and Discourse, Traversing the Luminous Aether, Summer Dream Job and of course Being a Zebra. Also, the “Hob” story arc deals with time travel, and singularity which is win. Aaron Diaz – the creator of this comic also invented the Pretend to be a Time Traveler Day.
I don’t know how Nicholas Gurewitch does it, but he has consistently been able to condense weapons grade humor into small 3-4 panel strips with striking, intelligent and often disturbing punchlines. One of my favorites is Bee. Unfortunately the updates seem to be slow lately.
This is pretty much a mandatory reading for anyone who is or ever was in grad school. At one point I was convinced that Jorge Cham has a hidden cam somewhere in the lab where I toiled on my thesis. This guy knows academia idiosyncrasies inside out and he is not afraid to lambaste them with full force. The comic does have a cast of recurring characters and a slowly moving meta-story which is fortunately secondary to the jokes.
Yet another great 3-4 panel comic with random gags which range from high brow, to toilet humor and shock punchlines. Most panels are well thought out, and jokes tend to be on the smart side. Consistently funny.
A comic inspired by the excellent DM of the Rings and it revolves around the same concept. It takes screen shots from the Star Wars movies and adds funny dialogue. The premise is that the whole thing is a RPG game – what we see in the shots is what the imagined world the Game Master describes to the players. The characters themselves are played by regular people, who often speak out of character, quote Monty Python and make fun of the huge plot holes in the story. They started with Panthom Menace footage, now they are doing Attack of the Clones. The plan is to do all 6 films so they have lot’s of material to work with.
Honestly, this comic is actually the first good thing that came out of the Star Wars prequels.
This comic deserves a honorable mention because it was made by Shamus Young who also made DM of the Rings. This time he uses screen captures from video games. You have to love it, because Shamus is one of the few people who has the guts, the wits and the audience to ruthlessly critique video game industry time and time again for their idiotic DRM policies. You should also check out his blog if you are not reading it yet.
That’s all I have for today. Now it’s your turn. What is your favorite webcomic? Please post links to the stuff you like in the comments. Just keep in mind that my spam filter gets angry and will yell at you if you post multiple URL’s in the comment field. A single link should be fine though. I’m just letting you know – if you are running into trouble, just mention the comic using the title or a set of keywords we could google to find it.