Book Blog: Webcomics—all the creativity, none of the expenses

Comics are a fantastic type of media, melding beautiful art, compelling stories and characters together. However, if you’re not that familiar with the genre, it can be intimidating to shell out a lot of money for multiple volumes or issues.

That’s where webcomics come in.

Over the past two decades, the internet has allowed cartoonists, artists, and writers to experiment and create their own stories rather than waiting to be discovered by a big publisher. There’s amazing stories being told in webcomics, both new and longstanding.

Here’s some of my favourite webcomic reads that explore speculative fiction, from steampunk to superheroes, from robots to fairytale retellings.

Girl Genius by Phil and Kaja Foglio

Europa was in chaos after “sparks”, mad scientists with a perchant for odd and dangerous inventions, turned the industrial revolution into a full-fledged war. Baron Klaus Wulfenbach put an end to that though, and has been ruling with an iron fist for 18 years. Agatha Clay is a nobody, unable to properly create an invention that works. Her world gets turned upside down when the Baron comes to town and she suddenly finds herself a political prisoner after an attack. But as Agatha’s normal life is shattered, she learns that her family and history aren’t as they always seemed. In a world ruled by mad science, and full of adventure and romance, with clockwork squid roaming the sewers of Paris, airship castles, love triangles and political uprising, Girl Genius has it all.

Girl Genius is a long-running webcomic that began in 2001. It is also published in print by Airship Entertainment. It has won and been nominated for numerous Hugo Awards, which are awarded to the best works in science-fiction and fantasy. This is one of my favourite webcomics of all time, and one I’ve been reading it for about 10 years now. The art is beautiful with Phil Foglio’s distinctive style, with bright and noticeable colours. The story is action packed with tons of foreshadowing and intrigue—which is pretty impressive for a comic that’s been ongoing for 15 years.

Girl Genius updates three times a week, on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

Namesake by Megan Lavey-Heaton and Isabelle Melançon

After a fire at the public library, Emma Crewe finds herself lost, literally, as she’s magically transported to the Land of Oz. There she discovers she’s a Namesake, someone with the power to open portals to another world. The problem is Emma’s name isn’t Dorothy, and she’s now expected to become the latest in a long line of Dorothies and save Oz. With a host of characters from a variety of fairytales, Emma and her sister Elaine find themselves caught up in a magical conspiracy as they struggle to find their way home.

Namesake has been ongoing since 2010, and can also be bought in print by Fairylogue Press. I’ve only recently discovered Namesake this past year, and it’s already fast become one of my favourites. It’s a beautiful comic with gorgeous and distinctive art and an impressive attention to detail. Lavey-Heaton and Melançon have done an exceptional job at weaving together multiple fairytales and children’s books and creating a completely new and unique story out of them.

Namesake updates three times a week, on Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday.

Strong Female Protagonist by Brennan Lee Mulligan and Molly Ostertag

Strong Female Protagonist (SFP) is a superhero comic that follows the life of Alison Green, a former superhero who has left it all behind to go to college. Only leaving the past behind isn’t as easy as taking off her mask. SFP is one of the most realistic superhero comics I’ve ever read, focusing on issues of power, the definitions of good and evil, friendship, and love as Alison tries so hard to find herself and her place in the world.

I love this comic for how complicated and realistic it is. Not a single character is perfect or has all the answers—something Alison constantly struggles with as she tries to make a difference in the world now that she’s no longer a superhero. Mulligan and Ostertag do an amazing job in making SFP reflect our world and current issues.

Strong Female Protagonist is updated twice weekly, on Tuesdays and Fridays.

O Human Star by Blue Delliquanti

Alastair Sterling’s work started the robot revolution, but unfortunately he didn’t live to see it. Until he wakes up 16 years later in a robot body that perfectly matches when he was alive. As Alastair struggles to navigate a world completely unlike the one he left behind, he must track down his old partner Brendan in hope of figuring out who is responsible for his resurrection. But, that only raises more questions.

O Human Star has been ongoing since 2012. This comic is a wonderful look at the changing relationships between people and technology. The narrative weaves between the present as Alastair and Brendan try to figure out why this happened, and the past, exploring their relationship and what lead up to Alastair’s death. With adorable robots, and questions about ethics and technology, O Human Star is a great read that will draw you right in.

O Human Star updates once a week on Monday, but is currently on hiatus until December 5 due to the kickstarter for the publication of Volume 2.