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Wednesday, 06 April 2011


A strip that might be appreciated by those who have been involved with academia is Piled Higher and Deeper (PHD) - http://www.phdcomics.com/comics.php One of my favourites is http://www.phdcomics.com/comics/archive.php?comicid=1387 (particularly now I'm the other side of the red pen!)

..kinda surprised that there is no mention of Sluggy Freelance - it fits perfectly in theme of 20somethings slacking away and having improbable ways of dealing with the world...

Ouch; I've only heard of three of the ones you mentioned, and only regularly read the one (XKCD, of course; anybody who doesn't read XKCD regularly is...possibly doing what's right for them, I guess, but for me his best are some of the funniest things I've ever seen). This is going to cost me a LOT of time!

The one Ctein used in the article is XKCD#386. I know that because I was considering that for my license plate (without the "#"). I also considered 378, which is an extremely esoteric one about the Emacs text editor. (My actual choice ended up being LENSMAN, a reference both to photography and to the Lensman series of science fiction books by Edward E. Smith; if you see the Minnesota plate LENSMAN, say hi!)

I see you left out the best drawn webcomic of the universe: The Abominable Charles Christopher, by Karl Kerschl: http://www.abominable.cc/

There is sort of a slowly moving story, so it's best to start at the beginning, but the best strips tend to be those that stand out on their own, featuring various forest animals.

A few of my favourites:

Goblins - what does adventuring look like from th4e other side? Note that while it does poke some fun with adventure and roleplaying tropes, the story is quite serious once it finds its stride.

The Order Of The Stick, on the other hand, is unabashedly funny. Great if you're the right kind of geek, not so much if you're not.

Mockman makes beautiful adaptations of the dream-like Lovecraft short stories. The Strange High House in the Mist is my favourite so far.

There's going to be tons of other suggestions, but I feel there are two I should mention:

Abstruse Goose, while not as brilliant as xkcd (what is?), is certainly in the same vein. My favourite: here

If you like Questionable Content, my guess is you'll like Something Positive as well (maybe even more).

Just my two cents, and thanks for all the suggestions. My free time hates you ;-)

Thanks for the laughs.

Simply wasting time is never a waste of time....

A book any photography/graphic novel lover should read. 'The Photographer' by Emmanuel Guibert and the late Didier Lefèvre:


I am surprised to see that I already read most of these comics. Though Carol Lay's site looks dangerous; twenty-odd years ago, her "Story Time" was the best thing in the New York papers but I lost track of her work after that.

Since you like Questionable Content, you might also like Octopus Pie (twenty-something Brooklynites coping with life) or Bobwhite (art students in Providence RI coping etc), which are both story-strips.

I keep hoping Alien Loves Predator ("in New York, no one can hear you scream") will start updating again. It was brilliant when it was a gag strip about odd-couple ET roommates, but seems to have broken upon the barren shore of a time-travel storyline. OTOH, it has updated more recently than "Nobody Scores".

Webcomics are one of my favorite ways to waste time, and I've been wasting time with them since about 1996. I'm a huge fan of several of the comics to which Ctein linked (I do so love Wondermark). Two that he didn't mention that I think are particularly excellent are Scenes from a Multiverse, which is full of geeky jokes (and Ctein-friendly politics, FWIW), and Scary Go Round/Bad Machinery, which has the most unique sense of humor on the web.

It's funny what people find funny.

Here's one of my favourite jokes: South Dakota is very windy. South Dakota also has a lot of chicken farms. One day, the winds stopped. All the chickens fell down.

Did you laugh? Thirty years after first hearing it, it still slays me.

OMG I can't believe you missed .....



I'm a bit shocked by how much the webcomics I follow overlap with your suggestions, Ctein.

There was a particular comic I thought was conspicuously absent, but Nick mentioned that one, Scenes From a Multiverse, above and threw in the always delightful Scary Go Round as a bonus.

What -- no W.T.DUCK?
(I admit that I've never heard of most of the others.)

I used to love Footrot Flats, the tales of a streetwise New Zealand sheepdog and his intellectually challenged rugby-mad farmer (and that brief description does no justice at all to how achingly funny it was). My 11 year old daughter loves Calvin and Hobbes, and worryingly appears to believe that the feckless, uncool and grossly over-worked parents in the series bear some near-perfect resemblance to her mother and I.

I'm certainly not going to question Ctein's political leanings, except to say that on principle I support the "sex-positive" philosophy. Particularly in the home environment, and on any day of the week with a "y" in it. :)

There's the often funny, always weird Dr. McNinja.

Second for Basic Instructions. And for those cubicle dwellers amongst us, Dilbert needs no link, it's already on your list. It's funny because it's true. But there's also The K Chronicles, and (very political, but it agrees with my politics, so there) Tom Tomorrow (unfortunately there doesn't seem to be a direct link to the current cartoon).

http://www.harkavagrant.com/ wonderfully witty and literate.

This is one of my favorite. No not an illustrated comic, but an animation:



Some are funny, some don't appeal to me much, but one thing seems to becoming clearer all the time -- the net is another form of television, and television is a mind-wasting blight on the world. The cartoons would be better if they were encountered, from time to time, on paper...and only from time to time.


I read most of these. Also loved Copper, mostly for the visuals, but I don't think he's updating this project much now. (http://www.boltcity.com/copper/)

Do you read Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal? A bit off color with though if you dig Questionable Content it won't be a problem :-) (Beware, just like QC, many of my friends have lost a day when I pointed them at the site. http://www.smbc-comics.com/ . Probably NSFW for many workplaces.)


The B&W sketching on Wondermark has a wow factor. Better than the humor itself. I will heed your warning and not investigate further. I spend enough time on the keyboard passing on my near worthless two cents without finding other reasons to play longer.

Three hours you cost me this morning! I don't know whether to send you an invoice or a check!

Charlie Parker was an early pioneer of web comics and his Argon Zark was a classic in the 90's, complete with little animations, easter eggs, trippy story lines and a psychedelic color scheme that would make any ol' hippie proud.


I'm particular to
As well as the already mentioned Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal. Non-repentant, out there and non-sequitur. Perfect.

Perry Bible Fellowship was good - but seems to have died a quiet death.


There is a very good and almost always hilarious strip called "Bug". Imagine a syndicated press comic, but better in every way: http://www.bugcomic.com/

Also, Rice Boy is ******* amazing.

I'm shocked no one mentioned http://www.diggercomic.com/?p=3 by Ursula Vernon! (Or is it awaiting moderation?)

I have to second The Oatmeal. The lifespan of the male Angler Fish is hysterical.

Drats! And I'd just pared my web comics addiction to just three: "xkcd", "Pibgorn" and "Hark! A Vagrant" by Kate Beaton.

Do check out "Hark! A Vagrant"; it's nerdy, wacky and sweet, hysterically funny, and full of history and arts. You can find it in blog form at http://beatonna.livejournal.com/ or episodically at the URL that Keith Loh posted above.

Well, there goes today... Not to worry, I was planning on wasting most of today anyway. Thanks, Ctein.

Lots of my favorites in your list Ctein.

http://citycyclops.com/ is one of my other favorites.

Good art, black humor, woebegone super heroes, it's terrific.

A couple of others of a more Sci-Fi bent to steal away your life:
Astray and Dresden Codak.

More, more I say.

Gunnerkrigg Court (http://www.gunnerkrigg.com/) is beautiful and keeps me wanting more.

Evil Diva (http://www.evildivacomics.com/) is gorgeously-drawn and frequently touching.

I have a few more in my RSS reader, but those are the cream of the crop.

Ah, what the heck. Cru the Dwarf (http://www.drunkduck.com/Cru_The_DwarF/) frequently leaves me puzzled at its World of Warcraft references (and long delays between updates) but can be quite amusing.

Not quite sure when the "comics,"
as exhibited in the "funny" papers stopped being funny.

The old standbys of Dagwood, Out Our Way,
Pogo, Lil Abner and others died when their creators died or nobody took over the strip. More modern versons such as Peanuts, Calvin & Hobbs, Doonesbury (not available here) For Better or Worse and others were of my younger brother's time ie 1950 and on.

Me, I came along some years prior and comics then put a smile on my face. No more. The new cartoonists are nasty, vicious and very much foreign and eccentric.

What The Duck is not funny rather a commentary on the stupdity of all too
much these days.

Can I assume that everyone has heard of Saladfingers? Both brilliant and disturbing. Just follow Google for an exercise in profound creepiness.

^5! on your choice of comix, Ctein. I was hoping Girl Genius would be there and it was.

REally don't have much to offer, you've mentioned XKCD and Girl Genius. But if you're willing to try something off the wall and experimental, take a gander at Genocide Man. http://www.genocideman.com/

My only other web comic story is this: When I was trying very hard to sell images, I sent an email to Warren Ellis, graphic novelist and self-described "Internet Jesus" and asked if he'd be willing to send some of his readers to look at my stuff on Flickr. He put this up:


My flickr steam was over run that day.

That may have used up all my 15 minutes of fame.

If you like your left-wing political satire visceral as opposed to just wishy-washy liberal, try Steve Bell from across the pond. (Although with a lot of US emphasis due to the "special relationship" thankfully)

(This is the archive)


Martin Rowson in the same publication is even harder, but those are just political cartoons, as opposed to comic strips

cat and girl won me over with this one


if you like space opera, you should already be reading


Dear JC,

I think that's a very astute observation. I regularly find myself reading web comics in lieu of watching commercial TV. Instead of watching a half-hour sitcom or an hour drama, I'm just as likely to catch up on a couple of chapters of Girl Genius or Gunnerkrigg Court.

Now, one person's “mind-wasting blight” is another person's “mind-refreshing relaxation" but that's almost an aside. Fundamentally, I think you're right; that web comics are serving my psyche the same way commercial TV does. It's incidental that for you it's a bug while for me a feature.


Dear Bryce,

I won't say I disagree with you.

I'll go one step further and say you're simply wrong. There are plenty of contemporary newspaper cartoons whose humor is entirely as lighthearted and non-vicious as the cartoonists of old. Rhymes with Orange, 9 Chickweed Lane, Rose is Rose, Frazz, Baldo, Stone Soup, Heart of the City, Curtis, Safe Havens… Those are just ones I can recite off the top of my head; if I went systematically checking through lists, I am sure I could go on and on. Maybe they don't happen to tickle your particular funnybone… But that would be about your taste. Me, even when I was little kid I never thought Little Abner was funny, and I thought Peanuts and Dagwood ran out of humor steam years before their creators died. But that would be about my personal taste. Not a pronouncement about what is funny and what isn't.

Furthermore, the mainstay of the funny pages you remember from your childhood were the serial strips–– Rex Morgan, M.D., Mary Worth, Mark Trail, Dick Tracy, Gasoline Alley, Apartment 3G (one I was seriously addicted to until fairly recently. What can I say?), Flash Gordon, Buck Rogers, a couple of mystery and Western strips whose names I can't remember. And let's not forget the amazing Prince Valiant–– Best artwork ever. I mean EVER. I truly miss the Prince.

And notably few jokes in a carload of'em. The presence of these essentially non-funny funnies is far smaller today on the comics pages than it was in your youth.

pax \ Ctein
[ Please excuse any word-salad. MacSpeech in training! ]
-- Ctein's Online Gallery http://ctein.com 
-- Digital Restorations http://photo-repair.com 

Almost all my favourite comics were either in Ctein's post or in the comments - but here are a few more I feel are very worth mentioning.

One intelligent, thought-provoking (really!), generally way too verbose comic with nice art that hasn't been mentioned: http://www.viruscomix.com/subnormality.html

Single, multi-pane comics, some recurring characters. Absolutely great, if sometimes a little depressing.

Also do check out his "other comix": http://www.viruscomix.com/comics.html (not only, but especially if you're left-of-center)

One other, less inspiring, more financially successful, comic: http://www.schlockmercenary.com/

No deeper meaning here at all, but well done light-hearted light sci-fi. Continuous storyline of three-panel strips.

If brevity is the soul of wit, it's hard to find a better wit that Bob Thaves. His single box Frank & Ernest cartoons are wonderful:


"Rhymes with Orange, 9 Chickweed Lane, Rose is Rose, Frazz, Baldo, Stone Soup, Heart of the City, Curtis, Safe Havens… "
Have never ever seen the mentioned cartoons in the newspapers that I could receive here in Canada. We here are different in many ways. For example we don't identify citizens by their affiliation with a political party. Suspect my lack of funnies (reading and otherwise) is as a result of two things.
First I don't assume/expect to see cartoons on the internet. WTDuck was a surprise and Dilbert is foreign to me in content And moreso perhaps due to continuing chemo treatments find my own
being has changed, not for the better.

What may have given enjoyment in the past, now doesn't and photography is but one, ditto reading and latterly what was the comics as a social commentary.
Suspect as you've noted, my funnybone, of late isn't or doesn't even exist at times.

Still the entire topic could well be the subject of additional commentary.

I'm surprised no one mentioned the excellent asofterworld.com

It is unusual in that it is all photography driven

Dear Bryce,

So sorry to hear that your ills have laid you so very low, psychologically as well as physically.

I've not experienced chemo, but your description of your states leads me to ask: can chemo itself induce clinical depression? The joylessless you're describing is exactly the way friends of mine who suffer from depression describe things.

Not that a diagnostic label is going to make you happier. Unless your doctor has a way to treat it that doesn't screw with your therapy.

In any case, I think regardless of your well-being, you're not likely to be a fan of one modern strain of humor-- the sardonic sort typified by Mort Sahl or Jules Feiffer. Many current humorists mine that vein, but hardly all or even a majority of them.

I'm surprised to hear that the US comic strips haven't more infiltrated Canadian papers. God knows, every other aspect of US cultural imperialism has.

My column was about webcomics, not newspaper comics that also appear on the web, so there are a bunch of resources I didn't discuss. But, if anyone has a serious Jones going for newspaper comics, they should visit


Take care.

pax / Ctein

All the recommendations I've checked out so far look great, but these page-based graphic novels are making me want an ipad real bad!

Odd week: I've now run into the word "pibgorn" twice in different contexts.

3eanuts is fun. It's selections from Peanuts, minus the fourth panel. Sounds strange, but it works, if you're into existential despair.

The Perry Bible Fellowship! http://www.pbfcomics.com/

His book The Trial of Colonel Sweeto and Other Stories is a coffee table favorite!

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