Webcomic Overlook’s Top Ten Best Webcomics of the Decade

You want to know what’s really subjective? Top ten lists. No two people will ever agree on what the best ten of anything is as long as people have the ability to think for themselves. Isn’t merely the act of putting together such a list an example of arrogance? Probably.

Still, we love lists like the one I’m compiling below for one big reason: its fun to argue why something made the list, and why things were left off.

So, as we head into the Holiday Season and close out the aughts, here’s my list of what I think are the Ten Best Webcomics of the Decade (2000-2009): The Second Decade of Webcomics.

These aren’t the most influential — otherwise Penny Arcade would be a shoe-in. And since we’re talking about The Decade, longetivity counts — so, sorry Gastrophobia. This is a list of webcomics I enjoyed because they told great stories, opened readers to different sorts of humor, and basically stuck with me for some reason or other.

Each of these are a great credit to the new genre/medium known as “webcomics” and show that, in some cases, the outlaw world of webcomics can produce comics that are heads and shoulders superior to their boring, predictable print counterparts.

Gunnerkrigg Court

1.) Gunnerkrigg Court (reviewed here)

It’s no secret that I’m a huge fan of this webcomic. Gunnerkrigg Court‘s artwork is beautiful and unique. Tom Siddell tells a mysterious story set in a sprawling Gormenghast-style city that mashes up fantasy with science fiction. While this is the sort of place where fairies and robots coexist, Gunnerkrigg Court feels natural and not at all contrived. The highly likable cast includes Antimony, a wide-eyed girl with destiny written all over her, and Reynardine, a stuffed animal who is more than meets the eye. I loved this comic so much, I reviewed it twice. I’ve said it once, and I’ll say it again: if there is only one webcomic you will read in your entire life, read Gunnerkrigg Court.

2.) Hark! A Vagrant (reviewed here)

Kate Beaton’s comic has achieved the impossible: she’s managed to make Canadian history interesting. Man, I doubt Canadians even find Canadian history interesting. She pokes fun at other events in history as well by showing us that, really, were those bygone figures really different from us? Is it so implausible that the Bronte sisters would be dishing on distasteful men or that, as above, suffragettes would spend just as much time hitting on the dudes as they would protesting? Hark! A Vagrant makes jokes based on a weird, universal truth: human nature is pretty much the same, no matter what era.

Horribleville

3.) Horribleville/Gunshow (reviewed here and here)

Can old school cartooning can be adapted to and be made new for audiences online? Now, Gunshow and its predecessor, Horribleville aren’t for everyone. They’re vulgar and crass; the fart jokes of webcomics. Still, anyone can make a poop joke. What make’s KC Green’s webcomics so special is his unique brand of rubbery and hyperkinetic artwork. KC’s drawings — in some ways reminiscent of Looney Tunes and Spumco — is goddamned hilarious. It’s great to know that in a webcomic world where everything seems to rely on sterile Flash drawings, there’s someone out there who can make you laugh the old-fashioned way: by drawing someone with a smile that’s goofy as hell.

Scary Go Round

4.) Scary Go Round (reviewed here)

It’s too bad that the last years of Scary Go Round got super bland, because everything John Allison wrote up to “Super Crisis Quests” was bursting with creativity and energy unparalleled by anything else outh there. The world of Scary Go Round, anchored by the fetching Shelley Winters, was one where anything that could happen, did happen. Trips to the undead, zombie resurrections, robot ambassadors, creepy children: it was all there! The art was fantastic, whether it was the clean Adobe Illustrator look or the more elongated and pliant hand-drawn look. And, above all, Scary Go Round was very, very British. Quite the dog’s bollocks, what what!

Achewood

5.) Achewood (reviewed here)

You wouldn’t think a cat in a thong would make a compelling character, but Chris Onstad will prove you wrong. Achewood proves that there’s a lot of power in using a simplistic and off-putting art style. A portion of the story takes place in an inky black underworld, and it’s unsettling and eerie as get out. The comics’ vulgar jokes are probably the ones that get the most attention. That’s fine, but it’s not why I like Achewood. The best Achewood jokes are often the sneaky ones that reward readers who’ve been paying attention. Onstad’s magnum opus, “The Great Outdoor Fight,” is a strong contender for Best Webcomic Story Arc of the Decade.

Perry Bible Fellowship

6.) Perry Bible Fellowship (reviewed here)

Now that it’s on semi-hiatus, it’s easy to forget the influence PBF had on webcomic humor. With PBF, humor went upscale. Sure, Nicolas Gurewitch tended to lean too strongly on the Twilight Zone twist at the end, where happiness and joy is subverted by horror. Still, give Gurewitch credit: the guy told jokes that seemed fresh and new because, really, no one had told them before. And then there’s that art. You’ve got to love all the different art styles Gurewitch juggled. The attractive painterly European style in particular, for which PBF became most strongly indentified, was something no one had ever really seen in a popular webcomic before. Just because you’re doing a 3-to-4 panel gag comic doesn’t mean it can’t be pretty.

Girl Genius

7.) Girl Genius (reviewed here)

This webcomic beat out Fables, Y: The Last Man, and Serenity for the Hugo Award. You know what’s weird? Phil and Kaja Foglio deserved it. You can easily get sucked into their world of mad science and revisionist European history. In fact, I will go so far as to say that, Girl Genius marks the only time that “steampunk” has provided a backdrop for great storytelling in any medium. It’s got everything you could want in a fantasy epic: romance, action, and lots and lots of fun.

High Moon

8.) High Moon (reviewed here)

Will the Zuda Comics business model be the future of webcomics? Time will tell. However, you can’t fault the content. David Gallaher and Steve Ellis’ Harvey Award-winning High Moon shows where superhero-style action might headed and the Big Two comic companies transition to the digital format. And yet … where else buton the internet could a high concept mix of Westerns and horror possibly succeed? High Moon‘s much better than a lot of its superhero ilk, too, by virtue of its originality and its willingness to subvert reader expectations.

9.) Sexy Losers

This is the only comic on this list I haven’t reviewed, nor will I link to it for fear of running afoul of WordPress’ obsenity rules. Sexy Losers comes with a hard triple X rating. It would be one thing if the comic was simply NSFW but … wow. Ever read a comic where a guy forincates into a headless girl’s throat? Or a woman decides to get it on with a former lover’s ashes? Sexy Losers makes the list for being so audacious that in manages to get past the merely repulsive and reaches a strange (and uncomfortable) level that redefines “dark humor.” Like South Park‘s Scott Tenorman episode, he mental scars this webcomic inflicts stay with you long, long after you’re done reading it.

The Princess Planet

10.) The Princess Planet (reviewed here)

And for the final spot of my Top Ten Best Webcomics of the Decade, something that’s much, much cleaner. Can puns be funny? Yes … as long as you persevere at them. Brian McLachlan proves that he can wear you down until you raise the white flag and admit that, yes, sometimes all you really were in the mood for was a good clean joke and a chipper, adventure-seeking princess in a pink leotard.

Honorable mention: Megatokyo, The Surreal Adventures of Edgar Allan Poo, Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal, Minus, A Lesson Is Learned But the Damage is Irreversible

About these ads

About El Santo

Somehow ended up reading and reviewing almost 300 different webcomics. Life is funny, huh? Despite owning two masks, is not actually a luchador.

Posted on November 16, 2009, in The Webcomic Overlook, webcomics and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 49 Comments.

  1. Maybe it’s too young to be considered, but I think Lackadaisy deserves honorable mentions if not for the art alone. And considering it’s one person running the whole show, it’s one of the most professional looking ones I’ve ever seen.

    • Oooo true! Lackadaisy is amazing!

      • I had considered putting Lackadaisy on the list somewhere (and I do love this comic; I rated it 5 stars both times I reviewed it), but there’s still not much content to go on. When putting a “Best of the Decade,” I did mentally give extra points to webcomics with extremely long runs. I probably should’ve put it in the “Honorable Mention” list, though.

  2. Gunshow, Bee Power, Horribleville, and nearly everything that KC Green puts on paper is gold. Gunnerkrigg Court is mystifying and beautiful, but come on, Gunshow brought us detect-a-baby, the anime club, and puzzle hound. If that’s wrong, then I don’t want to be right.

    Past that, the list is fantastic. All great, intelligent choices, and none of them feel samey, if you know what I mean.

  3. Templar didn’t make it to your top ten!? I weep!

    I think you’ve got some good ones… GK, PBF, SGR, and HAV are definitely very high on my list–… Girl Genius would be as well, but the art is just. so. annoying and offputting. Which is really too bad because the story is stupendous.

    As for Sexy Losers well. I think, art and joke wise Oglaf is nipping at its heels… Sexy Losers should also win an award for ‘writer who is the biggest douche’. If you’ve read back on his notes. Dear god. That man tries to make himself out to be the hero but he is most certainly not.

    And I stiiiiillllll can’ttttt maaaaake myseeeelf reeeaaad achewoooood.

    • I sorta disqualified Oglaf because it is relatively new, though I do agree: it’s probably going to eclipse Sexy Losers as the best X-rated webcomic out there. I hadn’t known that Sexy Losers, by the way.

      As for Achewood, it does depend on your taste (I’ve seen another reviewer rank it as the worst comic, and while I disagree I can see where he’s coming from) and it’s one of those comics you have to stick with for a while.

    • That man tries to make himself out to be the hero but he is most certainly not.
      When wasn’t playing the victim for reader sympathy at any rate…

  4. I’m kind of surprised Octopus Pie isn’t on there, but I’ve always thought it was overrated, and perhaps I’m not the only one.

    You know what else would be cool, ES? (May I call you ES?) You should try to predict which webcomics will be the best five years from now (ten is probably pushing it). That might be interesting.

    • Calling me ES is alright with me J-Dub.

      Now, I like Octopus Pie just fine. But is it best of the decade? I don’t know. Maybe it would be on my Top 40, perhaps? Octopus Pie IS well crafted, no doubt. However, to me it’s basically just one of the many good “gal lives in the big city” type comics out there. It may be the best of the bunch (I haven’t read many of them, so I can’t judge), but I can’t say it’s entirely original or unique. I’d actually rank Anders Loves Maria ahead of it.

      Also, the “Which webcomics will be the best in 5 years?” is intriguing. Hmmmmm…. HMMMMMMM….

  5. Haha, I don’t know if I would put Sexy Losers on there… its entertaining and all, but more for its shock value than the quality of its writing or art (imo).

    I am really warming up to Family Man, it would make my top something list. Have you read it yet?

    • Ah, haven’t read “Family Man” yet. That’s one of those webcomics I keep telling myself I should read some day, but for some reason I never get around to it.

  6. If only Bear & Kitten would update regularly. Same with 9 Planets.

    And yes, here is a list of “why nots” that you are expecting and I would love to have you contend:

    Rice Boy, Kiwis By Beat (eg Minus, GREAT, Let’s Do It Forever), Sorcery 101, Pictures For Sad Children

    • I had considered Bear & Kitten. It truly is excellent. But yeah, it does have a spotty update schedule.

      As for why 9 Planets, Rice Boy, and Sorcery 101, explanation is simple: I hadn’t gotten around to reading them yet. (Sorta why I made sure to put “The Webcomic Overlook’s” in the title.) I’ve heard Rice Boy, especially, is excellent. However, I didn’t want to put it on my list purely on heresay. I’ve read around 150+ different webcomics around this point, which is probably more than the typical human being, but it’s still not comprehensive. It’s like someone putting together a list of “Best Books” of the decade: there’s no way anyone can read every book over the span of those years, so some really excellent ones are bound to be missed. (On a similar note, I’ve only read the first hundred or so pages of PFSC so far.)

      As for Minus, it missed my top 10 by that much. It’s possible it would have been #11. It only missed because personally I thought there were ten better.

  7. No Questionable Content, no care. Megatokyo has gotten stale, and it doesn’t help that Fred takes FOREVER to do each page.

  8. How could you not include the following:
    the order of the stick (giantitp.com)
    misfile (misfile.com)

    Bother are well drawn have intriguing characters and have a huge fanbase?

    • Sinfest has been the same three jokes repeated for the past few years now, with no change in art style or anything.

      • Actually, SinFest has had some really great story arcs lately, including the Criminey/Devil Girl story, Obama, and several others. I think he’s done a great job keeping it engaging.

  9. Have you ever read Bear Nuts? It’s pretty cute & it’s one of my favorite so far. Not entirely certain it’s top 10 material, but it’s definitely top 30 material.

    But more importantly, have you read ‘Phoenix Requiem’? It’s just absolutely beautiful.

    • Pretty, but sort of boring. I guess I’m probably not the target demographic for the comic though, since I’m a guy.

      I think it’s pretty good, if a little drawn out, and I enjoy the mystery at work in the background. But I don’t think it beats its other equally-well-drawn and better written contemporaries.

    • Omigod. Phoenix Requiem. Most gorgeous comic I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading.

  10. Sexy Losers is the apotheoses of webcomics. In it’s earlier guise as the Thin H Line it opened my eyes to the possibilities of what the internet could be.

  11. No Sluggy Freelance (sluggy.com)? Or Bruno the Bandit?

  12. #1 Order of the Stick
    #2 xkcd
    #3 Perry bible fellowship

  13. Honestly, “Best of the Decade” is really subjective, but there’s a few that I love that didn’t even make the “honorable mentions”

    But I tend to like slice-of-life and drama more than madcap humor.

    Pictures of You (www.picturesofyou.smackjeeves.com) – Told as a flashback of the lead character reflecting on his life so far. The art is clean and beautiful, the dialogue is very real, and the story is compelling

    Wapsi Square (www.wapsisquare.com) – I liked it more before the whole “Golem Girls” meta-arc, but still some very beautiful artwork and compelling characters.

    Girls With Slingshots (www.daniellecorsetto.com) – Ok, it is madcap, but still brilliant.

    Questionable Content (www.questionablecontent.net) – Never fails to meake me squee at the appropriate times.

    Red String (www.redstring.strawberrycomics.com) – Pure slice-of-life teen drama. I adore the art and the authenticity the artist/writer puts into her work.

  14. Holy crap.

    I take a break from this site for Thanksgiving Weekend and it shows up on Fark and I get like 8,000 hits in one day. Yikes! Sorry to those I haven’t replied to yet. Apparently this site gets pretty busy when I take a break.

  15. Ehhhhh. Everyone missed MSPaintAdventures. Great comic, if a little hard to get into, as it’s currently on it’s 4th adventure and over 2500 pages in, but it is SO WORTH READING. It takes the webcomic form to a whole new level.

  16. Rice Boy needs to be on here.

  17. the meek is wayy better than this

  18. This is a *really* late reply, but I’d like to name a few comics that I think deserve some recognition: String Theory (great story, increasingly good art, just an all-around great comic), SMBC (what it lacks in art, it definitely makes up for in content. It’s a little like XKCD [consider me pointing out XKCD here, as well.]), and The Meek (really interesting story, great art).

    Hope someone reads this, heh.

    • I was just about to suggest El Santo review String Theory one of these days. It took a little bit of a shift from more humorous content to serious stuff, but I feel that’s been for the better. It’s got strong characters that carry the story well. And the art is probably among the best in webcomics. At least, as far I’ve seen, but I’ve seen a lot of webcomics.

  19. Everyone loves what you guys tend to be up
    too. This kind of clever work and coverage! Keep up the
    awesome works guys I’ve incorporated you guys to my personal blogroll.

  1. Pingback: uberVU - social comments

  2. Pingback: Top ten of the decade, new scholarship, and fresh Pie | Paperless Comics

  3. Pingback: Comics A.M. | The comics Internet in two minutes | Robot 6 @ Comic Book Resources – Covering Comic Book News and Entertainment

  4. Pingback: Webcomics: Making comics a social medium « All About Comics

  5. Pingback: The Princess Planet » Archive » Princess Planet is Top (Ten) Notch

  6. Pingback: Strip News 11-20-9 | Strip News | ArtPatient.com | ArtPatient.com

  7. Pingback: Digital Strips: The Webcomics Podcast : Top Ten, Mischief, and Guest Strips

  8. Pingback: Metapost: Interesting observation from the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade « The Webcomic Overlook

  9. Pingback: L’Aquatique! - Friggin Abandoned

  10. Pingback: Librarians Love Webcomics « The Webcomic Overlook

  11. Pingback: Joy of Webcomics 2010 « The Webcomic Overlook

  12. Pingback: The Webcomic Overlook #115: Rice Boy « The Webcomic Overlook

  13. Pingback: The Webcomic Overlook #116: Bad Machinery « The Webcomic Overlook

  14. Pingback: Webcomic over look | WEBANIMIX.COM

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: