Howdy, Iggles! Welcome to the first “Webcomic Underground” installment! I’m Easy, and once a month, I’m going to be your guide into the world of webcomics. As an artist and creator of my own series, I’ve found there are tons of stories online to discover, and I want to share them with my fellow comic lovers who might be looking for something new! It’s a big world out there, so allow me to give you not only a quick run-down, but also a handful of comics you can start off with!

Easy's artistic reinterpretation of pure confusion.

Easy’s artistic interpretation of pure confusion.

“So, Easy, what IS a webcomic?”

For those who haven’t had the opportunity to really explore webcomics, they’re comics posted on the Internet. If you’ve ever come across funny pictures from sites like like “THE OATMEAL” (PG13- mild language), “PENNY ARCADE” (PG13- mild language) or “XKCD,” (PG13) you’ve read one. There are THOUSANDS out there. While many of them while free to read, the creators are often busy are either in school or with a day job, which means they sometimes only get to update one page a week.

Webcomics today are becoming a new medium for independent comic publishing that can celebrate topics from the avant-garde to the mundane. Sites like Kickstarter is full of webcomics looking to print their work, and Korea has even made MOVIES based off of them. Pretty awesome when you think about it, huh? So the following blurb below here is just a quick vocab list you’ll see me mention time to time. These are terms commonly used in the webcomic community.

  • Webtoons: This is coined from a sub-category of manhwa, or Korean comics. They are laid out in a vertical, scroll-friendly format. It’s actually a popular format in Korea because it’s easier to read on their mobile phones.
  • Gag-a-days: This format is common in the western part of the world, akin to the classic 3-panel gag strips you find in the paper.
  • Long form: This format is more akin to graphic novels and manga where the comic is telling an ongoing story. -This one happens to be my favorite format…admittedly, I’m biased, as my own story is in this format, but I love being able to follow an ongoing adventure.
  • Other: Really, there seems to be no wrong way to write a webcomic. There are series I’ve read that start out in strips, and have evolved into novella format with illustrations. Sometimes it all depends on the artist and their choice of format.
OK! This is a thing!

That was …easy! Let’s go!

With that out of the way, now to the fun! Down below for your reading pleasure are some webcomics I personally have chosen for you to check out. There’s tons out there that fly under the radar, and I’m hoping to share with you some of the great work hiding out there! Their styles vary, and all are gorgeously crafted! Akin to this setup, I’ll try to give you 1-4 webcomic recommendations a month telling you a little bit about them and what I think makes them stand out.


 

RUMPELSTILTSKIN – by  h0lyhandgrenade

Rating: Teen/15+ (Language, some sexual content)

Link: rumplestiltskin.smackjeeves.com

If you like: Twisted fairy tales, fantasy & dark stories

Once upon a time, you had to have read the story “Rumpelstiltskin” at least once in your life. H0lyhandgrenade takes this classic fairy tale and makes it a richer, more involved story than just the poor farm girl whose father uses her to escape the wrath of the king. Instead, we are introduced to our lead, Chris who dreams of life full of magic and adventure beyond the family farm run by her older brother, Toby. When he catches Chris playing with magic in the barn, she runs away to prove herself and show her magic skills to the king.

Before she even reaches his majesty, things go from awkward to worse when she’s arrested and locked up in a dungeon cell after accidentally causing a huge mess. While trying to think of a way to get out, a creepy, magical fair appears out of nowhere. As they talk about her situation, the mysterious fair offers to help her pay her way out of prison by spinning straw into gold…for a price.

H0lyhandgrenade’s art is an absolute treat that works beautifully in black and white to tell this story. Not only does their art look like it deserves to be animated, but also the action depicted in the panels make it easy to follow. Story-wise, the original Rumplestiltskin only touches the surface while h0lyhandgrenade presents a world full of the same magic but with darker, complicated politics. If you like unique takes on an age-old classic, Rumplestiltskin is definitely up your alley!


CUCUMBER QUEST – by Gigidigi

Rating: PG

Links: cucumber.gigidigi.com/

If you like: Animal Crossing, Adventure time,

Looking for something fun and adorable to read with a side of adventure? Allow me to introduce Cucumber Quest! In a land known as the “Doughnut Kingdom,” the evil Queen Cordelia is attempting to take over the world! It’s up to Cucumber, a reluctant little bunny boy to save the day. The poor kid is told by his family he has to drop out of magic school to “become a man” and fulfil his destiny as a “legendary hero.” With the help of his little sister, Almond and Sir Carrot, he is off to find the Dream Sword so he can vanquish the evil in the land!

Honestly, Cucumber Quest is what I categorize as “way too darn cute.” The cast of characters are charming and easy to love. My favorite part about this series is the quirky humor that Gigidigi sprinkles throughout her pages, and it’s kept me engaged. The story and art are beautifully paired, and definitely one I recommend to anyone in a heartbeat.


 

FALLEN –  by Ogawa Burukku

Rating: Teen/15+ (language, violence, nudity, some sexual themes)

Links: ogawaburukku.com

If you like: Sailor Moon/Magical Girls, dark & action-adventure

What happens when you cannot answer the simplest question in the world: “What IS your name?” Arma, a young woman finds herself unable to answer that very question. When she’s thrown out into the middle of nowhere, she finds herself rescuing two other girls from a pair of freaky monsters. After the battle, she passes out to find herself with five other girls in the care of a little mouse named Vox.

After regaining consciousness, Vox tells Arma and these five other amnesiatic girls that he can help them regain their identity. In return, he asks them to fulfil their destinies as magical girls in charge of protecting a goddess who happens to be missing. It is now up to Arma and her friends to find this mysterious goddess and discover who they are.

Like H0ly, Ogawa Burukku’s work is beautifully crafted. Some of my favorite aspects besides the art in Fallen is the character interaction and the fight scenes! Ogawa has struck an excellent balance in pacing her fight scenes and plot development. While I did not grow up as a fan of the magical girl genre, I really like Ogawa’s grittier take. Less sparkles and more blood? Sure, why not?


 

Static Skies – by Zara LT

Rating: PG-13/Teen

Links: staticskies.com

If you like: Wizard of OZ, 1984, & other worldly adventures

Static Skies: The Black Tower follows two kids, Crissy and Peter, who find themselves in another dimension far, far from their home in Kansas and in a strange place called Paragon City. Magic and technology seem to be banned, and everyone is living in fear of its ruler, Helga. Is it going to be up to two farm kids to take on something bigger than themselves?

Zara’s story I think is really interesting – in a way it reminds me of the Wizard of Oz, and then at the same time time pulls me in with its sense of danger and its 1984 qualities. She has big brother watching everyone from all over the city with these deceptively adorable, yet creepy robot bugs that keep everyone in line. These kids seem to be up against some big odds, and I’m curious to where Zara plans on taking this story.


With that, my dear Iggles, is a wrap for now! Did any of these comics strike your fancy or were any of these a favorite? Let me know in the comments, or feel free to shoot me a line via twitter (@easycomics). There are plenty more webcomics where that came from, and I can’t wait to share them with you all!