If there’s one thing on the Internet we don’t have any shortage of (minds out of the gutter, folks), it’s gaming webcomics. Ever since Penny Arcade popularized the idea, we’ve seen them popping up across the ‘net like mushrooms. Some of them are bad- really, really, really bad. Egomaniacal authors, unoriginal or crude jokes; terrible artwork, and Cerebus Syndrome make reading some comics a chore, while others are bad enough that they could serve as stand-ins in the Ludovico technique.
Believe it or not, we’re not actually here to discuss those comics.
We’re actually here to discuss the comics which fall on the opposite end of the spectrum – to celebrate the good ones for rising up above all the rest. Here’s a selection comprising a few of my personal favorites.
Order of the Stick:
We’re going to start with a nod to all you tabletop gamers out there, with a reference to one of the best-known D&D comics around. Order of the Stick follows the exploits of an adventuring party of the same name, all of whom are aware they exist within the confines of a tabletop game. I won’t spoil too much of the plot, but the characters are fairly likeable, the comic itself is entertaining, and the artwork, even though it’s drawn entirely with stick figures, is still easy on the eyes.
I’ll toss yet another D&D comic at you folks before we move on. Set in a stereotypical D&D campaign setting with a stereotypically egomaniacal DM (named Herbert), Goblins is probably one of my favorite comics out there. The artwork is very high-quality, the jokes are actually entertaining (something a lot of comics seem to struggle with), and the plot, while a little overdramatic at points, is nevertheless quite intriguing.
Of course, you can’t be surprised to find this one on here – after all, it was one of the first, and probably sits among the best known. If you don’t know of Penny Arcade, I’m going to go out on a limb and assume you don’t ready web-comics very often. A great many comics out there are derivative of Tycho and Gabe (the authors), who’ve managed to turn their comic into something of a multimedia empire, with merchandise, games, and books. Plus, they’ve done some pretty awesome things for charity- look up Child’s Play.
8 Bit Theater:
Although 8 Bit Theater is no longer updating (the comic ended a few years ago), it’s still worth a read-through, if you’ve not viewed it already. 8 Bit Theater is a sprite comic which parodies the Final Fantasy series, along with common tropes found in most heroic epics and a few elements of other games and pop culture. If nothing else, it’s an entertaining way to spend an afternoon.
Awkward Zombie originally started out as a gag-a-day style webcomic centered primarily on the Zelda and Smash Brothers series. Since then, it’s fanned out to cover a wide range of games – one of the unique elements of the comic is that Mrs. Tiedrich, the author, is perfectly willing to accept submissions from her readers. It’s well-drawn, amusing, and updates with reasonable regularity.
It’s a TF2 webcomic, with fairly regular breaks from the action for various references and jokes related to gaming culture at large. The artwork’s fairly decent, the characters are all reasonably likeable, and there are regular updates, to boot. Most of the jokes in the early comic are primarily visual, though later strips feature a bit more dialogue.
Erfworld tells the story of Parson Gotti, an obese game designer who works at a dead-end job and lives in a rat-hole of an apartment. That doesn’t last very long, of course- the inept Lord Stanley draws Gotti into Erfworld, a bizarre alternate reality which is basically a turn-based strategy game, chock full of off-color pop culture references and nods to our world. Gotti, as it turns out, is the ‘ultimate warlord,’ and quite possibly the only man who can bring Erfworld’s long and bloody history to a close. It’s an interesting comic, to say the least - though later updates are rather scant, and interspersed with regular text-based entries.
What are a few of your favorites?