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Best Webcomics Ever (This Week) 12.18.11

It’s getting hard to not keep highlighting the same webcomics — I’m looking at you Achewood and Gunshow — so this week I tried to dive a little deeper into the wandering abyss of the Internet. Not too deep though. The things mine eyes have seen… *shudders*

There have been several comics this week, like Cyanide & Happiness, that have touched on the loss of Christopher Hitchens, one of the most prominent atheists of our time. Perhaps this isn’t the best place for such an editorial comment, but while I deeply appreciate Hitchens and his commitment to iconoclastic essays, the level of which I will most likely never reach, he was also one of the most outspoken supporters of the ill-conceived Iraq war. I think it’s important to remember people like Christopher Hitchens or Steve Jobs as they were: extraordinary men, but men nonetheless, complete with flaws, mistakes, and shadows.

Anyway, enough with that talk. Let’s have a drink and move on. The Best Webcomics Ever (This Week) are…

Dresden Codak

I realize this is only the fifth column about the best webcomics ever, but Dresden Codak is quite possibly, for really reals, the best webcomic ever. The futuristic setting, the incredible attention to detail, and the unique panel layout all work in tandem to create the most visually stunning comic series online. The most recently update is a great example of the world-building Diaz explores, not necessarily essential to the plot, but necessary for readers to get lost inside a strange place.

The drawback, however, is that readers have to wait roughly one month before seeing another update. But, like the old saying goes: Good things really do come to those who wait.

I have to admit, I feel pretty foolish for not know about The Secret Knots until this week. (Thanks for sending it in, Kim!) The most recent update is a special comic featuring a song by Kim Boekbinder, a wonderful musician who recently created a special tune for cartoonist Molly Crabapple called “New York City,” and released a full-length album titled The Impossible Girl that’s available for a pay-what-you-want download.

The song, “Music for Stray Days,” is meant to be played while reading the strip, at least I would recommend doing so, and is a delightful blend of mediums that webcomics can so easily embrace. Chilean artist Juan Santapau has a style and color-palette that may remind some of Daytripper by Gabriel Bá and Fábio Moon, but that is, of course, a great compliment seeing as how the Brazilian series was one of the best comics of last year. Make sure you have some free time before starting The Secret Knots, you won’t want to stop reading until the very end. One of the best wecbomics around, without question.

Happle Tea is a well-crafted series all around, from art, to jokes, to timely references, it’s exactly the type of strip that could be used as an example of what-to-do before attempting to create your own webcomic. Sometimes there are on-going characters, sometimes the updates are just one-offs, but in any case, each new creation is another solid reminder that some of the most talented creators are striking off on their own instead of looking for syndication.

If you’re interested in webcomics at all, you probably know Wondermark. Created by David Malki! (yes, apparently the exclamation point is important), the series isn’t always laugh-out-loud funny, however, what Wondermark lacks in humor at times is often made-up by professionalism and fan engagement. I’ve never seen another creator do so much for his fans in terms of ancillary media. From books to t-shirts, prints to collectables, Wondermark has an abundance of high-quality merchandise that accompanies the comic, and at reasonable prices.

If that wasn’t enough, Malki and friends are responsible for the fantastic Machine of Death collection that is very much worth your hard-earned ducats.

Now here’s a concept I can get behind: Let’s take otherwise talented creators and force them to draw with their weaker hand in order for us to be amused. Done and done. The series is updated by Drew Mokris and Justin Boyd, both of whom are probably very talented when working with both hands. Be sure to check out Drew’s other site, Spinnerdisc, as well for great content.

Well, that’s it. That’s the five. I really wanted to highlight Bouletcorp this week (imagine Jeffrey Brown lived in Europe), but Laura Hudson just featured one of the strips so I’ll just say be sure to check out Steampunk Vader and 1% Batman. I really wish I’d studied French.

Also, I know I said I didn’t want to highlight comics that haven’t updated in a while, or were previously released, but I’m making an exception this week for Dean Haspiel’s Bring me the heart of Billy Dogma, SEX PLANET, and The Last Romantic Antihero. The stories are complete and available to read for free, but be warned, they are a little NSFW, not in the way Curvy or Oglaf are NSFW, but still — cartoon breasts may disturb your boss. Or excite your boss. Either way, you lose.

As always, I’m happy to find new comics to enjoy, so please continue to leave recommendations in the comment section. Thanks for reading.

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