Webcomics are great and free to read, but the problem with anything you can read for free is that they sometimes end unexpectedly. Otherwise, you’re stuck waiting for an update, hoping nothing happens to the author while you’re waiting for a cliffhanger to resolve.
Here’s a list of ten excellent completed webcomics, good for rainy days and lazy afternoons. Some are longer than others with multiple arcs, while others are shorter, cohesive stories.
Artifice is an 88-page queer science fiction story drawn by Winona Nelson and written by Alex Woolfson. When Deacon, an android soldier, is stranded for more than a month on an outpost with a human he’s assigned to kill, his curiosity wins out over his duty. Rendered in gorgeous full-colour, the bulk of the story is teased out during a single conversation between Deacon and his robopsychiatrist, Clarice Maven.
Artifice was one of four finalists for the 26th annual Lambda Literary Awards in the “Graphic Novel” category. Alex Woolfson is now working on Young Protectors.
Phoenix Requiem, set in a Victorian-styled fantasy world, follows the spread of a horrific supernatural plague. Jonas Faulkner collapses in the snow at the edge of the village of Esk; a plague that decays its victims alive follows soon after. They’re connected, but the truth is worse than it seems.
Written by Sarah Ellerton, Phoenix Requiem is 800 full-colour pages and worth every single one of them. Fair warning for the faint of heart: Requiem doesn’t delve into full horror, but it takes full inspiration from the genre where it’s appropriate.
3. Girls With Slingshots (2004-2015)
Girls with Slingshots by Danielle Corsetto ran for eleven years, and in that time told many tales of the bizarre life of Hazel and Jamie, roommates and best friends. Known for its growing focus on lesbian and subculture issues, GWS stars a professional dominatrix, several lesbian characters and one of the first and most prominent asexual characters in webcomics.
Unlike many of the entries on this list, there’s no art involved in DM of the Rings. Every panel is a screenshot from Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings movies. The dialogue, however, tells a new story. The premise of DM of the Rings, written by Shamus Young, is that in a world where LOTR never existed, a group of (terrible) Dungeons and Dragons players get their hands on something suspiciously similar to Tolkien’s celebrated work. The following 144 pages are about as disrespectfully hilarious as you can imagine.
Of particular note is the opening crawl.
“Lord of the Rings is more or less the foundation of modern D&D. The latter rose from the former, although the two are now so estranged that to reunite them would be an act of savage madness. Imagine a gaggle of modern hack-n-slash roleplayers who had somehow never been exposed to the original Tolkien mythos, and then imagine taking those players and trying to introduce them to Tolkien via a D&D campaign.”
5. Penny and Aggie (2004 – 2011)
Penny and Aggie is one of T. Campbell’s many, many webcomic projects. Originally illustrated by Gisèle Lagacé, the latter half of the comic is illustrated by Jason Waltrip. (The above is a Waltrip panel.) The comic takes inspiration from Archie’s Betty and Veronica, and follows popular rich girl Penny and alternative protest poet Aggie through their high school years and their tension-laden rivalry.
Penny and Aggie is notable for the amount of serious topics it chose to handle. While set in high school, themes of child abuse, racism, death, grieving and sexuality all become central. LGBT+ and coming out themes, in particular, became a driving theme of the comic right up to its conclusion.
A sequel of sorts to Bobbins, Scary Go Round by John Allison is a comic that makes very little sense and doesn’t really need to. The main characters mostly disaffected 20-somethings, face such dastardly evils as man o’war jellyfish, leprechauns, and the Devil Himself. All against the backdrop of small-town England, of course.
Scary Go Round as a comic is complete, but John Allison has returned to the cast and setting several times in Bad Machinery, Giant Days and a redux of Bobbins.
7. Homestuck (2009-2016)
Homestuck by Andrew Hussie begins as a story about four friends who play an online game together. They end up bringing about the end of the world. Despite a slow start, the story mixes a bizarre humor with high stakes and engaging characters in a coming-of-age narrative.
At 8,000 pages, it’s one of the longest webcomics online. It integrates flash animation and games, animated GIFs, and music into its format to tell a multi-layered story.
What are some other completed webcomics you’ve enjoyed reading?