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Arts & Lit, Misc | By Nicholas for The Top 13 on December 29, 2009

In the past decade, webcomics have gone from the red-haired stepchild of syndicated newspaper strips to a serious way to make a living, not to mention one completely free of editorial restrictions. Along the way, a few strips have emerged as the definitive works of what will, in the future, be seen as the first generation of webcomics. From the strikingly gorgeous, to the positively hysterical, these are The Top 13 Webcomics.

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The Perry Bible Fellowship


The Perry Bible Fellowship

by Nicholas Gurewitch

It's difficult to define the now defunct Perry Bible Fellowship artistically; the hyper-talented Gurewitch jumped from one beautiful art style to another from week-to-week. But what remained constant was the great writing, an overarching theme of failure, and jokes that took more than one reading to completely suss out. While it's truly a shame that Gurewitch has stopped publishing, the archive of 147 gorgeous, three-panel comics should keep us all occupied for some time to come.




by Chris Onstad

Achewood is the Doonesbury of webcomics, albeit far more absurd and with far less politics. The similarities are more form based: Achewood is filled with long story and character arcs, erudite in-jokes and Pulitzer Prize worthy writing.




by Randall Munroe

xkcd bills itself as "a webcomic of romance, sarcasm, math, and language," which is a shockingly accurate description. Occasionally, Munroe will reveal his background as a NASA scientist with a degree in physics and write a comic such as this one that requires a bit of geeky knowledge to get. Most of the time, though, his jokes veer towards a more universal humor and wit which is guaranteed to elicit laughter from just about anyone.

Dinosaur Comics


Dinosaur Comics

by Ryan North

The forebearer in the "art doesn't matter" school of webcomics, Dinosaur Comics reuses the exact same six-panel image for every single comic, and North often pays the contents of each frame little-to-no regard. But this repetitive imagery is hardly the most notable thing about Dinosaur Comics; that would be the whip-smart writing.

Perfect Stars


Perfect Stars

by Jordan Piantedosi

Easily the strangest webcomic on this list, Perfect Stars chronicles the absurdities of modern life in a sublimely nonsensical (and very NSFW) fashion. Piantedosi's mixed media style (watercolor, pen and ink, markers, colored pencil and paper) results in some of the most beautiful and unique art to appear on the internet. Though the example included here is wonderful, most of Piantedosi's best work is extremely NSFW, such as this comic, which is probably the best comic she's ever done.

Pictures For Sad Children


Pictures For Sad Children

by John Campbell

Pictures For Sad Children is another webcomic, like Achewood, that deserves to be read from the beginning forward. Although the character arcs and storylines are nowhere near as complex or layered as Achewood's, Campbell's exploration of modern life's futility from the perspective of a ghost is emotionally resonant, and quite funny.

Penny Arcade


Penny Arcade

by Jerry Holkins (writing) and Mike Krahulik (illustrations)

Krahulik's classic comic style artwork and Holkins' riotously smart writing would likely garner Penny Arcade a higher spot on The Top 13 if it weren't for the fact that its audience appeal is a bit limited. Where xkcd only dabbles in geeky topicality, Penny Arcade revels in it: Nearly every strip requires in depth knowledge of the gaming news du jour or the intricacies of a good D&D match. Even so, it’s almost worth subscribing to a gaming blog alongside Penny Arcade solely to fully appreciate Holkins' witty commentary.

Garfield Minus Garfield


Garfield Minus Garfield

by Dan Walsh

Less a webcomic than a web phenomenon, Garfield Minus Garfield consists entirely of old strips from Jim Davis' much-maligned Garfield series from which Garfield and his animal compatriots have been removed (by way of Photoshop) to reveal the truth: A supremely lonely and delusional Jon Arbuckle.

Hark, A Vagrant!


Hark, A Vagrant!

by Kate Beaton

Obstensibly a webcomic about Canadian history, Hark, A Vagrant! is really just about life. And if Beaton's depiction of life happens to include references to and depictions of obscure historical figures, so be it. Beaton's work has earned her many accolades, including the 2009 Doug Wright Award for Best Emerging Talent.

Nedroid Picture Diary


Nedroid Picture Diary

by Anthony Clark

Nedroid Picture Diary alternates between random sketches/illustrations by Clark about a bear named Beartato (pronounced "bear-TAY-toe") and a bird named Reginald. Both halves of Clark's output are well worth your time.

A Softer World


A Softer World

by Jerry Comeau (writing) and Emily Horne (photographs)

Though often only tangentially related, Horne's beautiful, soft-focus photography and Comeau's disturbingly dark writing combine to create a truly remarkable whole at A Softer World. Be forewarned, though, Comeau's writing ranges from wittily dark (see below) to downright depressing (see here).

Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal


Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal

by Zach Weiner

The heir apparent to Perry Bible Fellowship's dark humor throne is neither as well illustrated nor quite as well written, but it does deliver in the laughs. It would be best, though, to ignore Weiner's ill-advised venture into sketch-comedy known as "SMBC Theater."




by Jeph Jaques

Far superior to Jaques' other, vastly overrated soap opera of a webcomic , indietits consists only of "little birds who talk about obscure bands and make stupid jokes." And it's absolutely hysterical. Unfortunately, indietits hasn't been updated since 2007; here's to hoping that Jaques' finds a little time for his little birds in the very near future.

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Comments Leave a comment

jason ★★

Interesting stuff, will check these out. Another (now defunct) great one is Get Your War On.

8:36 AM   Dec 29, 2009


OK, I'm gonna have to read more of indietits at home, I'm having a hard time stifling my laughter.

3:01 PM   Dec 29, 2009

stillathreat ★★

It's my favorite!

3:35 PM   Dec 29, 2009


I'm not familiar with indietits or perfect stars, so I will check those out. I don't really like Penny Arcade, but other than that good list.

3:58 PM   Dec 29, 2009


Aghh, so sick of those damn dinosaur comics! Love indietits and Breakfast Cereal though.

6:05 PM   Dec 31, 2009


Garfield Minus Garfield is hilarious. Who knew John was a schizophrenic depressive! Achewood is hit or miss, but is also often wonderfully bizarre.

12:08 PM   Jan 13, 2010


I know like four of these. I need to get reading.

10:07 PM   Jan 20, 2010


Oh now, don't forget No no no no no no no.

2:29 AM   May 26, 2010


Yay at xkcd!

3:44 PM   Dec 18, 2010

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