The wild frontier of the interwebs can be difficult to navigate. So many pages! So many links to click! It’s tough, we know. At a certain point in the night, you realize everyone in your GChat list has gone idle, no one is updating Facebook and even CNN has stopped tweeting. However, your favorite webcomics have probably just updated for the night!
Even if you’re not the hardcore comic fan that’s already snagged tickets to C2E2, there’s probably a webcomic out there for you. They’re the best of so many worlds. They’re like graphic novels, but free and accessible anywhere: it's like reading the funny pages on a Sunday morning (but they're actually funny) and often have an especially nerdy bent. They update regularly enough to add some spice to your morning email check. As a jumping-off point, here’s a random smattering of our favorites.
Lessons on life, love and the occasional velociraptor escape plan: xkcd
Randall Munroe’s thrice-weekly doodles are a solid introduction into the world of webcomics. With more than 1,000 comics to sift through, it could be a solid weekend project, but it’s one of the most widely-read comics out there for good reason. Snarky stick figures and graphical representations of modern society abound. Don’t forget to read the alt-text for extra jokes!
Long form story arc and character development: Questionable Content
Despite the name, there’s nothing questionable about the awesomeness of this story about a few friends and the occasional robot. Unlike most webcomic artists, Jeph Jacques writes a consistent series with characters that change and grow over time, have backstories and interact in a variety of different settings. Unfortunately, that makes it hard to just dive into. Some of the daily comics are funny on their own, but often are incorporated into a mini story arc that stretches over a week or two. But if you read from the beginning, you’ve got a free graphic novel. Plus, there are horny robots.
Absurd penis/academic humor: Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal
Zach Weiner’s daily wisecracks can be hit or miss and, if you’re sensitive to issues of religion or sexuality, well, they’re probably offensive. There are no real characters and the format fluctuates: sometimes it’s one panel with a caption, other times it’s a more elaborate scene with multiple panels. It’s the perfect comic for random mid-lecture LOLs. Bonus: Scrolling over the red button at the bottom of each strip will yield a pop-up second punchline, often a meta-joke featuring an image of Weiner at his drawing board.
Comedic timing, hipster photography and snappy punchlines: A Softer World
Even if you don’t read Joey Comeau and Emily Horne’s comic, it probably looks familiar. The static three-panel format is nothing elaborate, but it provides a brilliant scaffolding for quick, punchy quips and third-panel plot twists. Don’t miss out on the alt-text here either. It’s sometimes romantic, almost always dark and more often than not reads like the diary of a mental asylum escapist.
For the love of all things Cretaceous: Dinosaur Comics
There’s something about dinosaurs that’s funny. Maybe it’s the “big head, little arms” conundrum. In the case of Dinosaur Comics, maybe it’s the unexpected notion of them waxing poetic on life and occasionally Sherlock Holmes. Impressively, creator Ryan North has churned out some 2,000 comics using the same series of images by merely changing the text everyday. Easter eggs abound in this one: in addition to the pretty standard alt-text joke, the “Contact” button at the top of the site will pop up an email with a joke subject line, and even the ads have jokes in their title text.If these don't quite float your boat, all is not lost. For more variety, you can start by checking out some of the few artists that actually make a living off this. Most webcomics also feature links to sites the artist recommends and have guest strips every once in a while, which is a surefire way to discover more obscure stuff, though the sheer volume of potential humor can be intimdating. All the midterm procrastination you need is at your fingertips — take advantage of it.