The Best Webcomics of 2004



Chosen by The Webcomics Examiner Advisory Board


A Lesson is Learned, but the Damage is Irreversible
Dale Beran and David Hellman
Free


A thoroughly unpredictable metaphysical metafiction. Its iridescent art and logically transgressive writing is so off-handed, yet so meticulous, that it seems like nothing more than a grand prank. Yet its nervous guffaw in the face of society is just too damned brave not to win a few medals.

Read our review.

Read this comic.



Acid Keg
Steve Hogan
Free


Austin Powers, step aside. Steve Hogan is the man who has such a complete grasp on everything that was cool from the 60s and 70s. And he has been able to seamlessly apply it to a modern sensibility. It’s beautifully drawn, and humorously written. This comic has got it all.

Read our review.

Read this comic.



Athena Voltaire
Paul Daly, Steve Bryant and Chad Fidler
Subscription (Modern Tales)

This saga reads like Indiana Jones meets Christopher Lee– which may or may not be your sprout of garlic. But it’s staged with earnest enthusiasm by true fans of the genre; and the artwork is richly textured, vibrantly colored, and dripping with atmosphere.

Read this comic.



Ballad
Dead Mouse
Free

Dead Mouse seemingly came out of nowhere this year to present to us one of the few horror webcomics out there. This comic is absorbing, fabulously drawn, very disturbing, and has earned it’s notoriety. Ballad has shown us that setting out to do something original is actually a good thing. Pay close attention, all you webcomic up and comers.

Read our review

Read this comic.



Bite Me!
Dylan Meconis
Subscription (Girlamatic)


Dylan Meconis’ French Revolution vampire comedy ended this year, completing one of the funniest and most enjoyable graphic novels available on the Web. It’s been a pleasure to follow Meconis’ work as she’s developed as a writer and artist over the course of “Bite Me!”, and we’re waiting with bated breath to see what she produces in the future.

Read our review.

Read our interview with Dylan Meconis.

Read this comic.



Copper
Kazu Kibuishi
Free

From time to time, Kazu Kibuishi posts another perfect little jewel of a comic. And the world is better for it. Each strip is a little fable built around a boy named Copper and his dog Fred, who live in a shifting landscape of golden beaches, turquoise waves, and blue-grey urban neighborhoods. Kazu’s art is flawlessly elegant, and his subtle, softly radiant color palette is a revelation.

Read our review.

Read this comic.



Daily Dinosaur Comics
Ryan North
Free


This comic is pure rock and roll, baby. Think about all the classic rock acts. These musicians took something as seemingly limited as the three chord progression and wrestled out of it every single ounce of rocking that they could. Daily Dinosaur Comics is like that, because with every installment, Ryan North takes the same six panels of art and manages to create a comic that keeps you coming back. Simply because you know that it’s going to be so funny, you know it’s gonna rock.

Read this comic.



Dicebox
Jenn Manley Lee
Subscription (Girlamatic)


This sprawling online graphic novel continues to blow us away on many levels. Some of us like to argue that the Web offers a haven for comics that would be blockbusters in print if the “mainstream” comics industry wasn’t a dim, stifling cesspool, and Jenn Manley Lee’s gorgeous, thoughtful, engrossing slice of far-future life is Exhibit A.

Read our review.

Read this comic.



Digger
Ursula Vernon
Subscription (Graphic Smash)


Ursula Vernon’s fantasy adventure about a heroic wombat lost in a strange and distant land has been the breakout hit of Graphic Smash, and rightfully so. Clearly influenced by Jeff Smith’s “Bone,”
“Digger” is nonetheless a unique entity, blessed with stunning black-and-white art, a wry sense of humor, and one of the most engaging protagonists in webcomics.

Read this comic.



Fetus-x
Eric Millikin
Subscription (Serializer.net)


Eric Millikin’s, let’s say, “annoyance” at the neo-con demagogues who’ve stolen his nation from him, has turned what was always a clever little title into one of the sharpest political commentaries available. In an era where presidents are treated as messiahs, and questioning the fatherland’s foreign policies is socially unacceptable, Eric shows how necessary it is to yell at the top of your lungs about the madness of it all.

Read our interview with Eric Millikin.

Read this comic.



Hereville
Barry Deutsch
Subscription (Girlamatic)


Barry Deutsch’s Hereville is the story of Mirka, a young girl living in the orthodox Jewish commune of Aherville. She is a strong-willed girl, who dreams of becoming a dragon slayer, while struggling with the duties imposed by being a female in a community that values traditional gender roles. The story is leisurely and steeped in cultural tradition; even troll killing must wait until after Shabbot rituals. Smart, yet heartwarming, quiet, yet with a genuine sense of adventure.

Read this comic.



Hotel Fred
Roger Langridge
Subscription (Modern Tales)


Roger Langridge is the most underappreciated talent in comics today, bar none, and we’re inconceivably fortunate to have his elegant, funny, classically cartoony work available online. This year, Langridge ended his long-running series “Fred the Clown” and started up a webstrip, “The Hotel Fred,” which almost immediately wandered off its daily schedule and expanded into an increasingly ambitious comic adventure. Somebody give this man the recognition he deserves, fast.

Read this comic.



Jazz Age
Ted Slampyak
Subscription


An old-fashioned adventure strip, but with real heart. Slampyak’s characters are distinct, endearing, and believably flawed. The setting is diligently researched, and the strip’s humorous moments flow naturally out of the characters and story, rather than feeling like self-conscious gags.

Read this comic.



Jonny Crossbones
Les McClaine
Free


Remember Les McClaine’s seldom-updated diary comic “Life with Leslie”? Maybe you do, maybe you don’t. Either way, he’s now pouring his creative energies into a beautiful Herge-style adventure featuring a skull-faced protagonist on the trail of pirate treasure. The early color pages are particularly stunning.

Read this comic.



Keaner.net
Kean Soo
Free


Kean Soo’s journal comics explore the artist’s personal crisis with daring and insight. And his vibrantly-colored short story comics are subtle, deeply-felt narratives that experiment boldly with musical soundtracks.

Read our review.

Read this comic.



The New Adventures of Death
Dorothy Gambrell
Subscription (Modern Tales)


Gambrell has found a satiric vehicle par excellence in the figure of Death, shorn of his mythic role and set adrift in modern society– a sweet-hearted simpleton whose only friend is a potato. The irony is that he’s so endearing, because after all, this is Death we’re talking about! As an added bonus, Gambrell’s eye-catching poster-hued artwork is a playful delight, Death’s chalk-white head always holding the color schemes together.

Read our review of Gambrell’s Cat and Girl.

Read this comic.



The Nile Journals
Daniel Merlin Goodbrey
Subscription (Serializer.net)


Daniel Merlin Goodbrey has been on the forefront of comics experimentation for years, but his storytelling prowess has consistently played second fiddle to his theoretical and technical achievements. The Nile Journals, his first ongoing comic, is an absorbing meta-fictional adventure that blends Goodbrey’s high tech aesthetic with characters drawn from several of his previous works, to finally prove the practical storytelling value of some of Goodbrey’s headier concepts.

Read our review.

Read this comic.



Outside the Box
Brendan Cahill
Subscription (Modern Tales)


This completed work is great for fans of film noir detective stories as well as philosophy majors. Brendan Cahill uses flash animation in an exciting cinematic way, giving a gunfight scene a tense, staccato choreography.

Read our review.

Read this comic.



Reman Mythology
Amy Kim Ganter
Free


The webcomics world is full of manga-style works, and it’s been Amy
Kim Ganter’s ability to produce an ambitious concept, with a fully
realized, beautifully-draw world, and an absorbing story, that has
made her stand out. We’re looking forward to following this series
through to the end.

Read our review.

Read this comic.



Return to Sender
Vera Brosgol
Free


The series updated only sporadically this year, as creator Vera Brosgol is immersed in animation school, but the art got funkier and the story got funnier. Brosgol’s absurdist fantasy about two peculiar people ordered by a series of mysterious letters to do… what?… defies description; her dynamic, expressive art and gift for comic dialogue continue to amaze.

Read our review.

Read this comic.



Scary Go Round
John Allison
Free


If you crossed Seinfeld with Robot Monster, you’d probably get something like Allison’s candy-colored hit series, a droll send-up that makes B Movies seem more relevant than ever.

Read our review.

Read this comic.



Strawberry Julius
Chris Shadoian
Subscription (Modern Tales)


Chris Shadoian has often expressed his love of eccentrics in his series The Streets of Northhampton, never more perfectly than in this delightful saga. A simple young woman has "an adventure" while taking in a movie at the local multiplex. Her innocence is touching and her idea of a daring adventure is so sweetly naive it takes your breath away.

Read our review.

Read this comic.




The Stiff
Jason Thompson
Subscription (Girlamatic)


Billed by the artist as a “manga-style zombie romantic comedy," this is a strikingly well-observed graphic novel about high-school life, with disturbing supernatural elements creeping in at the edges. Jason Thompson’s obsessively-detailed art grows stronger as his opus continues, and is currently quite lovely.

Read our review.

Read this comic.



Vicious Souvenirs
John Barber
Subscription (Modern Tales)

Barber’s flash-animated fourth-dimensional infinite canvas continues to influence the next generation of cartoonists. Vicious Souvenirs is the most ambitious experiment in the technique, and it’s also a complex saga of global and personal politics against the backdrop of a post-9/11 nightmare world.

Read our review of Barber’s comics.

Read this comic.



All images copyrighted by their creators. Descriptions by Alexander Danner, William G., A. G. Hopkins, Shaenon Garrity, and Joe Zabel.


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