Check out these online comics to find your next favorite!
Rather than read the traditional Spider-Man, Avengers or X-Men comic books as a child, I spent my pocket money buying comic books that I liked — ones that focused on everyday life, crime drama or high school love triangles (if we’re talking about Riverdale, I’m Team Betty all the way).
Due to my lack of love for men in costumes shooting laser beams out of their eyes, it took me years to be able to proudly call myself a comics fan while being able to fight off the judgment from the DC/Marvel superhero purists. However, as I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized that comics are such a complex art form that there truly are comics out there for anybody’s interests.
Superheroes aren’t for everyone — but comics can be! I follow several online comics, mostly about or written by women or genderqueer folks, that use art and text in imaginative ways to tell an engaging story. These online comics range from informative to hysterical to revolutionary — reading each of them has changed my life in some way for the better. Check out these online comics to find your next favorite!
Girls With Slingshots by Danielle Corsetto
Courtesy of Danielle Corsetto
Starting in October 2004 and ending on March 12, 2015 (AKA one of the saddest days of my life), Girls With Slingshots follows a group of friends in their midtwenties as they attempt to become full-grown adults. Writer and cynic Hazel and optimistic Jamie, best friends for life, navigate dating, friendships, employment and the trials of life. The dialogue in Girls With Slingshots is witty without being slapstick funny, and though it is mostly realistic, there is a talking cactus for some comedic relief.
Oh Joy Sex Toy! by Erika Moen and Matthew Nolan
Courtesy of Erika Moen and Matthew Nolan
This educational and super-NSFW comic reviews sex toys in an informative and sex-positive manner. Oh Joy Sex Toy covers everything, and I mean everything, when it comes to topics such as sex toys, reproductive safety and good old-fashioned smut. My favorite part of this comic, other than seeing vibrators with smiley faces, is the gender and body-type variety of characters called “masturbateers,” who Moen describes on her website as “fictional, gender-neutral characters who portray the use of sex toys” that Moen and her partner Nolan review.
Riverside Extras by Miranda Chamberlain
Courtesy of Miranda Chamberlain
Riverside Extras has all the suspense and charm of a typical crime noir drama with 100 percent more women power and ass-kicking. In this fictional 1900s city, two organized crime outfits (the all-male Ink and the all-female Roses) fight for territory and power.
Through the exploits of the Roses and the pivotal character of Ophelia Banksly, a high-ranking member of the gang and a woman of color, Chamberlain hopes readers take away “the importance of female friendships.”
“There is not a lot of space for the examination of female friendships in mainstream comics, and the relationships that women have with each other are often minimized or ignored in favor of the relationships between men or women and men,” she said.
“The Roses, specifically, are intended to be a criticism leveled at modern feminism, which seeks to empower and elevate women but has historically failed to address the specific needs of women of color.”
Riverside Extras is a great comic if you like seeing women in power kick butt and take names while looking out for one another.
Assigned Male by Sophie LaBelle
Courtesy of Sophie LaBelle
Assigned Male is a web comic about a transgirl navigating life. Stephie, the main character, goes to school, interacts with her friends and parents and grows up all while fighting oppression and aggression from people who are disrespectful or downright hateful regarding her gender identity.
Assigned Male approaches serious topics in a humorous way that’s both educational and eye-opening for readers who aren’t familiar with gender identity politics. Reading Assigned Male as a cisgender person helps me learn more about the systemic injustices trans people face and how I can be a better ally.
Hark! A Vagrant by Kate Beaton
Courtesy of Kate Beaton
Kate Beaton’s three-panel online comics about historical and literary figures, such as Joan of Arc, Mr. Darcy or Benedict Arnold, will make you both laugh and think. Using her training as a historian, Beaton brings life to these figures and the times in which they lived, while providing humor for any reader. At the end of some of her online comics, she provides additional material for readers to learn more about the featured people in each strip.
As the Crow Flies by Melanie Gillman
Courtesy of Melanie Gillman
One of the most beautiful comic strips I’ve ever seen, Melanie Gillman’s As the Crow Flies is about a 13-year-old queer girl named Charlie who gets sent to an all-white Christian sleepaway camp. Throughout the comic Charlie, a person of color, addresses the need for inclusion and intersectional feminism while navigating the group and making friends.
Gillman created As the Crow Flies to discuss how “Christian spaces can often be isolating and painful for queer and trans people…. I wanted to write a book that said ‘you’re not alone!’ to people who’ve gone through similar.”
Creating each page of As the Crow Flies takes 10-12 hours and Gillman sharpens 1.33 pencils “into oblivion” for every drawing. The nature scenes in this comic are so breathtaking that it’s almost like being in the thick of the woods yourself.
Sarah’s Scribbles by Sarah Andersen
Courtesy of Sarah Andersen
Sarah’s Scribbles is an ongoing mostly biographical web comic about Andersen’s life as a 23-year-old living in Brooklyn. These short comic strips are humorous and relatable and remind me that I’m not the only one struggling to be an adult. They are pretty short and don’t need to be read in order, so this comic strip is a good one to peruse at your leisure without having to follow a story arc.