Chunks

I have two distinct methods for reading webcomics. The first is to read comics as they’re posted, three or five or seven times a week. I do this for all the gag-a-day and continuity-free strips I follow.

The other is to come back to the comic every six months or so and read all the new comics that have been posted in the interim. This tactic, as you might expect, is used on every comic that does have a long-term story to tell. I find reading such a comic one page at a time over the course of years to be fairly insufferable — even in the best such comics, the individual pages don’t offer enough entertainment value to warrant a daily trip. Fair better, in my mind, to invest an afternoon every few months and get a big chunk of story all at once. I spent just such an afternoon today getting caught up on Darths & Droids, a webcomic that I feel is never quite as funny as its premise suggests it should be, but which is still worth the read.

The obvious problem with such a method is that a) I often forget to check back on such comics, since they don’t have the force of habit backing them up the way the dailies do, and b) when I do remember, I’ve often forgotten where I left of.

As with most other mediums, the genre of webcomics I’m most attracted to are action-adventure stories, usually of the fantastic variety. Gamers-on-couch and college drama comics all blur together after a while for me, but wizards and warriors never get old. That’s an unfortunate taste to have, because truly good fantasy comics are thin on the ground. Any idiot can draw two morons with controllers in their hands and write topical video game jokes, but creating a decent fantasy comic that both looks and reads well is much more difficult. There are plenty of well-drawn fantasy webcomics out there, but most of them are riffing off either anime or D&D for their plots, while the more original ones tend to have crappy art. (No matter how deftly written, clever, or well-developed, I find I can’t get into comics with mediocre art. Making it look good is half the battle with a comic — prose exists specifically to serve those of us who can write but not draw!)

I’ve been in the hunt for a fantasy webcomic that isn’t parodying D&D or Final Fantasy for well over a year and have mostly come up empty. Not all of them have been bad, by any means, but nothing has stuck with me long enough to seek them out months later for another chunk. I read the archive, promise myself I’ll check back in sometime in the future, and have it completely slip my mind, as the comic is so forgettable that I don’t really have much of a motive to dive back in again.

The two comics everyone keeps telling me I should read are Gunnerkrigg Court and Rice Boy, both of which I tried to get into only to lose interest after a few chapters. Both are such slow burns and have this way of attaching mythic significance to every little thing that happens that make me feel as though I’m missing an important detail on every page. So, no dice there. Any suggestions?

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