Monday 8 December 2014

Five Webcomics from Female Creators You Should Totally Be Reading

By Marie Victoria Robertson

I often sigh about how I wish I could draw. Thing is, I have an intense respect for comic artists, and webcomic artists in particular; using the versatility of a visual medium to tell a good story seems like a beautiful challenge to me. The comic book industry seems like a tough market to get into, particularly for female artists, and the big-name companies are often stuck catering to fanbases. On the flip side, webcomic artists strike out on their own, with the power to write, draw, and produce their own content on their terms. There is often little to no money involved in webcomics, meaning artists are putting their work out there, for free, for people to read and share and enjoy, purely for the love of their art.  

So, respect. Lots of it. 

Some amazing and talented women are responsible for some of the best webcomics out there and they deserve all the attention they can get. Below is a short list of webcomics I love, and you probably will too. 

1. Hark! A Vagrant by Kate Beaton

Chances are you’re already reading this one. If you’re not, I strongly advise you to sit down with a cup of tea and go through the archive. Kate Beaton is a master at crafting jokes based on history, literature, and occasionally pop culture. Her “strong female characters” are not to be missed. 

2. Oglaf (WARNING: Not Safe For Work) by Trudy Cooper (co-authored by Doug Bayne)

DO NOT click on that link if you are at work. Or if dear old aunt Gertrude is reading over your shoulder. From the same author as Platinum Grit, Oglaf tends to bounce between being a medieval fantasy-parody strip with liberal sex and nudity, and being an outright pornographic comic with token fantasy elements. It can be incredibly funny, however, and scathing in its deconstruction of fantasy tropes. Be warned that it can be VERY Not Safe For Work as sex is a huge element of this webcomic, though readers will enjoy seeing same-sex and interracial couplings, and women (of varying shapes and sizes) in interesting positions of power. 

3. Lackadaisy by Tracy J. Butler

This comic is about the titular speakeasy struggling to stay in business in prohibition-era Missouri, amid shifting loyalties, secrets from the past, and rum-running adventures. The story is so intricately written and the art is so exquisite that you almost stop noticing how the entire cast is comprised of anthropomorphic cats. While updates are not frequent, it’s worth going through the archives and bonus gallery over and over again, especially for history geeks. To say that the artist has done her research on the 1920’s is an understatement.  

4. Girls with Slingshots by Danielle Corsetto

GWS is another strip you’re probably reading already, but I couldn’t create a list of my favourite webcomics without including this one, especially since I may or may not have a crush on the character Jamie. For the uninitiated, GWS is a long-running series about a group of friends dealing with life events such as relationships, unemployment, and sexuality. And there might be a talking cactus involved too. It’s been running since 2004 so if you’re new to GWS, there is a lot to catch up on, but it’s a wonderfully funny ride. 

5. Junior Scientist Power Hour by Abby Howard

The first JSPH strip I read was this one and I was hooked. The once-a-week gags cover everything from Abby’s personal life to elements of pop culture to (of course) cats, with a healthy and hilarious dose of surrealism and a cool art style likely inspired by Jhonen Vasquez. Also be sure to check out Abby’s ongoing story, “The Last Halloween”, a comedy-horror story.

Which favourites would you have put on the list?

Marie Victoria Robertson is a published speculative fiction writer and playwright, as well as the board president of Jer’s Vision: Canada’s Youth Diversity Initiative ( When all the other girls wanted to marry Johnny Depp, she wanted to run away with Worf on the Enterprise. She enjoys giant robots, time-travel paradoxes, and dressing up her kids like Ninja Turtles.

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