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Webcomics are arguably more popular now than they ever have been before. This is mainly due to a marked increase in the quality of content, with some webcomics being both magnificently written and magnificently drawn. So much so that they rival any of the more established and mainstream comic strips that make it into newspapers and magazines. Who needs print when digital provides all the comic nourishment you’ll ever need?
The subject matters tackled in webcomics are varied, and most people will be able to find one to suit their particular set of interests. If you’re reading MakeUseOf — which you surely are if you’re seeing these words — then you’ll have an interest in technology, the Internet, gaming, gadgets, and/or apps. In other words you’re a geek.
Don’t worry, there’s no shame in it. In fact, us geeks should revel in our nerdy goodness. We may have once been shunned by society at large, but I think you’ll find we emerged victorious as soon as everybody found they needed the friend or family member who knew their way around a computer and knew what not to post on Facebook.
If you’re with me, and are ready to celebrate your innate geekiness, then the following selection of webcomics are created with you in mind. Each and every one of them takes nerdy subject matters and puts an amusing spin on them. These should all be bookmarked and read on a regular basis. If you don’t comply then you may just lose your membership to the exclusive club that is simply titled GEEK.
Ctrl+Alt+Del has been around since 2002, which in Web terms is an eon. Until recently, the comic, written and drawn by Tim Buckley, followed Ethan (a gaming fanatic) and Lucas (a programmer who also dabbles). But after a Hollywood-style reboot the epic story arcs have disappeared, and a new cast have taken over in a more bite-size and easy-to-understand format full of one-off jokes.
2. Three Panel Soul
Three Panel Soul is a webcomic by the same duo behind Mac Hall. When that property lost its appeal, they moved on to Three Panel Soul, which, as the name suggests, plays out over exactly three panels. The subject matters covered are varied, but all are centered in the slice-of-life genre. The art style is intense, with the mostly black and white ink accentuated by the splashes of color.
3. Penny Arcade
Penny Arcade made its debut way back in 1998, and it quickly became established as a webcomic not to be missed. It’s mainly focused on video games and video game culture, with Jerry Holkins providing the words, and Mike Krahulik providing the artwork. The gags in Penny Arcade are typically topical and designed to appeal to the geekiest of the geeky. Which suits us just fine.
4. HijiNKS ENSUE
HijiNKS ENSUE is a webcomic written and drawn by Joel Watson. It’s subtitled “A Geek Comic” and that short-but-sweet description is spot on. The subject matter is usually topical, often related to pop culture, and always geeky. Not just technology geeky, but sci-fi geeky too.
5. The Joy Of Tech
The Joy Of Tech is a webcomic whose title says it all. It takes a wry look at technology, with the sharpest barbs being reserved for Apple and Microsoft. Liza Schmalcel and Bruce Evans are responsible for The Joy Of Tech, and as they’re both Canadian I guess we can forgive that country for inflicting both Nickelback and Justin Bieber on the rest of the world.
XKCD is not for the faint of heart. It’s perhaps the geekiest webcomic featured on this list, but its subject matter isn’t always geeky. Mathematics and science jokes are the main order of the day, but I must admit some go way over my head. Randall Munroe, who is the man behind xkcd, also occasionally delves into pop culture, politics, and anything else which takes his fancy. It’s certainly a heady mix.
7. Extra Life
Extra Life is another long-running webcomic, as it’s been around since 2001. Written and drawn by Scott Johnson, who is also a designer and podcaster, Extra Life features short strips which tap into everyday life. Geeks aren’t always present, but they’re featured enough to make this more than worthy of a place on the list.
8. Geek And Poke
Geek And Poke is a webcomic by Oliver Widder, who is also an IT guy in Germany. He has a minimalist style which keeps the words and ink to the bare minimum. This works extremely well, although some of the strips could do with a little extra exposition. Like xkcd, Geek And Poke is not for the faint of heart, with academic topics often condensed down to a single panel.
9. Dork Tower
Dork Tower brings another word for our kind, other than geek and nerd, into the mix. It’s written and drawn by John Kovalic, and doesn’t leave any stone unturned in its effort to bring geekdom to the fore. Early-adopters, social networkers, Star Trek and Dungeons and Dragons fans, and every other kind of nerd there is are welcome to this world, where pop culture meets those on the fringes of society.
10. The Oatmeal
The Oatmeal has to be my favorite webcomic of all, hence it being saved until last. Written and drawn by Matthew Inman, The Oatmeal features expansive and exquisitely researched comics on a truly eclectic mix of topics. Most of them are geeky, but even those that aren’t are well worth reading. Inman has a particular style that, though far from beautiful, is perfect for the medium.
During the course of writing and researching this article, I’ve laughed, I’ve cried (thankfully with laughter), and I’ve gained more geeky websites to visit on (at least) a weekly basis. Ah, the joys of the Internet. I’ve also gained a promotion in the geek ranks. I should be getting a medal any day now.
As always we want to know what you think of the article you’ve just read. Are there any geeky webcomics you feel should have made it onto this list? Note that if you’re into manga, you should expand your library further with these ways to read manga for free online.