The 20 Best Webcomics of 2014

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The 20 Best Webcomics of 2014

From the philosophic ruminations of dinosaurs to a shapeshifter’s grandiose plan for world domination, these diverse webcomics combine genius storytelling with uniquely-imagined artwork. Each comic listed impressed us with its creative depth, and we know they’ll bring you hours of entertainment.

And so, without further ado, here are Paste’s choices for the Best Webcomics of 2014:

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20. Cyanide & Happiness
Writers & Artists: Rob Denbleyker, Dave McElfatrick, Kris Wilson and Matt Melvin
Schedule: Updates Daily
Much in the way dirty limericks are all the more repulsive when told by children, Cyanide & Happiness reminds us that winking nihilism and wanton violence resonate with utter jubilance if carried out by stick figures. The venerable absurdist franchise can be decisively hit-or-miss, although that’s par for the course of risk-taking comedy. The Kids in the Hall weren’t funny 100 percent of the time, either. The Cyanide & Happiness Show made its overdue debut on the web this year, demonstrating the growing irrelevance of television. Perhaps more importantly, the program has already reinvigorated the lost art of castration jokes. —Barry Thompson

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19. Shortpacked!
Writer & Artist: David Willis
Schedule: Updates M-W-F
Not only has the quirky office comedy proven a tried-and-true formula for decades across numerous mediums, but Shortpacked! has been ongoing since the second Bush administration. That David Willis has kept the exploits of a madcap toy store crew entertaining for this long boggles the mind. It certainly helps that Shortpacked! is about toys in the same way The Office is about paper. This year, Malaya and Ultra Car overcame the sexual frustrations that inevitably arise in human/robot romances, Robin and Leslie had superscience-spawned triplets (and finally got married), Robin talked about Batman a lot and other characters talked about Transformers a lot. Willis plans on bringing Shortpacked! to a close next month, so fans will just have to be content with 10 years-worth of archived comics, plus Willis’ still-continuing Dumbing of Age. —Barry Thompson

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18. JL8
Writer & Artist: Yale Stewart
Schedule: Updates Weekly
Playground tussles, first crushes and sleepovers abound in JL8, Yale Stewart’s charming webcomic imagining DC heroes and villains as children. And while their personalities align with the comic book characters we grew up adoring, these tots are free of the Hollywood darkness recently enveloping the DC Universe. Both seasoned DC fans and new readers alike will enjoy the exploits of Stewart’s young heroes. —Frannie Jackson

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17. The Hole the Fox Did Make
Writer & Artist: Emily Carroll
Schedule: Completed
In The Hole the Fox Did Make, Carroll’s layering of dreams and reality is heightened. A young woman living with her mother is captivated by mysterious dreams of an imaginary society, but menace permeates worlds both fantastical and mundane. Ultimately, the story Carroll tells turns out to be less about fantasy archetypes and more about secrets and tragedy. Even more entrancing is the sense that there’s an underlying logic to these worlds that escapes the protagonist, adding to the sense of menace and mystery. —Tobias Carroll

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16. Sticks Angelica
Writer & Artist: Michael DeForge
Schedule: Updates Weekly
One of the most rewarding things about being a Michael DeForge fan is that there’s never a shortage of content read. He updates Sticks Angelica weekly, and although each strip could almost stand on its own (there are occasional four- or five-week runs that are explicitly continuous), they work together to build a bizarrely charming world. Regular concerns of DeForge’s oeuvre appear here too—mythological Canadian history, nature, the futility of longing—but mostly the strip operates as a way for the artist to experiment by setting restrictions on his art. Rendered in glorious pink, black and white, its horizontal 2-by-8-panel grid embraces a fabulous array of letterforms, page designs and moral hand-wringing. —Hillary Brown

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15. Dinosaur Comics
Writer & Artist: Ryan North
Schedule: Updates M-T-W-R
Let me be clear: I love Dinosaur Comics. Love it. Love it love love it love it. After 11 years, Ryan North’s interpretations of Tyrannosaurus (panels #1 – #6), Dromiceiomimus (panel #3), Utahraptor (panels #4 and #5) and God (off panel) conjure all manner of hilarity and subversively clever insight. The idiosyncratic cast chats, provokes and ruminates in ways that only pixelated dinosaur illustrations can. There’s been debate whether a comic that’s featured the same static illustrations since 2003 is brilliant or lazy. Keep in mind this is also a comic that reimagined Shakespearean dialogue for the Facebook generation and posited Batman riding a laser-shooting Pterodactyl. Let that be your answer. If form is function, than North has nearly perfected his one-man art. —Sean Edgar

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14. As the Crow Flies
Writer & Artist: Melanie Gillman
Schedule: Completed
Melanie Gillman created this sensitive and lovely webcomic for nearly three years, but they (Gillman prefers the third-person plural pronoun) took their time for good reason. Following the story of a queer African American girl at an overnight camp with old feminist roots, the comic unfurls slowly, each page drawn with painstaking care in colored pencils. Gillman says it took them about 8 to 10 hours to complete a single page, and the results feel contemplative, with sublime views of landscape as the girls hike through the wilderness. —Hillary Brown

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13. It Will All Hurt
Writer & Artist: Farel Dalrymple
Schedule: Updates Weekly
Reading Farel Dalrymple’s work is like diving into a David Cronenberg movie. It Will All Hurt appears to take place in the same universe as Dalrymple’s graphic novel The Wrenchies, a dreamlike, menacing world full of horrifying fears that never quite reveal themselves. Dalrymple renders it all in his trademark soft colors, with images that strain against their panels, leaking outside their borders on occasion. The webcomic format of It Will All Hurt, with less of an emphasis on constructing a neat narrative, is ideal for him. —Hillary Brown

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12. Hobo Lobo of Hamelin
Writer & Artist: Stevan Živadinovi?
Schedule: Updates Sporadically
Upon the emergence of new technology, historically, the fresh gadgetry gets used for “mature” purposes. After a while, more thoughtful individuals cook up artistic applications. Stevan Živadinovi? established himself among the latter faction with Hobo Lobo, a motion comic chronicling a rated-R-for-language fairy tale coating a political satire. The aptly-named Mayor Dick Mayor bamboozles the wandering, titular jack of all trades into ridding the town of its vermin problem, just in time for election season! Sadly, Hobo Lobo has yet to see his promised monetary compensation and plots revenge. Visually, Hobo Lobo melds the consciously-childlike approach of Bill Watterson with Edward Gorey’s penchant for gloom. That is, unless we’re addressing the reality meltdown transpiring at the conclusion of page 3, which delivers the kind of dark surrealism that would do David Lynch proud. —Barry Thompson

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11. Oyster War
Writer & Artist: Ben Towle
Schedule: Completed
Riding last year’s wave of accolades (including an Eisner nomination), Oyster War continued to excite through its satisfying conclusion this fall. Commander Davidson Bulloch and his quirky crew battled oyster pirates, a sea serpent and their own skepticism, providing us with a high seas adventure worth reading again and again. The comic’s combination of historical fiction (it’s set in Virginia after the Civil War) and mythology (hello ghosts and selkies) ultimately weaves a charming tale for all ages. —Frannie Jackson

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