The 13 Best Webcomics of 2013

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Our goal in choosing the “best” webcomics this year was to highlight comics with wit and originality. From the playground politics of young superheroes to the crazy antics of a shapeshifting squire, these diverse comics combine genius storytelling with uniquely-imagined artwork. Each webcomic 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 2013:

13. JL8

By Yale Stewart
Updates weekly
DC Comics: The Elementary School Years. That’s essentially the pitch for this delightful series courtesy of Yale Stewart. With buzz words like “dark” and “gritty” recently all the rage in the comics (and comic book film) industry over the past decade, a little childish innocence is a more than welcome change of pace. Not to mention the unspeakable fun any DC nerd would get from watching their favorite characters reappropriated for the elementary school hierarchy, whether its Batman and Superman as adventurous young lads clueless about the behavior of girls, Lex Luthor or Solomon Grundy as devious school bullies, or Martian Manhunter as the put-upon student always getting thrown into a locker. While the major comic companies indeed have plenty of kid-friendly offerings on the market, Stewart’s clever reinterpretation remains one that can unite children and cynical comic book nerds alike. (MR)



12. Sticks Angelica

By Michael DeForge
Updates weekly
The bizarre, pink-hued world of Sticks Angelica is a breath of fresh air to the webcomics genre. The tale follows Angelica, a Canadian heiress who shuns the spotlight and moves into the wilderness. She replaces the company of humans for a community of talking wildlife, including a wee rabbit with a crush on her and a flock of pretentious geese. What makes the webcomic so refreshing is its unapologetic disregard for logic. Both the characters and DeForge’s artwork exist by their own rules, and you’ll find yourself enthralled by the curious nature of Angelica’s world. (FJ)



11. Dinosaur Comics

By Ryan North
Updates every M-T-W-Th
Talking dinosaurs prone to waxing philosophical like a couple of stoned college students in their freshman dorm room—that right there should be enough to lure any nerd to Ryan North’s stellar (and long-running) webcomic. Sure, the strips might not come with the kind of pop and flash that has come to define breakthrough webcomics of recent years. But what the comic lacks in style, it more than makes up for with its unique brand of cerebral (if somewhat absurdist) writing. Don’t judge a book by its cover, Dinosaur Comics may very well provide some of the biggest laughs you’ll have all year. (MR)



10. Shortpacked!

By David Willis
Updates every M-W-F
Shortpacked! began in 2005 as a web series ripped from the life of its esteemed author David Willis. Set in a toy store (and based on Willis’ own experience working retail at Toys “R” Us), Shortpacked! expertly captures the voice and experiences of a certain breed of 21st-century, pop-culture nerd. It’s the kind of comic where characters regularly reference the likes of Transformers, Batman and Spider-Man and blurt out statements like “life would be so much simpler if folks stopped existing forever once they disappear from my peripherals, like in video games.” What’s more, while the series initially existed as a means of telling stand-alone gags, it’s readily evolved over the years to include long-running arcs and more developed characters. After a while, you may find yourself caring for the toyshop employees the way you do for the characters on your favorite TV show. Yep, it’s just that good. (MR)



9. It Will All Hurt

By Farel Dalrymple
Updates every Friday
Be warned: It Will All Hurt isn’t comedic like the other webcomics on this list. With haunting illustrations and a bleak storyline, Dalrymple’s foray into a post-apocalyptic world may even make you cringe. But therein lies its beauty. Instead of seeking to entertain you outright, It Will All Hurt forces you to sift through the grit for answers. Making sense of the narrative is your responsibility, and the kernels you’ll glean through your efforts are worth it. (FJ)



8. Gronk

By Katie Cook
Updates every Friday
Gronk’s first issue begins with the adorable, titular character being thrown out of monster-dom for his inability to scare. He promptly enters the real world and stumbles upon musician Dale. The two connect and, along with Dale’s other assortment of eccentric pets, find themselves getting into all manner of hijinks. Just as with her work as a writer on the My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic series, creator Katie Cook expertly mixes heartfelt storytelling with clever, laugh-out-loud comedy. Often, the strips read like a long-form version of a beloved animated film in the vein of Lilo and Stitch, My Neighbor Totoro or How to Train Your Dragon. One thing’s for sure, if this webcomic doesn’t manage to lift your spirits, check your pulse because there’s probably a black hole where your heart should be. (MR)


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