Here Are Some of the Best Webcomics of the Decade That Are Not About Superheroes
Mon, April 19, 2021

Here Are Some of the Best Webcomics of the Decade That Are Not About Superheroes

Since the rise of the superhero movie from niche nerds to box-office winners status, the world of comics has found brand new belonging with today’s audience / Photo by: Patty Mooney via Flickr

 

Since the rise of the superhero movie from niche nerds to box-office winners status, the world of comics has found brand new belonging with today’s audience, making the new stories of the decade even more in-depth, thought-provoking, and rather genre-bending, even. But more than superheroes, many comic book artists and illustrators have also entered the scene with their own concepts and ideas that may not be about the heroes on the big screen but are worthy of recognition all the same. 

In the last decade, the comic book world has become richer and more open to young blood and interesting stories. Here is a list of these works that are not superhero comics that you might want to try reading. 

“Hark! A Vagrant!” 
Written and illustrated by Kate Beaton
Released: 2007 (hit shelves 2011)
Format: Webcomic

In line with the understanding that the comic book industry has continued to stay alive to this day, we cite “Hark! A Vagrant!” as an example, a comic which gaming and popular culture website Polygon describes is chock full of “memetic potential.” It features, as the AV Club reports, a comical spin on “historical events and famous works of fiction”--think the entire “Blackadder” series compiled in a webcomic turned comic book. 

Beaton’s comedic beats in the comic are a delight, and in itself a kind of high-context comedy as well, as Beaton lets her “deep love of history and ability to condense it and communicate it” roam free. 

“Margot’s Room”
Written and illustrated by Emily Carroll
Released: 2011
Format: Webcomic - Interactive

It’s true that horror, like love, can be found in the oddest places. For instance, in artist Carroll’s works, the sinister quality of her storytelling relies heavily on her character’s interpersonal relationships, or what AV Club describes is Carroll’s ability to take an interpersonal relationship and “blur the lines between the monstrousness that people are capable of and literal monsters.” From “His Face All Red” of 2010 to “When the Darkness Presses” of 2014, and basically her entire body of work, Carroll works so much detail and elegance in her horrific stories, and “Margot’s Room” in particular is a boundary-pushing centerpiece to her already illustrious career in the horror comic genre. 

The interactive quality of the story--you can check it out on her site, emcarroll.com, and see that the opening artwork is peppered with clickable clues explaining Margot’s Room--makes the reader pay attention, really piece together what is being shown and put the puzzle pieces together. 

But more than superheroes, many comic book artists and illustrators have also entered the scene with their own concepts and ideas that may not be about the heroes on the big screen but are worthy of recognition all the same / Photo by: Kreg Steppe via Flickr

 

“TIME” 
Written and illustrated by Randall Munroe
Released: March 2013 - July 2013
Format: Webcomic

Contemplative and simple, “TIME” follows the journey of two nameless friends “as they search for the reason why the river near their home is rising, and, once they find it, rush home to save their community from the formation of a new ocean.” That’s the ‘simple’ aspect of it down, but what about its ‘contemplativeness’? If you must know, this brilliant work of art from Randall Munroe’s appeal is the way in which it was presented to the audience, beginning on March 25, 2013 and finishing finally on July 26, amassing a total of 3,099 unique images. 

It may just be drawn frame per frame in stick figures, but it was lauded by the Hugo Award-giving body for its creator’s take on it. 

“On A Sunbeam” 
Written and illustrated by 
Released: 2018
Format: Webcomic

It’s picturesque, making use of the duotone with the same tenderness as a Studio Ghibli movie would so what’s not to like about Tillie Walden’s “spellbinding queer sci-fi romance” story? According to the AV Club, the webcomic medium is one of the reasons “On A Sunbeam” worked well as a narrative. Without any of the page breaks, the story flow is smooth and immersive, and the strategic use of color evokes so much emotion that aligns with Walden’s penchant of “exploring new facets of growing up in each work.” 

Honorable Mentions: New Superheroes of the Decade

Since the bigger source of interest of the wider comic book fanbase lies in superhero-based comic books, it’s fitting to end this article by giving a little love to some of our newcomers in the last decade. 

All Might from “My Hero Academia”
Created by Kohei Horikoshi

If you ask anyone what they think makes a hero good, it’s not usually so cut-and-dried. There’s no sense of perfect alignment to any one “good” character. There is no supreme standard of behavior and there will never be one, but All Might, at least, is one wholesome dude that most everyone can get behind. 

Created as a parody of the average American superhero, this lovable father figure in the series is described in another Polygon article as just an all-around “wholesome, good guy.” And true enough, his genuine desire to do what’s best for the world is illuminated in the story, and though it’s extremely empowering to relate to a good guy who acts to make the world a better place due to previous trauma, it also feels good to see All Might, with his “real sense of justice” sans all that baggage. 

Created as a parody of the average American superhero, All Might of the Japanese series My Hero Academia is described in another Polygon article as just an all-around “wholesome, good guy” / Photo by: steamXO via Flickr