Lately, it seems that comics have been enjoying something of a resurgence. Up until a few years ago, a comic would have meant Beano rather than Batman on this side of the Atlantic. From t-shirts and belts on the high street, to graphic novels being sold in HMV and Waterstones, for the first time, comics have infiltrated the British mainstream. Whilst we’re all familiar with The Big Bang Theory’s Leonard and Sheldon or The O.C.’s Seth Cohen, this apparent American cliché hadn’t crossed the pond until recently and rather than being geeky, comics are now hipster-cool in the UK.
There are literally thousands of them scattered around the Internet, from fanfics to journals, and from satires to narratives. Although you could spend many happy hours procrastinating amongst them, here’s a quick guide to some of the best.
First up, the Canadian daily strip Dinosaur Comics. Characters T-Rex, Utahraptor and Dromiceiomimus have featured every day since February 2003 and discuss everything from philosophy and Batman to time travel and impressing the ladies.
A Softer World is a darker, artier, weekly comic. Sex, madness and zombies feature heavily, with an omnipresent, anarchic undercurrent.
Another Canadian, Kate Beaton, writes the more educational, weekly webcomic: Hark A Vagrant! It uses historical or literary figures as its characters and is like a more bizarre Blackadder.
For more traditional comic-fare, check out Freakangels from Warren Ellis, set in post-apocalyptic London and featuring entertainingly dysfunctional super-powered twenty-somethings. A more coherent, soap-opera style narrative is available from comics such as Questionable Content or Girls With Slingshots.
Finally, one that you’re likely to have seen somewhere online or even in the pages of The Guardian, is xkcd, “a webcomic of romance, sarcasm, math and language”. That might not sound too appealing, but it’s filled with perfect stand-up comedian style observational humour and a long-running joke about the writer’s ongoing fear of velociraptor attacks.
So, as we creep towards exam season, I’d encourage you to venture into the world of online comics. There are millions posted all over the Internet, normally with extensive archives of previous strips; perfect for procrastinating. By their very nature, webcomics are succinct, easy to read and funny – but best of all, they’re free.