Comic Strips on the Web
Below are various comic strips on the Web of which I'm a fan.
by Jimmy Johnson
This cartoon features a couple of forty-something parents raising their teenaged son, with wit that is by turns charming and biting. There have been a couple of paperback collections, but sadly I think they're all out-of-print.
by Dan Piraro
A cartoon evocative of The Far Side in its single-panel treatment of a wide variety of subjects, except that Piraro can draw! He's actually an excellent cartoonist, and his stuff is often drop-dead funny. There are ten collections available as of late 1999.
by Scott Adams
The ultimate nerd comic strip, featuring the bespectacled engineer and his sarcastic dog, Dogbert. The art is crude, at best, and the strip is not nearly as sharp a criticism of the business world as it once was, but it still raises some occasional yuks. There are endless paperback collections available; grab any one or two to get a feel for the strip. However, the book Building a Better Life through Stealing Office Supplies - which is all original material - is the best of the bunch, the best thing Adams has done.
by Garry Trudeau
The classic strip of political and social commentary. I'm not a huge fan of the strip, and I enjoy the soap opera about the main characters much more than the direct political commentary, but I keep up with it in the newspapers.
by Alison Bechdel
An outstanding lesbian-centered strip, Bechdel artfully juggles a large cast and satisfactorily handles a wide variety of issues as seen through her disparate characters. I sometimes think the strip could benefit from Bechdel presenting male counterpoints once in a while, but it's still one of my favorites. There are about eight collections of the strip so far, which is the best way to get caught up on it.
by Lynn Johnston
The long-running comic strip of the Patterson family, unique in that its characters are aging in nearly-real time. When the strip began, in the 1970s, Mike was a small child. Now, he's in college. Johnston is a gifted cartoonist and a very capable writer. Though the strip mainly emphasizes the day-to-day life of its protagonists, every so often it jumps up and bites you with a really great gag.
There are numerous collections of the strip available. The earlier strips are generally one-off gags; a good starting point might be There Goes My Baby, in which the son Michael learns to drive.
by Tom Batiuk
It started out as a lighthearted satire of high school, became a little more down-to-earth when the character of Les took over the focus from Funky and showed how shy, introverted geeks can be alienated from the rest of the school. In the 90s, it jumped forward 4 years and Les became a teacher at his old school. Now Funky Winkerbean explores a variety of social issues surrounding schools and how young adults interact with each other and deal with life. It's always thoughtful, and sometimes quite moving.
by Frank Cho
Like Bloom County and Doonesbury, Cho's strip is based on his college strip, University2 (which is available in paperback form). Liberty Meadows has quickly become one of my favorite strips, with Cho's artwork being absolutely stunning, and his breadth of pop culture references often hilariously funny. As of August 1999, it's being reprinted in comic book form, but hopefully paperback collections will come out eventually.
You can also find the strip on-line at CToons.
by Joe Martin
A wacky gag-a-day strip which rarely fails to crack me up. There are a handful of paperback collections so far.
In addition to the syndicate site above, Martin also has set up his own site for the strip.
by Patrick McDonnell
Another favorite of mine, McDonnell's look at the animal world - mainly through the eyes of Mooch the cat and Earl the dog - evokes a little of the classic strip Krazy Kat. The artwork is deceptively simplistic; McDonnell has a fine sense of form and layout, and his images are often lovely. The writing can be a little sentimental, but it generally quite original and lively. As of August 1999, there are four paperback collections available.
by Nina Paley
A feminist look at life in sunny California. Paley is a truly gifted cartoonist with a sharp wit. Sadly, she seems to have given up the business to pursue other ventures, sniff! There are two collections of her strips; I sincerely hope that she'll pick up her pen someday and resume cartooning.
Wiley is crazy. His strips run the gamut, but mostly take pot-shots at lawyers and corporate America. There are a couple of paperback collections available.
by Jim Meddick
A strip which is nearly as nerdy as Dilbert. The big difference is that Meddick is by far the better cartoonist, and his subject matter is a lot broader. The early days were much funnier; I think the strip revels too much in its nerdliness these days.
by Jeff Millar and Bill Hinds
A long-running sports cartoon. I'm only a sporadic reader of this one.
by Tom Tomorrow (a.k.a. Dan Perkins)
A sharply left-leaning cartoon, it focuses mainly on debunking the ridiculous claims, statement and actions of the political right in America, pointing up just how scary it is that anyone in their right mind would vote for such people. There are several collections available.
by Jerry Scott and Jim Borgman
A fine cartoon about a young teenager, combining Scott's sharp writing (which I like much better here than in his other strip, Baby Blues) and political cartoonist Jim Borgman's excellent artwork. There's some great stuff here. There's one paperback collection available.
Madison, WI's weekly humor newspaper has gotten a national reputation. Amazingly, it's maintained a high level of irreverent (and often offensive) humor for nearly a decade, and many of its articles have circulated around the Internet. It's terrific stuff, as is their first book, Our Dumb Century. Check it out.
David Letterman's weekly top ten lists are archived on-line.
by Larry Taylor
Larry's a friend of mine from Wisconsin. WDR is a collection of political and social humor.
Kovalic does editorial cartoons for the Wisconsin State Journal in Madison, and also produces the comic strip Wild Life. His art style is not as
refined as a Watterson or a Piraro, but he goes for the jugular in his humor and is one of the rare cartoonists willing to take advantage of a good (or bad) pun.
Kovalic also does the fall-down-funny comic book about the gaming biz, Dork Tower.
MacNelly is a famous editorial cartoonist and the creator of the strips Shoe and Pluggers. MacNelly passed away in June 2000.
Creator of the hilarious alternative strip Nina's Adventures, which has been collected twice.
Tom Toles may be the greatest editorial cartoonist in the world. He's got a sharp eye for satire of the political, social and corporate arenas, and is gut-wrenchingly funny.
Home of the delightfully amusing clay-animated Wallace and Gromit features.
Strange-but-true news items.
hits since 29 December 1996.