Webcomics: JiH-Approved

It's important to realize that your assumptions can be wrong; otherwise, you might miss something amazing.

That's general life advice, but it also applies to my relationship with webcomics. For a long time, I didn't really care for them. It was a natural predisposition against a medium that seemed to eschew superheros from it's hallowed ranks; a perceived defense against the possibly pretentious. It's not that I believed internet comics were completely devoid of good work or talented individuals...it's just that I didn't care about anything I felt might come from them.

Still, as I said it's important to accept when an opinion might be inaccurate, and a little screwing around on TVTropes pulled me into the world of webcomics. And since it's Jumping in Headfirst's job to direct people towards awesome stuff, I felt it was my personal duty to point my loyal readers towards my finds.

Questionable Content

Creator: Jeph Jacques
Release Schedule: M-F
Published Since: 2003

I'd love to say Questionable Content could be summed up in a single sentence. "Young twenty-something talks about obscure/indie rock bands and bangs cute hipster girls!", or "One cartoonist's attempt to fit as many broken girls into a single comic as possible," or even "A sentient robot's attempt to achieve transcendence! ...And feel boobies." But QC isn't any of those things, entirely.

The story's protagonist is a young twenty-something named Marten, but he isn't exactly a ladies' man, considering he appears to be a magnet for "broken" women. (Who aren't really hipsters; I was just trolling.) The beauty of QC is that it isn't about anything specific, so you can go to the site right now and jump into the series.

For those with the fortitude to go through the comic's nearly 2000 strip backlog, though, there's a different reward. While Questionable Content may not have a singular major storyline running through the entire series, what it does have are some of the best written characters in comics, online or off. Even most of the bit players are developed enough that you get a sense of who they are, and why you should care about them. (This is why people still ask about Raven.) The main characters feel like layered, three-dimensional individuals that you've actually met--ones with their own personal desires, interests, jobs, and lives outside of what you see in the comic.

Now it's true, Jeph Jacques does seem to be trying to shove as many "broken" people as possible into a single book, but none of them feel boring or cliche. Not every person with problems was raped by an ex or beaten by their parents. Sometimes it's as simple as having the queen of "evil" CEOs for a mom, a "real life" genius mad scientist as your father, and spending the majority of your childhood in a space station, leading to a lifetime phobia of germs/unclean things and severe OCD.

And that's the other thing about Questionable Content I love. It feels like a living, breathing world. One that doesn't just begin and end with the core cast. Jeph goes out of his way to create new characters constantly, as well as giving the main cast more places to hang out than just at Marten's apartment or Dora's coffee shop. We've met family members of the main cast, friends of friends, evil spies, superheroes, ninja, government agents, and insane robots (usually obsessed with boobs). The adventures of Marten's robot friend Pintsize alone could easily fill 100 strips, to say nothing of Pizzagirl. Jeph makes the world of QC enough like ours to relate to, but has no trouble tossing in unrealistic elements to spice things up.I promise you won't need a background in Quantum Physics to understand *all* the jokes...but you might need a significant one in fart jokes.

Menage a 3

Creators: Giz and Dave Zero1
Release Schedule: T-Th-Sat.
Published Since: 2008

Three's Company was a pretty polarizing sitcom. So polarizing that even a fan would get pissed watching some episodes--after all, there can only be so many times Jack could fail at getting one of the girls in bed with him, or they could have one of their classic "misunderstandings" before someone tosses their remote at the television.

What's this have to do with Menage a 3, though? Well, Ma3's what you get when you take Three's Company's basic set-up, replace "ladykiller" Jack Tripper with a virgin comic book geek, swap Chrissy and Janet with two far more sexually charged female roommates, and drop the need for S&P restrictions.

If it isn't obvious, I'll go ahead and say it: Ma3 is my guilty pleasure. That doesn't mean it's a bad comic, but it's not known for it's deep characters or heavily engaging stories. It's beautiful (ironically enough, Archie-esque) drawings of beautiful people engaging in sexy funtimes. The main storyline is about the life of protagonist Gary, a comic book geek who gets two hot new roommates (Zii and DiDi) after his last two roommates explain they're moving out to start a relationship together (after he catches the two of them having sex on the couch), and Gary's main goal in the series is to get laid. Yes, seriously.

So why read it? Because it's FUNNY. And because it's a love dodecahedron that gives readers a look at how mutable the lines between sexual orientation can be. Of all the characters in the book, the only one whose orientation is confirmed is Zii, the cute punk rock chick (with a serious fangirl on for the comic book superhero Dazzler) who will sleep with anyone so long as they're gorgeous. The others all read like case studies of how easy the orientation of some people can change depending on their own personal life situations.

Granted, I don't think this is permanent for most characters (I'm fairly certain as of the recent storyline Sandra and Didi's orientations are confirmed), but watching everyone's evolution as characters is half the fun!

All that said, be warned: this comic is as gender-equal in it's fanservice as possible. You name the pairing (Guy/Girl, Guy/Guy, Girl/Girl, in between), and it's in been in Ma3. Twice. At least. (Starting as early as the first comic, with Gary's two male roommates. Yeah.) Ma3 is not at all shy about stepping out of the vanilla, so if you're not comfortable with any particular pairing, you're better off skipping out on the entire thing.

But if you can get past that, Menage a' 3 is a great way to amuse yourself three times a week.

Real Life Comics

Author: Greg Dean
Release Schedule: M-F
Published Since: 1999 (Seriously.)

Jumping in Headfirst's existence is proof that I am a huge, unashamed geek. And though I may not say it all the time I have a strong love for self-referential humor. With these things in mind, Real Life reads like what my life would be as a webcomic.

Following it's creator Greg Dean and his friends, Real life is probably one of the oldest comic strips on the web still being updated regularly, and that's probably why I love it so much. (That and the art style. Cute isn't always bad.) Starting back at the beginning is like being transported back to my life in sixth grade (Nostalgia!), when the internet was new to me and people could like things un-ironically. The comic itself is stuffed with references to MMO's, console games, and the occasional anime--in short, it reads like a microcosm of what any self-respecting geek would consider "important".

There's also a fair bit of wish fulfillment to keep readers on the toes. (No one can force you to be realistic in your own comic.) While Real Life normally sticks to it's title for subject matter, it occasionally veers off into geeky, science fiction-y asides, like when Greg and core cast member/genius "evil" scientist Tony take a trip into the future to buy video games they don't want to wait for. (And their subsequent trips into the past to make money for said games.) Basically, what all of us would do if we had time machines. (One of you is thinking about how awesome it would be to skip waiting and play KH3 today while you're reading this.)

That's what makes Real Life such an enjoyable read for me. The characters aren't people I might know--they're people I already know, making cracks about things I actually talk about on a daily with my friends. And it's not always a bad thing to enjoy playing around in your wheelhouse. As of this article's posting I have another seven and a half years of backlog to go through with this one, and I look forward to each and every strip.

That's it for me. I've only recently gotten into webcomics, so (thankfully) the list was short. If I can any other cool ones they'll definitely find their way to this site though. Later folks.


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