Comicon’s 8 Best Webcomics Of 2017
by Hannah Means Shannon
Welcome to Comicon.com’s inaugural Best of the Year Awards, gathering the best comics and comics talent of 2017. This year we will be awarding in the following categories: Best Original Graphic Novels, Best Comic Series, Best Single Comic Issues, Best Writers, Best Artists, Best Cover Artists, Best Colorists, Best Letterers, Best Webcomics, Most Progressive Comics, and lastly, Comicon’s People of The Year: 2017.
Contributors to Comicon’s Best of the Year Awards this year include: Alan Stewart, Alex Schumacher, Brendan Allen, Gary Catig, James Ferguson, Kieran Fisher, Oliver MacNamee, Noah Sharma, Rachel Bellwoar, Tito James, Angel Carreras, and Hannah Means-Shannon.
The following are Comicon’s 8 Best Webcomics of 2017.
8. Dykes to Watch Out For, published by WomaNews (first printing), written, drawn, and lettered by Alison Bechdel
Alison Bechdel’s Dykes to Watch Out For was a trailblazing title during the salad days of the alternative press, not to mention being one of the first prominent LGBTQ voices in the medium. It was during her run on the comic where she honed her finely tuned writing — at once pointed and introspective — as well as her signature realistic, fluid and energetic linework. Though Bechdel ended her run in 2008 to focus on her graphic novel Are You My Mother?, she revived the strip on her site in 2017 for a few scathing installments amidst America’s current dicey political climate. Following an 8 year hiatus, the sheer amount of traffic attracted by the updated Dykes to Watch Out For caused her site to crash. As an artist who helped demolish walls established by an industry which can be hesitant to change, this was a fitting testament to Bechdel’s enduring talent, popularity, ingenuity, and relatability.
7. 1000, published by Line Webtoon, written by Chuck Brown, drawn by Sanford Greene, colored by Jake Kalbhenn and Mike Chung, lettered by Russ Wooton
1000 is a modern fantasy where mystical creatures like dragons and angels coexist with humans. One such dragon, Dragon Son, has been banished from his kingdom and in order to return, he must redeem himself by performing 1000 acts of penance. Together with a team of powered beings called Elder’s Echo, Sun protects the world from threats. When the latest threat happens to be from his own kind, Sun and his team must figure out why they mean to harm the world. Greene provides great character designs, dynamic artwork, and well-choreographed action sequences. He and Brown are creating an epic action adventure story jumping from one location to another and developing an intriguing mystery as who is the manipulator behind the Earth’s current dragon problems and what are his true motives.
6. War Cry, published by Line Webtoon, written and illustrated by Dean Haspiel
War Cry debuted in early December, but dropped several chapters at the same time on this free reading platform. Though this is the follow up to his award-winning Line Webtoon comic The Red Hook, Haspiel is exploring quite different themes in many ways. While The Red Hook questioned superheroic tradition in a separatist realm known as “New Brooklyn”, and looked at the problematic rise of an unwilling hero, War Cry is set to explore notions of identity and personal aspirations toward doing good through its central hero, a being comprised of a young African American man who forms a hybrid being with a resurrected female hero from the previous storyline. Together they become greater than either could have individually been, but the wild rogues gallery they are up against is all the more overwhelming, and there are big stakes in this new comic, publishing on Wednesdays each week. Haspiel’s artwork is getting even more expansive and experimental in this new tale, bringing a liveliness to linework, whether in emotional encounters or fight scenes, that continues to feel inspirational. There’s an idealism in his work, however much it is tempered by a questioning attitude, that continues to shine a light of hope for the reader.
5. Not Drunk Enough by Tessa Stone
Not Drunk Enough is a wild reading experience, hard to sum up succinctly. It fits into a “survival/revenge” genre category, but is also a bit of a thriller. It most reminds me of the early Resident Evil movies in subtle ways. In creator Tessa Stone’s own words, “A quick repair at a huge corporate lab during a late night shift should not have sent Logan into a hellish landscape fraught with monsters, but it looks like Lady Luck decided to give him the middle finger. Logan would like to give one back.” So we’re following Logan in his attempt to survive and also get back at the forces trying to destroy him. The artwork is electrifying and interesting at every turn. Stone’s aesthetics are both horror-based and adventure-based and feel fresh and new. This comic will definitely keep your pulse pounding, too.
4. Satan Ninja 198X, story by Adam Dravian, art by Jessica Safron
Subverting nostalgia is a worthy goal in comics–taking those things we all know and recognize, recontextualizing them, reminding us of their worthy qualities, and lampooning their excesses. Satan Ninja 198X is about all those things, though it does quite loudly trumpet the virtues of 80’s excess in a very fun way. It’s described as “A webcomic about a dweeb in the ’80s who accidentally becomes a satanic ninja.” That works, right? The artwork is 80’s homage, too, and full of dayglo and noir silliness. This ’80s-themed comic by Jessica Safron (artist/co-writer) and Adam Dravian (writer). is inspired by “radical 1980’s media, mostly movies, but also video games, cartoons, anime, heavy metal music, and the “satanic panic” of the era”. This is an adult comic, just be warned, with plenty of focus on over-the-top sexiness typical of the media mentioned above. But it has a tremendous amount of energy and humor.
3. Have You Any Fear? published by Line Webtoon, writers various, artists various, edited by Bekah Caden
This is an anthology webcomic published in chapters, each exploring the basic elements of an existing nursery rhyme. We all know nursery rhymes are essentially creepy, often containing core elements from much older strata of society, but Have You Any Fear? takes this much further, working with comic creators just itching to turn these phrases into something horrifying. The added benefit of the series being an anthology is that we get different art styles, tones, and interpretations each time. From creatures who stalk the night in “Baa, Baa Black Sheep” to gradual, relentless hopelessness in “Rain, Rain Go Away” (seen below), the comics are expansive and a dark surprise to explore with each new chapter. There are 10 so far, with more on the away. The series is curated and edited by Bekah Caden and also makes a great short format in which creators can show off their work, as well as picking up the new “scrolling” format at Line Webtoon, perhaps for the first time, to take it for a spin.
2. Mimon written and illustrated by Sas Milledge
Mimon is a delightful “short format” webcomic written and illustrated by Sas Milledge, who is an illustrator and animation graduate from RMIT University, in Melbourne, Australia. It features “hedge witch” Hester, and the magical, strange life she leads coming out of her student days. The artwork on the comic is stunning, and updates on Mondays. Laconic Mimon encounters Ainsley, who’s in need of a hedge witch’s services to handle a poltergeist, and a relationship between them gradually forms, building off their two very different personalities. Actual horror elements and magic are slowly introduced into the narrative, too, making for interesting visual shifts. Because the comic has been rolled out gradually, you can easily catch up on the past year’s pages and get ready for more Mimon.
1. Guts, written and illustrated by Victor Santos
Guts inspiration comes from “survival and horror genres”. Interestingly, it is also a “mute action story” and people from across cultures and languages will be able to read it. It is updated once a month. It features a young African American woman facing racial strife in the American South and literally “running” for her life at times in the 1980’s. In her past, during an upbringing in which she excelled at sports, she experienced a major trauma when a male friend was killed by another teen for defending her, perhaps against racial slurs. Now, she faces the same deadly hatred which claimed the life of her friend, but finds inspiration in the memory of her father, a police officer. Keep an eye on Guts for a great emerging narrative that’s bound to form a very satisfying whole, based on Santos’ previous releases on the web.