Print comics have been a staple of the childhood of many, including myself; my first article relating to literature and visual arts for this site was about Bill Watterson’s Calvin and Hobbes comic series, my personal favorite. But, as with anything else, the Internet has expanded the medium, leading to a surprisingly prolific selection of such comics and by extent leaving you, the reader, with a far greater number of things to do to cure your boredom. Of course, some comics are of better quality, in whatever sense, than others, and so in determining what should go on this list, it should be kept in mind that any of the comics that update sporadically or barely ever will be disregarded, no matter the quality of their archival works. The only real exception will be for plot-driven comics that have effectively wrapped up their story, and ended with all the loose ends tied up.
8-Bit Theatre would probably be a bit of a surprise, as it might seem unlikely that a sprite comic (typically considered little more than a lazy ‘cut and paste’ insult to artistic design,) would be ranked as my all-time favorite web strip. For those of you who haven’t read, or heard of it, the plot (very loosely based off Final Fantasy, where most of the sprites come from,) loosely goes as follows; four Warriors of Light are chosen to go and fight the evil Chaos entity. The problem is that these particular Warriors of Light cheated their way in, and are… well… unsuited for the job.
Their names are based on their classes, so Fighter is the group’s meat shield, and although he is a master swordsman, he’s as dense as a brick, yet capable of performing feats that pretty much defy logic. (He once bent a portable hole in the space time continuum in half so it could fit in his pocket. He said it was hard. He remains convinced that another team member, Black Mage, is his best friend, despite the fact that Black Mage keeps trying to stab him in his sleep. Among his accomplishments throughout the scope of the tale are Master of Sword-Chucks, Winner of Drownball (you have to drown to win,) Hyper-Genius For Five Minutes,
Thief is the technical owner of the team, as he scammed the rest of them (or, more specifically, Fighter,) into signing a contract putting them in charge. He will steal anything not nailed to the floor or on fire, and at one point had actually accumulated more wealth than actually existed, storing it in an Infinite Bag of Holding. Among his accomplishments are Stealing A Soul From An Elemental Orb, Prince of the Elves, Master Scammer, Inventor Of The Fine-Fine-Fine Print
Black Mage is evil. That pretty much covers it. He’ll more than happily slaughter the rest of his group, (especially Fighter,) he’s gleefully cheated and betrayed them every chance he’s gotten, and when he was forced to face a personification of his own evil, the only thing the Powers That Be could find to properly represent it was, well, him. Among his accomplishments throughout the scope of the tale are Ruler of Hell for Five Minutes, Leader of the Dark Warriors, and Practitioner of Blue Magic. (he can cast any spell that gets cast on him and survives. As he put it, ‘If Sarda casts a spell that can hurt you, and you learn that spell, you learn a spell that can hurt you…’)
Red Mage… I don’t know where to start. I could mention his Dungeons and Dragons obsession with Twinking, Character Sheets, Stats, Dice Rolls, and Cheating On His Stats and Dice Rolls. I could also mention his far more disturbing obsession with animal husbandry, which he apparently has several skill points invested in. (“Not WITH them!”) There’s his occasional foray into cross-dressing, complete with the name ‘Deborah,’ his extremely complicated plans that only really work when they really, really need to, and of course his obsession with his hat. Among his accomplishments are Defeater of All The Fiends They Have Encountered, Master of (whatever he’s put his skill points into for the moment,) Learner of Why You Shouldn’t Screw With A Polymorph Spell, and Creator of Plans Typically More Dangerous To The Light Warriors Than The Enemy They Face.
Suffice to say, the comic is extremely long, and updated once or twice a week; each update essentially consists of a comic ‘page,’ divided up into whatever sections are needed to get the main joke across and keep the plot moving. At 1092 installations and still counting, the comic’s ancillary characters, various plot points, and pretty much anything else are far too numerous to fit into one article, or even five articles. You’ll have to start from the beginning, (you poor, poor soul,) and invest a little bit of time into the comic; the beginning of it is a bit shaky, since the sprite placement and backgrounds are relatively crude and the characters still being fleshed out, but eventually reading it can become downright addictive.
A brief word, of course; this comic is one the little kiddies should stay away from, as the contents can be fairly mature. I mean, Black Mage alone creates a fair bit of death and destruction, and though the violence and resulting blood is even more cartoony than, well, cartoons, there is some humor that it decidedly adult. Actually, most of it is decidedly adult.
Still, enjoy it, if you can, and just remember not to even try and read through the entire thing in on day…