If you’ve ever refreshed Facebook you’re not using the internet right. It’s unlimited free entertainment, and the most interesting people on it are not other people who should also be working. People have been doing beautiful characters online for a long time, just for your amusement, and we’re not talking about porn. The internet comic book binge is an established tradition. A comic strip makes you laugh, you click on the arrow to “First,” and it’s suddenly five hours later. But because your brain has been filled with five years of fun so you’re actually earning time instead of wasting it.
Or you could keep clicking on Facebook posts, which does for your friendships what a UV light does for your toilet.
The only problem is sifting comic gems from the endless river of guys sitting on couches wishing they were Penny Arcade. Or the screenshots of Sonic the Hedgehog swearing, all the more depressing for being better than most recent Sonic games.
Which is why we’ve found five comics worth reading right now.
Manly Guys Doing Manly Things
The manliest comic on the internet is one every gender can enjoy. Commander Badass runs a social service re-integrating overly manly characters into normal society. Weekly adventures with Kratos, Duke Nukem, and every other bicep-bulger you’ve ever enjoyed.
An adoringly rendered send-up of the stereotypes by artist Coelasquid. She clearly loves them all unironically and then takes the piss anyway, because that’s what you can do when you’re truly comfortable with masculinity.
A comic by an actual comic, Basic Instructions is a manual for living life as a modern man. Which isn’t always a compliment. Professional experience as a stand-up means he respects the audience’s time, packs every panel with sharp lines, and clearly loves how he gets to work from home instead of standing in front of strangers.
Subjects range from everyday annoyances to Rocket Hat and the secret identity of El Destructo, the manliest superheroes ever made. It’s all free online for you, and it’s available in print collections as the perfect gift for anyone who “likes laughing”, “often goes to the toilet”, “is therefore a human” and “that’s about all you know about them.”
Anyone who can’t combine sex and humor isn’t confident enough about either. Oglaf started off as an attempt to draw porn and immediately evolved into humor, meaning more healthy urges went into this comic than into several species. It combines every aspect of the word “fantasy,” setting sexual adventures in a generically magical kingdom, because let’s be honest: sex has caused far more ridiculously unlikely adventures than magic and fiction combined. And all three are ripe for mockery.
The results include shapeshifting sex workers, masturbation as combat training, multiple meanings for “scabbard,” and the mysterious C**t Tease. It’s extraordinarily unsafe for work, because work misses out on a lot of fun, and for anyone who thinks that nudity should only be for one gender. Though those people are missing out on a lot of fun too.
It looks like the black and white adventures of a collection of swearing cartoon cats and other animals, but is the exact opposite of such lolcat “random” rubbish. Achewood may be the most fully realized character portrait ever written. It’s been running for over a decade, and anything whose most famous arc is called THE GREAT OUTDOOR FIGHT, capitals and all, is clearly on to something. In fact, go read that now.
It’s so famous we’re only listing it as a public service for the millions of people who think the internet is “the Facebook place.” There are far interesting people you could be reading about, and the fact they aren’t real doesn’t stop them being better than your high school buddies’ baby pictures.
Warren Ellis is one of the most popular comic authors alive, actually bought his kid a horse with some of the money made from major motion picture options on his work, and still did a webcomic for free just because he thought it would be awesome.
He was right.
FreakAngels is the story of a group of psychic twentysomethings who can punch holes in the planet but still want to get laid, stuck in post-flood London trying to deal with global disaster and each other. It concluded in 2011 but is still online, three years of A-grade comics just waiting for you to decide you’d rather read a comic legend than your aunt’s forwarded scare-stories.