Tired of Donald Duck and Snoopy? Try Penny Arcade

May 15, 2007|by MATT NEWTON


Take a quick glance through the comics section of a newspaper, and it's unlikely you'll see anything too interesting or humorous unless you grew up sometime around the 1960s.

The lack of creativity isn't necessarily the fault of the cartoonists, most of whom are deceased or nearing death, though. The blame falls onto the controlling syndicates, space restrictions, and old-fashioned family values that newspapers reinforce.

Bound by these limits, creators and readers alike look to a new medium to fulfill their comic desires.

Enter Web comics, which started out few in numbers in the '90s but have since grown to encompass thousands of titles. These venturous creations range artistically from stick figures on notebook paper to gorgeous acrylic painted drawings, but also include photographs, anim, traditional pen and ink and anything else imaginable.


The artistic directions and writing styles vary greatly. Take GingerDead and Friends (, an adorable yet twisted comic about a gothic gingerbread cookie and his strange playmates. The comic follows a consistent black, gray, white and red color scheme and is renown for its morbid haikus.

Calan Ree, creator of GingerDead, says, "We aren't tied down to tiny inked panels because we are striving to get in the local paper, so any approach is possible."

Some of the veterans of Web comics such as Penny Arcade ( and Player vs. Player ( have managed to garner worldwide acclaim offline as well as online, while smaller comics like GingerDead are on the rise.

"Right now, my unique visits are around 1,500 a day, and page views are about double that," Ree says.

Such an opportunity for success is likely due to the wide distribution a creator has on the Internet. The accessibility of the Internet allows cartoonists to go into business for themselves and reach an international audience that is hungry for new talent.

"Web comics are so accessible," Ree notes. "But if ... I had the artwork sitting in my home while I tried to find a publisher, no one would be able to read it."

With new doors opened via the Internet, a strong and flourishing community is taking hold on the Web. Creators and readers can interact on a daily basis through e-mail, discussion forums and commenting systems. Fans send in their own art as tributes to their favorite comics and sometimes see their work displayed alongside them.

Creators, too, can interact with one another. They often work together to build audiences and achieve success. With Web comics, there's room for everyone to succeed and contribute new ideas, so there's little competition.

Whether you're into video games, movies, the occult, bunnies, fantasy or science fiction, there's something for everyone. For the gamer, check out the aforementioned Penny Arcade, a comical look at the video game world in all of its aspects. If you're looking for randomly bizarre humor of a twisted nature, then read up on The Perry Bible Fellowship ( Or, if you want twisted with a hint of social commentary, then look into Marbles (at, a comic about the daily adventures of a starving African village.

How does one find Web comics? Google them! Or for a thorough list of Web comics, do a search on The Webcomic List (

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