Webcomics Recs

Hey everyone!

There’s a yearly webcomics battle going on right now. There’s too many to read all at once, so the best option is to just read whatever’s opposite something you want to vote for. (It requires facebook to vote but doesn’t seem to care how old the account is, so if that’s an issue you can easily make a dummy account. Or, if your favorite webcomic is losing, a few dozen.)

Anyway, since that’s on we’re going to have a recs post now. Webcomics are free in every way except time, so these range from those I absolutely love to those I found enjoyable enough.

Unsounded:

Gorgeous art taking place in an extremely deep and well-developed world with a great magic system that manages to be incredibly versatile while having easily understandable rules.

My favorite part of it is the characters. The opening made me think it was just an annoying wacky/straight pair thing, but Sette’s obnoxious idiot behavior is a cover for the con she’s running on her partner or her own insecurities (at times, both), Duane has a set of motivations of his own that go far beyond the initial explanation of blackmail, and they’re really just two of a large and well-developed cast.

1/0:

A completed comic that plays with the fourth wall and the nature of its characters. The author writes them as if they’re actual people existing in the initially blank space of the comic and for his (often not too well thought out) additions to become part of the underlying functioning of that world. Starts off very rough, but it develops into something unique. One caveat, though – the handling of gender and sexuality is, at best, pretty poor.

Lackadaisy:

A story about running a speakeasy during Prohibition, using anthropomorphic cats. The art starts off amazing and improves from there. The characters are fluid and expressive, and have surprisingly complex personalities to go with it along with a very rich background.

The Abominable Charles Christopher:

A weird one. Sometimes, it’s joke strips about forest animals acting like human beings, with advertisements and D&D games. Other times, it’s more serious strips with the title character, an apparently mute yeti-like creature that never harms others who seems to be slowly proceeding on a quest. Sometimes, the two mix. Beautiful black and white art.

Gunnerkrigg Court:

Magical boarding school done well. The setting isn’t a backdrop or convenient excuse, but a major part of the mystery the characters have begun to unravel. Also, not about a boy.

Romantically Apocalyptic

Incredible art. There’s actually a plot to this, but it takes a while to get there.

HERO:

the world is made up of cities, and the spaces between them.
(And people; and the spaces between them.)

A poetic sort of webcomic, done as a combination of prose story and comic, where a boy who doesn’t know who he is leaves the house of the witch taking care of him to discover a door in a tower that turns into a man that is a demon who thinks he knows him. Each panel of a page contains text from the narrator or dialogue. Delicately lovely.

DM of the Rings and Darths & Droids

Screencap comics about roleplayers playing in a world based on the respective movies. The first is more of a traditional game, while the second is a more collaborative affair.

Girl Genius:

Steampunk mad science! Only rather than madcap wackiness, set in a post-apocalyptic world of fighting mad geniuses that was nearly destroyed by something only known as the Other and recently hammered into something like an empire to try to keep things from falling apart entirely.

Homestuck:

Elaborate, inventive, with a huge cast that has a lot of great characters, many of which are female. You probably already know if it, but if you haven’t read it you really should. The first act of the comic can be quite frustrating if you’re waiting to see what’s going to happen, but it’s amusing in its own right.

Rice Boy

The amazing thing about Rice Boy is how rich and chaotic the world is. More than anything else I’ve read, the comic feels like a glimpse into a real if bizarre place, full of sweeping complexity of which only the barest part intersects with this particular story. At times this is a downside, making bits hard to keep track of, but overall it makes for a unique and intriguing experience. Complete.

Vattu

By the same author, Vattu shows leaps and bounds of improvement, keeping the sense of a complex alien world without throwing so much out it can be dizzying.

(A third comic lies between the two. It is undoubtedly of quality, but I didn’t particularly like it. Still, if you like the others, you should give it a look.)

Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal:

Gag strip with a scientific, philosophical bent, often focused on sex. Unusually diverse cast.

Broodhollow

A nervous encyclopedia salesman gets a mysterious letter about an inheritance that requires him to travel to a small town. Sort of like what a Lovecraft story would be like if everyone was more endearing and less bigoted, and also in cute cartoon form. Also, the main character manages to be kind even to animals he’s terrified of.

Wormworld Saga:

A young boy finds himself the chosen one of another world. Lovely art, low-key story full of wonder.

No Rest for the Wicked:

A mashup of various fairy tales, starring an absurdly delicate princess on a quest to find the moon.

Pictures for Sad Children

Basically how the world feels when you’re depressed, presented in a relatively lighthearted manner with a somewhat magic setting. Flat Affect: The Comic.

Narbonic

Another mad science one. This one starts out with a heavy dose of wackiness (and crude art) but develops in complexity and skill as time goes on, becoming pretty solid around the time they end up on an island paradise full of giant maneating ur-gerbils. Much of the story was planned well in advance and it shows, not just laying down the groundwork for major developments but building a five story mansion of it.

Skin Horse

Set in the same world as Narbonic, Skin Horse has the quality developed by the very end of that comic the whole way through, and it’s full of slow development for glorious payoff. Pay attention to Sweetheart, she’s the recipient of a particular reveal that managed to surprise everyone at the time while being obvious on reread. Also, it has the most adorable cobras imaginable, with the mutant napalm-spitting axolotl nearly as cute.

In addition, it manages to avoid the tiresome pitfall of the fantasy creatures being a metaphor for gayness or whatever by actually containing people like that in the first place in addition to the sentient bee swarm, intelligent office machines, cyborgs and killer zombies.

What Birds Know:

Very, very slow paced but subtly creepy story that’s strongly focused on the lives and personalities of its cast.

Digger

A talking wombat gets lost and confused while digging and pops up in a strange land in front of a talking statue of a god. Things get steadily weirder from there, to the misery of Digger, who like all wombats prefers the practical to gods and magic. Also, hyena people!

Derelict:

Creepy comic set on a post-apocalyptic world, with the main character living on a battered boat. Wonderful art.

Not a Villain

Much darker than it first appears. A player in a virtual reality game is constantly tempted to hack, despite the severe consequences if she was found out and her own sincere desire to be good.

A Redtail’s Dream

About family, relationships and how you relate to others, as illustrated by the hero having to descend into a series of dreams and solve increasingly difficult problems with the help of his now-talking dog in order to rescue the people of his town before the birds carry their souls away to the land of the dead.

Fox Sister

One day, a transforming fox killed a girl’s family and took the form of her sister. Now she’s grown up. Also has a heavy romance plotline, but I have no real interest in that.

Power Nap

In a world where sleep has been eliminated, the protagonist is one of the miserable few allergic to the wonderdrug. He also seems to be the only one noticing increasingly bizarre events.

Manly Guys Doing Manly Things

About the running of a halfway house for the ridiculously masculine characters seen in videogames trying to reintegrate into normal society.

Bird Boy:

Some gorgeous visuals and an adorable main character, but only has 44 pages after years of running.

The Meek

More great art and a story that seems to be going somewhere quite interesting, but plagued by hiatus so don’t get too attached.

Kagerou

A boy with numerous mental disorders is picked as the chosen one of a struggling fantasy world. Lavish, trippy artwork, very dark story.

Gencrawl

Webcomic about an imaginary roguelike game that uses reader inputs to move the story along.

The Last Days of Foxhound

MGS comic. I found it’s one of those things where the jokes are funnier as a whole. I was linked to a couple pages at various points and found the joke dumb each time, but when I read the whole thing from the start it became hilarious.

Nonadventures of Wonderella

Nonheroic heroine done hilariously.

Shortpacked!

Humor strip focused on life in a toystore, with background fantastical elements and periodic Batman jokes. Far more aware of sensitive subjects than many webcomics, and better at handling them than most.

In Black and White

A Nuzlocke-based pokemon comic that manages to explain the conventions of the genre and avoids the usual pitfall of sticking too close to the author’s exact game.

Hitmen For Destiny

The art of this is terrible, but if you can get past that, it’s extremely inventive and has an interesting plot.

Unicorn Jelly

a “philosophical science fiction manga strip which tells a metaphoric and purposeful story with a definitive beginning and ending.” Bizarre and definitely not without issues, but worth it for the uniqueness, as are the comics that follow it. The author’s main strength is her invention of universes.

Erfworld

Someone from our world is pulled into a world that resembles a cutesy computer wargame and has to figure out the rules and a way to win before his grossly outmatched side is wiped out. Contains a number of major female characters and canon no-issue bisexuality (with a lesbian relationship being the primary one) with the caveat that so far it’s been only het and lesbians, and the lesbian relationship (with some unhealthy issues) is part of a love triangle against a wholesome traditional guy, and not yet clear which is going to win.

Order of the Stick

D&D stick figure comic that starts out with a focus on rules jokes and developed into an epic plot with a great cast of characters.

Yet Another Fantasy Gamer Comic

Is not, as it sounds, about the typical fantasy gamer comic of a party or people at a table pretending to be one. It’s focused on the lives of various monster races that live in the caves of a mountain, and the art is expressive and cute. Also contains perhaps the only depiction of drow where the males aren’t seething under the unnatural and bizarre dominance of the females but are living in an actual society where that’s considered normal.

Keychain of Creation

A humorous strip based on Exalted rather than D&D, done in a similar style as Order of the Stick. Currently on hiatus, the author also has another Exalted comic:

Lunar Quest

Imageboard interactive fiction about an amnesiac newly exalted Lunar set well in the future of the canon games, with all sorts of new stuff having happened to change the landscape and balance of power.

Ruby Quest

Speaking of which, you absolutely must read Ruby Quest. Just go do it.

Well. I’ve surely missed plenty of other webcomics, so recommend what you’re reading in the comments.

33 Comments

  1. Ember says:
    Not a part of March Madness, but if we’re reccing web comics I want to take the opportunity to tell everyone to go read Holystone. http://www.holystone-comic.com/  It’s a fantasy comic about political-religious intrigue in a world where the gods take a direct role in the affairs of mortals.  The leads are an interspecies lesbian pirate couple and the adorable but frighteningly ditzy fallen god who has decided they’re going to help it return to glory.



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  2. Chiroptera says:
    I’d recommend Paranatural. It’s a story about a boy who moves to a new town and starts seeing ghosts and spirits. It’s got a very goofy (but at times beautiful) art style. http://paranatural.net/. 



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    1. Keleri says:
       I REALLY enjoy Paranatural, it’s incredibly funny and constantly mocks a lot of shonen-manga tropes.



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    2. HT says:
      My only complaints about the comic are 1) there just isn’t enough of it yet, and 2) a disappointing lack of female/female interaction so far. But I have a lot of high hopes about where it’s headed.



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  3. Rachel says:
    Have you heard of Ava’s Demon? It does this annoying thing where there’s only one panel per page, and it has some serious pacing issues.



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    1. Rachel says:
      It’s good, though.



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    2. Guest says:
      The one panel per page thing never bothered me? And yeah, pacing issues acknowledged, but it’s still /really/ good; the art is amazing, especially with the short videos that she posts sometimes. And the story itself is still great; it just kind of feels that a simple “it’s good” is… underwhelming, I guess? Also art, look at it



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      1. Rachel says:
        Yeah, I guess the fact that my Internet moves like a glacier might have negatively affected my opinion while I writing that.



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      2. Farla says:
        I read the opening and got tired of it around the part where  the demon gives the backstory. Does it improve a lot from there or is that a sign it’s not to my taste?



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  4. Fool says:
    There’s The Phoenix Requiem. It’s a low fantasy story about a world where magic once existed due to the presence of god-like beings called “spirits”, but the spirits had to seal themselves away in order to stop demons from destroying the world. The main character is a village doctor who discovers a bleeding man in the snow one day — when he wakes up, he says he believes strongly in the spirits and even has a connection. Then, people in the village start coming down with a mysterious, uncurable disease, and the main characters have to find a way to fix it. I found it pretty interesting, though it has the story structure of lots of mysteries to start with and then a massive reveal at the end, and personally I felt some of the ending revelations were a bit unsatisfying. Still a nice story, though, and it has a female protagonist! Also has gorgeous art.



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  5. Keleri says:
    Oh man, you read quite a few of the comics I do, I’ll look at some of your recs as well.

    Do you follow the author of Kagerou on tumblr or AOOO? He does a lot of Homestuck fanfic and fanart these days.

    Most of these aren’t even on the March Madness competition, but oh well:

    http://gingerhaze.com/nimona NIMONA is fun; the titular character is a shapeshifter who appoints herself as sidekick to a supervillain, upsetting the detente between good and evil. Set in a strangely anachronistic world with medieval style but modern technology.

    http://www.tjandamal.com/ The Less than Epic Adventures of TJ and Amal; fantastically drawn and written story about two guys who go on a sudden road trip and fall in love. Sometimes NSFW, has a clearly defined end that will be reached probably this year.

    http://hemlock.smackjeeves.com/ I really enjoy the art style in Hemlock. It’s about a witch whose life is tied to various characters from Finnish mythology; she has a frog familiar with three eyes and lives in a house on the shell of a giant snail.

    http://guildedage.net/ Guilded Age has great story and great art; it seems to start out as an MMO parody, then is way too good for that, then maybe is again, then continues to be just way too good. Puts sexist, plotless pretenders like “Looking For Group” to utter shame.

    http://scarygoround.com/index.php Bad Machinery: screamingly funny british teens solve mysteries.

    http://harkavagrant.com/ KATE BEATON. KATE BEATON? KATE BEATON.

    http://www.oglaf.com/ Let’s be clear, OGLAF started out as a porn comic, but within one or two strips the author was already tired of that and started making one of the funniest fantasy trope dissecting comics out there. (But it’s still very NC-17.)

    http://www.monster-pulse.com/ Monster Pulse is pokemon/his dark materials, but the pokemon/daemons are the childrens’ animated body parts. The main character has a giant blue rhinocerous monster that is also her literal heart. Great stuff with cool monsters.

    http://knights-errant.smackjeeves.com/comics/ Knights-Errant updates EXTREMELY irregularly and the real concept of the comic was only very recently revealed despite running for several years; great art and said “reveal” actually makes the comic ten times as interesting as it was previously.

    http://godsend.shatterlands.com/comix/ Godsend is another comic with irregular updates and a “reveal” about halfway through that makes the comic (even more) interesting. Very interesting inversion of the “chosen one” trope. Really fantastic art and attention to detail.




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    1. Farla says:
       I may well have gleaned some of these from you at some point.

      I’ve liked what I read of their Helmsman story, but heard bad stuff about Brainbent so I’ve been avoiding that.




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      1. Keleri says:
        I really like the Helmsman story. I’ve seen the authors’ heartfelt posts about Brainbent and how they’re trying to portray people with mental illness as whole people and not just their diagnosis, which sounds pretty good, but I haven’t gotten around to actually reading it so I can’t say.



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        1. Farla says:
          Well, what I heard specifically was it was very good about portraying mental illness, except when it got to Vriska, at which point it was very, very bad. I also heard little regarding the rest of the female cast, although that part could be due to the focus of the people chatting rather than the story itself.



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  6. Koby says:
    The Hero Biz is an interesting take on how things might really work if superheroes existed, since they would be celebs, and need a PR office: http://www.theherobiz.com/

    Mokepon is a great story about a reluctant Pokemon trainer, with a laconic take, fantastic characters and good art: http://mokepon.smackjeeves.com/

     Rare Candy Treatment (which I’ve linked here several times), tackles on various parts of Pokemon that need to be mocked, or just portrayed from a new angle: http://www.rarecandytreatment.com/#cpage

    No Need for Bushido is a fantastically amusing webcomic about a feud in Japan, with samurai, ninjas, monks, the works – but with a reasonably interesting plot and compelling characters. Currently on hiatus, but well worth reading, and the remixes are especially hilarious: http://noneedforbushido.com/

    Carciphona is an interesting fantasy webcomic, with a great female cast (at least 50% of the main cast is female, as are the protagonist and possible antagonist) that brings many different aspects of female characters in, while keeping an intriguing setting, with relatively little magic and fantastical creatures, as well as amazing art: http://carciphona.com/

    You’ve mentioned most of my other webcomics, but I’m surprised not to see XKCD listed here. Then again, I suppose it may not be one of your recs.




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    1. Farla says:
      Actually I just forgot XKCD. The problem with making very long lists of things is it’s hard to keep track of what’s there.



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  7. Yairm210 says:
    Bahhh I cannot even begin to sort through all the crap I’m reading so I’ll just give a dump of all the names I have on me right now:
    Amya Antiheroes Archipelago Asis Between Failures Bird Boy Chirault Comedity Cucumber Quest Derelict Dominic Deegan Dovecoat Crest Earthbound Everblue Fey Winds Finders Keepers Fishbones Girl Genius Gunnerkrigg Court Ianua Inhuman Jack Cannon Kukuburi Lackadaisy Loki Looking For Group Mokepon Monster Soup Myth No Headroom No Need For Bushido One Of Those Days Order of the Stick Paul Reveres Power Nap Rebound Roza Runewriters Sakana Shadoweyes Shi Long Pang Skin Deep Skin Horse Spindrift Strays Supernormal Step Tales of the Questor The Bean The Becoming The End The Fox Sister Today Nothing Happened Transpose Operator True Magic True Villains Trying Human Twilight Monk Vattu White Noise Widdershins Winter Melody Winters in Lavelle Xander

    Please don’t kill me for overposting, the only reason I can even read this much is because I wrote a program to automatically go through all the internet pages and find new comics every day so I’m not totally mad. Yet.Rest assured that many on your list will somehow magically be added to mine. As well as many of the ones in the comments. And Narrative Investigations is also having a webcomic month right now so I’ll have plenty on my plate.




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  8. sliz225 says:
    “A Softer World”
    Surreal, sad, hilarious, bizarre.  No story or character, just . . . emotions.



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  9. Dragonfree says:
    Just here to appreciate the Unsounded love and mention that by the way I enjoyed your fanfic contest entries. :D

    I should read more webcomics. This list is probably a good starting point, although before I start sinking myself into other comics I should really prod myself to actually finish reading Homestuck. <<




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    1. Farla says:
      ::::D

      actually finish reading Homestuck

      “finish”

      hahahahahahahaha




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  10. Jax says:
    Besides the aforementioned, I’d also like to throw these into the mix:

    Zebra Girl
    Probably one of my favorites. Quirky webcomic about a cynical young woman who’s turned into a demon by her roommate’s incompetence. Starts off light-hearted but gets pretty intensely dark by its second story arc.

    Slightly Damned
    Cutesy comic about a rabbit-like creature who gets killed and ends up stuck outside of Hell. Only then she breaks out alongside a demon and teams up with a cursed angel, and shenanigans happen. Notable for the craptons of worldbuilding.

    I Was Kidnapped By Lesbian Pirates From Outer Space!!!
    *motions to the title*

    Sister Claire
    Story about a clumsy and naive nun who gets knocked up with the messiah via ridiculously hot angel who popped out of the toilet. Shenanigans happen, and tl;dr, she’s caught up in a possible war between nuns and witches, which in this world are groups of magic users. Except the nuns are actually more like kung fu masters, and you know what? Let’s just say it’s just a bucketload of ridiculousness.

    There’s also a few others I’m following, but for whatever reason, I keep finding myself liking the ones with heavy romance plotlines. (Like Trying Human and Yu+Me Dream.) Or the ones that update literally once a year. (Looking at you, Sparkling Generation Valkyrie Yuuki.)




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    1. HT says:
      Sister Claire has some surprising depth to it for all its ridiculousness, such as when it touches on the nun/witch wars of the past. I suspect the toilet humor in the beginning puts off a lot of people who would otherwise enjoy it.



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      1. HT says:
        Later Sister Claire is very different in tone from its early days. The author’s wife joined in as co-creator, and now in addition to the main comic, there’s tons of prose short stories devoted to backstory. Also, a bunch of the early pages were redrawn a year or two ago. Most of the toilet humor was removed, new scenes were added in, some tweaks to art/writing, etc.

        Anyway, heartily recommended.

        http://www.sisterclaire.com




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  11. XStrawberryDuckFeathersX says:
    Thanks for your recommendations. :)

    I’m currently reading Off-White, a webcomic based on Norse Mythology, involving a pack of wolves. Each species has a black spirit and a white spirit, and the ditzy one of the group turns out to be the white spirit of the wolves. The human white spirit is dead, so a group of humans are looking for the white wolf spirit in order to recreate the white spirit, since the wolf and the human are considered pairs in this story.

    It’s a pretty good storyline in my opinion, and the artwork has progressed a hell of a lot throughout the webcomic. The art is amazing. :O

    http://off-white.eu/




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  12. Michael says:
    I don’t know too many of the ones you’ve listed, but Order of the Stick, Digger and Darths & Droids are awesome.

    My all-time favourite is Megatokyo, a wacky and surprisingly deep story about fiction (particularly games) and the way we perceive reality. Still in progress, but be warned, updates *extremely* slowly.




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  13. Fool says:
    I’m rather fond of Awkward Zombie. I’m usually not much of a fan of gag-a-day style webcomics, but for some reason I actually really like it. I guess part of it’s that it mostly revolves around games I’m familiar with (mostly RPGs), but even when it doesn’t, the writing is clear enough that I can usually get the joke.

    Oh, and I’d also like to second Rare Candy Treatment!




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  14. HT says:
    Cucumber Quest. Bunny kids go on a world-saving adventure. Pokes fun at typical RPG tropes.

    Flaky Pastry. Three roommates living in a fantasy world get into shenanigans.

    Goblins. The story of some goblins in a D&D world who try to become more than PC fodder. Some interesting puzzles and use of game mechanics.




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    1. Farla says:
      I read Goblins but can’t recommend it given the…well, everything that isn’t the puzzles and game mechanics, and unfortunately an awful lot of it’s not about those parts.



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  15. HT says:
    Oh, forgot to say minus (or here for bigger pages), which is about a seemingly omnipotent little girl with a big imagination and all the restraint and wisdom of a child.

    I’ve heard good things about Great, another comic on that site, but haven’t gotten around to it myself.




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  16. Wright of Void says:
    The End is one I discovered recently. An alien race (avian-based!) discovers that humanity is on the verge of extinction, and embarks on a mission to save them. It’s got massive pacing issues in the early bits and it didn’t deliver on the premise as well as I would have liked, but I still think it’s an interesting story. Lot of good female characters, too, though the story tends to focus more on the boys, sadly.



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  17. Socordya says:
    I’d like to recommend Stand Still Stay Silent.
    ( http://www.sssscomic.com/comic.php )
    It’s a post-apocalyptic story in which only Iceland and some enclaves in the Scandinavian countries and Finland survived a great epidemic (as far as we know). The plot follows a team tasked to venture in lost territories to find artifacts of our civilization (mostly books).
    The art is wonderful.



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    1. illhousen says:
      Oh, hey, I remember that one. It’s cool. It has magic Finns.
      I have a bit of a problem with world-building, since “and in this post-apocalyptic society we suddenly return to our old gods that were forgotten for a few centuries and nobody really seriously studied rituals concerning them” is a rather weird development, but it’s minor, since other aspects of the comic are cool.

      Also, cats, always a plus.




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