Even if you haven't checked out a new comic strip since "Dilbert," the art form is still finding new ways to entertain thanks to the Internet. These web comics offer funny, beautiful, and thought-provoking images that prove just how much enjoyment we can get from a few still panels.

9 Web Comic Strips Keeping The Art Form Alive

  1. "The Perry Bible Fellowship"
  2. "Penny Arcade"
  3. "Heart and Brain"
  4. "The Oatmeal"
  5. "Ava's Demon"
  6. "xkcd"
  7. "Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal"
  8. "Romantically Apocalyptic"
  9. "Moonbeard"

Behind The Scenes At "Penny Arcade"

How Much Do Cartoonists Make?

While some cartoonists like Jim Davis and Bill Watterson have made healthy sums from their lovable characters, the era of syndicated newspaper cartoons is mostly behind us. These days, artists have to do what they can to get noticed, and most offer their strips free on the web. Some may have advertising revenue, books, or side businesses doing custom drawings, and others make money through donations on sites like Patreon. Many also have day jobs, which is why a lot of web comics don't come out daily, or even on a regular schedule. You can be sure that if someone is giving their work away for free, they're doing it for the love of the craft and not the money.

Nicholas Gurewitch On The Creative Process

More Information

It may have been many years since you last picked up a newspaper, and there's a generation of kids who don't know the joy of pulling out the funny pages for the likes of "Garfield" and "Calvin and Hobbes." But there are many artists still churning out paneled comic strips on the web, and this list is dedicated to those breathing new life into this classic form.

Starting off the list at #1 is "The Perry Bible Fellowship." This strangely-named series from Nicholas Gurewitch is definitely for adults, exploring classic storytelling tropes with irony and a dark sense of humor. The strip is always full of surprises and laughs you won't see coming, with intricately-colored scenes mixed in with simplistic humans and morbid endings. Though sporadically released, it always packs a punch.

At #2 is "Penny Arcade." This voyage into gamer culture from Jerry Holkins and Mike Krahulik has been going since 1998, coming out three times a week, along with another series, "The Trenches," on Tuesdays and Thursdays. The fact that a comic strip has invited controversy over the years is a testament to just how many people follow the interactions of these two funny characters and how seriously they take video games.

The #3 selection is "Heart and Brain," one of several comics from The Awkward Yeti. The idea is simple: your heart and your brain are often at odds. One is logical, and the other is ruled by emotion. Here, these two personifications hash it out. Their differing philosophies bring big laughs while also developing as endearing characters thanks to the cute visual style.

Up next, at #4, is "The Oatmeal." Rather than sticking to a few panels, Matthew Inman's site has produced viral hits that play with scrolling as they explore complicated topics. As educational and thoughtful as it is humorous, "The Oatmeal" utilizes visuals to supplement intelligent discourse.

For our #5 pick, we have "Ava's Demon," which takes advantage of the web to present a single frame of a lengthy story on each page, with a few panels released each week as the story gradually unfolds. The engrossing tale from Michelle Czajkowski about a girl swept up in a fantastical adventure is gorgeously drawn, and will have you clicking away to find out what happens next.

At #6 is "XKCD," which comes out three times a week, and covers everything from observations about dating to complex breakdowns of grammar and web culture. The simple stick figure drawings are often accompanied by charts and graphs, as well as intricate dialogue that highlights the absurdly complicated ways we obscure simple human interactions. Randall Munroe's strip is a hit not just with tech junkies, but anyone who gets frustrated by the obfuscations of modern life.

The #7 entry is "Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal," a popular web comic from Zach Weinersmith. Ranging from single panels to lengthy toons, "SMBC" takes a biting look at human relationships and the futility of our attempts to seem cultured and smart. Bringing an adult edge to a friendly and familiar drawing style, it's become a hit on social media, regularly shared by Facebook users and attracting thousands of patrons on fundraising website Patreon.

The #8 selection is "Romantically Apocalyptic." Beginning as an art project by Vitaly S. Alexius, it has grown from a comic book to a collaborative multimedia project. The post-apocalyptic tale centers on humans looking for connection in a desolate and confusing world. Though the story may be baffling at times, the artwork is stunning, and the text has been translated into dozens of languages.

Rounding out the list at #9 is "Moonbeard," which is a perfect way to inject a little silliness into your day. Featuring talking animals and humans who never quite do what's expected of them, the silly situations and dumb choices of the characters are sure to coax a few laughs out of even the most serious readers. James Squires' mostly black and white strip is a pleasant antidote to mean-spirited insults and overthinking, instead offering poorly-executed plans and mishaps designed purely to make you chuckle.

There are dozens more comic strips available on the web, which shows that there is still a lot of creativity left in this simple art form. These artists have found a way to borrow from the newspaper tradition to create something entirely new, expanding readers' minds in just a few minutes a day. You may not get a Sunday insert anymore, but you can still get speech bubbles and a whole lot of laughs.

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