By Jeremy Smith
Sun Star Columnist
The earliest memory I have of reading a comic was in the local newspaper, and it contained one of the few words I incorrectly pronounced for years after. It was a Snuffy Smith comic and featured the word “c’mon.” To my young eyes, this word – which had never been spoken by a teacher or anyone I knew – was pronounced “sea-mon.” It’s hilarious to think what my parents thought as I read a comic out loud to them a few years later, using my idealized pronunciation. “It’s come on,” my mom said, taking a break from laughing. “It’s a contraction of come and on.”
The days of sitting around the table waiting for the comic section to be available, and the laughter to end, are over. Along with the ability to read Cathy and Dilbert online, the webcomic has arisen, a comic that’s not only available without wait, but is often catered to your exact interest. Thousands of artists have taken their passion and what art expertise they possess and turned to the Internet for their creativity outlet. Webcomics dealing with topics such as life at a help desk, the inner thoughts of a dinosaur obsessed with grammar, and the trials and tribulations of anthropomorphic foxes are already available online. Some webcomics are eventually released in printed anthologies while others are content to post comic after comic, for free, to eager fans.
The first webcomic I ever read was from Penny Arcade, a series that centers on the activities of gamers Tycho & Gabe. The one I remember featured the two protagonists questioning a Software Etc. worker about gaming consoles. Ultimately, their basic gamer inquiries broke the employee’s mind. The jokes were insider-y and required knowledge of the gaming world. They often ended with non-sequitors that didn’t – and still don’t – make sense, such as a wombat bag for carrying away ill-gotten gain. But I loved it. I still love it and read it as often as I can.
Over the years I’ve embraced all kinds of webcomics: from the tech focused Sluggy Freelance, PvP, Ctrl+Alt+Del and General Protection Fault to the more esoteric offerings of xkcd, The Perry Bible Fellowship, and Dinosaur Comics. I recently discovered Axe Cop from a t-shirt a friend was wearing. This webcomic is written by a 5 year old and illustrated by his 29-year-old brother. It may not be Shakespeare, but in some ways, it’s much, much better.
One of my current favorites is The Adventures of Dr. McNinja, a ninja who is also a doctor. Written and drawn by Christopher Hastings and billed as “An Internet Comic Book”, its been kicking around since 2003 and features Dr. McNinja as he punches snakes in the face, cures gigantism, and works with Judy, his gorilla receptionist. He also battles the duality within… being that he is both a ninja and a doctor, and quite good at being both.
I’m certain I’ve missed mentioning a few so I’d like to learn which webcomic is your favorite and why. Send your responses to Jeremy@gpfault.org so I can add a few more to my reading roster, and just maybe find a new word I can mispronounce.
Jeremy talks and takes on technology at gpfault.org.