The webcomics blog about webcomics

It’s International Women’s Day! (or at least it was when I wrote this)

In honor of International Women’s Day I decided that this week I’d cull suggestions from the folks I know who read webcomics. I was specifically looking for something created by someone who identifies as female that felt pro-equality to me without necessarily identifying with the f-word, which I know makes some people nervous (but it really shouldn’t), and had interesting things to say about gender. The immediate option was Alison Bechdel’s Dykes to Watch Out For but even though it is available online, I have difficulty thinking of it as a webcomic because for so long it’s been a print-oriented piece, either through syndication or through trade paperbacks.

The search raised an interesting issue, one I plan to consider in a future column: there are lots of webcomics out there with strong, smart female characters who don’t look like the stereotypes of women in comics (you know exactly what I’m talking about here, folks). They’re complete characters who make their own choices about life, and work, and sex. They hold a range of different jobs, from coffee baristas to mayor’s aide and saving the world from the devil to working in the sex industry.

And many of these webcomics are created by men, which is not a surprise given the arc of the industry. Many of these creators are, in fact, very attuned to equality and don’t hesitate to respectfully call fans out for sexist comments on messageboards or blogs as well as to actually use the word “feminism” in their webcomics without making it too much of a glib punchline (sometimes, anyway. See again Diesel Sweeties). And I think that’s worth noting.

But I’m lately interested in learning more about women in the industry especially since what’s so great about webcomics—easy access to cheap-ish publishing without editorial boards and so forth—should, in theory at least, lead to less of a potential divide than we’ve seen in the history of the comic book up until about Sandman and Love & Rockets. (I’m skimming the surface, obviously, but if you want to read more on the topic, there’s lots out there– Trina Robbins, Friends of Lulu , and Sequential Tart are three which pop immediately to mind).

Where I landed was reading In the Puddle by Cique Johnson. It’s a mostly-auto-bio webcomic (it’s described as “functioning as a personal diary”) about the life of Cique and her boyfriend Axe, who work in Philly and live in Delaware (a quirky fact I relish as a native Delawarean myself) with their flying fox bat, Atreau. The webcomic follows these characters in and out of goth clubs and work situations and discussions ranging from everything from ethical sluttery to RenFairs, from pirates to babies and so forth. Cique describes the plot as “Together these devout Pastafarians brave mosh pits, exploding tomatos, hot bikinied women and epic battles! Thus is life in Phildelphia and Delaware.” (If my time in graduate school in Delaware had been more like ITP, I would have had a hell of a lot more fun.).

Initally, I found In the Puddle a little hard to follow, primarily because the coloring in it is different from what I’ve gotten used to in webcomics. Often, only a character’s hair will be colored, which at first made me stumble a little in reading (it sort of altered my visual flow in a way I wasn’t expecting. But it grew on me). In the Puddle has a very quirky sensibility to it, one that’s smart and respectful and distinctive. There are guest strips and innovative clothing uses and I’m just finding it a lot of fun to read. I’ve very much been enjoying sifting through the archives and I think it’s a webcomic worth mentioning.

Enjoy! & see you next week…

When I think of random webcomics drawn by women, the first that pops into my mind thanks to Ryan North’s link is Fart Party, which I recommend.

I’d like to recommend the diary comic Project Karen by Karen Ellis. She sometimes delivers the funny, sometimes the poignant, and sometimes just the slice of life. Particularly interesting are strips from the last few months as she has been adjusting to life with diabetes.

That said, it would be a pity if her comic becomes known as “the one by that girl with diabetes”. There’s more to it than that.

Another wonderfully pointless article by Anne.

Thanks Anne!

Dear Internet,

Please learn some manners.


Another great female-centric and -authored comic is Girls With Slingshots.

I have no problem identifying with the “f” word, but I think that’s something that takes some adjustment to. However, at the same time, I think that sometimes women have to build up respect as geeks and dorks. In that line, I’ve been reading this blog:

Enjoy. :D

Another good one is Normal Life.

No Stereotypes definitely comes to mind immediately, and some other good ones off the top of my head… Candi, Intershadows, The Green Avenger.

Don’t forget Templar, Arizona.

I think you might want to distinguish between comics created by a woman and comics that are specifically influenced by gender awareness. The latter is a genre; the former merely requires a different set of undergarments. I’ll dig my teeth into Templar, Arizona any old day of the week but this is because it’s good, not because it’s written by a woman.

Thanks, folks, for the suggestions–much appreciated! Of the ones above, I’d read about the Pink Raygun blog but hadn’t looked yet, and someone did recommend Girls with Slingshots in passing, but all the others are totally new to me (I especially liked Normal Life and had never heard of it before, so that was particularly cool).

As for the part about distinguishing between comics created by a woman and comics that are specifically influenced by gender awareness, I don’t think that gender awareness, per se, is a gender specific trait. I don’t think all comics by women are going to be automatically gender-savvy, and I also don’t think all comics by men are going to default into the (heterocentric?)stereotypes about gender and arrested adolescent development and so forth. (And what about folks who don’t identify with either of these two categories?) But given the history of women in comics (and in webcomics perhaps as well), I’m more interested in finding and reading what work is out there by women–and that’s what I went looking for, specifically, for this piece. I mostly wanted to see what turned up when I narrowed the field or did a Google search for “feminist webcomic.” I didn’t find quite as many as I’d expected. So, again–thanks for the recommendations; I’m enjoying the reading!

What about Jennie Breedons’ The Devils Panties (not demonic porn) and I’d second Girls with Slingshots as a neat female oriented strip.
And anything by Leanne Franson too – actually I could keep going name dropping women in webcomics who write good characters, so I really don’t think there is as much a shortage as seems to be suggested by the article.

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