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American Elf

DRAFT List of 100 Greatest Webcomics: Comedy and Drama

Last year I posted a couple times (Previous posts on this "research" project were here and here) about a possible article on "ComixTALK's 100 Greatest Webcomics" which would be something like the American Film Institute's list of the greatest movies of the last 100 years.

A recurring comment to the previous two posts was what is the criteria for this.  I'm always a little hesitant to give too much guidance when part of the point of asking this kind of thing out loud is to listen to the resulting discussion of what everyone else thinks the criteria should be.  For the AFI list judges picked films based on criteria such as Critical Recognition, Major Award Winner, Popularity Over Time, Historical Significance, and Cultural Impact.

That sounds about right to me.  We've got a round decade plus a year or two of webcomics to look at it.  Critical reception (both from peers and critics), and popularity are both relevant to thinking about the impact of a webcomic.  WCCA awards are somewhat indicative of what peers were impressed with in a given year and more recently awards like the Eisners and Ignatzs have recoginized webcomics.  Historical significance and cultural impact are a little harder to pin down but various "firsts" in webcomics are important and comics like Penny Arcade have had a much wider impact on popular culture than most comics do these days (put aside the legacy superheros of comics -- what other "new" comic, let alone webcomic, in the last decade has had a wide cultural impact?)

Another thing AFI did that might be useful here to help sort through the vast numbers of webcomics one could talk about is to also think about categories or genres of work.  Just as a simple matter of numbers if a webcomic isn't one of the best of a larger type of story -- or frankly, so startlingly unique it's hard to categorize -- then it's hard to imagine it's one of the 100 Greatest...

So to move things along I'm listing another "draft" of titles submitted by the crowds but this time I've tried to break them up into drama and comedy so as to help avoid complete apples to oranges comparisons.  In doing that I've realized (1) it's hard in many cases to decide; and (2) there are probably more comedic than drama on the list so far.  I think it would make sense to whittle down the two lists to 75 each so as the final list is no more than 3/4 of one type or the other.  Of course we could further do genre type lists but for now this was enough work on my part.

So -- your assignment (if you choose to play):

  1. Name the comic you're talking about (you're also welcome to nominate ones not on the list -- I KNOW there are many I haven't even thought about yet -- it takes time to review all of the corners of the web)
  2. Tell me where on one the two lists (comedy and drama) it should be (you could give a range of slots if you're not sure). (If you think I've got a drama on the comedy list or vice-versa let me know!  I'm not "done" - this is fairly dashed off still at this point)
  3. Tell me why!  Referencing awards, critics, historical achievements, strengths and weaknesses of the works are all really helpful!

At the End of The Year, There Will Be Lists

New Comic: Lifestrips

I checked out a new strip called Lifestrips - I like it.  Kind of a combination of American Elf and A Softer World.  Very short rchive so far but if you're into journal type comics I'd recommend trying it out and seeing where it goes.

November 14th DRAFT version of 100 Greatest Webcomics List

This is an update to a previous post here, thanks for the cumulative suggestions on that thread.  JUST so we're clear - this is open-sourced to everyone research for a possible article to appear next month at ComixTalk.  I don't endorse the list or the order at all; at this point I've tried to include all of the suggestions I've gotten and I also went through all of the comics ComixTalk has ever reviewed and pulled quite a few titles.

We're at the point where it'll be most helpful if you tell me comics you think should go on the list, where (what number approximately) and which comic should get bumped.  If you just want to change the order you can do that to but there'll be another post before the month's through asking for help with that.  

100 Greatest Webcomics Thread

NOTE:  An updated version of this list is here - please go there to offer your suggestions and comments.  Thanks!

Can I Get a Webcomic?

COMIXTALK
If you're just joining us this Monday we've got new stuff posted this weekend including interviews with the creators of ZAP!, Chronillogical and Misfile.  Plus Dr. Haus reviews the webcomic Mistakes of Youth.  We've had a big October issue so if be sure to check it out to see what else you might have missed!

BOMB SHELTER WEBCOMIC IDOL
It's another edition of BSC Webcomic Idol and I'm a judge again.  I'm not sure if they're letting you vote off a comic each week or you have to vote for your favorite (and the least vote-getter leaves) but either way it's an elimination contest.  I keep doing it because the entrants have been strong contenders and the feedback and dialogue over the webcomics has usually been very interesting.  Plus ultimately some good comics get a lot of exposure.

I've gotten a chance to look at some representative work from all of the webcomic entrants but I'll definitely be digging into each of them.  Unlike the other judges who all are extremely talented comic creators I am the "journalist" type so my feedback may be more general but it'll be aimed at whether I think the comic is working for the audience.

MILESTONES
FLEEN in writing about American Elf's 10th year anniversary asks "would yesterday’s American Elf tenth anniversary strip be the first webcomic that went for ten years on a daily basis? I think it might."  I think the answer is clearly no.  American Elf is certainly a comic that has been created for 10 years on a daily basis but it was only published on the web on a daily basis back to 2002 (here's the Wayback Archive for the site).  I have a ton of respect for Kochalka's work but his career at this point in time is largely split between a pre and post-web era.  (Moreover, American Elf is not the first journal-style published on the webcomic, Drew Weing's The Journal Comic got to the web first.  I saw Heidi MacDonald's panel with James Kochalka at SPX this year and he actually cited seeing Weing's webcomic as a strong motivation to agreeing to work with Joey Manley to put his diary strips up on the web.  UPDATE: thanks to James Kochalka for commenting below -- and just to clarify -- Drew's contribution to the genre of journal/diary comics was putting it on the web, essentially as he made them; an idea that someone assuredly would have got to but I think it's generally agreed that Drew acted on first.  As to the basic idea of making a daily journal comic, Drew's comic came well after James Kochalka's work.)

UPDATE 2: Very interesting podcast of an interview between Joey Manley and James Kochalka at the recent SPX in Bethesda, MD.

REVIEWS
A review of The Phoenix Requiem (h/t Journalista!).  ComixTALK recently interviewed the creator, Sarah Ellerton.

ADVERTS
Ryan North writes that he's updated the help/FAQ system at Project Wonderful.

EVENTS
Blog@Newsarama writes about the Transgender Day of Remembrance Webcomics Project.

10th Anniversary of American Elf this Weekend

Wow - ten years of James Kochalka's diary comics this Sunday.  Kochalka linked this week to a short documentary about him and his life with his family and his art. Very worth watching.

And Kochalka promises something special for Sunday so be sure to drop by americanelf.com

From GURL to IGNATZ: Tracy White Talks TRACED

Tracy White is a pioneer of webcomics.  Although she may not be as well known as James Kochalka and his American Elf series, Tracy's TRACED is an equally powerful set of stories about self that marks out a unique piece of journal comic territory.  From working on the early website GURL.com to being named one of Scott McCloud's personal top twenty webcartoonists, (and from our archives: Tracy did the cover art for one of our earliest covers in August 2003) to more recently receiving a nomination for Best Online Comic at this year's Ignatz Awards, Tracy's work has had a consistently interesting and moving presence in webcomics.

American Elf by James Kochalka

Server 'Splosion Wangs Webcomics

All kinds of webcomics have been impacted by an exploding transformer has temporarily taken out that functionality. As Joey notes it hit WCN and Adultwebcomics.com and other Joey-hosted comics like American Elf

It looks like Blank Label Comics has suffered from it too.