I just think you should know that cat and girl is the best comic strip currently running. (I almost said "ever", but, obviously, that was a cat and a boy.)

#2 is nobody scores.

#3 is a softer world.

There are runners up, and they are in no particular order.

Thank you, drive through.

Tags: ,

50 Responses:

  1. doctorfedora says:

    I am disinclined to take this list seriously, as I see no Achewood.

    • jwz says:

      That's because Achewood sucks.

      • doctorfedora says:

        That's because you've only read the most recent strip, rather than the archives. It's character-driven humor.

        (ITT: we account for taste)

        • rly says:

          If you can't read one strip and get it, it's a failure as a comic strip. It's really the biggest problem with a lot of web comics. It may be horrible unfunny shit, but you don't have to read a month's worth of Garfield before you get it.

          • lx says:

            That's a rather funny view of what constitutes a comic strip's success. I'm not sure why you cite Garfield, the obvious counterexample to your point, since you admit it's not at all funny, but apparently "succeeds as a comic strip" by virtue of its shallowness. Achewood's strong following and financial success would seem to be a better indicator that it has not "failed" as a comic just because you may not get its humor at first glance.

            Bill Watterson wrote that Calvin and Hobbes was the most fun when people were able to enter the strip on its own terms, and I'm inclined to agree with him.

            • rly says:

              Comic strips have a format. As much as web comics are sort of about the ability to break with the three or four panels a day deal, there's still things they need to do to work as a comic strip. Bill Watterson could get away with his later demands for his own Sunday format and now the old standard in the papers is pretty much gone.

              I'll even say Calvin and Hobbes is my second favourite strip of all time, but it was only after years of being in thousands of newspapers being read by millions of people that he could have a strip every several months where you have to know the characters gong into it. That quote was referring to a time he started a storyline without explaining things for a couple days, not that every day you habitually had to read it his way or not at all. Even in the middle of very long ongoing stories at least Watterson managed to make each day's strip self-contained.

              And if you think something like Achewood has the following or financial success of something like a Garfield, you're way out of touch. If you said that about Penny Arcade, maybe, but I wouldn't even compare Penny Arcade to regular strips, its syndicated analogy would be political cartoons, which also presume you know something going into it. And even then, you're almost expected to read the blog posts that go along with the strips. The best web comics manage to pare things down to a level where you don't have to do things like that. It's a simple format that's hard to master.

              • doctorfedora says:

                I'd personally be inclined to define "has a following" as "the author is able to quit his/her day job and remain financially solvent." Penny Arcade falls into this, yes, but so do Achewood and 8-Bit Theatre and Dinosaur Comics.

                My suspicion is that you are unwilling to judge webcomics by different standards than print comics. There's nothing wrong with that approach, of course -- there just happen to be people out there who are more willing to make concessions for the new medium.

                • rly says:

                  Yeah, but compare the "strong following and financial success" of Ryan North being able to live off his work to Jim Davis not even having to do his own work for the last, what, fifteen years now?

                  I'll accept web comics as their own thing, but it still limits them in many ways. There's a reason there's two versions of Diesel Sweeties now.

              • lx says:

                Achewood's certainly nowhere near the Ridiculous Franchise that Garfield is, but it's certainly a financial success for Chris Onstad and his family, and that's not a trivial success given the amount of competition on the web. I'm also curious how successful Garfield was, comparitively, in say 1984 or so.

                I understand your points, and your logic is sound if you start with a particular definition of What A Comic Is; that's a debate that's not going to be settled any time soon (thanks, Scott McCloud). I just disagree with that definition.

                That said, I don't fault people for not having the time to invest into really "getting" Achewood. I happened onto it in 2002 or so, so I've grown up with it. There are certainly some web comics out there that I immediately turn away from because I know I don't have the time to invest (and am not sufficiently compelled on the basis of The First Glance), but I don't call them failures. I just realize I'm not their audience.

                • rly says:

                  The mid to late 80s was really the peak of Garfield's popularity, if not financial success.

                  And I'm not calling all web comics failures, just that a lot of them could do a whole lot more by better using the tools laid out for them over the last century of traditional strips.

                  • lx says:

                    I'm guessing there's a very long tail on Garfield's merchandising revenues. Insert stupid cat pun here.

                  • chuck4 says:

                    A lot of them do better for not using the tools laid out for print media. In particular, storys are much easier to follow when you don't have to go find the last week of papers if you come in in the middle.

                  • rly says:

                    It's even easier if they're written well enough so that you don't really notice you're coming in in the middle of something.

                  • doctorfedora says:

                    If you don't notice that you're missing half a story when you've missed half a story, I'd say that's some pretty weak writing.

          • doctorfedora says:

            I definitely understand your point, but at the same time I'm inclined to argue that this is one of the things that separates webcomics from print ones: with print comics, it has to be immediately accessible at all times (although you'd be surprised how much of, say, Calvin and Hobbes or FoxTrot builds on previously established information), whereas with webcomics you have the advantage of the entire archive readily available to any and all readers.

            Now, comic books, on the other hand... talk about the worst of all worlds. : P

            I totally agree with you, by the way -- I just happen to be more forgiving of:
            1. webcomics with freely available archives
            2. stuff I already like

            • rly says:

              Assuming prior knowledge still locks out a hell of a lot of people. A lot of very lazy people.

              And very little would surprise me about C&H. I'm fairly sure I've read the whole run now between the books and the continuing web feed. And comic books are indeed mired in continuity, but I still spend $50+ on them every week. And if I don't know some minutiae of a character's back story, it's easy to look that up on Wikipedia or whatever. You can't look up that kind of thing with a web comic without investing a lot more time reading archives. I mean, I've never read the Age of Apocalypse, but I know the important things that happened in it and I even fucking hate the X-Men.

          • gytterberg says:

            Do I care if it's a "failure as a comic strip?" What does that even mean?

            I find Achewood hilarious. It made me fail a midterm this past semester when I first read and re-read through the entire archives rather than study. It regularly makes me "LOL" for reals. (Although the last few months have been slow and I'll be the first to admit that that "Great Outdoor Fight" thing was pure shit.) I'd say it is a "successful" comic as far as I care to define such a thing.

            What ever happened to "there's no accounting for taste?" Arguing that somebody should or should not enjoy something on logical grounds is like trying to figure out who would win in Superman v. Chuck Norris.

          • spendocrat says:

            If it's not like Lucy, it's a failure as a comedy?


  2. nerdware says:

    Oww, my eyes. I can barely read that. I don't doubt your word, but...I can barely read it.

  3. I agree about Cat & Girl and A Softer World, though #2 would probably be The Laugh-Out-Loud Cats.

    • jwz says:

      That was slightly funny for the very first panel, and never since. Where's the comic strip based on "All Your Base"?

  4. relaxing says:

    This sounds like an invitation to recommend comics!
    Toy Division
    Preacher Tom (his New Yorker parodies are gold.)
    Pictures for Sad Children

  5. skreidle says:

    I've never been particularly fond of Cat and Girl, but I think I'm going to have to add Nobody Scores to the stable (in which A Softer World is already present.)

  6. skreidle says:

    Also, if you like NS, you'd probably like Dresden Codak.

  7. 7ghent says:

    Needs more Dinosaur Comics

    Also, A Softer World is hackneyed and predictable.

    • treptoplax says:

      For some reason, I find Dinosaur Comics gets funnier and funnier the more of it I read at one sitting...

      I'm surprised to see no love for XKCD. It's pretty much nerd humor, but I wouldn't have thought that would have been a handicap hereabouts.

      • treptoplax says:


        It would be nice if the preview rendered HTML, to limit my opportunities for stupidity...

      • jwz says:

        I find XKCD funny about 20% of the time, and just annoying the rest.

        • relaxing says:

          I find the painfully earnest ones, well, painful. Also trying too hard, getting on Cory Doctorow's jock.

          • arakyd says:

            Yeah, I quit following XKCD right around the time Doctorow appeared in consecutive strips. Doctorow worship is one of the many geek culture tropes I have come to loath.

            • arakyd says:

              That should be loathe, of course.

              Also, I used to follow a lot of webcomics, but somehow none of them have stayed interesting. In general the rule seems to be that the longer it takes a strip to update, the longer it takes me to get bored of it.

  8. fantasygoat says:

    Octopus Pie is okay. Mostly I like the way she draws.

  9. yosh says:

    You really need to add Cyanide and Happiness to your reading list.

  10. perligata says:

    I have always loved this C&G. Also, hipster scouts.

    I'm surprised the author doesn't live in the mission (or Williamsburg), what with all that wise cultural commentary.

  11. telecart says:

    I like PBF the most, but those are good too.

  12. How did I know that this post would result in an Achewood argument before I even looked at the comments?

  13. lafinjack says:

    Basic Instructions - hits my funnybone just right

    Jerk City - Lots of losers, but the highest number of spittakes by any comic

    Exploding Dog - Also lots of losers, but some are just damn cool

    Gone With The Blastwave - incredible art, but sporadic updating

    Minus - nice art, cute comics

    Three Panel Soul - by the guys that did Mac Hall

    VGCats - which I still think is funny, at least

    The Non-Adventures of Wonderella - just plain silly

    Aside from political cartoons, that's all I've got that hasn't been mentioned yet.

  14. If you like "A Softer World", you might also enjoy the webcomic, "Tiny Ghosts", which has similar sensibilities.