(I never actually read Girly but it makes a good header image for a post about webcomics)
I’m really bad at keeping up with stuff serially.
I’m getting better at it, I swear. There’s about four different web novels I read each new chapter of (albeit sometimes a week or two late), and I’m on top of any Steven Universe episode that ever airs (albeit that’s like once a year). But even still, for the most part, I’m unable to stay dedicated to serialized media series for a very long time–ironic for someone who writes a web serial, I know.
No medium is worse off for this than webcomics. I am simply unable to keep up with these things for very long. For the jokey joke stuff like Dinosaur Comics or SMBC, I’ll read those easily. But for anything with any semblance of a plot, I tend to drop off pretty quickly. Homestuck, and the now-lost-to-the-internet-comic Great! are the only ones of those I was ever able to stick with to the end.
Why that is is probably a combination of the very slow pace of most webcomics (just 2-3 comic book-size pages per week makes remembering where things are going very tough), their frequent hiatuses, and my innate desire to marathon through series in big chunks. But sometimes I’m even bad about doing marathoning!
Here’s a selection of some of the comics I failed to keep up with throughout the 2010s:
A comic probably ahead of its time in meta ambition and one that captured the early 10s zeitgeist very well, Doctor Cops was the illustrated script of a man pitching a police procedural/medical procedural fusion TV show starring the likes of Nic Cage, Jessica Alba, Kanye West, and Ben Affleck, among many other celebrities drawn into the comic by way of crude tracing. The script’s “author” has frequent e-mail exchanges with a Hollywood producer in each page, giving it a whole new layer of silliness. It’s the epitome of garbage network television, and it’s great.
I caught up with it and read for a few months, but eventually lost my way. The comic itself went on indefinite hiatus a few years ago, probably never to be finished, but luckily it remains online for everyone to read.
It’s like a fantasy story about fantasy racism, a bit in the same vein as Fire Emblem: Path of Radiance (the best one), but with way more furries and kinda odd fanservice. I kinda liked this when I was like, 15, but the pace was grindingly slow (this thing’s been going for over sixteen frickin’ years) and the fanservicey stuff really got to me after a while.
This was a neat sci-fi comic that had a ton of mysteries and really great art. but once I caught up, I very quickly put it on the back-burner in terms of reading frequent updates… And never really caught up again. That was seven or eight years ago by now, and the comic’s still going… I wonder why I never continued? I can’t hardly remember. (EDIT: Guess who made the new cover to Reborn on a Systemless Earth… With a System?)
Darths & Droids is one of the funniest and most clever webcomics out there, a rendition of the Star Wars movies as played by a group of misfits in their latest tabletop RPG campaign. The story is in the humor of recapping the plots of the movies in RPG form, but also in the character melodrama between all of the real-life players, and also in the detailed and insightful author notes below every single page.
I read it serially for like, a year, which is great stuff for me. But then I forgot to keep up and lost it somewhere around its Episode III plot. Almost a decade later, I’m still planning on catching up on this darn comic… But will I ever actually get around to it…
Here’s the exact page I left off on, bookmarked and everything.
Gunnerkrigg Court is probably one of the finest web comics to ever exist, with absolutely gripping storylines and an amazing cast of characters. The art, a bit shaky at first, became consistently incredible, too. But I’ve never been able to read it serially. I caught up in early 2012 or so and tried to read each new update, but fell off. Then, for several years, I would wait until a new big chapter had been completed (with a friend telling me when it was time) and then catching up on a bunch of pages every few months.
But, as you can see… I fell off even that. It’s been four years since my last catch-up, and now at this point I’m probably going to need to start all the way over just to remember what the hell was going on.
I’d also like to mention a couple more series I caught up on and eventually failed to keep up with: Brawl in the Family, which I read religiously until the early 10s, wherein I basically forgot it existed; Moe, a comic whose updates were too infrequent to keep up with anyway; NEOKOSMOS, which had literally 1660 pages of content, but like 2 hours worth of reading time, if that tells you anything; and Tails Gets Trolled, which is a work of modern art but sadly was canceled some time after I forgot to keep reading.
An Ironic Postscript
The webcomic industry has largely faded in popularity as its early creators moved to more lucrative projects, or as potential newcomers found other, more exciting mediums to work in. But Patreon has become such an important service for indie creators in ways that Paypal donations never really were, and the potential for new webcomic authors living off their work is far better than in 2010.
The decline of RSS feed usage, notably the death of Google Reader in 2013, hastened some of the move away from webcomics, too. But now it’s easier than ever to use RSS readers, with sites like Feedly working great and syncing across all your devices.
Webcomics SHOULD be really easy to read serially. I read several plotless comedy comics every week thanks to RSS feeds, and it’s always a great time.
But, webcomics still aren’t as popular as they were in the late 00s, back in the days of 8-Bit Theater, Questionable Content, Problem Sleuth, and the like. Will that decline ever change? Will I ever change my bad-at-serial-reading ways? I don’t know. I just like ending these blog articles with rhetorical questions.