It seems like everyone’s rounding up their best of 2016 lately, and while I’m not usually one to jump on a bandwagon, the lure of looking back on the highs of the last year is too irresistible. I reviewed 21 webcomics in 2016, and since I picked each one of them, obviously, I already liked them all. There were a few, however, that I keep thinking about, and those are the ones I’m highlighting here today. (I only wish I had thought of this last year. Sorry, 2015, you had some great webcomics, too!) Not all of them have had consistent updates since I profiled them here, but I don’t think that takes away from their strengths. And so, without further ado, here are the webcomics that got stuck in my brain in 2016.
This was my first pick of 2016. After almost three years running, it’s still going strong. The ensemble cast of dynamic young women, the fantastic artwork showcasing a vivid variety of skin tones and body shapes, the well-paced action scenes, and the carefully unspooled mysteries make Mildred Louis’ manga-inflected, magical girl adventure simply wonderful, and it’s only getting better. (Hot tip: the first volume is available for purchase from a micropress.)
I’m not the only one who loves Blue Delliquanti’s sci-fi story of robots, artificial intelligence, and heady ontological wonderings—it’s received a solid handful of pretty prestigious awards and accolades. Since I reviewed it back in March, Delliquanti’s gotten deeper into the story of Brendan and Alistair’s past and the origin of Brendan’s experiments in re-creating Alistair’s mind in a synthetic body. Her expert storytelling and cinematic artwork together heighten perfectly the emotional stakes. The first volume of O Human Star is also available in print through her website, though it’s currently sold out.
Here’s a comic that hasn’t updated much since I last posted about it, but there’s something about the languorous pacing, warm palette, snapshot-like compositions, and soft-focus story that I just can’t quit. There are still plenty of questions about the nature of the world Aatmaja Pandya has created, as well as the characters inhabiting it, but the unhurried, peripatetic tale is like a cozy blanket I don’t mind lingering under until the next update comes along.
Jamal Campbell’s artwork initially drew me to his comic about a bat-wielding girl literally fighting off death, and every time I’ve looked at it since, I’m still wowed by his compositions, shading, character design, and style, which looks like the blessed union of art nouveau and superhero comics. Since I posted about it, he hasn’t updated Nadia’s story, but that doesn’t mean the end of Campbell’s stunning art—he’s been busy illustrating comic books for Marvel, and you can see more of his fantastic work there.
Marina Julia’s story of sea dragons, witches, and plucky teens swayed me with its teal-green, jewel-toned scenes, spectacular renderings of water, and the substantial bodies of Julia’s characters. (I’m so over thin, waiflike figures of women in comics. Julia’s characters have thighs, and it’s great.) A mysterious backstory offers intrigue, while simmering tensions between the townspeople and the witch in the house build pretty significant suspense. Add in some charming teens adventurers and a possibly magical kid, and that’s a formula for success, if you ask me. Julia went on hiatus fairy recently, but her latest post anticipates more updates this month (hooray!).