Webcomics are full of untamed creativity, experimental stories, and wholly unique casts, not to mention creators ready and willing to tackle subjects generally avoided by the mainstream. A few webcomics have made the transition to print (the big one in recent years is, of course, Nimona), but most stay online. The freedom a creator has online to do whatever they want doesn’t even come close to Image’s creator-friendly environment. Which is why I love webcomics so much.
I’ve been dying to do a webcomics edition of Pull List for ages, and the combination of Pride Month and needing a break from Big Two comics finally gave me a good excuse. Trouble is, there are so many great webcomics out there that it was impossible to choose just one or two to talk about. After winnowing my very long webcomics library down by series that have recently updated (as in not sporadically or on hiatus) and are not being published in print by major or small/indie presses (excluding self-pub), I offer you a list of some of my current favorite queer SFF webcomics While a few are managed by working comics creators or artists, most are from newbies or non-professionals. Some series are fairly new, others have longer running arcs, but all offer something mainstream comics don’t: a broad range of queer and racially/ethnically diverse characters written and illustrated by creators just as varied.
Acethexis by Florence Summers
While out at a club one night, teenagers Ren Namikase and Kotone Hisagawa run into Lena, an android on the lam. Lena is an illegal, an android who can experience true emotions and has the capacity to learn without being taught. Kotone doesn’t want to get tangled up with Lena’s messy life, especially since illegal androids have the nasty habit of harming their human companions. But Ren is drawn to the ‘droid. With its cutsey art style, Acethexis, is flirty and fun, but there is danger creeping in around the edges. For an 18-year-old high school student, Summers is brimming with potential. If this is what she can do now, I can’t wait to see her with a few more years of experience and practice under her belt.
Agents of the Realm by Mildred Louis
This adventurous, girly, coming of age tale owes a lot to mahō shōjo (the “magical girl” subgenre of anime/manga). While the art style is more cartoony than manga, the heart is straight out of Sailor Moon. Jordan, Adele, Kendall, Paige, and Norah are freshmen at Silvermount University. Each girl has her own issues – Norah Tanner, anxious and uncomfortable; Adele Silveira, friendly and warm once you get to know her; Jordan Liu, loyal, eager, and a bit co-dependent; Kendall Matthews, good at mediating conflict yet a dysfunctional rescuer; and Paige Fierro, an ambitious, short-fused smartypants – not to mention an alternate dimension version of themselves. With the aid of their magic amulets, the girls must learn to work together to protect their world and its alternate, not as easy a task as it seems.
The Arthurian Smut Cycle by Soren Haxan
Side project of the creator of the Medieval Death Bot Twitter account, which lists deaths taken from coroner roles from the 1200s-1500s, Arthurian Smut Cycle retells the Arthurian myths with a queer overlay. Or, as Saxan puts it, “It attempts to rejuvenate the homosociality & -sexuality latent in 14th century chivalric literature into a palpable work of heady queerness while pushing back against the centuries of erasing queer people from history by making some of the most infamous (if not actually historical) characters queer themselves.” The black and white illustrations are detailed and expressive yet clean and uncluttered. Now partway through the second chapter we’ve seen royal court intrigue, magical manipulation, and adorable flirting between Merlin and Arthur. I’m very much looking forward to watching their relationship develop.
Book of Paradise by KA Harding and Psychushi
Another newish series with not much in the archive. Doctor Saxon Oliveira is a museum curator – officially the Curator of the Paper Wing and 34th Century Artifacts for the Corinlian Institute of History – who longs to become the museum director. In the middle of his bumbling pitch to his superiors, a rift in the universe opens up. The cause? A roguish redhead and his magic book. The mystery man kicks Saxon out of his world and into another. Psychushi’s art is sketchy and messy, but I mean that in a positive way. I think it works well with Harding’s script, which is really enticing. I’m definitely sticking around to seeing how this story develops.
Goth Western by Livali Wyle
Weird West is one of my all-time most beloved fantasy subgenres, so of course I had to include it in this masterlist. Goth Western tells the story of Evie and her girlfriend Jack. When Evie is shot to death over an attempt by her scoundrel brother to steal her late father’s bar, cowpoke Jack sets out into the wilds with her corpse. There, she trades her soul to a god to bring her love back to life. The lovers make their way to Jack’s hometown, where they encounter a young man leashed to a death god. Another few towns over, a mysterious serial killer is slaughtering locals. Although almost entirely black and white, Livali’s watercolor-like artwork is emotive and expressive, the monochrome broken up with splashes of vivid red and detailed. It’s as beautiful to look at as the story is compelling.
Heart Hex by Miri Davila
While there’s not much to Heart Hex yet, what’s available is enchanting. When her cheating boyfriend Ant dumps her for another woman, Lee is devastated. She summons the demon Rosier and makes a blood pact to get revenge on Ant. What starts out as an impulsive decision made from a place of deep, dark anger, becomes something she can’t control. Lee’s path crosses with a muralist named Teo when he visits her for a palm reading. It’s still early days for the series, so it’s unclear what the future holds for Lee and Teo, but with Rosier hovering around it can’t be good. With Miri’s talent, I can’t wait to find out. I just love her creative panel layouts and color choices.
Love Circuits by Taneka Stotts and Genué Revuelta
Yvonne had one helluva birthday party. She wakes the morning after to a disaster of an apartment and the unexpected delivery of a refurbished Heartbreaker android. The ‘droid, named Lucos, is a belated gift from her good friend Frankie. Lucos and Yvonne’s android service dog, Beau, don’t exactly get along, and making things even more complicated is the arrival of Yvonne’s ex, Javier. Mediocre lettering is common amongst most webcomics. It’s one of those technical skills often overlooked when done well and very noticeable when done poorly. Letterer Melanie Ujimori isn’t just a professional, she’s a damn good one. Of all the titles on this list this is the most traditional, in that it’s structured, colored, lettered, and paneled like something you’d find in the BOOM! Box line. Between her easy-to-follow lettering, Revuelta’s lovely art, and Stotts’ intriguing story, Love Circuits is a damn fine series.
Meriel’s Law by Illuia (aka Kath Kirkegaard)
Meriel’s Law is Kirkegaard’s first published comic, but you wouldn’t know it. Meriel is a long-suffering witch dealing with some heavy stuff from her past. When June turns up at her door selling magazines Meriel doesn’t want or need, June isn’t deterred and follows her into town. How AH. MAZE. ING. it is to have not an all queer cast, but one where their queerness isn’t the main focus of the story! Not to mention that Meriel and June are exactly the kind of characters we never get in mainstream comics. Meriel isn’t skinny, has moles, and isn’t conventionally gorgeous. June is genderfluid/non-binary, bi- or multiracial, and is literally covered in freckles. Sure, the lettering and the coloring could be improved, but those are skills that can be learned over time and with practice. For what it is right now, though, Meriel’s Law is delightful. Gimme gimme gimme more.
Obelisk by Ashley McCammon
It’s New York in 1908, and Eve Reuter has just taken over her late father’s business. But as she starts digging into his business prospects, with the aid of his associates Martha and Alex, she learns that her father had some serious secrets. Eve goes looking for answers and instead she finds Margot, a mysterious curio shop owner. Eve eschews dresses for slacks and prefers working on her bicycle to embroidery. McCammon’s art is unlike anything else on this list. It’s simple and straightforward while old-timey and energetic. We haven’t actually met Margot yet in what’s been posted, but Evelyn is quirky enough to keep me coming back for more.
Originally published in June 2017.
Alex Brown is a teen librarian, writer, geeknerdloserweirdo, and all-around pop culture obsessive who watches entirely too much TV. Keep up with her every move on Twitter and Instagram, or get lost in the rabbit warren of ships and fandoms on her Tumblr.