Thoughtful Thursday: There’s this thing called “the internet”

Several of you recommended that I break outside my normal fantasy genres in response to my ennui. So I took your advice, and found some really interesting stuff. Did you know that you can read a lot of really fun fantasy online? And even better, it comes with pictures! (And no, I’m not talking about the latest photo-shopped magazine covers of the celebrity of the week.)

I’ve known for a while that you can read fantasy comics on-line. For example, have you read Order of the Stick, a cartoon version of a Dungeons and Dragons campaign? And then there is Erfworld, a comic strip about what happens when the best Dungeon Master in the world gets sucked through a transdimensional portal to a world that actually works according to standard turn-based RPG rules. Or if you’re not into dungeon crawling adventures in your fantasy, you can go for the steampunky Girl Genius.

At this point we’re into full on graphic novels. Like the spooky industrial-celtic feeling Gunnerkrigg Court, the alt-history Templar, Arizona and the incredibly beautiful The Phoenix Requiem. Go click on that link and tell me you don’t want to know more just by the cover art. And then of course, you have The Dreamland Chronicles, a more traditional fantasy story done with CGI rendering.

Did you know this stuff was out there? I knew about Order of the Stick and Erfworld a few years ago, but these graphic novels? I had no idea people were doing that on the internet! Amazing! There’s some really great and innovative work being done here that is not getting the audience I think it deserves, just because it is being done in an non-traditional format.

So, dear readers, what is your impression of these online sources for new and exciting fantasy reading opportunities? And more importantly, which ones have I not mentioned that deserve my attention? Drop a link in the comment section, and the one I waste the most time reading will earn you a book of your choice from our stacks.


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RUTH ARNELL is a professor of political science in Idaho. From a young age she has maxed out her library card the way some people do credit cards. Ruth started reading fantasy with A Wrinkle in Time and The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe — books that still occupy an honored spot on her bookshelf today. Ruth and her husband have a young son, but their house is actually presided over by a flame-point Siamese who answers, sometimes, to the name of Griffon.

View all posts by Ruth Arnell

12 comments

  1. Sluggy Freelance: http://www.sluggy.com

    I’ve been reading sluggy since I was in high school. Sluggy was one of the first successful webcomics, started in 1997. It’s not exactly fantasy, but then again it’s not exactly not fantasy either. I have a hard time getting new people to start reading sluggy because of the intimidating backlog. Maybe if I come at from a fantasy fans perspective and tell to immagine as this wonderfully long amazing book…with pictures. The storylines are surprising deep. The art and the story both grow as the creator gets better. In it’s current it’s nothing short of amazing. I love Sluggy Freelance more than I love cake.

  2. Thanks for pointing these out to all of us here, you are right there is some amazing stuff going on these days on the net. I am an old time fan of comics from back in the 70s and had no idea this was out there. Thaks for sharing with us!

  3. Sluggy is always good, though I haven’t read it in a while so I have a lot of catching up to do. I like most anything put out by Giants in the Playground. One of my favorite webcomics right now is Looking for Group, which is absolutely hilarious and a good story at the same time.

  4. Most of the webcomics I read are, for some reason not really SFF related (my favorites are http://www.xkcd.com and http://www.wondermark.com), but there’s one I’d love to point out: 2D Goggles, or The Thrilling Adventures of Ada Lovelace and Charles Babbage. It’s a steampunk comic (about, yes, the real Lovelace and Babbage), hysterically funny and somehow on occasion even loosely based on real historical facts. The first issue is here:

    http://sydneypadua.com/2dgoggles/lovelace-the-origin-2/

  5. I almost included kxcd as well, just because I love it so much, but it’s more science than fantasy. I love that comic and use it in my research methods class quite frequently.

  6. Ruth, can you send me the ones you use for research methods? I’ll send you my Dilberts in exchange. : )
    (Really, it’s kind of weird that two of us here teach research methods.)

  7. I thought I was pretty clued-up about comics, Ruth, but you’ve pointed me in the direction of some really great ones there. The Phoenix Requiem in particular – I’m just in awe of how much love and attention Sarah has put into that! I need to set aside a whole weekend to just dive in and immerse myself in the world she’s created. There’s so much there – it’s like having all seven seasons of Buffy to watch on DVD :)

    A couple of recent graphic novels that you ought to check out are Mezolith, by Ben Haggarty and Adam Brockbank, and The Spider Moon by Kate Brown. Both are fantasy for teens and older kids (though with very different styles of art and story) and were collected from instalments that ran in The DFC, an anthology comic published by Random House that ran here in Britain for a while before the credit crunch finished it off.

    And if you have an iPad, you could check out my own strip from The DFC, Mirabilis, which I put up in the App Store last month: http://www.mirabilis-yearofwonders.com/ipad.html. Modesty almost prevents me mentioning that, but apart from the story, the artwork (by Leo Hartas and Nikos Koutsis) is just lovely.

  8. Dave, I like your strip!

    My 8-yr old daughter loves graphic novels and comics (Bad Kitty, Wimpy Kid, etc.). Can anyone recommend some in the fantasy genre that she might enjoy?

  9. Thanks, Kat! In the same series of DFC comics, there’s a fun graphic novel by the very talented Etherington brothers called Monkey Nuts: The Diamond Egg of Wonders that would be just right for an 8-year-old if she likes fast, funny fantasy. It’s got a robot and an ape who have to help the island chief (a talking coconut) out of all kinds of scrapes. Review here so you can judge whether it would appeal to your daughter:
    http://bookzone4boys.blogspot.com/2010/10/review-monkey-nuts-diamond-egg-of.html
    and another in that series (I’m not just loyal to my buddies, they are good!) is Good Dog Bad Dog by Dave Shelton, which is about two doggie detectives. There’s a review and sample pages here:
    http://forbiddenplanet.co.uk/blog/2010/the-dfc-library-good-dog-bad-dog/

  10. Thanks, Dave! I’ll have Tali look at those. Best wishes!!

  11. Congratulations to noothergods for suggesting the funny Looking for Group comic! Contact me to let me know which book you want from our stacks.

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