It’s time for my annual look at 10 of my favorite webcomics and comic strips for 2023. While some are mainstays from previous years’ lists, others are new additions.
Again, these are only for currently running comic strips. I like “Calvin and Hobbes,” “The Far Side,” and “Peanuts” too, but it’s been over 20 years since any of them ran; they ended their runs in 1995 (for the first two) and in 2000 (for “Peanuts”). A whole generation’s passed… and there’s a whole new generation of comic strips to enjoy.
I admit my list skews male, and doesn’t have as many people of color as it should, though several of the creators are LGBTQ folk.
AJ & Magnus
By Bryan and Simon Steel
“AJ & Magnus” is a comic strip about AJ (a grade schooler), Magnus (his pet bullmastiff), and AJ’s two fathers (John and Alex, aka “Pop” and “Dad”). The strip features a mix of gags about the family’s home life and a few ongoing storylines.
I like that it’s the rare cartoon I’ve seen where the over-30 parents actually like things like video games, comics, and cosplay. Versus being Millennials/Gen Xers with the tastes of stereotypical/conservative Baby Boomers, like the parents in some sitcoms/newspaper comics. For instance, Pop and Dad once argued over which was better, “Star Trek” or “Star Wars.”
“Boyfriends.” is a Webtoon webcomic about four male college students who all become each other’s boyfriend, in a polyamorous relationship. The comic focuses on how the characters deal with both college and each other.
Unusually, none of the characters are given names within the strip; pictures of the character being spoken about appear in word balloons when needed. Fans, however, usually call the main cast “Nerd,” “Goth,” “Jock,” and “Prep” (fitting their archetypes). Out of the quartet: Goth is a trans man who runs a Twitch-like stream; Jock has a sister who’s also in a polyamorous same-sex relationship (all three of her partners are counterparts to Prep, Nerd, and Goth); and Nerd is obsessed with cute things, anime, and manga.
While the strip’s creator is from Indonesia, most of the strip’s elements reflect American college culture, but with heavy manga influences.
By Ryan North
Running since 2003, “Dinosaur Comics” features (in every strip) the same clip art of a green Tyrannosaurus rex and two other dinosaurs, but with different dialogue every day. T. rex himself is something of a know-it-all that often leaps to bizarre or erroneous conclusions on various topics. He’s also obsessed with Batman and Sherlock Holmes, though he clearly likes the former better—Holmes to him is the “world’s greatest detective that isn’t Batman.”
A high point is the strip about how many of Batman’s foes have pun-themed real names. Considering Calendar Man‘s real name is “Julian Gregory Day” and the Riddler’s real name is “Edward Nygma,” the argument’s not too far off.
The strip earlier this year celebrated its 20th anniversary.
By Bill Amend
“FoxTrot” is the long-running newspaper strip about the geeky Jason Fox and his family. The strip made its debut in 1988; in 2007, “FoxTrot” switched from daily strips to Sundays-only.
The cartoonist, Bill Amend, is an Apple fan. As such, the Fox family’s devices are always based on some real-life model of Apple computer, from an Apple II in the earliest strips (from the late 80s) to the Fox family’s current flat-panel iMac-like “iFruit.” The strip switched to calling its computers “iFruits,” in a 1999 storyline parodying the first-generation CRT iMacs.
The Joy of Tech
By Nitrozac and Snaggy
Nitrozac and Snaggy are the co-creators of “The Joy of Tech,” a comic making fun of various aspects of technology. Jokes range from the latest features on Apple’s iPhones to Elon Musk’s latest antics. Facebook is a particularly frequent target (for good reason), though since Musk’s Twitter buyout, there’s also been a lot of jokes about the site now known as X.
Kyle’s Bed & Breakfast
By Greg Fox
“Kyle’s Bed & Breakfast” is a biweekly comic about the permanent residents of a gay-owned-and-oriented bed and breakfast in Long Island, New York. Stories revolve around the characters’ lives, including soap opera-style romance problems. While not explicit, the strip is occasionally not suitable for work (NSFW).
The cartoonist, Greg Fox, is also a Legion of Super-Heroes fan. References to such sometimes turn up in the strip. Two examples include a costume party where the gang dress as 70s-era Legionnaires, and the time the gang visited a children’s hospital dressed as the Legion. The latter sees resident minor league baseball player Brad (who prefers Marvel over DC) point out they should’ve dressed up as heroes kids would actually recognize, such as the Avengers.
By Jeph Jacques
“Questionable Content” is a long-running “slice of life” webcomic. The setting’s a Massachusetts college town, but in a “twenty minutes into the future” setting where sentient robots (“AIs”; the term used well before the current chatbot AI craze) coexist with humans. Most of the human cast are twentysomethings. This strip definitely veers into NSFW territory; the characters aren’t shy about swearing and/or talking about sex.
By Sarah Andersen
“Sarah’s Scribbles” launched in 2011 as a webcomic chronicling a young woman’s life as she deals with adulthood. Most of the humor comes from the (technically unnamed) main character feeling burdened by the weight of adulthood and its responsibilities, plus her own feelings of anxiety.
The Nib is a site featuring a variety of left-leaning political webcomics. My favorite cartoonists featured on the site (and their own sites/social media accounts, where available) include:
- Ruben Bolling (site)(Boing Boing)
- Keith Knight (site)
- Mattie Lubchansky (newsletter)(Facebook)(Instagram)
- Niccolo Pizarro (site)(Instagram)
- Joey Alison Sayers (site)(Instagram)
- Jen Sorensen (site)(Facebook)(Tumblr)
- Tom Tomorrow (site)(Daily Kos)
- Kendra Wells (site)
Unfortunately, The Nib ceased publishing as of the end of August. If you like any of the creators listed above, you can follow them through their own websites or social media accounts.
To the Stars and Back
“To the Stars and Back” is a Webtoon strip about two college students, the cheerful Bo Seon and his classmate and neighbor, the more cynical Kang Dae. The strip focuses on Kang warming up to Bo, Kang’s own backstory, and a clearly growing attraction between the two.
A few runners-up to the above: