Do you ever miss getting the newspaper and stealing the gag-a-day comics page before your parents could get to it? It’s one of those little joys that’s been lost with the disappearance of newspapers from most doorsteps.
However, the medium of ‘newspaper comics’ hasn’t vanished. While plenty of webcomics tell soaring, intricate stories with beautiful art, just as many if not more are ‘gag-a-day’ webcomics. They publish self-contained strips, free of the rules of continuity and storytelling, and they’ve also evolved in another important way: they are impossibly nerdy. It’s not necessary to appeal to a broad audience anymore, not when the Internet guarantees access to the people who will get your esoteric jokes.
Below are five gag-a-day webcomics (not all of them daily) that make no apologies for their cynical satire, genius-level jokes, or blatantly obvious passions.
5. Science Nerd Comics: xkcd
Possibly the most famous ‘gag a day’ webcomic now online, xkcd by Randall Monroe has been running since 2005 and has been his full-time job since 2008. It describes itself as “a webcomic of romance, sarcasm, math, and language”, and is known for its rather sarcastic commentary on technology, mathematics, relationships and politics.
xkcd updates three times a week, and has barely developed in art style since 2005, mostly deliberately.
4. Philosophy Nerd Comics: Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal
Drawn by Zach Weinersmith, Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal, often shortened to SMBC, takes on a lot of the same topics as xkcd with a heavier dose of cynicism. Weinersmith glories in crossing the line with his humour, and he particularly has it out for economists.
SMBC updates daily, and Weinersmith also runs SMBC Theater on Youtube.
3. Political Nerd Comics: Scenes From A Multiverse
Scenes from a Multiverse is Jonathan Rosenberg’s trippy multiverse gag-a-day comic, running since 2010. Every comic takes place in a different universe, as posited by the multiverse theory where any universe is possible. It technically does develop some continuity later on, but the ‘final destinations’ are decided by reader vote.
As any good satirist should, Rosenberg uses the settings of his comic for political and social commentary, especially around anti-science movements. Recently, he’s given up whatever subtlety he had in favour of more pointed jabs.
Scenes from a Multiverse updates Monday-Wednesday-Friday.
2. Historical Nerd Comics: Hark! A Vagrant
Drawn by Kate Beaton and updated whenever she has an idea, Hark! A Vagrant is an assortment of esoteric pop culture and history jokes. Hark! A Vagrant is especially well known for the Strong Female Characters, her personal take on underwritten female characters in movies and television.
Hark! A Vagrant is currently on hiatus while Kate Beaton works on a book. Not everybody can multitask, as she cheerfully admits.
1. Pop Culture Nerd Comics: Rock Paper Cynic
Rock, Paper, Cynic is the brainchild of Peter Chiykowski, who describes it as “a comic for people who think too much and too little”. His comics usually poke fun at love, pop culture, and technical trouble.
Peter Chiykowski has also released an album of his own nerdy songs called ‘Borken Telephone‘, featuring songs like ‘I Don’t Need You (I’ve Got Netflix)’, and ‘One Shell, Two Shell, Red Shell, Blue Shell’.
I believe practicing constructive cynicism helps us question things that make the world crappy and better appreciate things that make it pretty sweet. Also, sometimes I just like to make silly jokes about turtles.
Do you follow any of these comics? Which ones are your favourites?