The Evolution of Webcomics

I got into the webcomic world in a really unconventional way. One of my favorite authors tweeted an XKCD comic and I clicked it. I was young and didn’t understand all the humor, but I worked in an office and needed something to do, so I pored over all the comics. When I ran out, I scrolled to the bottom of the page and clicked on a link to Questionable Content, a webcomic Randall Munroe (author of XKCD) suggested.

I actually managed to track down to the general area where the comic was when I discovered it back as a wee middle schooler
I actually managed to track down to the general area where the comic was when I discovered it back as a wee middle schooler

The comic had been running since 2003 which somehow baffled me (I had been confused by the internet until around 2006 so it therefore didn’t exist before then). The art was well polished and the main character Marten was also cute so I gave it a chance. After moving forward and back a few panels and still not getting it, I made the decision to start from the beginning. Almost 1600 pages in, I decided to jump into a much longer and fleshed out story. I would see pages and pages of Marten’s cute face. I pressed the “First” button, sending me back to 2003 when Jeph Jacques first decided to post this little baby of a comic and was met with this:

Oh. Um. Wow. Okay. That's...well, different,
Oh. Um. Wow. Okay. That’s…well, different,

Was this the same comic? I read a few panels, and yeah, it definitely appears to be the same. This was the beginning of what I noticed a lot of webcomic artists go through, a rudimentary start as an artist, but as they get to know the characters they’re drawing, they become more fleshed out.

I actually did a triptych with QC, and you can see how after a few years of writing the comic, Jacques falls into a style he’s comfortable with and in the 6 or so years that I’ve been reading the comic, the style hasn’t really changed all that much.

I did the same with another webcomic that I found, Nerf This by Scott Ferguson (it was advertised on the QC website and after the millionth time I saw the ad I finally clicked it). The art was awesome and I went back to the beginning and noticed something similar to QC: bluish characters, basic lines, and flat colors.


I’ll admit, as the years have gone by, I’ve fallen out of these webcomics a bit, but every time I go back, the slight changes of style draw be back in. I go back to the spot where I left off and I catch up. I not only get to see how the story has changed, but I get to see how the artist has changed up their style as well.

Nerf This today


Of course some webcomics like Ava’s Demon and Paranatural have maintained a relatively consistent style though their runs, but they’re also younger webcomics. They came into the business at a different time where their art might have had to be more polished for them to get a good readership. I remember watching as Paranatural got picked up by Hivework Comics.

While newer webcomics have a more “set” style, I’ll still have fun going to old webcomics and clicking first just to feel that shock of “Wow, this artist has changed so much” it’s kind of like watching a kid grow up. I don’t just watch the characters grow, but I watch the artist grow as well.