Okay, so I read Penny Arcade and I am vaguely aware of some other webcomics out there, mostly by seeing them trying to put out print versions through Kickstarter. But I unlocked a whole new corner of the webcomics universe today, thanks to a Google+ post by +Eddy Webb, who shared the latest Battlepug strip.
Where to begin with Battlepug, written and drawn by Mike Norton with color by Allen Passalaqua … It is the story of a warrior whose mother, along with the rest of his people, was murdered by a giant, cute seal (yes, a gigantic killer seal with kawaii eyes). The warrior ends up enslaved to the Northern Elves and their red-suited, un-jolly master, before setting out on his own and running into a giant dog, the aforementioned Battlepug. The comic manages to skirt the fine line between silly and serious as the warrior learns more about the greater world and the magic forces that destroyed his village and set him on his current course.
Oh, and the story is told by a naked woman to two talking dogs, one sweet, the other sarcastic. This is my kind of weird.
Battlepug, in turn, led me to Lady Sabre & the Pirates of the Ineffable Aether, which looks to be a science-fiction/steampunk/western combo replete with airships that float through the aether, western towns, sword fights, gun battles, fortune tellers, gas-mask clad bad-guys, and the violin-playing Lady Sabre herself. The art is clean and colorful and reminds me of the old full-page Sunday comics from before my time, like Flash Gordon or Terry and the Pirates. Lady Sabre is written by Greg Rucka with art by Rick Burchett.
What I only discovered as I writing this and doing a little research, is that these are all creators who also do more traditional comic book work , so it comes as no surprise that these webcomics seem so professional. The surprise, for me, is that there is such well-done, free comic fare out there. And each site links to more webcomics, so it seems I have plenty more to discover.