Webcomics make the AV Clubs Best Comics of the Decade List
Submitted by El Santo on November 24, 2009 - 04:11
AV Club has been doing Best of the Decade lists all month, many of which have been excellent and surprising. Recently, the released their Best Comics of the Decade. Two webcomics made the cut, and theyâ€™re accompanied by interesting observations about the medium:
Achewood, Chris Onstad (achewood.com, 2001-present)
This was the decade when webcomics tried to step up and prove they deserve a place alongside the great newspaper strips of the past, but Chris Onstadâ€™s Achewood is one of the few thatâ€™s proven worthy of the challenge. Hiding some powerfully good storytelling behind simple art, Achewood quickly evolved from a reliably funny gag strip to a still funny but surprisingly deep character-driven comedy thatâ€™s stayed sharp no matter what bizarre direction itâ€™s veered in. Ray and Roast Beef, the central funny-animal protagonistsâ€”human-like in their bad behavior, if nothing elseâ€”form the stripâ€™s spine, and Onstad has found humor and meaning in their enjoyably quirky argot and exploration of the meaning of adult friendships. When he wants to go for more broad or surreal humor, heâ€™s been able to draw on a bench of supporting characters as deep as any great sitcomâ€™s.
American Elf, James Kochalka (americanelf.com/Top Shelf, 1998-present)
Billed as â€œJames Kochalkaâ€™s Collected Sketchbook Diaries,â€ the three volumes (and counting) of American Elf offer far more than the solipsistic scribbling of yet another autobiographical cartoonist. Limiting himself to a maximum of four panels per day of his life, Kochalka distills oceans of poignancy into tidy, even Zen-like teacups. Kochalkaâ€™s strips, as always, possess a deceptively innocuous virtuosity, and his prosaic yet dreamlike anecdotes about daily life, fatherhood, and videogames controlled by erect penises deserve multiple readingsâ€”not to mention recognition for making a seamless crossover between webcomic and graphic novel. Above all, though, American Elf is drop-dead funny, and Kochalkaâ€™s organic, semisweet humor skims self-deprecation without plunging into self-loathing.