I really appreciate The Comics Reporter – it’s an invaluable resource for what’s going on in the comics world as a whole and it’s a great service to webcomics that Tom Spurgeon tries to treat them on an equal footing with the rest of comic-dom.
Spurgeon has posted his top 50 comics of 2005 and he has included a few webcomics in the mix. Read on for a list of those webcomics:
44 — Copper by Kazu Kibuishi
On-Line Comic, Self-Published, http://www.boltcity.com/copper/
A kids’ Sunday strip that adults will enjoy — not for a snotty, second level of bad Harvard Lampoon-style satire but for the complex and pleasing ways the visuals are arranged.
36 — The Perry Bible Fellowship by Nick Gurewitch
On-Line Comic, Self-Published, http://cheston.com/pbf/archive.html
Although many strips like this lose their appeal once the secret’s out, Nick Gurewitch’s Perry Bible Fellowship remains vibrant and disturbing, as if the beautiful color and overheated situations bring with them similarly explosive elements of cruelty and rot.
33 — Achewood by Chris Onstad
On-Line Comic, Self-Published, http://www.achewood.com
Once funny for the way it would press against the odd limitations of its look and the manner in which its bluntly-depicted conflicts would descend into lunacy, Onstad’s work has become more humorous and deeply felt as the stories have gained greater traction around their characters. I think this is the same kind of comedic world that a lot of print comics go for, or at least did 25 years ago, but this one’s actually become successful in hammering out its own rules. Onstad maintains blogs for the major characters, a tribute to the world’s consistent logic — in the same way that well-designed figures for animation may be illustrated from any angle — and, obviously, Onstad’s mighty work ethic.
Given that anything published regularly in the newspapers is now online as well I’ll also point you to the rest of the "webcomics" on Spurgeon’s list:
43 — Mutts by Patrick McDonnell
Syndicated Strip, Dailies and Sundays, King Features Syndicate
The Mutts Sundays in particular have remained smart and beautiful. People only think the strip has faded because Patrick McDonnell started out an already fully realized talent, so fans didn’t get the usual pleasure of being able to follow his swell of improvement into a third or fourth year.
39 — Franklin Fibbs by Hollis Brown and Wes Hargis
Syndicated Comic Strip, Dailies and Sundays, King Features Syndicate
Visually appealing work from Wes Hargis combined with inspired joke telling by Hollis Brown that shatters the dominant Doonesbury model of beats and silent panels. Franklin Fibbs is one of the biggest surprises in modern strip history, with only a slight caveat that it remains to be seen how such a strip will age.
35 — Oliphant by Pat Oliphant
Syndicated Panel Cartoon, Universal Press Syndicate
Editorial cartooning’s reigning Lion in Winter is all elbows and knees now, sneering his way through a political landscape with characters that are probably beneath him but who manage crimes and malfeasance that challenge his everyday patience like no one has in decades.