Ten webcomics you should read

I find it’s often difficult to switch off one’s feminist brain and get into not-so-progressive entertainment. (Not that I particularly want to support anti-feminist work!) But where do you go for a bit of fun in such a kyriarchal world? Well, I’ve found a part of my answer with webcomics.

If you’re not familiar with webcomics, they’re essentially serialised comics posted on the web, generally published one to three times a week. I love this community of creative, vibrant people putting their work out there in the world and communicating directly with their audiences. I particularly like to hang out in the queer section of the webcomics world, although sometimes the undersupply of older or non-white characters gets a bit much. But aside from all that, I love how supportive these artists and writers are of each other, raising funds and awareness for each other and causes that matter to them, as with the LGBT Webcomic Charity Art Auction, for instance. There’s a load of beautiful artwork and explorations of identity and life experience to be found. And also a lot of fun. That’s the way to do progressive artistry in my book!

Here are some of my favourites. They’re not all pure progressive win, but they’re a cut above what one tends to find when you’re looking to be entertained. I’m linking to the first page of each of those without a set homepage so that you can avoid spoilers.

Blue is a lovely comic by Patricia Grullon, who is much loved in the lesbian webcomics community. The two leads, Chris and Laci, are charming, and it’s great to watch the art evolve, gaining realistic body shapes that are so rare in this kind of work. See my review.

Girls with Slingshots by Danielle Corsetto is the rather popular story of best friends Hazel and Jamie. There’s a lot about love (not just straight love!) and negotiating life as a young adult. There is a certain character you’ll almost definitely find… off-putting, to put it mildly, but she gets her comeuppance eventually.

Gunnerkrigg Court by Tom Siddell is very readable, and a good pick for any age group. It’s a story of the scientific, the supernatural and the plain funny, set in a mysterious school. Gunnerkrigg is of feminist interest for its resourceful, layered heroines, Annie and Kat, who will make you grin.

I Was Kidnapped By Lesbian Pirates From Outer Space!!! is the first webcomic I ever got into, just because of the title. It’s the work of Megan Rose Gedris, who is considered the queen of all lesbian webcomics. It’s fast, it’s funny, it’s ‘50s style. A lovely punchy take on pulp comics.

Khaos Komic by Tab Kimpton is just plain cool. It’s one story from what will eventually be eight points of view, extended just a little with every one. You’d think it a set up too clunky to work, but the artist does it so well. It focuses on the lives and relationships of a group of friends figuring out their sexual and gender identities.

Misfile is by Chris Hazelton. It’s about the complications after an angel misfiles Ash’s papers in the ‘girl’ filing cabinet and accidentally changes Emily’s date of birth. They’ve got to get the angel, Rumisiel, back into heaven so he can set everything right.

The title of Red String by Gina Biggs refers to the red string of fate that ties people to their true loves. It’s about destiny, and the destiny you make for yourself. The webcomic weaves itself through the lives of best friends Miharu, Fuuko and Reika as they work through growing up, family expectations and becoming oneself.

I am very fond of Simply Sarah by Sarah Skye. A teenage lesbian romance, it tackles a lot of issues faced by young queer people around family, school and what’s going on on the inside. The artist has taken a lot from her own life. And I’m fond of the beautiful pastel colours.

Sister Claire by Yamino is just laugh out loud material. I hardly need tell you anything more than the tagline: ‘Pregnant Nun: Holy Crap!’ But I will, because that’s a bit of a shock. Sister Claire is a very sweet nun who has been given the honour of being pregnant with the messiah. There’s also Nun-Fu. Yeah.

YU+ME: dream is my very favourite. If you don’t read anything else on this list, read this. It’s another by Megan Rose Gedris. There is an amazing plot twist at the end of part one, which would be a cliché at the end of a story but is inspired for the middle. The quintessential lesbian webcomic.

So please do check those comics out, support some lovely independent artists and be entertained. Share your favourites in comments.

A note for those of you with visual impairments: I’m afraid that none of those comics have descriptions! (And of course, webcomic artists, famously xkcd, often use the alt text for added jokes or commentary rather than descriptions.) If you’re interested in webcomics nevertheless, I’d recommend that you check out the Oh No Robot comics transcripts service, which has quite a lot of comics on file.

This has been a pretty light-hearted post, but I want to leave you with something more serious. I’d also recommend you check out the Transgender Day of Remembrance Webcomics Project. I don’t think it’s running this year, but there’s lots of previous work there. Don’t forget that it’s the International Transgender Day of Remembrance on the 20th.


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74 comments for “Ten webcomics you should read

  1. William
    November 16, 2009 at 7:45 pm

    It isn’t GLBTQ, but given that we’re talking about webcomics, I’d like to mention Freakangels. It kind of cheats as far as webcomics go (Warren Ellis and Paul Duffield are both pros) but its 6 high quality pages about the end of the world every Friday. The art is just beautiful and the writing is incredible.

  2. November 16, 2009 at 7:51 pm

    Oh, you don’t have to rec GLBTQ stuff especially, that was just my focus. Anything of feminist interest will do! :)

  3. Politicalguineapig
    November 16, 2009 at 8:05 pm

    Dominic Deegan. I know, the main character’s male, but he has a kickass girlfriend, several female friends of the kick ass and take names later variety, and a dad who’s not afraid to wear pink.
    Flipside is pretty cool too, and I love Dan and Mab’s Furry Adventures.

  4. Meg
    November 16, 2009 at 8:44 pm

    I’m rather fond of GirlGenius; ignoring the tendency to make all women have raging gazoomba-chests, it’s got a great plot, a kick-ass female lead, and good steam-punk art.

  5. Gina
    November 16, 2009 at 8:53 pm

    I second Girlgenius! Yeah, there are ridiculous boobs, but also a refreshingly bawdy-not-porny comic sexiness I love! Kickass girl geekery and truly, Terry Pratchett funny. My daughter and I are a tad obsessed!

  6. 1st_of_5
    November 16, 2009 at 9:00 pm

    i would recommend questionable content. while quite hipster-centric, it’s got a full range of characters, very feminist-friendly with some glbtq and alt throw in as well.

  7. Olivetti
    November 16, 2009 at 9:27 pm

    Cat and Girl!! You can’t leave out Cat and Girl!!
    http://catandgirl.com/?p=2061

  8. Nicole
    November 16, 2009 at 9:30 pm

    Venus Envy is a good trans webcomic, especially if it keeps updating. I read about 30 I think so I am just going to link that one and hope the rest get covered instead of doing all of that work. XD

  9. Seize
    November 16, 2009 at 9:30 pm

    A Softer World is offbeat but kind of addictive. It’s the wonderful work of Emily Horne and Joey Comeau. Horne’s evolving photographic style and Comeau’s surprising, sometimes-hilarious sometimes-poignant writing style make it hard to look away from. I find myself quoting this comic frequently, which is not something I often say about anything, let along a webcomic.

  10. November 16, 2009 at 9:47 pm

    I absolutely *adore* any comic by K. Sandra Fuhr, or Sandra Delete – notably Friendly Hostility and Boy Meets Boy. The latter was the first webcomic I got into, and the beginnings of my interest in the GLBTQ community. They’ve both ended now.

  11. November 16, 2009 at 10:16 pm

    No Questionable Content?

  12. November 16, 2009 at 10:28 pm

    I just posted a list of recs this summer over at my livejournal–a lot of these I already read, but will definitely check out the ones I don’t. A couple more people might like are Flipside (http://www.flipsidecomics.com/comic.php), Kagerou (http://www.electric-manga.com/) and Questionable Content (http://www.questionablecontent.ne).

    Phoenix Requiem (http://requiem.seraph-inn.com/) is a spooky sci-fi/fantasy comic with an awesome female lead who is breaking gender norms in her world (a Victorian-esque AU) by studying to become a doctor. Also, the art is gorgeous.

    INTPagan, do you read Other People’s Business? It’s also by K. Sandra and revolves around three awesome female characters: http://www.otherpeoplesbusiness.net/

  13. November 16, 2009 at 10:34 pm

    And no Hush Me, or Ugly Girl, or Flipside, or… these are just a few of the comics I read. :)

    Oh, there’s a few I haven’t heard of that I will have to bookmark, thanks everyone and keep bringing the recs!

  14. krismcn
    November 16, 2009 at 10:42 pm

    Hey Chally, that Gunnerkrigg court link goes nowhere.
    http://www.gunnerkrigg.com

  15. November 16, 2009 at 10:45 pm

    That’s two for QC. I’m not going to add my voice, because while I love it, it’s treatment of women and LGBQ* should be the bare minimum we expect from fiction. Jeph shouldn’t deserve a cookie for treating being female or being gay or being bi as normal, even though we’re probably not at the point that he doesn’t.

    Now, I will recommend Order of the Stick, which has its heroes led by a black** character whose color only comes up in bare physical descriptions, and who is as fleshed out as the rest of the cast (that is, his color isn’t his personality characteristic). Though again, we should take that for granted in fiction.

    *There are no transgender characters I know of as of November 16, 2009.
    ** Well, sort of.

  16. November 16, 2009 at 10:49 pm

    krismcn: Thanks. Apparently Feministe hates that link because I just can’t seem to fix it. Very strange.

  17. Heather
    November 16, 2009 at 10:51 pm
  18. Cassie
    November 16, 2009 at 11:09 pm

    CampusProgress highlighted some up-and-coming female web comic artists: http://www.campusprogress.org/fieldreport/4742/webcomics-the-female-geekdom

  19. Suzanne M
    November 16, 2009 at 11:53 pm

    I think all of my absolute favorites have been listed already (A Softer World, Gunnerkrigg, Girl Genius, Questionable Content, xkcd, Phoenix Requiem, and a special mention for anything by K. Sandra Fuhr), so I’ll branch out very slightly.

    Webcomics not enough for you? Are you also addicted to the utter dreck of daily newspaper comics? Me too! Read the best comics commentary on the web at The Comics Curmudgeon! (Seriously, it’s hilarious.)

  20. Suzanne M
    November 17, 2009 at 12:24 am

    I can’t believe I forgot to mention Family Man by Dylan Meconis. I became a fan of Dylan’s from her delightfully silly “Bite Me!” years ago. “Family Man” features a supporting character from that one, but it is a meticulously researched, gorgeously drawn, much more serious comic. And she annotates it every 50 pages or so, with notes about her research and further details about historical stuff the characters are referencing. It’s wonderful work. I would mention the awesomest thing about the main character, but it’d spoil things for anyone who didn’t read “Bite Me!”.

  21. November 17, 2009 at 12:31 am

    My new favorite is Tiny Kitten Teeth: gorgeous hand-painted art with a cat that moves to a new town to go to college and finds himself in kitschy tiki bars. What’s not to love?

  22. Bagelsan
    November 17, 2009 at 1:05 am

    I would recommend Dinosaur Comics (http://www.qwantz.com/index.php) and Partially Clips (http://www.partiallyclips.com/) — neither are specifically feminist but I haven’t been offended by either of them to date and that can be hard enough to find! (They are both of the snarky persuasion, too.)

  23. November 17, 2009 at 4:49 am
  24. GreyLadyBast
    November 17, 2009 at 8:40 am

    I’ve seen plenty of love for Questionable Content, but nary a word of praise for Digger, and that can’t stand. Digger is simply one of the best epic fantasies ever created.

    The central character is a female wombat, Digger, who is lost in a world of vampire squash, talking statues of Ganesh, hags and priests and trolls, oh my! The McGuffin is a dead god. The Chosen One is a slightly-insane teenage girl. The warriors are a matriarchal society of anthropomorphic hyenas. The wombat can’t get out of this nutsiness fast enough, yet keeps winding up sticking around and helping. Oh, and there’s a baby demon, who gets sort-of adopted by the good-hearted Digger.

    Just go read it.

    Bast

  25. November 17, 2009 at 9:33 am

    Auraesque, sometimes I stop by, and I think it’s amusing, but I’ll confess that I drop in and out of webcomics these days, and had to go on a very long catch-up to find that Friendly Hostility was done, and I am a little chagrined at being very upset at what happened with Collin in OPB. (I think you’ll know what I’m talking about; it’s a spoiler.) I think it’s good, but I’m going to need to take some time to build into it.

  26. Jha
    November 17, 2009 at 10:13 am

    Seconding Lovelace and Babbage! I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing the artist herself a while back. She’s as amazing as the comic she draws!

  27. November 17, 2009 at 10:52 am

    y’all need to get up on Jen Manley Lee’s Dicebox

  28. Jay@racialicious
    November 17, 2009 at 10:52 am

    Frustration abounds. I like most of these, but they still frustrate me because most queer/feminist friendly webcomics tend to do poorly on race (no/token PoCs) and most race friendly webcomics tend to be male/het centric.

    So I’m not exactly sure what I can recommend.

  29. aproustian
    November 17, 2009 at 11:03 am

    I recommend Hark A Vagrant, by Kate Beaton: http://harkavagrant.com/

    Lots of history based comics, very funny.

  30. Max
    November 17, 2009 at 12:18 pm

    Love Gunnerkrigg, Questionable Content, xkcd, and A Softer World. Three comics that haven’t been mentioned here: The Zombie Hunters is post-zombie-apocalypse webcomic, that features a group of “Zombie hunters” who run salvage missions in old cities. Besides featuring an interesting variation on the traditional zombie mythos, the team is about 50/50 male/female and led by a woman. And holy crap the artwork is amazing.

    Garanos is an interesting comic so far. It features a female protagonist, who is a fully-trained soldier on a mission to find her fiancé, who was kidnapped by mercenaries.

    The Meek is a promising comic about a teenage girl who is on an strange journey to a city. The first chapter features a lot of non-sexualized nudity.

    All three of these comics are written and drawn by women.

  31. Katie
    November 17, 2009 at 12:24 pm

    Seconding Jay. Most of these comics are extreeeemely white. And I question xkcd’s feminist cred – it’s got this sort of feminist veneer, without picturing many actual women as protagonists in the comics who are not connected to men in some way.

  32. Quill
    November 17, 2009 at 1:13 pm

    Thirding Jay, as that is a very good point.

    Girl Genius is amazing, especially given its ages-8-and-up rating and emphasis on capable female characters. It’s the one webcomic I regularly direct younger girls at, given its combination of role models/positive messages, hilarity, and brilliant art. While some might be uncomfortable with it, the terrifically well-endowed female characters and occasional appearances in Victorian underwear don’t bother me – there’s more nudity at every beach I’ve ever seen.

    Seconding Katie, I don’t think xkcd has feminist cred. I think it’s hilarious in a technical/scientific school sort of way. If you’re at a college like mine, where the geeky science/math/computing in-jokes make sense to nearly every student, xkcd is awesome.

    politicalguineapig: I’m going to vote strongly *against* Dominic Deegan from a feminist perspective. Early on, it’s got female characters who don’t completely suck – this is something I just take for granted. Yes, it’s got guys who occasionally behave in mildly gender-non-conforming ways – and this is treated as *extraordinary* by the writer and other characters. Putting a straight man in a pink shirt and treating that as exceptional is far from the height of queer-inclusive writing. The only female character I remember being interesting, Luna, starts out reasonably complex and devolves into main-character’s-girlfriend-and-sidekick, a far from “kick-ass” role if I’ve ever seen one. The comic also develops really squicky rape-is-justified plot lines that got several of my guy friends and me to ditch the story completely. If you’re really into lighthearted fantasy comics, I’d say ditch DD after the Storm of Souls arc and pretend everything after that just did not happen.

  33. Katie
    November 17, 2009 at 2:16 pm

    OMG I just dropped into a Khaos Komic hole and didn’t come out for about an hour and a half. That strip SUCKS YOU IN AND DOESN’T LET YOU GO. In a good way.

    I don’t love that they live in a magical racism-free world though. That was an off note.

  34. Bec H.
    November 17, 2009 at 2:43 pm

    I have huge amounts of love for Aeire’s Queen of Wands. She brought the comic to a conclusion, but it’s still available to read on http://www.queenofwands.net

    Also, the sequel, Punch’n’Pie, is pretty decent.

  35. November 17, 2009 at 3:40 pm

    Um, I don’t know about anyone else who recced it, but I seriously wasn’t recommending xkcd as a feminist read, I just mentioned it speaking about alt text, for which it is famous. And as I said in the post, it bothers me how white these all are, also; I wish there were more people like me in webcomics! Got any to rec, anyone?

    Also a trigger warning on the 17 Feb edition of DAR for any trans readers visiting.

  36. Scarlett
    November 17, 2009 at 4:18 pm

    Seconding Hershele Ostropoler’s recommendation for The Order of the Stick — with the added comment that while it doesn’t feature any characters that are trans* as far as I know, it does feature a main character who is genderqueer (androgynous in appearance, partner is also androgynous, when asked hir gender by other characters, ze refuses to comment and/or starts blowing things up). As pointed out above, it also features a protagonist who’s Black, and is a fully-rounded character with his own plot arcs, character development, love interest and (at times annoying!) family members, another main character who is not white (and speaks with a Scottish accent!), and three or four long-running secondary characters who are Asian.

    Another comic that isn’t particularly feminist, but does feature a multiracial cast, is Something Positive, which features two women of Asian background in the core cast.

  37. November 17, 2009 at 4:58 pm

    Add my voice to the enthusiastic chorus in support of Girl Genius. I’ve loved Foglio from way back, and Girl Genius is definitely Phil at his height (helped in no small part by his wife Kaja, at least in the writing chores)>

    I’d like to suggest Modern Hooker, for those who are interested in the politics of sex work. Created by a longtime escort, it’s gained a cult following among sex workers, and is by turns slapstick, sad, bawdy, or bittersweet, but always honest.

  38. texasshiva
    November 17, 2009 at 6:18 pm

    I just read years and years worth of YU+ME: dream (from the beginning to the latest page). Now I want more.

  39. November 17, 2009 at 9:48 pm

    Don’t forget C’est la Vie! One of the best comics out there, and drawn by an absolutely fascinating woman who is an Egyptologist!
    http://www.clv-comic.com/

  40. Traduit
    November 17, 2009 at 11:46 pm

    Ah, I *love* Khaos Komix. I’ve been following it for over a year now, so awesome. Misfile and Simply Sarah, too. I’m also incredibly fond of A Softer World and Sinfest and they’re pretty good about things as far as I can tell. Oh, and definitely seconding Friendly Hostility!

  41. RD
    November 18, 2009 at 2:15 am

    This former sex worker HATES “Modern Hooker” with a fiery passion.

  42. Masha
    November 18, 2009 at 11:55 am

    I second “Something Positive,” and Subnormality is pretty great (http://www.viruscomix.com/subnormality.html). Neither has said anything about being feminist, but they are both very witty and so far have never felt offensive to me, and I suspect the writer of Subnormality might identify as a feminist because of a couple of strips of his.

  43. November 18, 2009 at 12:45 pm

    Feministe, why are you so hostile to me finishing my Master’s Thesis?

    These webcomics are too engaging, and I keep promising myself just. one. more.

  44. November 18, 2009 at 1:03 pm

    I recommend Girlfriend Comics (with a warning that it may not be safe for work).  Updates every other Thursday, and is “a series of one-page stories about women and sex”.

  45. La BellaDonna
    November 18, 2009 at 1:03 pm

    I’d like to add a daily favorite of mine to the list, if it meets specs. It’s http://www.questionablecontent.net/ – as far as I’ve been able to tell, the writer is a decent human being – the frequently-appearing characters include those who are gay, lesbian, nonsexual, inorganic, and hetero … kind of normal. It’s also really, really funny, and the writer seems to be appreciative of and interact with his readers.

  46. La BellaDonna
    November 18, 2009 at 1:13 pm

    Ah hah! Read the post but not ALL the comments before commenting! My love for QC is shared!

    “Jeph shouldn’t deserve a cookie for treating being female or being gay or being bi as normal, even though we’re probably not at the point that he doesn’t.”

    Well, no, he doesn’t deserve a cookie – but I’ve never seen him write anything that implied HE thought he deserved a cookie, either. In fact, the suggestion that he’s perceived that way would probably trigger a bout of self-loathing and depression. (No, I’m not joking. He’s prone to depression, which is a hell of a burden, as too many people know.) And, at least within the limits of my computer monitor, his characters seem to cover a wider range of skin colours than many comics, in addition to simply presenting people of many different stripes, tastes, and preferences … as just people. I’m not going to give him a cookie – but I certainly hope that it’s OK that I wished a lot more people agreed with his outlook than seem to do currently.

  47. Masha
    November 18, 2009 at 1:20 pm

    Oh wait, actually I did find a direct reference to feminism on Subnormality — http://www.viruscomix.com/page483.html
    I take it he at the very least has feminist leanings. Hooray!

  48. Mia
    November 18, 2009 at 2:48 pm

    Chally, Thank you for explicitly mentioning the accessibility of these comics. Far too often, I follow links to webcomics just to find that they’re completely inaccessible to me. Then I have to decide whether I should try contacting the artist/author and asking them about providing a transcrript (which not only adds accessibility for visually impaired people, but also increases searchability). Maybe the more people who publicly mention this, the more likely the number of accessible webcomics will increase.

  49. November 18, 2009 at 3:24 pm

    I’m just sorry I didn’t put together a post you could better enjoy the links from! :( You don’t need to thank me for mentioning the accessibility (or lack thereof) as it’s a basic courtesy, really.

  50. November 18, 2009 at 3:32 pm

    Ok, I’m powering through Girls With Slingshots… which character am I not supposed to like?

  51. November 18, 2009 at 3:39 pm

    Candy. You’ll see why.

  52. November 18, 2009 at 6:58 pm

    Well, no, he doesn’t deserve a cookie – but I’ve never seen him write anything that implied HE thought he deserved a cookie, either.

    It’s often the subtext when people recommend QC on feminist blogs,though, in my experience. You’re right, more people should agree with his outook

  53. shah8
    November 18, 2009 at 9:14 pm
  54. NBarnes
    November 18, 2009 at 11:47 pm

    Second, third, and fourths on Digger. Ursula Verson is my Goddess.

  55. Aaron
    November 19, 2009 at 1:32 pm

    I just wanted to point out that you have a slight error about XKCD. That comic does not use the alt text to provide extra jokes/commentary. What is used is the title, while the alt text is the name of the comic. Screen readers generally do not read out the title attributes of images, but will read the alt text.

    The transcripts of the XKCD comics can be found through the Oh No Robot service you mentioned.

    I’m not saying it’s perfect (as it could use the (very under-used in general) longdescr attribute to link to the transcripts directly), but it’s better than using it as an example of what’s bad. He has mentioned people with visual disabilities before, as well. That link also mentions how it’s possible to get the XKCD comics read aloud.

    I also don’t want to say that it’s a feminist comic, though there are examples of feminist leanings (transcript of the feminist-learning comic).

    While we’re mentioning accessibility, I could also mention the errors of this blog.

  56. octobear
    November 19, 2009 at 2:17 pm

    I recommend Octopus Pie (www.octopuspie.com), which is about a woman named Eve Ning, her stoner roommate, her friends, her family, and her coworkers at an organic grocery store. It’s a combination of sweet scenes and hilariously dumb stoner jokes.

  57. November 19, 2009 at 3:34 pm

    @RD: Can I respectfully ask why you “hate Modern Hooker with a fiery passion?” I’ve heard a lot of praise for it from sex workers, and I’d be interested in why you dislike it so much.

  58. November 21, 2009 at 12:19 pm

    Of course, here we are talking about how not sexist QC is and how it should be normal and Friday’s gives us the male protagonist freaked out by a vibrator.

  59. November 21, 2009 at 5:16 pm

    I just want to drop in and say this: I just read the entire archive of YU+ME: dream, and I was initially really, really put-off by a bunch of the race stuff in the first half of the comic, enough to consider stopping reading. In the second part, all of that is lampshaded and it’s made clear that the author thinks it’s problematic, too, and is making a point, but I wish she’d made that clearer earlier. For those caught short by that content, let me reassure you that she makes it smarter and more nuanced later.

  60. November 21, 2009 at 5:38 pm

    Aaron @55,
    I think I get the concept of the site you linked to, which seems like a great idea, but all it does is put up a red text message “Uh oh! WAVE has detected 2 accessibility errors”. The errors are not specified, or how to address them. So how is that useful, except as a “nyah nyah”?

  61. November 21, 2009 at 5:42 pm

    My mistake, Aaron.

    Yes indeed, little light. Megan Gedris, the artist/writer, wrote about how she regretted leaving it that long, because given that the comic only progresses so quickly it left all that problematic content up in the air. Let me see if I can find the post… No, I can’t seem to find it! How strange. Here’s a link to the chapter which starts to get into the race problems.

  62. Anna
    November 21, 2009 at 7:08 pm

    Helen, if you go through the wave report, it points out what the accessibility errors are. They’re in red, but you need to hover over them to have them pop up.

    Under Search Feministe, it lists “Form Label Missing”. It also has “Image Button Missing Alt Text” for the donation link.

    Yellow flags are pointing out things that may or may not be a problem in context. So, things like a link-text that isn’t clear to the program (but is clear to me, as a reader). An example it has yellow flagged is “61 comments”.

    It’s not a nyah-nyah, but a way of people who are trying to sort out whether or not their site is accessible to evaluate that quickly, instead of having to go through with a screen reader or a carefully comb through the HTML to see what, if any, problems they are. It won’t hunt up all problems – it won’t tell you to provide a transcript for audio or video content, for example, and it won’t evaluate how effective your photo descriptions are – but it will help on the programming end.

  63. November 21, 2009 at 8:17 pm

    Not sure how XKCD doesn’t qualify as feminist, though it is sorely lacking in anything LGBT for a comic which is at least in part supposed to be about “romance”.

    Especially in recent comics, there is an even balance of genders with women being protagonists and/or authority figures. Plus there is the aforementioned women-vs-men-in-math comic, along with this great deconstruction of the “nice guy”.

    So why doesn’t XKCD cut it? Does the comic have to be written by a woman/have a female main character to be feminist? Is there any hope for us guys?

  64. JessSnark
    November 21, 2009 at 8:19 pm

    I started reading Questionable Content based on comments on this thread and haven’t gotten very far, but so far have found it very UNfeminist. He uses “rape” casually a lot, as in “sorry for the glitches, something’s raping my bandwidth” and the male characters are constantly objectifying Faye, who seems to roll her eyes at them and then continue to consider them her best friends and even decide to move in with one of the guys. It’s never clear why she doesn’t just go make other friends who treat her like a human instead of a pinup poster. Even aside from those problems, it’s just not very funny. Does it get better? Are there redeeming qualities? Can somebody recommend a good place to start in the middle where the story actually starts to pick up and characters become more likable or interesting?

    I did fall in love with Khaos– thanks!

  65. November 21, 2009 at 8:34 pm

    Questionable Content changes a lot from the first few strips. But it remains a soap opera mostly about relationships and sex, written by a man who doesn’t care if he offends anyone. Probably, it scores points here for having complex, self-sufficient female characters (eventually – I promise!), some of whom are not straight. Also, because it goes out of its way to poke fun at the characters who are chauvanists.

    All I can say is, read through a few of the more recent storylines. If you don’t like the content or the humor, you’re just not going to enjoy the comic. For me, it’s a guilty pleasure.

  66. November 21, 2009 at 9:42 pm

    Dave: A lot of people have found xkcd to be a mixed bag. Someone just pointed out this comic to me, for instance. But on the other hand the math one is pretty classic and useful!

  67. JessSnark
    November 22, 2009 at 1:11 am

    thanks Dave. I’ll look at some of the more recent stuff.

  68. November 22, 2009 at 7:18 am

    “Not sure how XKCD doesn’t qualify as feminist”

    Well, the restraining-order “joke” is the one that tore it for me.

    You might be interested in this in-comments conversation at Shakesville about xkcd, woman-identified characters, and the Bechdel test; and this forum post by Quixotess analysing the content.

  69. November 22, 2009 at 8:19 am

    Chally (re XKCD 642):

    The idiot boy is too intimidated by the girl/scared of rejection to strike up a conversation, even if she might be interested in him.

    I think the question becomes whether he is also criticizing the girl for not shirking traditional gender roles and actually initiating conversation – if he is, good for him, if not, you’ve got a point. I think it can be taken either way (the alt-text is equally ambiguous, though I think it does make what the girl is doing seem sillier). This isn’t one of his better strips – even on this particular topic – but I’m not sure it’s so cut-and-dried.

    A lot of what one gets out of this one depends on what one thinks going in. But that’s even true when Munroe is being painfully obvious about his point. You wouldn’t believe how many men in his forum identified with the guy in Friends, even after having it explained to them.

  70. November 22, 2009 at 12:48 pm

    That wasn’t my point, actually! The point was that I read it as Randall objecting to women’s suspicion of strangers, ha ha you’re gonna end up alone because you’re not treating, yes, a nice guy, nicely. Also, there’s a bunch on this comic through one of lauredhel’s links.

    Definitely a lot of xkcd is open to different interpretations. I’ve seen that thread before, amazing, isn’t it?!

  71. November 22, 2009 at 10:08 pm

    It is pretty amazing. I think because Munroe alternates between deep and frivolous, and makes copious use of the unreliable narrator (except when he doesn’t!), it’s sometimes hard for people to agree on exactly the message he’s sending.

    That doesn’t mean that criticism isn’t valid when it looks like he’s sending a bad or harmful message (or more often, through carelessness in how he sets up his punch lines, leaving a harmful message as a reasonable interpretation of the comic).

    One of the most infamous XKCD strips in feminist discourse seems to be this one because it references the sexist notions of men-as-victims-in-divorce and crazy-scorned-women. But I always saw it as an absurdist riff on the idea of a restraining order, coupled with a smart woman zinging a guy who obviously treated her badly. While I haven’t necessarily changed my interpretation, reading the criticism has made me aware of how things like this can subtly reinforce negative narratives.

  72. Jay@racialicious
    November 23, 2009 at 6:23 am

    Actually, about xkcd…

    One of his best narratives isn’t an actual comic, it was an observation in his blog about the number of movies with women getting the top billing or top 2 billing spots. It was ridiculous to see the number of people going into that thread and trying to excuse the status quo.

  73. Cdaja
    November 24, 2009 at 10:58 am

    Ah, Yu+Me Dream and Lesbian Pirates are two of my all-time favorites! I’m in so much love with Megan’s ever-changing art style for Yu+Me. I’m also a hopeless romantic at times and love Red String.

    However, while I read Khaos Komic regularly, I’ve got a few problems with it. The magical racism-free world that Katie mentioned is definitely part of it. It’s all very happy/angsty high school drama, despite the characters apparently being college-age… I’m also not super-pleased with the portrayal of the transgender characters. Oh, she’s male-to-female? She’s naturally short and cute and has no problems passing. Same goes for the female-to-male who’s freakishly tall for a biological female. Venus Envy, a trans comic, handles trans issues much better, IMO. I enjoy the comic, I do. It has lovely art, among other things. But I wish it wasn’t so fairy tale, everything goes swimmingly for everyone all the time.

    A number of the other comics you mentioned sound wonderful, though! I’ll have to add them to my rotation. =)

  74. Megan
    November 29, 2009 at 11:16 pm

    @Cjada You know the author of Khaos is trans himself, right? Not that you can’t have problems with it still, but he’s not coming from a place of ignorance.

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