Webcomics have long outgrown their niche and the sites Tapas and Webtoons dominate at least the market outside of Asia.
Webcomics are a special kind of serial publication of comics, optimized for the web or created especially for it. Usually, a new chapter of a series is published weekly. You scroll down, vertically.
While anyone can publish themselves on Tapas and Webtoons, the respective sites offer publishing contracts for particularly successful series.
As a creator, of course, you can always choose not to sign and remain completely independent.
I’ve been reading webcomics for years, and like everywhere else, there’s a lot of bad, but also some exceptionally good work. Here come my 5 favorite LGBTQ+ themed webcomics.
5. Heartstopper by Alice Oseman | slice of life, coming of age, romance
Yes, by now everyone knows about this series, thanks to Netflix. But I actually started reading it years ago and even have two volumes in print at home, so of course I feel like a trendsetter and better than everyone else. (No, I’m seriously glad the comic gets the hype it deserves.)
Heartstopper by Alice Oseman has been published on Tapas since 2016, and has over 100 MILLION views and over 300,000 subscribers there. So while Netflix catapulted it completely into the mainstream, the comic was actually already one of the platform’s most successful and extremely well-known.
As a reader, you follow Charlie, an openly gay high school student, as he falls in love with his classmate Nick. Soon, a very sweet love story starts. An amazing story many wish they’d known as teenagers.
That’s also the only “sad” aspect about the series- it’s so cute that watching it sometimes makes you painfully aware of how unfair it is to never have been allowed to have that experience yourself, unlike almost all straight people do.
The series was insanely well realized by Netflix, and the characters feel like something out of a comic book. The feelgood factor with subtly sprinkled little dramas in between has also been translated almost 1:1. Highly recommended and one of the few exceptions where the adaptation might be on par with the source material.
4. Magical Boy by The Kao | young adult fantasy adventure
Max is trans and lives through his school days as best as he can. Very early on, we learn that he’s the descendant of a magical family- of magical girls/women, to be exact.
It’s a bit hard to describe, but I recommend reading the first 2-3 episodes to immerse yourself in the story and get a feeling for it. For me, one of the best representations of trans characters in fantasy. The title is, of course, a nod to the popular anime genre “Magical Girl” and also fits the story. It’s a relatively obvious “good” vs “evil” show, but lives through its amazing characters.
The characters are lovingly created and the comic is fun to read, handling a serious topic really great.
Unfortunately, this comic isn’t free to read anymore and the model of having to buy each episode by itself isn’t really appealing to me. I read the comic when it was free, but can highly recommend it, even for money!
(As a book, of course, I’d buy it in a heartbeat, I just don’t like this single chapter purchase model).
3. Say the right thing by Sammy Montoya | crime/thriller, romance, little bit of magic
Say the right thing is a relatively short comic with great linework.
In the world of this comic, the first thing your soulmate will say to you is written on your arm. If you say the “correct” thing back to that person, you can be sure you’re each others’ soulmates.
The comic can be read in an hour or two. Very exciting story, with little plot, so I don’t want to anticipate too much. Sammy Montoya’s other comics are also highly recommendable.
2.Castle Swimmer by Wendy Lian Martin | mermaids/-men, adventure, romance, mystery
Deep under the surface of the sea stretches a world full of small kingdoms and castles, where different fish people live. They all have a specific prophecy that they must fulfill in order to survive, almost all of them are threatened by something in this world.
There is only one person who can save them all, a merman chosen by the god of the surface. A bit brutal in parts, great style, only the story is a bit underdeveloped, for me personally. The comic has been going on for quite a long time, yet you still don’t know a lot of things.
But it is an exciting story with a very sweet love story that develops slowly.
1. Long Exposure by Marsoid | college, coming of age, stranger things vibes, bully to lovers trope (but it’s good)
The story is about two boys who seem very different at first and don’t like each other. When they are forced to do a class project, they work together, get strange powers in an accident, and eventually fall very much in love.
Super story, and insanely good storytelling by the artist. Comic art at a high level.
Here you can find more of my favourites: