Webcomics for children: Yes, they exist, and the overall quality seems to be higher than that of webcomics for adults. For many creators, as in the adult realm, the web is a place to work out ideas and to build anticipation for print editions before anyone has to invest in paper and ink. As a result, there is some great, fresh work out there just waiting to be discovered—and it’s all free.
One of the challenges of reading webcomics is remembering to check back for updates. This is compounded by the fact that the creators often fall of their self-imposed schedules. The neatest solution is to subscribe to the RSS feed; most comics can be read right in the RSS reader, and you don’t have to remember to check for updates.
With that in mind, here is a trio of very good webcomics that are appropriate for both sexes and all ages.
How Mirka Got Her Sword, by Barry Deutsch: A feisty-girl fantasy tale that is very nicely done. Mirka is an 11-year-old Orthodox Jewish girl who dreams of slaying dragons someday, and when she rescues a witch from some bullies, she gets a push in the right direction. Although the comic is set in modern times, the characters’ traditional dress and strong family ties give it a timeless feel. Mirka is both adventurous and comfortable with her blended family, and everyone in the comic—even her argumentative stepmother and the troll she must fight to earn her sword—is likeable. Deutsch’s art is easy to read and beautifully composed, and he underscores the nostalgic feel of the comic by using a limited color scheme of black, white, cream, and deep red.
The Adventures of Ellie Connelly, by Indigo Kelleigh: This comic is very reminiscent of Tintin, both in the art (although it’s rougher than Herge’s elegant ligne claire style) and the story. The heroine, Ellie Connelly, is an independent woman with psychic powers who is something of an adventurer, and maybe even a pirate. The first story centers around some Egyptian jewels and is filled with the sort of colorful side characters that made Tintin so entertaining. The setting is New York in the 1890s, so Kelleigh has some fun with costumes and scenery, and the website is also nicely designed, with a space below the comic for creator notes and oddball bits of news, as well as links to interesting Victorian sites on the web.
The Upside-Down Me and The Sky Kayak, by Trade Loeffler: These two comics feature the mischievous Zip and his sister Li’l Bit in a set of surreal adventures reminiscent of Little Nemo in Slumberland. The art has an Edwardian feel to it, and the stories are timeless in the great tradition of Peter Pan and Mary Poppins, before they were Disney-fied. In The Upside-Down Me, Zip does something I used to dream of when I was a kid: He becomes weightless and flips space upside-down, so he can walk on the ceiling instead of the floor. In The Sky Kayak, he takes a ride in a gravity-defying kayak. Humorous complications ensue. Loeffler’s art is absolutely lovely, reason enough to take a look at this comic.