Comic-Con 2010: Top 5 comic book websites
Further to our run down of the best comic apps out there at the moment, we're also celebrating the San Diego Comic-Con (running until July 25) with a run-down of our favourite comic strip and book websites.
Each of the following is an essential bookmark, even if you have the briefest of hankerings for comic-related action. Three of the them are free online comics, one's a laugh-out-loud funny resource of the stupidest comic book covers and panels of all time, and the last is the ebay for comics.
Be sure to check them out...
Not just one of the funniest online comics out there, but possibly one of the funniest sites, full stop. It doesn't try too hard, its comedic undertones are far from contrived. It is, simply, Axe Cop.
Drawn by 29-year-old Ethan Nicolle, its incredibly amusing and, at times, truly ingenious plot comes from its script; penned by the artist's 6-year-old brother, Malachai.
This essentially means that it features the sort of insane twists and character development that only a young child could concoct. It is, in essence, playtime story weirdness made real. And, for that, it is unmissable.
There's also a healthy number of back catalogue episodes (currently 53) that'll have you in stitches for plenty of visits.
Written by industry veteran Warren Ellis, the British driving force behind Transmetropolitan, The Authority, and the videogame Dead Space (among many many other comic projects), FreakAngels is a serialised online comic that's now up to 104 episodes.
Early episodes are collected into trade paperbacks that you can buy (through Amazon, and other places), but are also still available to read in their entirety in their online form, for free.
Younger Pocket-linters should be warned that its theme, of powered mutant teenagers coping with their life, and abilities, in an post-apocalyptic England, can get a bit sweary and gruesome. But, for the rest of us, that's part of the appeal.
Paul Duffield's art is amazing; manga-esque and clean. And the fact that the creative partnership churn out an episode (of 6 pages) every week means that fans don't have to wait long to get each fix. Brilliant!
Not just an online comic, Mike Krahulik and Jerry Holkins' Penny Arcade has become something of a phenomenon. The satire of the videogames industry has its own thriving merchadise business, including, self-referentially, its own series of adventure games on Mac, PC and Xbox 360 (via Steam and XBLA).
Thankfully, though, none of this has deviated too much attention away from the strip itself, which remains sharp, witty and very very funny. Admittedly, there are a few in-jokes that are extremely "in", but with so much material available, having started in 1998, you can forgive the odd slip.
Indeed, it's great to click back in the expansive archive to read strips that are over ten years old, if only for a retrospective on videogames over the decade.
Superman is a dick. He is. As are plenty of other heroes. And this website proves it by publishing some of the most bemusing and funny real covers and panels from his, Batman's, and a whole host of other characters' titles.
For example, a wartime edition of Action Comics (no. 58) genuinely had the words "Superman says 'you can slap a Jap'" on the cover. And that's quite tame, in comparison.
The site itself isn't the easiest to navigate, and you'll have to plough through page after page of entries to find the funniest ones, but with the material on show, and the author's excellent and witty comments that accompany each example, you'll probably find you're happy to do so.
We especially love this one...
Last up is actually a serious website for true comic book collectors. ComicConnect was set up as an auction site by a couple of fans who got fed up with the "exorbitant sellers' and buyers' fees" that come with selling comics via "feebay".
It generally specialises in Golden Age comics (early appearances by Batman, Superman, Spider-Man, etc), but its recent surge in popularity means that there's a healthy amount of books on sale at any one time.
This rise in exposure came about as it's the site through which an almost pristine Action Comics #1 (the first appearance of Superman, of course) was recently sold for $1.5million - and event covered by news sources from around the globe.
That doesn't mean that every comic listed will cost a fortune, they often start at just $1.
And with free sign-up, it's a better way to sell (or buy) your vintage comic books that via ebay. At least you'll know that they'll be going to a good home.
How about you? Do you read comic books online, or visit any resource sites that we haven't mentioned? Or do you create your own online strip? Let us know in the comments below...