Emily S. Whitten: Making Lunch Breaks Everywhere More Fun Since…Now?
What I’m about to tell you may seem shocking, given that you all must think my entire week is taken up by laboring over each of my beautiful, wonderful, perfectly polished and amazingly insightful columns (really, they’re good enough for framing, every one), and that’s 100% true. But I’m an excellent multi-tasker (it’s one of my secret superheroine powers, along with the Gift of OCD), and so at the same time as I am cogitating about, compiling, and composing said columns, I’m also magically working a regular 9-5 – or sometimes 10-6, Odin and all his Asgardians bless flex-time.
So, like some of you other folks out there who are concerned with paying the bills and all that nonsense and thus have desk jobs, I sometimes spend my lunch time stuck in front of my office computer with just a few free minutes to obtain sustenance and enjoy a mini-vacation from Work. Sometimes I think to myself, “Hey, now would be a good time to catch up on the news, maybe see how that health care reform thing is going to affect me or something.” And then I laugh at such a silly idea, and I go read webcomics.
Just in case this is something you’ve never tried on your lunch break, let me tell you that it’s infinitely better than reading the news, and studies (to be cited when I make some up and post them on respectable-looking science websites) have shown that it improves both your mood and your good looks. In fact, if you read webcomics at every lunch break, by about three weeks in you’ll be a Happiness Guru and also look like Angelina Jolie or one of these other fine ladies. Which is maybe too bad if you’re a guy, but them’s the breaks.
Since I’m a veteran webcomics-at-lunchbreak reader, I thought I’d take this opportunity to share some of my favorites with you. These aren’t necessarily super-secret cutting edge webcomics – some are quite popular and you’ve probably heard of them before, and some have even been around for years – but really, the internet is so big and full of things, I have to think at least some of you haven’t encountered some of these before. Maybe? Anyway, they’re some of the ones that make me happy so I wanted to share.
So here’s a little bit about each one, and, to help you avoid Archive Panic, three random favorite entries for each so that you can quickly see whether they might be your kind of thing. Enjoy!
XKCD is “a webcomic of romance, sarcasm, math, and language,” but I don’t think that does it justice. Randall Munroe somehow manages to encompass every topic at some point or another while keeping a coherent tone, and even has some ongoing characters and mini-storylines going in what is, essentially, a bunch of one-shot comics. Sometimes it makes me laugh, sometimes it makes me nod in agreement, sometimes it’s profound and makes me think, and sometimes I even learn math and science-y things from it. Win! Make sure you hover your mouse over the comics for added fun.
Hyperbole and a Half is a blog by Allie Brosh; and, okay, it might not exactly be a webcomic in the traditional sense. But it is a series of stories told with graphic accompaniment (of the amazingly-funny-in-Allie’s-hands MS Paint variety) and it’s extremely hilarious, so I’m putting it on the list. It pretty much consists of Allie sharing about her life and childhood; and if that sounds rather mundane to you, give it a read and you’ll be in for a surprise.
The Oatmeal is a site which features both comics and quizzes, and which you may have seen in the news lately. I mostly go for the comics, but on the other hand I have also fallen prey to quizzes like, “How Many Justin Biebers Could You Take In A Fight” (16!) which are fun too. The art is sometimes grotesque but conversely also sometimes adorable, and the comics are often insightful (oh, professional web design; how I remember all of your myriad headaches) or educational (Nikola Tesla facts, yay!).
A Softer World is sort of hard to describe. It pairs photos with a few lines of text to great effect. I’d call it quirky but that might imply it’s always fun, which, honestly, it’s not. Sometimes it is, and sometimes it’s poignant, sometimes it’s joyful, and sometimes it’s bleak and sad or nonsensical or twisted or downright disturbing; but maybe that’s what makes me like it? Whatever the case, it’s always interesting.
The DM of the Rings is summed up succinctly by its author – “Imagine a gaggle of modern hack-n-slash roleplayers who had somehow never been exposed to the original Tolkien mythos, and then imagine taking those players and trying to introduce them to Tolkien via a D&D campaign.” I’ve never really played D&D but I’m fairly familiar with it, and that (and/or a decent understanding of human nature) is really all you need to get a laugh out of this one (and the accompanying notes, which are also a fun read). It’s kind of tricky to pick “favorites” since this one’s a tightly continuous story, but here are three anyway.
pictures for sad children is cynical and sort of bleakly terrible but also sometimes funny and pretty addictive for some reason I can’t really explain. it starts out with a story about “PAUL: who is a ghost.” and it’s sort of sequential but not always. and then it changes to one-shot comics that aren’t really connected. and it is kind of written in disjointed sentences, and the author mostly doesn’t know what capital letters are. give it a try.
The Non-Adventures of Wonderella is all about Wonderella, who’s, you know, kind of like Wonder Woman, if Wonder Woman were a bit more…human? Rude? Boozy? Valley girl? Interested in shopping? Politically incorrect? Whatever you call her, Wonderella’s having fun in her own way while (sometimes) saving the day, and it makes for fun, if sometimes absurd, reading.
Penny Arcade is mostly about video games and gaming, with frequent geek culture commentary, and features the dry and self-deprecating wit of its two completely awesome creators. It’s been around for yearrrrs but that doesn’t mean it’s old news. It always makes me smile.
Which isn’t actually a comic. Okay, I’m cheating here, but for those of you who are able to watch YouTube at work (read: not me, WOE), here’s a fun video thing you really need to check out on your next lunch break.
I’m a Marvel…and I’m a DC started out as a video parody of the Mac/PC commercial, and evolved into its own awesome collection of stories and series videos. For more sequential stories, check out the After Hours and Happy Hours playlists or other playlists; or just tool around the videos that strike your fancy, because they’re all awesome.
Or, just check out my favorite (of course) Rorschach and Deadpool.
Hope I’ve brought a little joy to your lunch hour! And of course, there are a lot of other great webcomics out there too, including a bunch I’m sure I haven’t heard of. What’s your favorite? Tell me in the comments!
And until next time, Servo Lectio!
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