(Edited for quality, 10/9/10)
Author: Jeph Jacques
If you are reading this, you have probably already heard of Questionable Content, as it is one of the most popular comics on the net. Seriously, there are countries that have a population smaller than the daily pageviews that Jeph gets. This comic is what really kicked off my love of webcomics, and everything that came with it. Yes, I evolved into what I am today through a slice-of-life comic about bratty indie kids. Deal with it.
QC‘s plot as a whole is fairly weak. Boy is loser, gets surrounded by a harem of women that he’s not allowed to mess with, finally gets one of them, so on and so forth. Really, it’s a slice-of-life comic for an indie boy, what do you expect? Zombies?
What makes the comic is the characters. There’s the indie boy Martin, the (arguably) main character, and also the least interesting person in the story. He slowly collects women like an angsty pimp with a golden cane, each with fairly deep personalities and backstories. Well, the two supporting characters, Dora and Faye, that is. The rest of them are fairly shallow, but we love them anyways. Really, these “shallow” characters tend to be the best, with the OCD Hannelore being a personal favorite of mine.
Unfortunately, “deep” and “dramatic” are fairly synonymous in QC. While most comics tend to slip into the serious drama at times, QC does it with almost clockwork precision. These are rough times, as while the stories are traumatic, they don’t serve as a good catharsis for the reader. Thus, they’re fairly painful to get through. Power on, friends, power through.
Really, it’s the day-to-day humor that keeps me coming back. The simple verbal exchanges between characters are hilariously done, if only in their absurdity.
In short, you don’t read it because of a plot, you do so because of the characters. And it really works. Chances are that you’ll find someone in the story to sympathize with, probably the nerdy Marigold for all you geeks out there, and you’ll get invested in their story. The mark of a good work is that it invokes emotions in you, whether happiness or rage, over events that didn’t actually occur. To be honest, it worked on me to almost a shameful degree, to the point where I was cursing Jeph’s name. I’m serious.
The art is good in the later comics, passable in the earlier ones.
It’s not perfect, of course, no comic is. The dramatic arcs, of which there is a lot, tend to be pretty whiny, and the rest of the plot is pretty weak overall. It’s a sitcom in comic form, a release from your boring life into the slightly-less-boring lives of someone else.
That’s not to say that it’s bad, keep in mind. The writing is fantastic, and the art is very good. Read it for the writing, the art, the characters, and all the other gee-whizs of the form, not the plot.