The most basic definition of a webcomic is any kind of comic hosted on the internet and delivered digitally. Beyond the differences in medium there are, at fist, few discernable differences between a webcomic and a print comic. An uninformed observer might note that webcomics have a tendency to be of a lower quality than a print comic, being drawn almost entirely by amateur artists (who often double as the writer). And they would be, at least partially, correct. People who don’t draw comic books for a living are unlikely to come near the standards set by Alex Ross or David Aja.

In addition, webcomics have a tendency to be short and serialized, with the writer/artist producing a new strip sometimes just once a week. This schedule is often subject to change based on ongoing events in a creator’s life, and many of the better webcomics end up on indefinite hiatus, much to the grief of their fans. Again, the paid artists and writers of print comics seem to have the upper hand here.

But the webcomics have two major advantages over print comics. One is that they’re generally free. Webcomic creators subsist mostly on advertising revenues, donations, and/or the simple satisfaction of their art. The appeal of a free product is obvious, no matter the quality. The other is that webcomics are allowed a level of freedom in their content not seen since the late 1940s and early 50s, before comics were first censored. A webcomic writer is free to write about what ever kind of characters he/she likes- homosexuals, axe murderers,porn stars, psychopaths, his/her mother, him/herself, or anything else they can conceive of. Artists considered too unconventional for print syndication are free to experiment in the wilderness of the internet, a tremendous boon to the concept of the comic as an art form.

The result of all this freedom is (sometimes) incredibly innovative work. New topics and concepts get explored and the idea of what constitutes a “comic” grows ever more complex. There are still comics that revolve around the idea of comics as kōmikos but more and more are diverging from that concept. They’ve become more personal, more epic, more horrific, and sometimes, more emotional. Sometimes the experiments fail. But more often than not, they succeed. Every one of these successes is a step into a brave new world for comics. As someone who is trying to produce a comic himself, I encourage you to support them. If you find a comic that is truly innovative and breath-taking, tell your friends. Get them to read it. Proliferating the fruits of this new age of comics will help more to grow and in turn contribute to the last great art.

Lastly, a list of some comics in no particular order to get started with (PM me with more if you think of them) :

This is just off the top of my head. There are many, many more webcomics out there that deserve your attention and love. You just have to look.