Whether you are a fan of mainstream comics or not, there’s no denying the recent boom in independent cartooning and comics in the last ten years. The graphic novel section of bookstores have quadrupled in size, indie cartoonists are working with major productions like Adventure Time and The Last Of Us, and sequential art has made huge strides in both its presentation and distribution.
It’s no coincidence that these comics creators maintain a presence and following on the internet, and the majority of them are involved with currently running webcomic series.
A webcomic, at its purest form, is a source of sequential art made available on the internet, usually for free. Within this genre though exist diverse multitudes of stories, art styles, and approaches that are constantly evolving and pushing the boundaries of their medium.
The pool of webcomics and indie publications to choose from are vast, and as such it would seem nearly impossible to find a place to begin or to recommend a single comic that might appeal to any new reader regardless of their media preferences.
Thankfully, Johnny Wander exists.
An uncanny amalgam of slice-of-life comedy, fantasy sidequest, personal autobiography, magical realism, and general art blog, Johnny Wander is a collaborative effort between comics veterans Ananth Panagariya (Applegeeks, Buzz) and Yuko Ota (Adventure Time, Yo Gabba Gabba) that began five years ago as a chronicle of the pair’s exploits in New York post-college graduation and has since developed into what is possibly the most delightful comic on the internet.
A weekly publication, the comic’s short strips deal with the daily experiences of Ananth, Yuko, and their cast of friends, roommates, colleagues, and family members. Generally humorous, self-effacing, and only slightly exaggerated, Johnny Wander‘s style finds comedy and wonder in the most mundane routines. Additionally, through the lush and vibrant visuals of Yuko Ota, even minor annoyances like urban commuting can yield bizarre and hilarious results.
Over the years Johnny Wander has amassed a loyal following, and due to its rather personalized brand of storytelling, fans have a distinctly intimate relationship with the authors. It is thanks in part to this relationship that the comic has been able to veer into fictional territory, sharing short stories and snippets of other comics the duo have developed. Most recently this has expanded to include an exclusive look at Ota and Panagariya’s latest collaboration for indie comics publisher Oni Press, an upcoming book titled Lucky Penny.
If you like tales of heartwarming friendship, urban phenomena, domestic hi-jinks, supernatural romantic comedies, free artistic expression, surprise kittens, and the occasional candle made out of bacon fat, I guarantee you will thoroughly enjoy and maybe even love Johnny Wander.
The comic is available in its entirety for free on the internet, but I highly recommend purchasing the collected editions (which have fun extras and silly descriptions). Currently there are three volumes out, Don’t Burn the House Down, Escape to New York, and The Ballad of Laundry Cat, which are all available for purchase on TopatoCo.