Long before I started spending my babysitting money on graphic novels, I became acquainted with sequential art through the wonderfully egalitarian medium of the webcomic. As a teenager cultivating my taste for bizarre humor, I loved webcomics like Cat and Girl, Scary Go Round, Dinosaur Comics, and Wigu.
In college my comic book money ran out again, and I found myself in search of a webcomic that could fill the void in my life. I was lucky enough to discover a webcomic jewel, Bucko, by Jeff Parker and Erika Moen. It’s the tale of a hapless Portlander who finds himself solving a crime with the help of Etsy crafters, a Suicide Girl, and a gang of Juggalos. If you’re not sold on that description, our tastes obviously diverge considerably.
When I finished Bucko, I needed more, so I went back to Erika Moen’s first webcomic, DAR: A Super Girly Top Secret Comic Diary. DAR is the opposite of Bucko; a sincere picture of a young woman’s journey through life. Funny, heartfelt, and honest, it stands up with the work of Ariel Schrag and Alison Bechdel in the tradition of queer women’s autobiographical comics. Since Moen wrote and drew DAR over the course of several years, the reader gets to see her artistic style evolve and mature, mirroring Moen’s own personal growth.
Moen’s current project is as unique and innovative as her work has been in the past: Oh Joy Sex Toy (nsfw) is a sex-positive, feminist webcomic that discusses sex toys, queer-friendly porn, pole dancing, safe sex, birth control, and a whole array of interesting sexuality-based topics. Moen’s illustrated characters are diverse in body type, gender, race, and sexuality, so unlike mainstream sex ed and erotica, Oh Joy Sex Toy truly reflects the rich diversity of human sexual experience. It’s fun and educational for adults of all genders, and fills the important role of providing easy-to-understand, shame-free information about sexual health.
Between Bucko, DAR, and Oh Joy Sex Toy, you’re bound to find a comic by Erika Moen that you love – and they’re all available free of charge through her website, www.erikamoen.com. It’s great to know that when I can’t afford to keep up with all 15 X-Men titles, there’s still a whole world of comic joy out there for me to discover, being created by people with delightfully unique perspectives.