February 27th, 2011



100 COMICS TO READ BEFORE YOU DIE (or grow out of them)

Ever since my encounter with the fiend, I’ve been sleeping badly. Every dream is the same – I’m wrestling with a greasy beast that has 100 appendages. What can it possibly mean?

Using an oven mitt shaped like one of Mickey’s gloves I take another tray of Welsh rarebit out of the oven. Slice into the cheese and drizzle on the Worcestershire sauce like a pro. If you do it right, what you’ll have afterwards is a slimy tray of food that tastes like Worcestershire sauce.

I sacrifice a bite of rarebit to the mouth god. Nyam nyam nyam.

“Do you know what happens to gluttons in the third circle of Hell?” asks the fiend. He smells like mustard and ink, but mostly mustard.

“I’m pretty sure the boss monster is a three-headed stomach. Look, I summoned you again because I need some help. Troubling dreams.”

The fiend sits down across from me and takes a slice of rarebit off the plate. “Is it the one where you have to fight the beast?”

“How did you know?”

He chews thoughtfully. “Everybody has that dream now. It’s a symptom of living through an Age Of Glut. You don’t have much in the way of real problems, but you do have this never-ending stream of entertainment flowing towards you to deal with. That’s the beast. It eats attention and shits distractions. Fighting it is futile. All you can do is flail through its leavings, sorting the eggs from the crap. It’s the Glut Beast. Glut-Sothoth. The Black Glut Of The Woods With A Thousand Young.”


“Whatever. You didn’t bring me here just to ask about that, though.”

“No. It’s the 100 Comics list. I’m down to number one and I don’t know what to do.”

“You’ve only had three years to think of something.”

“I know, but I hadn’t really thought about it that way. It’s not supposed to be a ‘top 100’, carefully graded so that each entry is slightly more worthy than the one before it with something controversial slapped in at number one so that next month’s letter column can be full of outraged responses. I just put things in as I read them or think of them.”

“You’re expecting outraged responses?”

“Some. You know, Internet comments.”

“You know what happens to angry Internet commenters in Hell? We put them in the river Styx to fight with the wrathful. It’s getting pretty full in there.”

“I can imagine. What are the comments section for if not, ‘How dare you leave out The Dark Knight Returns’?”

“It was a good Batman story, but it wasn’t much more than that,” says the fiend, who is of course familiar with the works of Frank Miller.

“See, you agree with me. Admittedly, you’re a personification of evil.”

The fiend has finished his rarebit and is dusting crumbs out of his goatee. The motion makes him look wise. “You put a lot of webcomics in the list,” he says.

“You’ve been reading it?”

“You think we don’t have the Internet in Hell? It’s only dial-up, but still.”

“So even in Hell you can read Penny Arcade? That doesn’t seem so bad.”

“Actually, their site’s blocked. But we can read Ctrl+Alt+Del.”

“You poor bastards,” I say with feeling.

“Don’t you find that a lot of webcomics are just about the Internet anyway? Even when they’re not, the dialogue and the punchlines rely on a certain Internet-culture savviness.”

“Yeah, but a lot of newspaper strips reference current affairs. It’s only natural for art to comment on the thing it’s surrounded by. So what you’re saying is I should end with something that comments on what I’ve been doing? Yeah, that’s a good idea.”

“No, that's a stupid idea. I think you should hurry up and choose between Krazy Kat and Peanuts already.”

“It should be a webcomic, too. It would be fitting and they do deserve to be taken more seriously.”

“Do you know what happens to people who don’t listen in Hell? We shout at them till they learn.”

“I’ve figured it out. It’s perfect. Take this, Moby Glut! From Hell’s heart, and my LiveJournal, I stab at thee!”

The fiend quietly facepalms in despair.

100 COMICS TO READ BEFORE YOU DIE (or grow out of them)

#1 xkcd – Randall Munroe