Firefly unleashes her thunderbutt attack: Bidding farewell to Tao of Geek and looking for geeky women in web comics

My friend and fellow female geek Liz has just concluded her long-running comic, Tao of Geek. Congratulations Liz! In celebration, here’s one of my favourite strips:

Tao of Geek comic: June 9, 2005

Tao of Geek comic: June 9, 2005

But with Naomi and Chris (the lead women of ToG) retiring, I’m realizing the fairly small selection of web comics that I read regularly will be lacking in geek fare that passes the Bechdel Test. Girl Genius is a fair bet, and both Schlock Mercenary and XKCD have some interesting women but not as many conversations between ‘em.

I’m sure there are lots out there somewhere that pass Bechdel more clearly, so here’s where I’d love some recommendations: what web comics are you reading lately that are filled with awesome geeky women? For each link you post, tell me why it’s awesome from a geek feminist standpoint and point out a favourite geeky woman moment or two!

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About terriko

Terri has a PhD in horribleness, assuming we can all agree that web security is kind of horrible. She stopped working on skynet (err, automated program repair and AI) before robots from the future came to kill her and got a job in open source, which at least sounds safer. Now, she gets paid to break things and tell people they're wrong, and maybe help fix things so that people won't agree so readily with the first sentence of this bio in the future. Terri writes/tweets under the name terriko, enjoys making things and mentoring others and has a plain ol' home page at http://terri.toybox.ca.

18 thoughts on “Firefly unleashes her thunderbutt attack: Bidding farewell to Tao of Geek and looking for geeky women in web comics

  1. Petra

    I really enjoy Cat and Girl.

    The entire comic is one big meditation on geekdom. Girl and Grrrl don’t talk a lot a lot but when they do it is usually about geeky topics. Plus, the comic is written by a woman.

  2. Angela

    I think this link speaks for itself:

    http://questionablecontent.net/view.php?comic=1780

    Three women talking about robot sentience, with a bit about condemning rape in the animal kingdom at the end.

    Overall, QC is basically a soap opera, so a lot of what gets talked about is relationship stuff, but there are plenty of strips that are just female characters talking about music, robots, coffee, and other general life things. More importantly, despite being written by a guy, the female characters actually behave like real, complex people.

    1. Luai

      There is a fair bit of ableist and sizeist language in the artist comments though. :/ A shame, ’cause the comic is really good.

  3. Blue

    I recommend both Gunnerkrigg Court and Dicebox.

    http://www.gunnerkrigg.com

    http://www.dicebox.net/

    In both comics the protagonist(s) are two women/girls.

    Dicebox is kind of rambling future sci-fi tales/long-format story. Definitely feels like a novel being written one page at a time.

    Gunnerkrigg is more of a mystery/sci-fi/magic that takes place at a mysterious boarding school. It’s episodic, unfolding over the school years. Very nice layer of current generation untangling the past generations’ mysteries and dark deeds. Some very intriguing secondary characters as well.

  4. Caite

    Gunnerkrigg Court!

    The main character and her best friend are both girls (and one’s a science geek while the other is more magically inclined), and quite a lot of the secondary characters are female. Very few of the plots involve romance. And the art is gorgeous.

  5. millefolia

    I’ve got to put in a plug for Narbonic! The comic wrapped up a few years ago, but now it’s running in Director’s Cut form, i.e. one comic per day plus creator’s notes. Helen Narbon is a mad scientist, Mell is her henchwoman, and they talk about all sorts of mad-scientisty things. (Though I also really like Dave, mad computer scientist in training, and Artie, a gerbil.)

    1. ConFigures

      Shaenon K. Garrity of Narbonic now does Skin Horse (http://www.webcomicsnation.com/shaenongarrity/skinhorse/toc.php), a webcomic about a secret US government agency providing social services to non-human citizens. Lots of awesome women in it, some geeky by their creation/nature, and some by their interests: Sweetheart, the unit leader on four paws; Unity, the necrotic fighter of the unit (the agency always TRIES to resolve situations amicably, first); Gavotte, the hive mind head of the agency; Marcie, gamer and researcher back at the base; Dr. Virginia Lee, creator of Unity, etc. The first couple of storylines focus on Dr. Tip Wilkin, clinical psychologist (despite his designer dresses, not a woman), so GeekFeminism readers might want to skip to “Wild Things” (http://www.webcomicsnation.com/shaenongarrity/skinhorse/series.php?view=archive&chapter=29598), about Sweetheart and Unity’s night on the town, starting in a bar discussing their favorite slash fiction.

  6. Maile

    Piled Higher and Deeper (PhD) is a great web comic for academia, with a strong female character in some unnamed field of science. It perfectly describes the (oft soul-crushing) intellectual and motivational struggle that is graduate school.

  7. Jenni

    Really pleased to see I’m readin g most of these already! Can definitely recommend Riotnrrd, Questionable Content, Gunnerkrigg and Hark, A Vagrant!

    Weregeek is brilliant for geeky girls. Penny and Aggie is fun if a little soap opera-y.

    Scary Go Round, Girls with Slingshots and Candi also fun.

  8. Maggie K

    Oh man, seconding Hark! a Vagrant and GWS and Riot NRRD and Yu+Me, <3 them. That last one is in its closing stages, sadly, but on the bright side you can go through the archives knowing you won't be cliffhangered at the end! Fair warning the art is a bit shit at the start, but it gets AMAZING in the second half.

    Speaking of comics with a drastic art learning curve, Demonology 101! Faith Erin Hicks is always a good bet for Bechdel. D101 is a completed epic about a demon girl and her human guardian and some morally ambiguous demons and angels and some hilarious teenagers! Have some hilarious teenagers: http://faith.rydia.net/episode1/page52.html
    From a feminist perspective… it's kind of default-feminist just in the sense that women are characters with flaws and virtues and agency, like anyone else, and it reminds you how weird it is when some comics… don't do that :P I could say the same for Hicks's other comics, but this one has a special place in my heart because I read it as a teenager.

    As for stuff that's currently updating… Penny and Aggie is more fun and better written than a comic which is basically High School Intrigue Soapie has a right to be, and Spacetrawler has some kickass ladies, one of whom is now a cyborg :D here's an amusing bechdelly sequence http://spacetrawler.com/2010/03/29/spacetrawler-27/

  9. Aoede

    Seconding Digger. It’s not /about/ geekiness, but there is a very geeky amount of attention put into the anthropological details of the worldbuilding :P And nearly all of the adventurin’ main cast are female.

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