Since webcomics aren’t limited by traditional genre categories, marketing demands, or editorial feedback, you can do all kinds of wild things with the worldbuilding. (The only catch is, you have to be able to draw it.)
Here are some comics that take full advantage.
Kill 6 Billion Demons: Sorority sister fights through the demon realm(s) to rescue her boyfriend. She’s not actually that into the boyfriend — in fact, she’ll hook up with a quirky, pointy demon lady along the way — but she’s the only human who even knows where she is, so it’s up to her.
Weird and involved monster/creature designs, absolutely amazing settings. I’ve saved so many pages because things like “long shot of a marketplace built in the stone head of a petrified dead god” make great inspiration.
The Hazards of Love: Queer teen who obviously never watched Madoka Magica makes a deal with a talking cat, gets stuck in a monster dimension, but this one doesn’t fight battles so much as “do housework for an evil shadow deer.” Their girlfriend starts to suspect something is up, but the only other beings in Queens who know what really happened are ghosts, so that’s going to be tough.
Bright World’s aesthetic comes from the Mexican ephemera the artist grew up with, which isn’t a flavor you see in a lot of webcomic settings. The online version is black-and-white — pick up the books to see it in color.
Devil’s Candy: Cute imp student makes a Frankenstein girl for a science project. Hijinks ensue.
No alternate human dimension in this one — it’s just a monster school, with cool goth architecture, fun culture clashes, and cute kids dealing with struggles like “as a mixed-species monster, how do I balance the expectations from both sides of my family?” and “how do I get my designs through this fashion show alive?”
Girl Genius: In a steampunk alternate Europe governed by mad scientists, Agatha learns she has massive talents as the heir to a brilliant family’s legacy, all suppressed for her protection. Until now.
An amazing study in payoffs for long-term setup — someone tries to invite Agatha to England around book 2 or 3, she accepts the invitation around book 20. (Which is when we find out London is a network of submarine domes, run by a giant shapeshifter.)
The Last Halloween: Trick-or-treating is canceled, the monsters are invading. To find out what’s going on (and, hopefully, how to fix it), Mona teams up with some other kids she assumes are just in their costumes already…
Only comic on this list that’s fully set in the Real World, since it explores how that world gets permanently changed. Always suspenseful, sometimes pretty gruesome, usually funny anyway.
A cut of Bookshop’s profits goes to local bookstores — you can even pick a specific favorite store to support. If you buy through one of these links, I get a cut as the referrer, so it supports this comic too.
This list was made for a request — got any suggestions for more themes I should do in the future? Or recs of your own, for a comic with cool worldbuilding that didn’t show up here? Drop a comment and share!