It's not technically a webcomic, but Homestar Runner often gets mentioned in the same breath, likely owing to its style of humor, the DIY ethic of its creators, and its general presentation. It's also incredibly popular: hundreds of thousands tune in every week for the surreal adventures of a thick-headed, armless athlete...thing, and his equally strange peers. However, the real star of the show is would-be villain Strong Bad, with his more-or-less-weekly feature, Strong Bad Emails, in which he answers real emails from viewers just like you except with worse spelling and grammar.
The two-hundredth SBEmail, "email thunder," was released early this Tuesday, and to commemorate the momentous occasion, This Week in Webcomics will present a Strong Bad Emails retrospective. Two hundred episodes is a lot to sort through, and the casual Homestar Runner viewer will wonder, "Which emails are worth my time?" Thus, we (by which I mean "I") present the following top ten list: comprehensive, definitive, and entirely objective in its selection, and also with absolutely no sarcasm whatsoever. Zero! Seriously.
Before beginning, I would like to credit the Homestar Runner Wiki, a useful knowledge base for all Homestar fans and an invaluable resource in creating this list. And now, rife with spoilers, it's the Ten Best Episodes of Strong Bad Emails #1-200:
10. helium: SBEmail #38
I'll be honest--the main reason this one made the list at all is because I like Strong Bad's song about "the High-Voice Crew." Still, between Strong Mad's funny voice and an inflatable The Cheat, there's enough funny here to round it out.
9. virus: SBEmail #118
Classically, whenever Strong Bad gets a new computer, it's because horrible disaster befell his old one. In this email, Strong Bad finally gets a virus from a questionable email, resulting in bugs all across the Homestar Runner reality. After a surreal descent into madness, Bubs restores order by blasting the computer with a shotgun.
8. flashback: SBEmail #100
There's not really any coherent thread tying together the discrete bits of this email, but they're all so awesome, you won't care. From the wicked sweet email intro song, to the implementation of "widescreen," to the central flashback showing how Strong Bad met Homestar (in animated picture-book format!), there's plenty of humor here. Additionally, viewers patient enough to sit through Strong Bad saying the word "email" a hundred times will be treated to the mother lode of Easter Eggs.
7. personal favorites: SBEmail #69
No run-down of the best Strong Bad emails would be complete without the email in which Strong Bad gives his own run-down of the best Strong Bad emails. However, Strong Bad is notorious for pulling stuff out of his you-know-what, and the emails he lists are no exception. Every single one of Strong Bad's favorites, except for the first two, are actually too awesome to exist; they're just SB makin' stuff up. Add in one of the funniest Easter Eggs ever, and you've got a winner.
6. anything: SBEmail #78
A sure-fire way to keep the Strong Bad Email format fresh: have Homestar Runner host the cartoon. Have him significantly damage Strong Bad's computer in the process. Throw in a Neverending Story reference as an Easter Egg.
5. trevor the vampire: #10
This email is proof that you don't have to create a masterpiece of animation to make a solid cartoon. It's basically just Strong Bad sitting at his computer and responding to Trevor's message, but the writing is tight and the humor cracks me up even on repeat viewings. Also, it's worth noting that this is one of the weirder emails Strong Bad has received.
4. long pants: SBEmail #127
Strong Bad edits an email inquiring about Homestar's lack of pants. Homestar goes insane. Comedic gold.
3. highschool: SBEmail #140
One of my favorite "parody" emails, this one satirizes the conventions of Hanna-Barbera's countless "Scooby-Doo clone" cartoons. It loses a little momentum toward the end, but the way it riffs on "teen mystery" and "all the characters as babies" cartoons is spot-on.
2. dragon: SBEmail #58
It still amazes me that two of the indisputably best Strong Bad emails, "Dragon" and "Japanese Cartoon," came out back-to-back. Each of them spawned countless new material, from the world of 20X6 to Trogdor's theme song and graphic adventure game, and each is a solid cartoon in its own right. I chose to include "Dragon" rather than "Japanese Cartoon" on the list because Trogdor is slightly more iconic than Stinkoman, and also because of Strong Mad carving the word "DAGRON" into a table, but honestly, you can't go wrong with either cartoon.
1. death metal: SBEmail #141
As the Homestar Runner universe's resident Bad Guy, Strong Bad is heavily into metal music. This email tackles it head-on, poking not-so-subtle fun at the stereotypes and conventions of the genre. High points include a Teen Girl Squad cameo, Strong Mad's flat head and invisible mystical orbs of power, a creeping rusty meat video on the Half Hour Death Metal Dungeon Hour, and a scene in which Larry Palaroncini from Limozeen illustrates the difference between hair metal and death metal. It's hard to pick a definitive SBEmail, but if I had to pick, I would choose this one. And I would be right.
Determining the top ten Strong Bad emails was by no means an easy task. We (I) employed a rigorous and scientific process to eliminate all but the best and place them in sequential order; as a result, numerous otherwise good emails had to be excluded by virtue of being merely good. If a SBEmail that you have enjoyed didn't make the list, feel free to mention it in the comments, perhaps even providing a link so that others may enjoy it. You may even dispute this list, if you enjoy being wrong! I am never ever facetious and always completely serious. No, really.