I find it interesting how often I read Joe's early art described as being "sketchy" in write-ups/reviews of ZG (and in the lead-up to Stripes, I've been reading a LOT of them). It's a well-meaning anchor point for how very far the art has improved over comic's 15 year run, but this somewhat dismissive attitude towards ZG's early days does a disservice to how strong the comic's art already is right from the very first panel.
I know, it's a mystifying attitude attitude to take. Maybe those people have never tried crosshatching and so just don't understand what a pain it is. I know when I look at this early work my whole hand winces. Plus it's hand-lettered?! Nah, the detractors are just plain ignorant.
I like that the very first comic introduced their pointed wooden castle, which has stayed the same external shape this whole time.
The last two panels pretty much summarise the entire comic.
First page and I already love it! This is awesome, The art reminds me of a Deadpool comic I have! (I think it's the mercs for money series)
You can tell this was the early days of webcomics, as there seemed to be certain rules you had to follow. Like having either the artist avatar or the main characters welcome everybody to the new comic, introduce the cast, exposit the setting, and make some sort of reference to something about the first strip sucking.
I'm of the opinion that new webcomic writers should start as if they were writing strip #11 instead of #1, and act like everything is established. Then, if necessary, go back and do any introductory comics. I'm guessing that more often than not, there will be no need for any.
And if anyone is still reading this, I'd also like to recommend to any new webcomickers that you completely finish about a dozen strips and then post them all at once to start out with, then update however you like. The reason is, that readers need about a dozen strips of material in order to get hooked and/or invested, and even if it takes a month for then next strip, they will be more likely to check in if they have read 12 strips in instead of just one.