Illustration: Andy Stuart
Illustration: Andy Stuart

Animated GIFs are handy. With proper application, you can use one to win an internet fight without constructing an argument, raise workplace morale (with a frolicking kitten posted on your instant-messaging hub), or just enjoy the pleasant dissolution of time as you watch an endless loop of Obama skateboarding over and over again. It’s no wonder they and their sedentary cousin, the emoji, have become the lingua franca of the internet.

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The compact little stories within GIFs are also great jumping-off points for a comic. With Behind The GIFs, a series of comic strips featured on Web Toon, illustrators Andy Stuart and Kat Swenski take a GIF and expand on the events leading up to its creation. Most of the series revolves around pet GIFs: In one, a dog playing Dungeons & Dragons has to escape the clutches of a terrifying human. In another, a rat is compelled into action when its master proves unfit to be behind the wheel. And all of the comics end with the GIFs that first inspired them. It’s cute stuff, revealing the surprisingly deep imaginary narrative behind that little five-second snippet of a cat falling over.