Get Some Indie In Me

The_Private_Eye_CoverI’m not down on Comics right now, to begin with. There is no doubt whatever about that. My pull list remains robust, and there are always several issues a week that I am clamoring to get my hands on and devour. This isn’t one of those, “oh, the malaise and ennui of reading too many 3-star comic books, the burden of it all, I know exactly how those North Koreans who have to make roadside grass soup to survive must feel” sort of things. My reading this past week, at times, made me downright giddy; writers I’ve been familiar with for years are still surprising me after all this time and keeping the romance alive.

It’s just that… every once in a while, I feel like I’m not giving my palate enough of a workout. No matter how much you love it, your favorite Ben & Jerry’s flavor is not a suitable diet for every meal. As we creep up on the midpoint of the year, I find myself developing a bit of a tummy ache, and so I thought I would turn to the iFanbase to see if you have anything that’s good for what ails me.

Here’s where I am:

“Look at what we’ve become,” I was thinking this weekend. “Is this all we’re going to get from now on? Rebooted universes telling and retelling us stories we already know, down to using the same beats, even the same dialogue ‘with a twist’? Is the mainstream nothing more than a mama bird now, prechewing all the food for our imaginations and regurgitating it into our open mouths?” For a change, it wasn’t comics that made me think this, but rather Star Trek Into Darkness, for reasons I wouldn’t dream of going into here; you haven’t seen it, and the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few. I don’t need to tell you, though, that anyone old enough to read an Original Recipe comic only to live long enough to see the Ultimate/Zero Hour/Disney XD/Hollywood iteration of it come into existence has had some version of that thought at least once. And then an edgier, more modern version of that thought a few years later.

Where have you gone, Dashiell Bad Horse?

Where have you gone, Dashiell Bad Horse?

On the way home from the movies the other night, I stopped into my comic shop just because it’s practically in earshot of the theater and finally picked up Scalped, Vol. 9 because it was there. I may have a selective attention span– there’s no “may” about it, actually– but it seems like it’s been a while since there was a book we talked about or felt about the way we talked and felt about Scalped. There was a time when I’d hop from foot to foot waiting for the store to open on “Scalped is out” day, but I don’t really have any Scalpeds in my life right now. Locke & Key is rounding third base. Vertigo is being beamed aboard the mothership. I could try to sound well-rounded and say with a straight face, “I read books from all the smaller publishers,” but I’d be talking about Star Wars, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and Planet of the Apes. The indie-est purchase I’ve made this year was, I believe, Sesame Street #1.

Thank God for Brian K. Vaughan. In this context, and just in general.

Comics, as an entity, seem to have a cyclical nature in this country. Every year is someone’s year. The last two years have seen the Big Guys rejuvenating their lines with varying long-term results; maybe we are due for an independent renaissance next, or at least due for my dumb ass to notice how great everything already is. I must confess, though I give just about every Image #1 a chance, not a whole lot has moved me of late. Plenty of good-enough, but not nearly enough wow. Maybe I have a little of that grass soup malaise after all.

When’s the last time you made a concerted effort to broaden your horizons a little bit?

I bet everybody interested enough to spend time on a site like this has at least one neglected pet book they wish we would shine a spotlight on. Well, the handy comment window below is your chance to tell me about yours. Is there anything off the beaten path that should be getting more attention than it is? Is the next Scalped or Y: The Last Man buried in the marketplace somewhere right now? Make a good enough case, and I may end up not only reading it but highlighting it on a Monday afternoon just like this one. Then you could say, “I helped bring an audience to my favorite book,” and I could say, “I have a new favorite book and one less column idea to come up with,” and we could all go home happy. Consider it your good deed for the day.

Jim Mroczkowski could not believe someone managed to surprise him in the fiftieth retelling of “Spider-Man No More.”


  1. I’m gonna go with Massive solid story & art. So different from any story out there gotta love it.

  2. I’m enjoying the mystery of Mind the Gap right now. And Smoke & Mirrors played with a really interesting concept. Worth checking out!

  3. Y: The Last man was fantastic. Anything with BKV’s name on the cover is worth buying.

    My pull list has done a complete 180 since getting back into comics about 3 years ago. I started off almost exclusively Marvel, with some scattered DC books in there.

    After the new 52 my pull list was 50/50 Marvel/DC

    Then a friend turned me on to Y: The last man and the 180 began. I now pull 75-25 Indy books to the big two.

    While there are some killer books coming out from the big two still there is also a hell of a lot of “Filler” way too many 2 or 3 star books and at 3.99 a pop it quickly became not worth it to me.

    I’d also like to HIGHLY recommend Zenescope and Big Dog Ink comic books. The pulls for these companies titles are painfully low, and it boggles my mind as titles such as Robyn Hood, Myths and Legends, Critter and Oz have been absolutley fantastic!

    And for the variant chasers out there both companies put out very limited covers at many comic cons, some print runs as low as only 100! Dosnt hurt that these covers often have pretty cute pin esq covers haha

    Anyways, do yourself a favor and spend 3 bucks on a zenescope or big dog ink book!

    I also highly recommnd IDW’s Ninja Turtles ongoing, Darkhorse’s Starwars, Darkhorse’s Mind MGMT, and ANYTHING Joe Casey does at Image.

  4. Wrkngclasshero (@joinedtofollow) says:

    Only two really spring to mind…

    Peter Panzerfaust and Chew.

    If you aren’t reading either of those, do yourself a favor and check them out!!!

  5. Only one issue has been released of it but Michael Avon Oemings “The Victories” from Darkhorse is fantastic. It touches on some well worn re-imagining of super hero tropes but it also has a great narration and there seems to be an over arching idea of the collective consciousnesses bubbling under the surface. Bedlam is also a new series that I love as much as anything at Image. I think the idea of “Nick Spencer writing the joker” that came out of issue 1 was a misreading and if you go through the entire first arc you get a very dark story that explores the idea of nurture vs nature and what it means to be evil with a well thought out plot and character dialogue that lights up the entire experience. The first trade is well worth giving a shot. Lastly the Dancer and Sledge Hammer 44 mini series from Image and Darkhorse respectively were both great well thought out short stories with some incredible art. Hope that helps. Also all things Michael DeForge are pretty awesome as well.

    • I read a friend’s copy of Victories and was really impressed. I’ll definitely be picking up future issues of the series . . .

    • @phess1: The Victories is great, totally agree with the recommendation. But just so you know there have been three issues of it released so you might want to track down the two you are missing!

    • @USPUNX What!!?!?!?!?!? GTFO I picked up issue one at the beginning of this month. Was there a zero issue from DHP and a one shot or something? I even looked through solicitations recently which I almost never do to see when it was coming out next.

    • @USPUNX I see now. There was series last year that I missed because I was too busy complaining about AvX and Justice League. The version I was talking about is The VIctories Transhuman. I’m going to have to pick that up now thanks.

    • Oh hey one more that actually comes out this week that I really love so far is Five Ghosts: The Haunting of Fabian Gray. I haven’t seen a lot of people talk about it on ifanboy but both issue one and issue two have been five star amazeballs issues.

    • Bedlam is great,More people should read it. Definitely agree about nurture vs nature or as the tagline is is evil just something you or something you do.

    • @pretur Yeah I think Bedlam has gotten lost in all the high quality books that Image has put out over the last year. I hope the new artist can pick up where Rossmo left off.

  6. Fatale another great one.

  7. I’m bookmarking this thread because I’m in about the same situation as Jim — enjoying a lot of Marvel but could use some world-expanding.

    I do have one suggestion, though it’s not new to this site because Paul has recommended it — ‘Li’l Depressed Boy’ from Image is a comic about music and disconnected slacker life that ought to scratch a lot of people’s ‘Scott Pilgrim’ itch. Despite the title, it’s as much about life’s happy moments and small miracles as the downside. (Disclaimer: I think there are 4 trades now but I’ve only read 2. Enjoying it so far though and it’s a great looking book.)

    Also, for anybody who hasn’t tried Thom Zahler’s ‘Love & Capes,’ yet, it’s a really loving comic-strip style comedy take on superheroes. Great characters, genuinely funny punchlines and superhero gags that don’t feel overdone, which still has a satisfying overarching story.

  8. Eyeball Comix, Closed Caption Comics, anything by Benjamin Mara, anything by Domino or Sparkplug comics, Piss n Shit, and anything Profanity Hill sells.

  9. Prophet by Brandon Graham. You may not like it, you may love it and like many you’ll think it’s one of the most unique and engaging comics on the shelves.

    I think its a fantastic book because you kind of have to work with it for it to satisfy you, if that makes any sense. I feel with titles like Saga (which I love by the way!) you just have to sit back and not do much work. It fills you up quick and easy. Prophet is so many things and hits so many nerves, you never know how your going to come out of it.

    A pretty un-cohesive explantion I know but its a very hard book to articulate. Some of the best sci-fi I’ve read anyway!

  10. I’ll echo the recommendations for Peter Panzerfaust, Fatale and The Massive. I just read the Mind MGMT hardcover and dug the hell out of that. But the book that has me hopping foot-to-foot the day it comes out (like THIS WEDNESDAY!!) is Nowhere Men.

    The story still feels like it’s in the first half of the first act of a very large tale, but I’m loving the fact that I don’t quite know where it’s taking me. Day-after-tommorrow sci-fi mixed with some tech-business drama so far, with some super-geniuses and potential super-humans thrown into the mix as well.

    Nate Bellegarde and Jordie Bellaire blend really well together on the artwork. Clean, open lines infused with vibrant and exciting color.

    And then beyond the narrative content, the artifact itself is just stunning. Clean, well-designed covers, in-story advertisements and text pieces that slowly flesh out other aspects of the world Eric Stephenson has dreamed up.

    It’s not the most timely book (the series launched in November, but issue 5 comes out this week), so you might prefer to read it in trade, but seriously, it’s a good book.

    • I second this. Nowhere Men has been very, very good.

    • Agreed, Nowhere Men is awesome. And as you said: it still feels like it could go anyway. however, that was also the reason why I didn’t enjoy it from issue one on. I think it takes the first 3, maybe 4, issues (for example, I wasn’t (and still am) not really sure who the main protagonists are. the corporation? the survivors?) but then you’re hooked and it is brilliant.

    • I’m picking up volume 2 of Peter Panzerfaust next week when my LCS has a sale, but I also came to talk about Nowhere Men. Its fantastic. Issue 1 is my favorite, and I’ve made it a point to go to my LCS the day it comes out since whenever I get there I always manage to grab the very last issue on shelfs! The cast is very large, and it could use a character list to keep track of everyone; but I believe the main characters are the 3 creators of World Corp and the survivors of the space shuttle. I don’t mind having a break in some series every now and then as it gives me time to try other series, but I just want the issue to come out when it says it will. It’s been delayed once or twice already.

  11. I got into comics through indie books, and they make up about 60% of what I still read today.

    Fantagraphics just put out Other Stuff by Peter Bagge, a collection of some of his lesser known work/collaborations, etc. Highly recommended! In general most of the things put out by Fantagraphics are pretty great to me. I’m an unabashed Peter Bagge and Daniel Clowes fanboy, though…

    Of course a lot of Image books and DH books are great now – Prophet, Saga, and Mind MGMT probably being the best known, and the new run of Abe Sapien has been off to a great start. Also thoroughly loving The Massive and Luther Strode (the art alone on LS…!). Very excited to see where Dream Merchant and Dream Thief are going, too.

  12. I am slowly converting to Indie comics too. The draw for me to them is it’s always something new and different. A mini series here, a mini series there, an ongoing run that is about something totally wacky and different.

    I recently got into American Vampire which I am really enjoying. Just finished the 2nd trade of that series and will be getting the 3rd soon. I hope to get caught up to the ongoing issues as they are on a hiatus right now. Scott Snyder is the writer and I have kind of gotten to the point where I am buying everything he writes. I’m not really a Superman fan but I will be picking up Superman Unchained in June. Also he has a new mini series called ‘The Wake’ that I will be checking out too. I’m slowly not only going more indie books but also I seem to be following writers around more so than following characters around.

    • Oh, to answer your question some Indie books I also enjoy are Saga, Walking Dead and Cyber Force. I will also be checking out ‘Uncanny’ and ‘Lazerus’ this summer.

    • I’ve also fallen in love with Snyder’s books, and plan on getting “The Wake” and “Superman Unchained”. I’ve read up to volume 3 of “American Vampire” but I can’t get in the mood to start collecting it (not enough Skinner Sweet). Did you collect his run of “Swamp Thing? BTW, both “Superman Unchained” and “The Wake” are gonna be 12 issues, and Jeff Lemire is doing another Vertigo series (and drawing it I think) called “Trillium”, might want to watch for that.

    • @Ithosapien After volume 3 American Vampire kind of loses steam anyway

  13. Fatale has been fun, especially the last three standalones. They really captured the feel of classic weird fiction. Ennis’ Battlefield books have been good. Kieron Gillen’s Über had a great start out of the gate and at only one issue in, it’s easy to jump on to. I’ve heard good things about Outlaw Territory which should be hitting Previews soon.

  14. Mind MGMT is hands down one of the best titles out there at the moment. Both in terms of art and story, it is one of the most original, inventive, and provocative series I have read in a while. I’d also give a plug for Nowhere Men, but, I think that you said you’ve been sampling most of the Image line already . . .

    Valiant is also putting out some really good titles. They’re nothing radical, but quite enjoyable if you want some superhero tales outside the Big 2 . . .

    • I’ve heard great things about both Mind MGMT and Nowhere Men, plan to pick up trades of both.

    • I absolutely love Mind MGMT, but I have to admit that after reading the first trade I have the feeling the series works better in trade. The story is just so complicated (but in a good way) and complex that it does become increasingly difficult to read in issues and still keep everything that is going on in mind. I’m already looking forward to reading the series as a whole in a couple long settings 😉

    • The advantage to buying the series in issues is that you get extra content that Kindt says won’t be in collections. You could always save them, then read an arc in one go . . . Either way, it’s a fantastic series . . .

  15. It flies a little under the radar but I’ve really really REALLY been enjoying David Hine’s Storm Dogs. Great world building, great characters, and an engrossing story. Great art too. I think there is only one issue left in the mini so you might just want to wait for the trade.

    It is a really cool world and so far we’ve only gotten little peaks at the rest of the universe so I hope Hine does some follow up minis to flesh out the universe even more.

  16. I think everyone should be reading Manhattan Projects and East of West.

  17. There’s always plenty of great indie stuff out there, but for moi it’s Saga, The Manhattan Projects, East of West, Nowhere Men, Prophet, Sex, The Legend of Luther Strode, Where is Jake Ellis, Carbon Grey (when it comes out), any of the Mignola-verse at Dark Horse, The Massive & for branches off of the big two Casanova, Scarlet &The Unwritten!

  18. RACHEL RISING! Also PLANETOID was really good. SWEET TOOTH. THE PRIVATE EYE I’ve heard is good too.

  19. I’ll go with “Todd, the Ugliest Kid on Earth”. It’s Image, 4 issues in, and just got bumped up to ongoing. It’s funny, dark, and full of over-the-top characters. Imagine “Mad” mixed with stereotypical regulars on Jerry Springer. It stars Todd, a naive kid who only wants to make friends but who is horribly disfigured and has to wear a bag on his head at all times, he’s bully furiously by his classmates and largely ignored by his family. The rest of the cast read as satire of all of American culture; Mom obsessed with her beauty, Dad with get-rich-quick-scams, Cop with delusions of granduier (and odd attraction to barbie dolls). I feel like like I need to wash my eyes after reading it but I still want more. The next issue comes out in September so there should be time to get volume 1 whenever it comes out. Runner up would be “Nowhere Men” but that’s already been plugged alot on here already (and still not enough!).

    Other than that I’m reading Flash, JLD, IDW’ TMNT and Ghostbusters (both of them fantastic everytime. EVERYTIME!!), Batman, Saga, Thunderbolts, Dial H, Animal Man, Green Arrow. Guess I’ll need to find some new series to fill some gaps soon.

  20. The One I’m really looking forward to is Six Gun Gorilla! I believe it comes out in a month or so. Ten Grand and Chin Music blew me away, Suicide Risk was pretty good, The Bounce comes out this week, East of West is off to an amazing start, Sex and Bedlam have been strong, Fatale has been amazing!, Jupiter’s Legacy started off well with amazing Quitely art!, X has started strong, The Sidekick by Straczynski will be coming out in a couple months and looks fun, Satellite Sam looks interesting, almost sold on Day Men…

    Lots of great GREAT indie books out right now and upcoming 🙂

  21. King City got Brandon Graham the job on Prophet it is an amazing Sci Fi book with an odd sense of humor that I never see talked about on the site. 14 dollars on amazon for 424 pages, great book.

    I’ll echo the sentiments for Nowhere Men and Mind Mgmt as well, great books that I feel fly under the radar.

  22. Multiple Warheads was a brilliant mini series and the art was somewhere between Hergé and Manga. What I like most, is that the issues as a whole are a piece of art, from cover to back.

    The story is somewhat weird, but also fascinating and absolutely unpredictable. And the world-building by Graham is one of the strongest parts and makes you become really engaged in the book. Most importantly however, this is one of the few comics that really makes me laugh out loud on every page.

    From what I understand, the first four issues (Alphabet to Infinity) were a mini but Graham plans to continue the story. Instead of one ongoing he is just taking his time and bringing out every ark as one mini.

  23. The Sixth Gun is awesome.

    • The Sixth Gun makes me sad because I always wanted to write a horror western and I know it won’t be as good as that first arc was. God damn was it amazing

  24. I highly recommend Saga. and the other comics I regularly pick up which aren’t the big two are Manhattan Projects, Invincible and Walking Dead. Also looking forward to seeing how Jupiter’s Legacy shapes up.

    Got tired of ‘Luthor Strode’ vol 2 (1 was amazing) and the wait for ‘America’s got powers’

    Really looking forward to Nowhere Men in trade and also reading for the first time ‘Y the last man’ and ‘Fear Agent’

  25. The entire Mignola-verse is still amazing, though I wouldn’t consider under the radar. One book that I think doesn’t get nearly enough love is Revival.

    • I’m one of those people that want to start reading Hellboy and BRPD yet have hesitated since I heard unlike other series it is essential to read it in a certain order. Any idea if I can just pick up the first BRPD without reading Hellboy or which hellboys I would need to read prior to?

    • Hellboy in Hell is still in very low numbers, can start there although it is sort of confusing anyway. BPRD i’d say start with whatever mini series comes out next, it has a long plot and it is more deep the more you read but the minis can be enjoyed in single doses and still be enjoyed. Mignolaverse is also amazingly consistent, the very worst books they put out are still at least a 3 and those are rare, i’d almost say always a 4 or a 5 for me.

    • Your best bet is get the Hellboy library collections & the b.p.r.d all the hardcovers are at a very good price. That’s how I got into it anyhow.

    • Yeah, a few years ago, I started working through the Hellboy collections at my library, but got stalled on the one volume they did not have. Now, I feel as though I need to start all over again . . .

    • Thanks guys

  26. Conan has been a solid book for years now and sadly seems to get little attention. Brian Woods current stuff is excellent but the entire 10+ trade run has consistently been enjoyable and deserves a moment in the sun.

  27. An under the radar book at Image I would recommend is CLONE by David Schulner and Juan Jose Ryp. It has been a solid, 4-star series and it’s mostly a popcorn-flick type of comic. Nothing too groundbreaking like Saga or Manhattan Projects but it’s still a fun read.

  28. “I bet everybody interested enough to spend time on a site like this has at least one neglected pet book they wish we would shine a spotlight on”

    Most of the recommendations listed so far are books that have been talked about on the site and/or podcasts. If you open to reading horror books, Ferals is a great book that doesn’t get the attention it deserves imho.

  29. A few of the right rocks and some sumac’ll spice that roadside grass soup right up!

  30. I’ve only read it in the beautiful hardcovers that they put out but I really dig Wasteland. It’s about survival in a world that was destroyed by the “big wet” and how the survives make due. And psychic God people who don’t know what they are. It’s got almost forty issues out and I just preordered v3 off Amazon.

    • Damn you auto correct… How the survivors make due.

      I should have mentioned that it’s written by Antony Johnson (Daredevil) with art by Christopher Mitten and covers by Ben Templesmith.

  31. Avatar photo aurgail (@aurelgaillard) says:

    I’m going to echo a lot of what others have said before, and then try to get out of the box.
    If you want sci-fi/superheroes done a little differently, Valiant’s Harbinger and Bloodshot have been pretty great. Bloodshot is crazy balls to the walls action with a sci-fi angle, reads like a Swierczynski novel, and Harbinger is weird enough to be interesting, and manages to say relevant about being young today.
    If you like Marvel’s Annihilation stuff, Boom’s Hypernaturals is basically DnA doing thir thing, but in their own universe.
    Over at Oni, 6 Guns (gorgeous book) and Stumptown (Greg Rucka, ’nuff said) are well worth a read.
    Vertigo’s The Unwritten continues to amaze with every reading.
    Dark Horse’s crown jewel is Mind Mgmt, it’s been covered extensively on the site, no need to go into it.
    Image has a lot of great books you’re probably aware of (Saga, Fatale, Manhattan Projects…). One that I’ve never seen discussed on the site is Danger Zone. What if all the super-heroes disappeared and left their sidekicks alone, drifting in a broken world. What if an even more badass Robin led the Teen Titans (Danger Club) to fight a government gone wrong.
    As far as digital comics go, I like Monkeybrain’s Wander (post-modern fantasy) and Frost (military-style action).
    Adrian Tomine’s Scenes from an Impending Marriage is highly recommended.
    If you want to stretch beyond American comics, anything by Christophe Blain, Joann Sfar and Lewis Trondheim is recommended. they are French masters. Dungeon and Ralph Azham are both great fantasy, but a unique, fun tone. The Rabbi’s cat is as smart as anything.
    Finally, I’ve been reading Tezuka’s manga, and it’s just amazing. Ayako is the fed-up story of a family in post-war Japan. As adult as they come. And Black Jack are fun short stories about a dashing doctor anti-hero. You won’t be able to stop.

  32. This is a great article for the comments alone, I’ve just added about a dozen books to my “To Read” list.

  33. I just started reading Invincible about a week ago. I’m on the 11th trade. It fuckng rocks!

  34. The Finder Library 1 and 2 by Carla Speed McNeil are GREAT and the Grendel Omnibus 1 has so many different creators and is a great read. Fantagraphics puts out excellent books. Monthly try The Massive, Prophet, Chew, and American Vampire. Oh yeah, Ted McKeever kicks ass and has a series out now called Miniature Jesus.

  35. Going back a bit I would say Echo by Terry Moore was pretty cool, invincible is good for quite a while and Fables is cool to but there’s a lot to catch up on. Right now I would say Saga, Morning Glories, Peter Panzerfaust, Great Pacific and The Massive are all solid every time they come out.

  36. Manhattan Projects. Not sure if it’s the best title from Image, but it is without doubt my favorite.

  37. Also since no one else mentioned it but High Crimes at Monkey Brain is all kinds of awesome. Lest we not forget Fracavillas Black Beatle from Dark Horse which is having there own little mini resurgence as well.

  38. Also since no one else mentioned it but High Crimes at Monkey Brain is all kinds of awesome. Lest we not forget Fracavillas Black Beatle from Dark Horse which is having there own little mini resurgence as well.

  39. How about Atomic Robo from Red 5 Comics? I picked up Vol. 1 TP at the Calgary convention last month and it was great.


    thats all you need

  41. East of West, Nowhere Men, Five Ghosts, Rachel Rising, Revival, Sex, Transfusion, Non-Humans, Planetoid, Bedlam….all are solid…I like Peter Panzerfaust but think its overrated and need to check out The Massive. Chin Music, Dream Merchant, Bounce & Lazarus all look good and plan to read. Oh and The Private Eye is a digital treat, love it. I really like Hell Yeah! too, it was described as “The Watchmen for the Kick-Ass generation” by someone on the back of the 1st tpb. Read all of these now Jim or you will left in Indy peril. Btw, is BPRD considered Indy still cause its consistently satisfying for me.

    • Few good trades to grab that aren’t gonna be a catch up to speed ordeal: Infinite Horizons by Phil Noto, The Red Wing by Hickman & Pitarra, Halcyon, Danger Club & Alabaster Wolves.

    • Man Red Wing is so fantastic. Also if you haven’t Hickman also did a really great mini for Image called Red Mass for Mars that almost felt like his take on Kingdom Come or superman. Very cool.

  42. Can’t believe I didn’t mention this in my previous post but Atomic Robo is consistently one of the best and funniest books out there.

    Also Killer of Demons and Olympus are two of my absolute favorite indie comics of the last five years. Particularly Killer of Demons. I keep hoping for a sequel to that book.