Heads Up: Indie Comics Previews – April 2012

A monthly column devoted to recommending interesting indie comics for pre-order. Pre-ordering supports indie creators and can often be the difference between a book succeeding or failing. Plus, you usually save money by doing it, too.

Are You My Mother?

By Alison Bechdel
Order Code: FEB121067
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
240 pages – B&W – HC

This is writer/artist Alison Bechdel’s follow-up to her 2006 comics memoir Fun Home, which focused on her life growing up in a funeral home with a closeted gay father. That book was not only perhaps the major literary comics success of that year, it alos garnered some unusual (at the time, and maybe even now) mainstream cred—it was Time magazine 2006’s book of the year. Are You My Mother is Bechdel’s first major work in 6 years and it focuses on the other half of her parental duo. Expect this to be one of the more-widely-talked-about comics, especially in the mainstream media, of 2012.

Genius, Illustrated: The Life And Art Of Alex Toth HC

By Dean Mullaney & Bruce Canwell, and Alex Toth
Order Code: FEB120393
Publisher: IDW
288 pages – PC – HC

The first of two promising-sounding works of comics history from IDW on this month’s list. This volume is the sequel to writers Mullaney and Canwell’s previous Toth study Genius, Isolated. It continues the story of Toth’s life and work, this time spanning the 1960s to his 2006 death. It includes both biography and excerpts from Toth’s work in this period, including some full-length comics stories, excerpts from others, and what sounds like a treasure trove of miscellanea: sketches, ad ilustrations, and more. Probably not a good place to start if you’ve never read any Toth (but, if you’re of a certain age, you know his work: he was integral to a number of Hanna-Barbera characters like Space Ghost and Birdman), but if you’re a fan, this sounds wonderful.

Richard Stark’s Parker: The Score

By Darwyn Cooke
Order Code: FEB120313
Publisher: IDW
160 pages – PC – HC

The third installment in Darwyn Cooke’s adaptations of Richard Stark’s Parker crime novels (preceeded by The Hunter and The Outfit). In this book, Parker falls in with a gang of a dozen co-conspirators to rob an entire town. Needless to say, things go badly. I haven’t found myself too interested in Cooke’s more mainstream superhero work, but his stylized take on classic, mid-20th century crime looks compelling. I haven’t gotten to the Parker books yet, but hey IDW, if there’s an omnibus on the schedule (besides the slightly-expensive-for-a-first-purchase Martini Edition, that is), put me down for one copy.

The Shadow: Blood & Judgment TP

By Howard Chaykin
Order Code: FEB120904
Publisher: Dynamite
120 pages – FC – SC


Howard Chaykin isn’t a name that has graced the pages of too many comics in recent years, but there was a time there when the man’s work set fire to every page he touched. From American Flagg to The Shadow, his work is rich, vibrant, and thrilling. This collection of Chaykin’s four-issue Shadow miniseries from 1986 brings the 1930s pulp hero out of the past and into a violent 1980s incarnation. If you’re interested in The Shadow, this non-traditional take ont he character may not please, but fans of Chaykin’s work, or those looking to get familiar with it, will find a lot to like here.

Strangeways: The Thirsty

By Matt Maxwell, Luis Guarana & Jok
Order Code: FEB121066
Publisher: Highway 62 Press
200 pages – B&W – SC


If you enjoy weird Western, you ought to check out Strangeways. This series of indie graphic novels follows Civil War veteran Seth Collins on his adventures through an old West chock full of things that go bump in the night. The first volume, Murder Moon, found Seth tackling werewolves. This one, as the name suggests, involves a clash with a pack of vampires. Creator/writer Maxwell is already at work on a third book, so if you like what you find here, there’s more to come. It’s also worth noting that the Jok who handles some of the art isn’t the Jock we know from tons of DC work, but don’t let that dissuade you.

Wally Wood: The Complete Galaxy Illustrations

By Roger Hill and Wally Wood
Order Code: FEB120395
Publisher: IDW
160 pages – B&W – HC

The third IDW book on this month’s list (entirely a coincidence driven by them offering good books, I assure you) and the second comics history book after the Toth volume recommended above. Wally Wood is well known for his comics work for EC, Will Eisner, Marvel, and DC. This book doesn’t include his comics work, however. Instead it features over 200 covers Wood created for science fiction pulp magazines in the 1950s. It was compiled by Wood historian Roger Hill. Again, probably not a good place for someone new to Wally Wood to start, but if you already enjoy Wood’s work, this will do a great job in fleshing out his career.

Sam Costello is the creator and writer of Split Lip, a horror webcomics anthology that Comics Should Be Good has called “the best horror anthology on the internet.” It offers over 500 pages of free comics.

Split Lip: Termites In Your Smile and other stories is available now directly from Sam. It’s 174 pages of comics for $15. Just try to beat that.


  1. I’ve not read a Parker book before, can i jump on here or should i start at the beginning?

    • You CAN just read them on their own, but it’s a continuing story so it’s up to you. They’re wonderful books, if that makes a difference.

    • Couldn’t agree more with Conor. The Parker books are so good that I actually bought three of the actual books when Borders was closing. I’m reading The Seventh right now, also purchased The Mourner, and The Handle. I love Parker comics, possibly my favorite collection of any genre in all of comics, can’t recommend them enough! All the being said start from the beginning it’s worth it to read them all and in order.

  2. I’m really looking forward to the new Parker book. This was a great novel and I’m sure that Cooke will make the graphic adaptation amazing.

  3. Okay, I’m buying the Parker books one way or another. My nerdy question is this: If I buy the Martini Edition, will the third volume look okay next to it on my bookshelf? Or should I just get the individual book 1 and 2 hardcovers?

    • Get them any way you can. Fuck the shelf-aesthetics.

    • well,my guess is when the 4th book comes out,theyll release another edition similar to the first martini one but that will be for a while(around 2014) but i assure you when you finish the first book,you wont wait that long for the next books.its that awesome.

    • Yeah, I don’t think I want to wait that long. As nice as it is to have a consistent looking set of volumes (like I do for Preacher or Transmet) varied formats don’t really bug me. And all the extras in the Martini edition sound like it’ll be worth it anyway. It’s oversized right? I hope it even fits on the shelf!

  4. Two of these are Art Books. I was under the impression this was going to be a preview of Indie COMICS.

  5. Apologies to the other creators, but all I read was “Blah, blah, blah, PARKER, blah, blah.”

  6. Genius, Illustrated: The Life And Art Of Alex Toth and The Score by Cooke have officially been added to my ‘must get’ list!

  7. new parker? new parker! this was the karmic trade off for whitney houston!

  8. Nowadays, Chaykin puts out the worst art I see in comics, but The Shadow doesn’t look bad. Given all the good I’ve heard about it, I might pick it up.

    • There are a lot worse artists then Howard Chaykin right now. It took some time, but his art style on Avengers 1959 and Dark Horse Presents: Marked Man really grew on me after a while.

      Even if his girls sometimes get ‘man-faces’.