Heads Up: Indie Comics Previews – August 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.

A man gets tired. Tired of being too busy. Tired of pouring energy into something that doesn’t return any fuel back. Tired of seeing the same things on the shelves over and over, of going into a comics shop wanting to be intrigued and excited by something new and leaving with all his money still in his wallet. Tired of investing too much hope in an industry (not a medium) whose vital signs are flagging. Tired of writing about writing, rather than sodapdf writing. And so a man has to take stock from time to time and decide what to spend his time and his energy on. I’ve been doing that; this is going to be my last column of its kind for iFanboy. It’s been a lot of fun shining light on deserving indie books every month. Thanks to all of you who read the columns, who commented, and who bought indie books you read about here. I may be disenchanted with the industry, but not the comics medium, not its potential, not its joys. I won’t be writing here anymore, but I’ll still be writing; not about comics, but comics themselves. I hope, when the time comes that I have something new to show, you’ll take a look. See you around.

Deadworld War of the Dead #1

Deadworld: War of the Dead #1-5
Gary Reed & Sami Makkonen
Order Code: JUN120330, JUN120332, JUN120334, JUN120336, JUN120338
Publisher: IDW
32 pages – SC – FC

Preview Video

This lastest mini-series in the ongoing collection of mini-series that make up the zombie series Deadworld includes a nice structural twist: instead of 5 issues spread over 5 months, you’ll get them all in just 5 weeks. This series picks up where the recent Deadworld: Slaughterhouse left off and features the same creative team–long-time series writer Gary Reed and artist Sami Makkonen (who, full disclosure, has drawn a number of my Split Lip comics). This series focuses on a compound of scientists working to overturn the zombie plague ravaging the globe. Given the connection to the last mini-series, this may not be the best jumping-on point for new readers, but if you like zombies, you may want to give Deadworld a shot.


Chris Roberson & Rich Ellis
Order Code: JUN120412
Publisher: IDW
152 pages – HC – FC


Before Chris Roberson got some attention for a even-keeled declaration of disinterest in further work for DC, which prompted the publisher to knife his career with them, Roberson had built a name for himself in comics (after already building one in prose) thanks, in part, to this series. It’s got a fun premise: a woman wakes up in a hospital with no memory of her past life, but soon inherits a magic shop that thrusts her into the midst of a supernatural conflict. If you supported Roberson’s ethical stand, a purchase here is a good way to show that. But buying it because it’s a good comic is an equally, maybe more, valid reason to plunk down your cash.

Only Skin GN

Only Skin
Sean Ford
Order Code: JUN121266
Publisher: Secret Acres
268 pages – SC – B&W


As the mainstream comics industry becomes increasingly insular, necrotic, and boring, I’m looking more and more for fresh styles and stories, approaches that feel like they merit my attention. And that means looking to the tiny publishers, the self-publishers, the obscure and oddball and international. It also means taking some risks, going out on a limb for a purchase. Only Skin is one of those. I don’t know a ton about it–mostly just the solicit, which promises “a grim exploration of the hallucinatory and tragic landscape of modern rural America, as seen through the eyes of a pair of orphaned siblings”–but the promise of something new and refreshing is enough for me.

The Raven by Lou Reed

The Raven
Lou Reed & Lorenzo Mattotti
Order Code: JUN121129
Publisher: Fantagraphics Books
188 pages – SC – FC


This isn’t for me, but I’m guessing it’s definitely for some of you. Lou Reed is mostly not my cup of tea (with the exception of his really, really wonderful version of “This Magic Moment”, from the Lost Highway soundtrack), and this isn’t technically comics, but I suspect it may be an automatic purchase for some of you. This books consists of Reed’s re-interpretations of a number of Poe’s poems, paired with full-page art from Mattotti. While a lot of comics is sclerotic these days, having this kind of thing pop up is, if nothing else, quite a lot of fun.

the underwater welder

Underwater Welder
Jeff Lemire
Order Code: JUN121298
Publisher: Top Shelf
224 pages – HC – B&W


Another slightly odd recommendation for me. I haven’t loved what I’ve read by Lemire (I couldn’t finish the Essex County trilogy, though I do have Animal Man vol. 1 on my shelf, which I’m looking forward to reading), but this seems like too big a deal to ignore. Lemire is steadily building a library of impressive, genre-tinged standalone graphic novels, which makes him a creator worth paying attention to. This one follows a titular underwater welder who, while he’s at work, has a supernatural encounter that leads him to re-asses his life and his family. The promise of it–and the depth teased by the book’s length–makes me think I need to buy this one to avoid missing out on a great book.

weird horrors by joe kubert

Weird Horrors & Daring Adventures: The
Joe Kubert Archives Vol. 1
Joe Kubert; ed. Bill Schelly
Order Code: JUN121133
Publisher: Fantagraphics Books
240 pages – HC – FC

Looking at the items on this month’s list, I almost feel like it’s hard to substantiate my pesmissism about the comics industry. I mean, a month in which we get a number of promising original graphic novels, a book from a major American writer/singer, and archival reprints of classic comics by legendary creators? It does sometimes feel like this is quite a time to reading comics. This full-color book packs 33 horror and crime shorts by master artist Kubert, backed by historical notes. Kudos to Fantagraphics for bring so much of this material–including the Wally Wood book I mentioned a few months back, and many others–into print for the modern audience.

Contract with God trilogy

Will Eisner’s Contract With God Trilogy
Will Eisner
Order Code: JUN121334
Publisher: WW Norton
544 pages – HC – B&W

If you haven’t read Will Eisner, you need to. I think if you truly, honestly like comics, not just some of their genres, you’ll find things to like, if not love, in Eisner. His work is just so well crafted and closely observed, so innovative, so … good that it’s difficult to resist its charms. He almost outstrips the word “master” and this is some of his finest work. The three graphic novels here, all set in Depression-era New York, examine tenement life, love, and religion. I’m not normally one for immigrant stories, but these are captivating. Buy them.

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: Last Caress and other stories, the last Split Lip book, is available directly from Sam. It’s 194 pages of comics for $15. It collects the final set of Split Lip stories. Don’t you think it’s time you bought it?


  1. Sorry to see this column coming to an end. If anyone reading this hasn’t read Split Lip, you should definitely check it out. Good luck, Sam!

  2. Knock ’em dead, Sam – & thanks for caring.

  3. I have been anticipating the Memorial Trade, and now Underwater welder is on my radar. Sorry to hear you are stopping this column, it’s been a highlight for me on this website. Good luck penning out your new stories.

  4. I already have that Will Eisner Trilogy. It’s been out for at least more than half a year.. Or is this a reprint?

    • It must be, I’ve had what appears to be that exact volume for years. It’s awesome though, and anyone would be well served by giving it a shot.

  5. NOOO!!! I love this column! It’s my favorite of the ‘Heads Up’ previews! Is there any chance another iFanboy staffer may take up the reigns on this?

    But, I do respect your decision to focus on your writing! Best of luck to ya, Sam! =)

  6. I’ve been picking up at least 1/3 to 1/2 of your recommendations since I started reading this column. Thanks, man.

  7. That Eisner trilogy is going on my birthday list and Underwater Welder is preordered! Thanks Sam.