Heads Up: Indie Comics Previews – May 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.

Dan the Unharmable #1

David Lapham & Rafael Ortiz
Order Code: MAR120783
Publisher: Avatar
32 pages – FC – SC

Anyone who’s read detective novels knows that P.I.s, no matter how streetwise or tough, often end up on the wrong ends of beatings. That’s just the nature of the business. But here comes David Lapham, no stranger to the noir genre thanks to his masterful crime series Stray Bullets, to take that trope and stand it on its head. In this new ongoing series, Lapham chronicles the adventures of Dan, a P.I./jack of all trades, who happens to be invulnerable. That makes him a pretty good person to involve in tough-guy work. But his invulnerability is a bit less useful when he finds himself the guardian of his four kids, kids he doesn’t know, whose mother has just been murdered. Sounds like it could be a lot of fun, especially for new parents or P.I.s undergoing career changes.

Frankenstein Alive, Alive! #1

Steve Niles & Bernie Wrightson
Order Code: MAR120318
Publisher: IDW
32 pages – B&W – SC

At the end of Mary Shelley’s novel, Frankenstein’s monster is last seen adrift off the Arctic Circle in the fading light. This 13-issue series, which reunites frequent collaborators Steve Niles and Bernie Wrightson, picks up the monster’s adventures after that ride off beyond the sunset. Most notable, of course, is that this is Wrightson revisiting the material—Frankenstein—for which he is, perhaps, most famous (his lavishly illustrated 1983 edition of Shelley’s novel cemented his reputation and skills). For my money, the Niles/Wrightson team is a bit stronger on art than writing, but anything that Wrightson touches at least deserves a look, in my book.

The Furry Trap

Josh Simmons
Order Code: MAR121063
Publisher: Fantagraphics
140 pages – FC – HC

Unquestionably the book of the month for me. If there’s someone creating more viscerally disturbing, truly horrific, ripped-from-your-nightmares comics than Josh Simmons (House, Jessica Farm), I wouldn’t want to meet them. There are vanishingly few comics that I’ve ever read that truly made me queasy, that were actually hard to read, but still immensely pleasurable. Practically all of Simmons’ short horror comics fall in that category. This book collects 11 short comics that Simmons has done for various anthologies. It’s hard to talk too much about these stories without spoiling some of their first-read impact, but trust me, if you like horror, like having your boundaries pushed, or simply want to experience horror comics unlike any others you’ve read, you have to get this book.

The Lovely Horrible Stuff

Eddie Campbell
Order Code: MAR121193
Publisher: Top Shelf Productions
96 pages – FC – HC

This is a good month: here’s a second book from an acknowledged master of the form that bears a look based on the creator’s name alone. Eddie Campbell’s new book examines money in all its facets. As with much of his work, The Lovely, Horrible Stuff combines Campbell’s autobiographical musings with research on money’s various forms, meanings, and histories throughout the world. Campbell’s style may be a bit of an acquired taste for some, but once you’ve acquired it, you won’t want to give it up.

Paul Auster’s City Of Glass

Paul Auster & Paul Karasik & David Mazzucchelli
Order Code: MAR121159
Publisher: Picador
138 pages – B&W – SC

We started with detectives and we’re ending with detectives. Just as Dan the Unharmable plays with the genre’s tropes, City of Glass—based on the novel of the same name by Paul Auster—does the same. The original novel, part of a mid-80s reconsideration of the P.I. noir, is a masterpiece of taut prose and existential investigation. The graphic novel is something of a landmark adaptation for two reasons. First, it features the impressive creative team of cartoonist and editor Paul Karasik (RAW, I Shall Destroy All the Civilized Planets) and no-introduction-needed David Mazzucchelli (Batman: Year One, Asterios Polyp). Second, it takes a largely interior, contemplative novel with little action and creates a compelling visual narrative from it. The original City of Glass is an excellent neo-noir, and the comic is an impressive work in its own right.

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. Big fan of Paul Auster’s New York Trilogy, of which City of Glass is a part. I’ll have to check this out. I wonder if they’ll adapt the other two books in the trilogy as well?

  2. You and me both, Gerry! I remember loving City of Glass so much when I first encountered it that I read it one sitting.

    I don’t expect that we’ll see adaptations of the other books in the trilogy (though it would be awesome if we did) as this one is a re-issue. They originally did the comic in 1994.

  3. That’s pretty cool, Gerry. I bet that was one hell of a good atmosphere to read those stories in.

  4. I wanted to read the book City of Glass, so I am tore right now. Frankenstein Alive…Bernie Wrightson….Steve Niles…I am there. Great highlights Sam.

  5. A monthly book, starring Frankenstein, drawn by Bernie Wrightson. I will have to break my “No 3.99 books” rule, but for something this awesome I’ll do it happily.

  6. Avatar photo filippod (@filippodee) says:

    Wrightson + Frankenstein = Subscription

  7. I read Mazzucchellis take on City of Glass last year, it’s really good.

  8. City of Glass is mesmerizing, both in art and in story. The themes of language, identity, persona, and personal trappings play heavily in this book and it’s all the richer for it. Very highly recommended.