Stew’s 10 Best Indie Comics


Image Comics was born during my first three to four years of reading comics. As someone who had only really known Marvel and DC (and let’s be honest…only Marvel), this kind of blew my mind.

There would be comics that would not be directly related to the worlds of Spider-Man or Batman? Comics that could tell stories that Superman or X-Men comics wouldn’t…or couldn’t? It was WILD for my twelve year old!

Sure, indie press comics had been around for decades, but how could my Wolverine-loving brain know that? I never really needed them, so I never cared about them.

but when Image started, that all changed. I discovered a world of exciting and new books. From the picture I moved to a Dark Horse. I started reading Strangers In Paradise from Antarctic Press. The comic universe was even bigger than I thought!

So in my reading of these non-Marvel/DC whimsical books, did I find the enjoyment? Well…

Do I love The Tick comic as much as I love The Tick cartoon… or the [way too short-lived] 2001 Patrick Warburton directed the sitcom Tick?


But I downright LOVE the cartoon and the live action show, so it wasn’t one punch on Ben Edlund’s comic that started it all. An analogue of Superman holding his fingers over his eyes so as not to be identified when his glasses are removed. A row of ninja pretending to be a hedgerow. A man-eating cow. This book contains extremely fun ideas.

What a series that oscillates so easily between humor and emotion.

Plus, it drives me to Google “Sex Criminals” to find some good art in the book, so now I’m on ONE kind of watchlist.

Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky gave us a series about people who have the weirdest superpower – the ability to stop time when they have an orgasm – and used it to tell the story of Suzie and Jon, two people who are probably not good for each other, but found each other anyway.

Lots of laughs out loud here as you wonder if these two should get back together after all they’ve been through.

Ah, this is what I wanted for so long! A self-contained superhero universe with stakes and continuity and consistency. That’s the good thing here.

I’m way, way behind Black Hammer, just had two or three deep trades so far, but I’ve been itching for a while. Too many other indie comics eschew superhero ideas altogether. Marvel and DC have an impenetrable shell of multiverses and resets…to the point where nothing else matters. But Black Hammer has the best of both worlds: I just want superheroes done right!

I hope it stays good because I always get more.

(And I hope Radiant Black, a comic recently recommended to me for getting the same things I want, is as good as this one at least at first!)

God, Sana Takeda’s art is beautiful. Even without a good story, I would buy this book just to watch it.

Fear not, though, because Marjorie Liu’s universe is steeped in mythology and monsters, gods and witches… the book throws you STRAIGHT INTO ALL, but you’re able to follow because Maika’s story is so interesting, and the book shows just enough information for you when you need it and want it.

It can be a little dense and serious at times, but the universe is so fantastic that I don’t care.

The film is pure bliss. One of my all time favourites.

The comic it’s based on is somehow even better.

The movies do a good job of cutting some of the fat from the show and really streamlining the tale into a cinematic piece, but it’s also missing some of the book’s best jokes. Mostly in the form of the storytelling (it makes the vegan police scene even funnier), but also how the story keeps Envy a little longer (and Gideon builds a sword in his robe).

The art is awesome for the series. The tone is hilarious. The characters are all despicable, but in a weird and adorable way.

Before Black Hammer, there was Invincible!

Back to the idea of ​​a standalone superhero universe, Invincible finally got its big market thanks to the successful first season of its cartoon. The story of teenage Mark growing up with his newly acquired superpowers and alien heritage was a fun book that was never afraid to push the boundaries in terms of brutality. The characters have regularly been mutilated! Robert Kirkman likes blood and guts, guys.

There would be fixes where the title would get a bit choppy, and not all stories would pay as well as you’d like. Angstrom Levy is an antagonist I never fully integrated into, so I zoned out when he was introduced. But then the book would give you something like The Viltrumite War, and you knew how awesome it all could be.

Maus is not a pleasant book to read.

I mean…it’s powerful. It is striking. It is important.

But I’ve read it twice in my life, and… that’s enough. I don’t need to read it again.

Is it perhaps more important than it has ever been since it was first written? Undoubtedly yes. And it has unfortunately even found its way into the public sphere with rumors of schools banning it.

Maybe I should read it again.

Maybe we should all read Maus fairly regularly, actually.

Man, I love Kurt Busiek, guys.

I’m not sure I’ve ever read anything by him that I didn’t at least like very much. And Astro City is Kurt at the absolute height of his powers. An anthology-style series of a metropolis populated by metahumans, Astro City still manages to be a book of immense humanity. The characters feel like PEOPLE. Everything here is believable.

Every arc is glorious. Busiek never loses touch and never runs out of things to say in Astro City. He has all the best stories to tell that Marvel and DC wouldn’t let him.

I think I liked Savage Dragon because it was palpable that Erik Larson liked Savage Dragon.

From the start of the title, Larson was clear that this was a tale and a character he had played with for most of his life. He was determined to tie or break Dave Sim’s run of 300 consecutive issues written and penciled in a book, and the guy had the ideas to do that, too.

Savage Dragon has gone through so many changes since its debut. Hell, it’s not even happening in the same REALITY we were presented with!

So thank you to Larsen for his passion for this character and his dedication to maintaining it.

Hellboy seems like an odd choice to have supplanted Savage Dragon as my favorite standalone book. After all, without Savage Dragon, I might never have read Hellboy.

But after HB made an appearance in the early days of Dragon’s run, I immediately rushed to get what I could on this character. It was a BIG decision.

On the one hand, Mike Mignola is one of the best artists on the planet. I’m intrigued by everything he sketches.

But beyond that, you have a brilliantly researched book that draws on fables and mythology from around the world. Hellboy always felt like a living, breathing book where anything was possible.

Even after he died and went to hell.

These are just ten of my favorites, AND I decided to leave out the manga otherwise it would have been too difficult. But do not worry; this list is coming soon too.

In the meantime, let me know: what are your favorite comics not published by Marvel or DC? Tell us in the comments and I’ll probably steal your suggestions and start reading them myself.

(It’s not about telling you what I like best; it’s about telling you what I should read; I’m sneaky)

Until we meet again, take care!


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