Our rundown of Indie Comic of the Year 2016 continues with numbers 21 to 30 and features some awesome anthologies, simian secret agents, Victorian detectives and ultra-violent webcomics.
You can read our picks for #31-40 here and #41-50 here.
#30 Save Our Souls (Save Our Souls)
While many indie anthologies follow the traditional mould of collecting together one off comic stories, Save Our Souls looks to break new ground by mixing hilarious cartoon strips with poignant long form articles which are beautifully illustrated by a mix of comic creators and illustrators alike. In a way it feels more like like the kindred spirit of Private Eye or Charlie Hebdo than it does a modern comic book (despite the very comicy production values). Thanks to articles like Richard Johnson’s diary/sketchbook about his time on the frontline and Dan Peterson’s autobiographical look at time on board a rescue vessel helping Syrian refugees in the Mediterranian (alongside funny strips like Gabby Schulz’s Little Finlay or one called Pigeon King) it makes for an absorbing and thought-provoking read.
#29 Bubbles O Seven in Dr O (Bounce Comics)
Bubbles O’Seven is much more than excuse for some ape and spy puns. It harks back to the days of classic Bond, back when it was not as dark and gritty as it’s become and instead revels in the silliness of the secret agent. It’s a bit of pre-requisite really as after all this is a book about an experimented-on chimpanzee super spy, and his Hawaiian shirt wearing marmoset sidekick. With lashings of classic spy genre cliches , including the odd a robot shark, Grainne McEntee and Matt Rooke have created a superbly entertaining read with has breathed life into a tired genre without resorting to post-modern deconstuection and instead focused on a strong story and some excellent simian wordplay! And if that’s not enough for you, Bubbles O Seven will return in Baboon Taker!
#28 Papercuts and Inkstains (Madius Comics)
From the demented minds of Madius Comics comes their signature anthology, Papercuts and Inkstains. Written by Madius’ main men, Rob Jones and Mike Sambrook, (with occasional help from mad genius Nick Gonzo) each issue has a revolving roster of artists, who create 3 short one-off tales, many of which have the classic anthology structure of a twist in the tale and range in tone from sci-fi to horror to fantasy. Each issue is rounded out by the recurring adventures of the Profits of Doom – a group of hapless satanists who inadvertently summon a demon who goes on the rampage. With some truly spectacular artwork from Mike Smith that makes the book feel mystical and mischievous at the same time, in many ways the Profits encapsulate what is so great about Papercuts and Inkstains. They mix horror and humour in perfect harmony which helps Papercuts stand out from the average, more serious, indie anthologies out there and keeps you coming back for more issue after issue. Also be sure to check out other Madius books like Griff Gristle or horror anthology The Tragic Tales of Horrere.
#27. Santa Claus vs. The Nazis (Markosia)
You’d be forgiven for thinking that Santa Claus vs. The Nazis was just a one note joke pitting the ultimate evil against the ultimate good. However thanks to a well rounded script and some excellent artwork, it is so much more than the high concept title might suggest. When a group of Nazis invade Lapland to sieze Santa’s present making machinery only grumpy elf Reggie and rescued slave boy Peter can save the day. It makes for a mixture of classic throwback World War 2 action (including Queen Elizabeth as a pucky army captain!) but with a heart-warming core counter balanced and some genuinely dark moments. Santa Claus vs the Nazis is both the ultimate festive read and also an antidote to the seasonal schmatlz!
#26 The Adventures of Cordelia Swift (Labrat Comics)
Take the classic idea of Victorian adventurer/detective and make them into a feisty American female, and you have the recipe for Matt Garvey’s The Adventures Of Cordelia Swift. It’s a fun and enjoyable twist on the classic penny dreadful adventure as Swift has to chase down a Jekyll and Hyde type villain while also dealing with elements from her own past in the shape of her troublesome brother from overseas. Garvey’s story rattles along at a great pace and has a really smartly realised resolution at the end, but most importantly gets a great balance of action and humour. Artist Aleksander Bozic gives the book a really strong monochrome style that feels a bit like classic late 80s Frank Miller, mixed with Eddie Campbell’s From Hell. With the first arc now completed, it’s the perfect time to discover the world of one of the indie scene’s most exciting new heroines! (Also be sure to check out Matt’s other books Transfer and Chunks)
#25 Vanguard (Vanguard)
Dan Butcher’s post-event superhero webcomic continues to build on it’s complete about turn plot prior to volume 10. After the cataclysmic events of volume 9 Butcher has turned Vanguard from a fairly vanilla post-modern superhero story into a superb mix of dystopian sci-fi, gritty action adventure and, of course, ultra-violent superheroes – plus it’s all set in the UK. Butcher’s dark take on the genre is like reading Excalibur rewritten by The Boys’ team of Garth Ennis and Darrick Robertson but with a 90s twist. With it’s mix of bone crunching violence and some eye-popping coluring, it makes for a super-powered gut punch of a read.
#24 Griff Gristle: Here Be monsters (Madius Comics)
Madius Comics salty old sea dog adventurer comes out of retirement to investigate mysterious ship disappearances in the port of Charlesbourg. Accompanied by the sister of one of the missing crewmen, Griff must investigate the mysterious events above and below the water while bickering with his passenger and dealing with his own demons. Writers Rob Jones and Mike Sambrook have created another fantastic showcase for their writing and an enigmatic hero with buckets of potential. They are ably assisted by the cool and murky artwork of Rory McDonald who gives the book a Mike Mignola under water feel thanks to heavy shadows and angular characters. Look out Profits of Doom you may have a rival for Madius’ main man!
#23 BPM (Big Punch Studios)
It’s been another jam-packed year for the guys at Big Punch Studios, with their multi-verse building anthology BPM at the very heart of it all. With a great new look and a new stream line line up of stories (focusing on Cuckoos, 99 Swords and Cat & Meringue and adding in some editorial pages for extra bang for your buck), Nich, Jon, Allie and Lucy continue to channel their endless enthusiasm and passion for great comics into every page. And if this isn’t enough Big Punch for your buck then why not check out the new series of Afterlife Inc on Comixology, or the new volume of 7String on Tapastic, or one of their many excellent podcasts available at the Big Punch website? The busiest team in comics just get busier and better with every project!
Purchase BPM from Big Punch Store
#22 Gun (Reckless Eyeball Press)
#21 The Kill Screen (Mike Garley Comics)
The winner of last year’s ‘Best of ComiXology Submit’ list, Mike Garley, Joshua Sherwell and Mike Stock’s dystopian sci-fi tale has now become a Patreon exclusive with new pages being published online first before being collected into print editions at a later date. So as well getting your exclusive look at new stories from a world where technology has infected people with a techno disease that makes them go all pixellated and get involved in bloody death matches while hunting for followers. But it means you also get the exciting new adventures of Nine Lives the cat for as little as $1 a month!