We continue our rundown of the best indie and small press comics with lockdown sci-fi, old school police dramas, mind-bending anthologies and self aware mockumentaries.
We always love it when two of our favourite creators come together to create a new comic we weren’t expecting. So when we heard that Vince Hunt (Awesome Comics) and Andy Bloor (Midnight Man) were teaming up for this BPRD style horror procedural we were instantly on board! MI666 plays to both guys strengths – Vince’s wit and humour, as well as his love of monsters, and Andy’s dark foreboding artwork with more inky shadows than a lump of obsidian in a solar eclipse. However like all the best collaborations, MI666 pushes all involved onwards and upwards to create something which is much more immediate than their individual work. MI666 is a really fun and enjoyable read, which you can tell all involved are enjoying producing and this makes for an infectious read.
Telling the story of a family … well, ‘Quarantined’ in their home, Jordan Thomas’ eponymous sci-fi dark satire is a terrific read in these troubled times for the Black Mirror generation. Thomas put together and enthralling but creepy story which really makes you question just how much ‘truth’ you really get when you are told something. Meanwhile the artistic team put together to allow a differing visual style on every page is a treat from beginning to end. Quarantine truly was up there amongst the terrific comics to come out of the lockdown of 2020, although one might wonder if it scared too many people into not doing it again.
#28 Acceptable Losses
While Joe Glass has had a great year with the announcement of the Pride’s upcoming trade release through Dark Horse and a successful Kickstarter for Glitter Vypers, his underdog one shot, Acceptable Losses, has made the most impact in our eyes. A more politically charged tale compared to his usual superhero works, Glass turns his pen on governmental agencies as he tells the story of a superhero soldier deployed on a mission that is much more than it first appears. With a cast of morally ambiguous personalities and a vibrant yet grounded visual style from artist Danny Flores, Acceptable Losses was an essential reading when it was released and still is now all these months later!
#27 Harker: The Book Of Solomon
It’s been a strong year for Time Bomb Comics with the books like the Clockwork Cavalier and Dick Turpin and the Vengeful Shade (plus a new issue of old school anthology Brawler on the way too). However our favourite of the bunch was both old and new. Harker is a reprint of a 00s small press book and it reads like an old school TV cop drama, but centred around a macabre murder. There’s shades of Morse or the Sweeney with it’s lead characters, and because we haven’t seen this kind of approach in ages it feels fresh and different while also very familiar. The artwork from Vincent Danks is clean, crisp and brilliantly captures London, while Roger Gibson’s banter filled dialogue and solid mystery makes it a really readable and enjoyable book that we can’t wait to discover whodunnit!
#26 Her! Prosperity
This slice of gritty crime revenge reads like a gender flipped version of Taken or Deathwish. Writer David Taylor takes the well worn genre trope of a hero out for vengeance and gives it a nice twist by switching the traditional gender roles to have a gutsy female investigator taking on sleazy men in the titular town. But it’s more than just tokenism as Taylor imbues the story the just the right amount of righteous anger and gives his heroine a believable voice and motivation, while also having a cast of despicable men for her to beat up! It’s black and white artwork continues that lo-fi style and while it’s not the most complex of reads, there is something about it’s no nonsense attitude that makes this into a really compelling read!
#25 Big F#@K Off Worms
Comic creators have handled lockdown in a variety of different ways. While some became more introverted and thought provoking with their work, Matt Garvey (Red Rocket Comet) and J Francis Totti (Prey For Us) just decided to make something outrageous and fun – hence the brilliantly monicker Big F#@k off worms! Initially released via social media, and now available as a free download, BFOW is a like Tremors as if it was written by Mark Millar. This makes for a high energy, all action, slice of sci-fi silliness which is packed full crackling dialogue, outrageous concepts and explosive, high energy artwork. As you would expect with a title like this, it doesn’t take itself too seriously, and in doing so ended up being the perfect antidote to the lockdown blues!
#24 Space Warp
As you might expect from a creator with the pedigree of Pat Mills (2000 AD, Nemesis the Warlock), his new anthology Space Warp is an ambitious set of stories based in a multiverse run by the enigmatic space lords. Mills has crafted an intricate multi dimensional intergalactic mash up of genres and concepts with every page packed full of imagination and imaginatively conceived concepts. The result is a book which promises ‘shock and aaargh’ and delivers by the bucket load! With every square centimetre of this book packed with layer upon layer of story telling and highly detailed art this has the anarchic spirit of 2000ad and the artistic ambition of Heavy Metal all wrapped in one mind warping volume.
#23 Biggol (CPE Books)
Set in the world of a fictitious British fantasy TV series, Ioan Morris’ Biggol is framed as a retrospective documentary, but is written as a loving look back at a bygone age of TV in the late 60s and early 70s which doesn’t have the cynicism of self awareness of today’s fan culture. Morris’ world of struggling actors, bickering fanboys and put upon TV execs is meticulously observed and brought to life with his very deliberate and formal style. It’s nostalgic without being sentimental and smartly satirical in the same vein as cult TV show Garth Merenghi’s Dark Place. Morris is clearly revelling in his carefully constructed world and has created one of the most endearing reads we have seen all year.
There are certain, unspoken constants in comics and one of them is to never expect too much from video game adapted comics. However, Dan Abnett and his team upended that belief with this comic which accompanies the game Crayta, and has crafted a fantastic political thriller about a society run by an artificial intelligence. Abnett puts together a fantastic story and produced a rich, detailed world to accompany it while his cadre of spectacular artists present it in a stunning sci-fi look that really overload the eyes through sheer abundance. Crayta is an immensely captivating sci-fi epic which is free to read via the Crayta website, making it even more worthy of a place on this list!
#21 Breakwater (Avery Hill Publishing)
For the follow up to her critically acclaimed debut graphic novel Follow Me In, Katriona Chapman has stayed a little closer to home – swapping the steamy South American jungles for the sunny coast of England. Yet her tale of a young woman and her group of colleagues at a Brighton cinema still has the same thoughtful and emotive story telling as her previous work, as well as some sublime location shots. This is such a great showcase for Kat’s unique style of story telling which has a subtle and nuanced beauty to it. She eschews bombast and hyperbole, for a very deliberate yet still incredibly real brand of comics which are truly her own. Another wonderful book from a wonderful creator.