Thanks to the rise of digital comics the indie and small press world is flourishing and every month we round-up the best indie digital comics available via apps like Sequential, as well looking at online webcomics and those available via small press publisher’s websites. It wasn’t easy to choose just 10 so let us know which you’d have preferred to see, but here are our favourite indie digital comics from 2015.
1. Briar (Improper Books)
Christian Wildgoose and Benjamin Read’s post-modern fairytale reimagines Sleeping Beauty as a Catniss Everdeane style, bow-wielding action heroine, defending her castle behind the briar from a host of villainous foes sent after her by a nefarious villain. With sublime artwork from Wildgoose and a smart and self aware script from Read, Briar is a worthy follow up to their critically acclaimed debut Porcelain: A Gothic Fairytale (and a perfect appetiser before the arrival of Porcelain: Bone China!).
Purchase Briar from Sequential
2. Nightpost (improper books)
This tale of a nocturnal mail man, who delivers parcels to a myriad of fantastical creatures and characters is told without a word of dialogue and so leaves the reader to invent their own stories around Laura Trinder’s beautifully realised artwork. Part children’s illustrated tale, part comic book and part high fantasy, Night Post is one of those books that is so intricate and involved you cannot help but want to re-read it soon you turn the last page, as every time you do you will notice something different and more wondrous.
Purchase Night Post from Sequential
3. I Love This Part (Avery Hill Publishing)
This haunting tale of teenage angst and confusion is told through a series of beautiful full page watercolour paintings by writer/artist Tillie Walden. The blossoming relationship of two teenage girls sees them rendered as giant figures in amongst beautifully realised cityscapes, but this unique approach is far from gimmicky, lending the story a surreal dream-like quality that works as a poignant counter balance to the all too real problems that these girls are going through.
Purchase I Love This Part from Sequential
4. Strangers in Paradise (Thrillbent)
It may seem odd to be recommending a 20 year old print comic in our ‘Best of 2015’ round-ups but Terry Moore’s seminal series was reinvigorated this year thanks to a weekly release on Mark Waid’s Thrillbent, reminding the world of what a truly ground-breaking series it was and introducing a whole new generation to the world of Katchoo, Francine, David and co.
Read Strangers in Paradise via Thrillbent.
5. Giant Days (Boom! Box)
Uni pals Susan, Esther and Daisy are back to their old antics in the new ongoing version of John Allison’s endlessly charming indie series Giant Days. It’s just three short weeks since these new BBFs first met and they are back struggling to deal with impossibly handsome boys, an accidental drama field, and of course the odd bit of academia too. With art duties now being handled by Lisa Treimann it’s brought a new sense of vibrancy and life to these three wonderfully realised characters (not that Allison was doing a sloppy job in the first place) as well as much more regular release schedule, which means we won’t have to wait years for the next issue any more!
Purchase Giant Days volume 1 from ComiXology
Lumberjanes’ Noelle Stevenson has collected her superb webcomic Nimona into this single volume which should be a compulsory purchase for any indie comic fan. Nimona is the sidekick to super villain Balister Blackheart, but when she wants to get a bit more violent with his long time nemesis Ambrosius Goldenloin and the Institution, then it soon becomes clear Nimona isn’t all she may seem to be. Mixing quirky surreal humour, snarky attitude and a genuine emotional heart, Nimona is a wonderfully engaging reads and features one of the most likeable and exciting heroines you will discover this year.
Purchase Nimona from Amazon
7. Blood Blokes
Vampires may be old news in some quarters, but Adam Cadwell’s tale of four vampire housemates manages to breath fresh life into the tired corpse of the genre thanks to a wicked sense of humour. Vince is having a New Years Eve to forget when he his bitten by a giant bat and wakes up in a dress in a house full of bloodsuckers. With plenty of laughs, alongside the bloodshed, Blood Blokes reads more like a situation comedy than another Twilight wannabe and ends up being that rare thing, a vampire book that doesn’t suck!
Purchase Blood Blokes #1-5 for £3.99 from BigCartel
Since delegating some of the writing duties on his UK-based superhero web comic to writer Gary Cohen, Vanguard creator Dan Butcher has taken things to another level in terms of quality, producing a super slick modern slant on the idea of a UK superhero team – think Ed Brubaker’s Secret Avengers rather than another attempt to reinvent Excaliber. In the current volume, Butcher has moved the story forward several years after a series of cataclysmic events and in doing so the story has a new found depth to go with the bleak aftermath of the tragic events. The major changes we have seen this year have given both the series and Butcher’s artwork a new found confidence making Vanguard essential reading.
Read Vanguard webcomic via the website
9. Papercuts and Inkstains (Madius Comics)
This fantastic showcase of some of the UK’s best indie talents is a great example of just how much the UK small press scene has to offer in 2015. In recent issues this has included the graphic horror of Staycation and the cartoonish heist action of Roll of the Dice, alongside the always hilarious Profits of Doom. Writers Rob Jones and Mike Sambrook have managed to produce a fantastic mix of stories for each issue that cover everything from horror to humour, while their roster of artists manage to produce a book that is over flowing with high-quality artwork that belies it’s indie roots.
Purchase Papercuts and Inkstains from the Madius Comics Big Cartel Store
10. Satan Ninja 198X
If you grew up in the 1980s on a steady diet of comic books, arcades, video nasties and high school teen movies, then Satan Ninja 198X will have everything in it you could ever want from a comic. From the cover with it’s 80s Atari video game inspired artwork, to the opening DPS which is rendered as an 8-bit arcade beat-em-up, then you can tell that this is a labour of love for a creative team with a truly masterful understanding of the period and everything that went into making it so rad!
Read the Satan Ninja web comic at satanninja.com and download issue #1 and #2 from their store