Our rundown of the top 50 indie comics of 2016 continues. This selection includes shanti pirates, fantastical beast, time-travelling spies, magical thieves, tea-making deities and friendly ghosts! Keep reading as we get closer close to revealing our shortlist for the Indie Comic of the Year 2016!
#40 flintlock (Time Bomb Comics)
A world of highwaymen – or rather women – pirate queens and steampunk sci-fi all in one jaunty, romping read that pays great respect to the historical period. In both the lead story, Lady Flintlock and Shanti, Pirate Queen writer Steve Tanner offers us two very different kind of heroines – independently spirited women with a taste for adventure and highway (or, in Shanti’s case, high seas) robbery. Both, in their own way give the answer to how best to redistribute the wealth held by the elite few and, as such, we are encouraged to cheer for these anti-heroes as they pilfer from the pathetic popinjays of the period. Behind the pomp, the ceremony and the fancy wigs of the aristocracy lie the horrors of the 18th century: slavery, exploitation, and greedy men. Lady Flintlock, Shanti and the Clockwork Cavalier (the third strip included) are the 18th century solutions to such problems. The superheroes of their day, fighting injustice and inhumanity in their own, often violent, uncompromising style. This is one fine looking book, and offers its readers a polished, professional, immensely entertaining read from cover to cover.
#39 Past The Last Mountain (Comics Experience)
Set in a world where the magical creatures of fantasy stories are real, Past the Last Mountain tells the story of Simon, Kate and Willa (a goblin, faun and dragon respectively) who escape an internment preserve in which magical creatures have been held since losing a war with humans. However, upon breaching the wars of their prison, the three find the hard part is just beginning as the new head of the preserve sets out to track them down and re-catch them. Like a mix of BPRD and the Fugitive, but with more fantastical creatures, writer Paul Allor (Tet, Strange Nation) has created a really compelling adventure in Past The Last Mountain, that showcases a different side of the standard ‘man versus creature’ trope, that is filled with incredibly well-defined characters and a genuine sense of peril for the leads.
#38 CHARGE (Alterna Comics)
Gunfights, corporate espionage, future warfare, advanced technology, time travel. CHARGE from Alterna Comics has all this and so much more, wrapped up in a well-written and intelligent plot. When a group of 1970s scientists in a snowtop mountain laboratory have their funding cut, they decide to run their teleportation experiment one last time. And, as they do, a portal to the future appears and, with it, corporate security from the mysterious Comtech arrive with some shocking news – a time-war is raging as a result of their unexpected scientific breakthrough. Despite the convoluted time-travel plot writers Chris an Dan Jury manmage to create a consistent logic and a smartly written plot. Although the art isn;t always the most sophisticated, it does have a really slick design, expecially in the series of technical manual style covers.
#37 Gutter Magic
In the magical world of Gutter Magic a young thief and his Goblin pal are stealing magical scrolls in order to discover why his whole family have a magical connection except him! Pursued by the evil Morgue he must escape the treacherous Goblin Market and find the elusive scientist known as Oppenheimer who may have the key to this mystery. Writer Rich Douek builds an incredibly detailed world for Gutter Magic, based in a New York City where World War 2 was won with magic. With an almost cinematic salce and mix of ‘real world elements’ with a magical back story, it is rounded off with a superb steampunk aesthetic courtesy of artist Brett Barkley, and a compelling wise-cracking lead character in Cinder.
#36 Trespasser (Alterna Comics)
Trespasser is a story of a man, his daughter and his dog struggling to survive in the middle of nowhere after an unmentioned catastrophe. However, while out hunting for scarce food, the man encounters an injured alien and, unsure of his intentions, helps this wounded stranger. But is this extraterrestrial a threat? Justin M. Ryan puts together a really engrossing story about what people will do to survive, especially when encountering little green men. Taking elements of survival horror and alien invasion and mixing them into one compelling story Ryan and artist Kristian Rossi continue to defy expectations through this 4 issue run and have produced a truly wonderful and unpredictable read.
#35 Progressive Redneck (Chris Sheridan)
In case you thought American politics couldn’t get any crazier, Motorcycle Samurai’s Chris Sheridan and Casey Glendening are here with a timely reminder that it could be worse! The Progressive Redneck of the title is a resurrected American senator who has been resurrected and become an undead assassin in a surreal proto-fascist world he is dispatched by the government to take down various scumbags and along the way encounters a radioactive alien skull and a cabal of evil Republicans led by a half-alien half orange-man called Donald. It features the same brilliantly anarchic and surreal story-telling that we loved in Motorcycle Samurai and is brought to live with Sheridan’s truly original and expressive artwork – which in this new collection includes a unique blue and orange colour scheme that makes the whole thing feel completely unlike anything else out there in the world today. A surreal slice of satirical silliness!
#34 Man vs. Rock
If Progressive Redneck is a bit conservative, then there is only one book for you – Man vs. Rock. The continuing adventures of Buck Stone, the maverick geology professor with a rock based conspiracy obsession and some very unnatural urges! Kevin Bieber, Victor DeTroy and Jared Lamp’s book is an insane mix of politically incorrect humour that manages to make some sharp satirical swipes at the state of Modern America, in amongst all the dick jokes. Like an indie comic South Park made by that crazy kid at school that your Mum warned you about, Man vs. Rock is utterly insane, completely unique and the ultmate NSFW reading experience that will make you cry with laughter and then feel racked with liberal guilt for finding such filth so damn funny! Plus it’s now in glorious rainbow-tastic technicolour!!
#33 NPC-Tea (Millmo Comics)
Heart of Time’s Sarah Millman is back with a stunning looking new series called NCP Tea. Set in a world where orcs and elves and magic are a part of everyday life, a young student finds out that an ancient godlike being may be a bit closer to her than she first thought – working in her local teashop! It’s a fantastic mix of mythology and fantasy, set in a contemporary world, and is packed full of Millman’s own charm and personality which makes it infinitely readable. Along with a superb intro section that looks like a stylized medieval manuscript, the book is rendered in a stunning blue/green and pink duotone colour scheme that corresponds with different scenes and characters, which helps make a really great book into something very interesting and unique. Although not a lot happens in the first issue, it has so much potential to become something really great that we cannot wait to see what’s next!
#32 Ghosts (Scholastic – Graphix)
Getting the balance right for an all ages horror books isn’t easy. After all, you can’t rely on blood and guts in the same way you might with an adult tale. Instead you have to reply on clever character development, spooky, but not terrifying scenarios and above all a nice of happy ending. All of which are perfectly utilised in Raina Telgemeier’s wonderful coming of age story Ghosts. Catrina and Maya are moving to the Californian town of Bahía de la Luna with their parents as a way to treat Maya’s cystic fibrosis, but little do they know the town has a ghostly secret. Although the fish-out-of-water/kids-in-a- new-town-with-a-secret story has been to death Raina manages to instil her story with enough charm and wit that it makes for a compelling read, whatever your age. Although there are some scary bits (mainly a sub plot involved the Ghosts taking the breath of Maya) they are relatively gentle, but what makes Ghosts so great is that it focuses on the positives of the ghosts rather than the negatives which is really fresh. This is of course also helped by Raina’s beautiful cartoony artwork which sees the spirits look like Studio Ghibli-esque apparations and comedic skeleton ghosts rather than terrifying ghouls – all of which is best exemplified in the superb Day Of The Dead finale!
#46 Dirty Rotten Comics (Throwaway Press)
Mixing unique story-telling, with beautiful eclectic art and exceptional production values Dirty Rotten Comics is one of the best indie art house anthologies out there. It’s stories are a mix of the weird and wonderful alongside the poignant and profound and features stories from some of the UK scenes most exciting new artists – including Observer/Jonathan Cape/Comica prize winner Matthew Dooley, whose book Meanderings is also available from DRC publisher Throwaway Press and collects strips featured in Dirty Rotten Comics which are well worth checking out.
Purchase Dirty Rotten Comics from www.dirtyrottencomics.co.uk