Compiling our list of the best indie comics of 2016 has not been an easy task! There have been so many amazing books that narrowing it down to just 50 great titles was tough, let alone picking our 10 favourite. However after all the bickering and squabbling among the Pipedream team we have narrowed it down the 10 best, and what a collection we have! But now it’s up to you! Just as we do with our Digital Comic of the Year award, we are going to leave it up to you to pick a winner.
You can vote for the Indie Comic of the Year 2016 here! (Polling ends at midnight on January 5th!)
Alex Automatic (Cabal Comics)
Fraser Campbell’s throwback spy-fi tale may have been inspired by classic 60s TV shows like The Prisoner. but it is comics newcomer James Corcoran’s Kirby infused artwork that really makes it stand out from the crowd with it’s sublime Silver Age vibe. Alex is a government agent who thinks he is in a TV show and when he is rescued from a lab by some intrepid reporters it’s difficult for both Alex and the reader to tell what is real and what is a fantasy. And therein lies the secret of why Alex Automatic is so great. Campbell manages to balance both sides of this tricky coin to create a disorienting yet utterly compelling story that we can’t wait to see develop further.
Purchase Alex Automatic from Cabal Comic Store
Cognition (Cognition Comics)
A robot paranormal investigator and his demonic rat sidekick investigate supernatural goings on in Ken Reynolds dark and twisted detective tale. It’s mix of sleuthing and the supernatural has the feel of a Vertigo or Dark Horse book with artist Sam Bentley providing some truly chilling scenes to accompany the adventures of these unconventional heroes. With only a handful of short stories available in the first two issues Cognition is one of those books that leaves you feeling like you have only just scratched the surface of this incredible world and we cannot wait to see how Ken builds and develops this marvellous monochrome world some more.
Purchase Cognition from the Cognition store
Continuing that great lineage of classic British serials like 2000 AD or Warrior, Comichaus has attempted to set its stall out as an indie successor to this comic book institutions. Featuring chapters of ongoing stories from some of the indie scenes most exciting names, Pete Genepool and Jim McCullough have managed to create one of the most complete comics packages we’ve seen in some time. Packed full of awesome stories, wrapped with covers from industry legends like John McCrea Carlos Ezquerra and Glenn Fabry, and production values that are second to none. Comichaus has the potential to become a new focal point for the U.K. Scene as it is an excellent proving ground for new talent and a damned good read all wrapped up in 44 epic pages every month!
Purchase Comichaus from Comichaus
Deer Editor (Ryan K Lindsay)
Ryan K Lindsay’s tale of an investgative journalist looking into the the sleazy goings-on of a local mayor is a perfect slice of classic crime noir. So much so that you completely ignore the fact that our hero is an anthroporphised deer! What started out as an excuse for a great pun title has evolved into Ryan’s signature series as he manages to take the absurd concept and craft a story that is utterly plausible – at times ignoring the fact Buck is a deer, but at times also making the most of his heroe’s attributes, especially those pointy antlers! Ably assisted by artist Sami Kivella, whose rendering of Buck balances expressive character with stunningly reallistic features. Deer Editor is delightfully daft but compulsory reading with a real edge. (If you like Deer Editor you should also check out Ryan’s superb all-ages book EIR)
Deer Editor was a Kickstarter exclusive and so is currently unavailable for purchase, but find out more about Ryan’s work at ryanklindsay.com
Last Driver (Dead Canary Comics)
From the demented mind of comics legend Shaky Kane come this gonzo monster movie meets road movie mash up. From writer Chris ‘C.S.’ Baker, Last driver is an unapologetic all action thrill ride that sees office worker Frank Sudden hitting the open road in his boss’s Corvette when giant monsters attack his office. From there he takes on giant pterodactyls (who get turned into a roadside BBQ) before he is imprisoned and forced to fight in an dystopian gladiator match. Like an even madder Mad Max, drawn by Jack Kirby on some very strong psychedelics, Last Driver is a non stop thrill ride from the very beginning.
Purchase Last Driver from Dead Canary Comics
Mordawwa #666 (Scary Go Round Comics)
When John Allison needed a break from the worlds of high school (Bad Machinery) and freshers (Giant Days) he descended down to the depths of hell to introduce us to his new creation, Mordawwa the Queen of Hell. But don’t worry, this gothic turn doesn’t mean John has become maudlin or mororse, instead his version of the afterlife is packed full of classic Allison characters such as Archduke Horns and Mordawwa’s ex-boyfriend who is now a mute pony, while his distinctive sense of humour and great eye for detail still shines through the fires of hell to give fans something new but wonderfully devilish at the same time. (John’s Giant Days series for Boom! has gone from strength to strength this year, but was unfortunately inelligible for this list as it is released by a major publisher!)
On A Sunbeam (Tillie Walden)
For her follow up to the critically acclaimed I Love This Part and The City Inside, indie wunderkind Tillie Walden has taken to the web and blasted off into space to create one of the most unique sci-fi webcomics we have ever read. Instead of following the tried and tested tropes of the sci-fi genre though, she has completely disregarded them and created a world of giant space fish ships and intergalactic cathedrals. The story which sees a mysterious young girl sent off to spend time on a spaceship which goes around the universe cleaning up old wrecks, manages to take the traditional fish out of water in a new crew premise and layers on Tillie’s own unique world view and ability to tell unconventional yet heart breakingly real character pieces. With stunning artwork and an emotionally complex story On A Sunbeam comes close to eclispsing her masterful work on I Love This Part to create a series that it completely original, but also quitentessentially Tillie. (If you love this then be sure to also check out Tillie’s A City Inside from Avery Hill Publishing)
Read On A Sunbeam at www.onasunbeam.com
Space Captain (Never Ever Press)
Space Captain is one of those rare things in indie comics – a title that seems to appear perfectly realized from the very beginning and gets better and better with every issue. There’s no muddled debut full of extraneous exposition or awkward character development as the writer and artist attempts to find their voice. Instead, like its hero, it appears from the ice fully rounded, ready for action and sporting an excellent moustache! The Captain’s journey to relocate Earth and find out how and why he is now the last human on earth is an out of this world mix of action, adventure and heart-warming pathos.
Purchase Space Captain from Never Ever Press store
The Last Sheriff (Reckless Hero)
Reckless Hero’s sci-fi western about a Jedi like lawman being forced out of retirement has really found its confidence and its identity this year. Chris Jenkins’ script has fleshed out the back story of the Sheriff himself as well as developing new allies and enemies – especially the evil six armed bounty hunter Mr Sixx who has been our favourite indie comic villain of 2016! Artist Chris Imber’s pencils continue to give every page an adrenaline shot of 90s inspired anime infused action – which are further polished by that man Jenkins and his superb digital colours that make Reckless Hero one of the most exciting and dynamic indie publishing houses out there!
Purchase The Last Sheriff from ComiXology
“Super strength, martial arts training… how do I kill him” – the opening salvo to each chapter of Ryan O Sullivan and Plaid Klaus’ webcomic Turncoat sees superhero hitman Duke sizing up his vastly superior opponents by reeling off their attributes and then working out how best to take them out! The problem is, that Duke is a bit of a loser – complete with comb over, alimony chasing ex wife and swimming lesson deprived son – so it’s not as easy as you might think! So when he gets the call to take down a much bigger target then there is clearly something larger at work here. Turncoat manages that rare thing of being a post-modern superhero tale in vein of Powers or The Losers, but that doesn’t feel like another tired retread or parody of a major franchise. Instead it is the kind of compulsive and phenomenal read that reminds you indie comics can be every bit as good as those from the Big Two!