We continue our countdown to the the best indie comic of the year 2019 with a glorious mix of post-modern superheroes, women walking in movies and pirates on a quest!
#40 Mahoney’s #2 (Hardline Comics)
Set in a bar for super villains, we described Rich Carrington’s Mahoney’s as being like ‘Cheers meets Powers’. After a really fun first issue, Carrington and artist Brian Dawson have really stepped up their game for this second issue which sees the Mahoney’s crew put on a super villain awards show known as the Capies. Carrington manages to pack more content and jokes into a 20 page issue, than some manage in a 6 issue arc and so if an idea doesn’t land on one page, there will another one along very soon after. As well as continuing to poke fun at the ludicrousness of silver age supers and the villain/hero dynamic, it also has a few digs at the silliness of awards, which feel ripe for ridicule too. With some fantastic artwork from Dawson which has the expressiveness of Humberto Ramos, this is one of the most enjoyable indie superhero series out there and definitely awards worthy!
Read our full review of Mahoney’s #2 here
#39 The Pride Season 2 (ComiXology Originals)
Continuing the theme of indie superheroes offering an alternative to the mainstream, Joe Glass’ LGBTQ+ team The Pride stepped up to the big leagues this year with a new series released as part of the ComiXology Originals stable. With this came a new artist, new costumes and a new long term story arc. The Pride has been a stand out in small press for a number of years thanks to inclusive take on superheroes, combined with a classic Claremont/Byrne style of story telling. This new arc sees him tackle the issue of positive discrimination as the team recruit new members as well as trying to track down some disappearing teens. New artist Cem Iroz gives the series a much needed dose of stability for the long run, while Glass manages to continue to balance important social commentary with really fun and enjoyable superhero action.
Read our full reviews of The Pride Season 2 here
#38 Barking (Unbound)
The subject of mental health continues to be an important focus for small press comics, and one of the most powerful and challenging books that we have read this year has been Lucy Sullivan’s Barking, published via Unbound. Chronicling the story of Alix who is sectioned after a mental health crisis, Sullivan’s scratchy and uncompromising art style manages to perfectly capture the chaotic and uncertain world that Alix finds herself in. It’s not the easiest of reads, both in terms of visuals and subject matter, but it is a powerfully told story that will stick with you long after you have reached the final page.
Read our interview with Lucy here
#37 Walking Distance (Avery Hill Publishing)
Taking a break from her career as a children’s book illustrator, Lizzie Stewart produced this glorious reflection on modern womanhood as a cure for writers block. It’s a wistful and thoughtful piece of self reflection, that is built around Lizzie’s love for women walking in movies. The stream of consciousness narrative then meanders off to look at what it is to be a woman in the modern world, with Lizzie reflecting on her own circumstances, as well as those of her friends and family. Lizzie uses a mix of long form text and full page images to create a fascinating mix of comic and picture book that will draw you in and take you on a journey in the same way as if you were sat down for a deep and meaningful chat with a long lost friend.
Read our interview with Lizzie here
#36 The Catalyst (Comichaus)
For his follow up to last year’s fantastic The Little Deaths of Watson Tower, Nick Bryan has conceived a fantastic slice of high concept science fiction. The Catalyst follows a time travelling android whose reluctant role in the universe is to provoke events into happening – in other words a catalyst! He’s like antithesis of Sam Beckett in Quantum Leap, as he starts fights, invokes battles and generally causes mayhem in the name of keeping the universe on track – yet does it all with a heavy heart of someone carrying out a job they don’t enjoy. It’s a fantastic concept for a story, which is brought to life by brilliant artwork from Devil in Disguise’s Robert Ahmad. With a huge variety of genres and styles to work in (from crime noir to fantasy to future sci-fi) Ahmad does some great work here and Catalyst is a perfect showcase for what an exciting pair of creators these two are.
Read our full review of The Catalyst here
#35 Slightly Exaggerated (To Infinity Studios)
From the minute we saw the cover to Curtis Clow’s follows up to his book Beastlands, we knew this was going to be a stand out book for the year. Slightly Exaggerated is a glorious mix of Indiana Jones style pulp action adventure and dreamlike fantasy, which sees Archaeologist Mia being pursued by an evil empire who think she is a treasure hunter and grave robber. Through in some disgruntled natives and you have a Raiders of the Lost Ark style romp, yet it is all told in a gloriously strange world full of flying sea creatures and art deco airships, courtesy of artist Pius Bak. While not the most original of plots, the world-building of Slightly Exaggerated is second to none, while Mia is a smart and sassy update of the classic rogue-ish hero! A book of exceptional quality, and that’s no exaggeration!
#34 Road of Bones (IDW Publishing)
It’s been a strong year for creator owned titles coming out of IDW Publishing, but the pick of the bunch has been Rich Douek’s Road of Bones, the story of three prisoners on the run from a Soviet labour camp. Douek managed to balance the horrors and brutality of the gulag, with icy cold Siberian mountainscapes and even adds in a supernatural undercurrent where one of the prisoners is feeding a mysterious creature in order to survive. This horrific and fantastical side of the story is brilliantly brought to life by Sink’s Alex Cormack who manages to capture the darkness and violence of the story in an incredibly graphic and shocking way. Just like Sink, there are some truly stomach churning moments, yet it is never to the detriment of the story, as Douek’s character building and concept manages to underpin everything and make this into a truly harrowing yet compulsive read.
Read our full review of Road of Bones here
#33 High Tide (Kate Philips)
A fantastic example of some of the wonderful free webcomics being produced online at the moment. Kate Philips ode to procrastination sees her laundry chore morph into a deep sea allegory. Her clothes become waves which she surfs on with an ironing board, while the creatures of the deep manifest themselves within her wardrode – such as a sting ray which looks just like a leather jacket. This is one of those comics which makes the most of a gloriously simple, yet rich idea, and Philips gives readers a visual treat with her inventive and sophisticated artwork. A simple, yet gloriously original read which managed to lift even our own laundry day blues!
Read our full review of High Tide here
#32 Cryowulf (Sam Roads)
Sam Roads’ re-imagining of the Beowulf myth as an intergalactic space opera makes for a gloriously ambitious read that mixes Celtic myth and soaring spacescapes to create something truly unique. But don’t worry if you aren’t an expert on Beowulf, you don’t need to be in order to enjoy this story. Roads has shifted the emphasis of the story to focus on a young girl called Raven who lives on a giant spaceship and his learning her ways from a mysterious wise woman. While in the bowels of the ship the mysterious Grendel is making everyone live in fear. It’s an incredibly ambitious read that isn’t afraid to revel in it’s complexity. While it may take a little while to get into, once you have invested in the story and the sumptuous art from Ben Matsuya you will be hooked!
Read our full review of Cryowulf here
#31. Pirate Fun: The Second Trial (Bell/Slorance)
Everyone’s favourite mini adventurer Fun Mudlifter has returned this year, with a new issue of the fantastic Pirate Fun. Having completed her first task (filling out the application form for her pirate license) she is sent on another futile task from the pirate elders who want to prevent her from finding out their secrets. Colin Bell and Neil Slorance’s comic is a continual delight and packed full with more gags on a single page than some manage in a whole issue. With this series poking fun at the world of pirates, it’s a rich source material, from unwanted eye patches to pestering parrots, and a load of ever weirder jokes thrown in the good measure. With a new collected edition of Fun’s debut adventure, Dungeon Fun now available from BHP Comics, it has never been a better time to get into the world of Fun Mudlifter and co!
Read our full review of Pirate Fun here