We countdown of the best indie and small press comics of year continues our journey to finding out the Indie Comic of the Year 2018. This time we look at Victorian superheros, caffeine addicted journalists, retro bad girls, warrior sword maidens, South American drug mules and demonic theme parks.
#30. Merrick and Dr Crowe (Merrick Comics)
One of the most consistently high quality small press titles going (and a regular fixture on this list). Tom Ward and Luke Parker’s Victorian superhero is now firing on all cylinders to become the pulp hero we always wanted him to be from that very first outing. As well as continuing his adventures in issue #7 and #8 of the main Merrick series (which was Kickstarted earlier this year), we’ve also seen The Sensational Elephantman cross over with fellow Victorian small press adventurer Dr Crowe to create a pitch perfect Marvel team up style adventure, that made the most of both characters strengths to create a fantastically fun read that should work as a way in for fans of both books!
Purchase Merrick and Dr Crowe for £3.50 from the Merrick Online Store
#29 After the Gold Rush #4 (Miles Greb)
Miles Greb’s smart and stylish sci-fi series takes the classic premise of an ‘alien’ landing in a new world, but gives it a really intelligent spin by making the ‘alien’ an actual alien – well, an astronaut from Titan! And the new world is a strange old fashioned version of earth – but one which isn’t quite as it seems. Over the 4 issues it’s been around Greb has drip fed clues about the world, but we seem no closer to finding out the truth. However it allows his character based action to focus on explorer Scout and her relationship with her new acquaintances to really flourish. With previous issues featuring some scratchy but epic artwork from Issac La Russa, for this latest issue La Russa has been replaced by Elli Puukangas whose artwork has elevated After The Gold Rush to the next level thanks to some lush landscapes, epic double pages spreads and an Anime infused style that gives it a real slickness. If you love intelligent and articulate indie sci-fi by writers like Jon Hickman or Rick Rememder then this is definitely the book for you!
#28. Mean Girls Club: Pink Dawn (Nobrow)
Like a 50s Hot Rod poster possessed with the spirit of Elvira, Ryan Bashka’s Mean Girls Club return for another battle against authority. This super stylish gang of outrageous girls are a group of hard drinking, gun toting gals who rally against the male hierarchy who want to put them down. While on the surface the characters are all chiselled cheekbones and eyebrows that would make a silver age Sue Storm jealous, they are also flawed individuals who are rallying together as a result of the way they have been treated in the past. With a crazy conclusion that feels like it has stepped straight out of a classic EC Horror comic, this is another super cool and ultra stylish offering from the folk at Nobrow.
#27 Chip McFitz: Wanted Dead Or Alive (Mat greaves)
The second adventure from the caffeine fuelled world of sleep deprived journo Chip McFitz, sees our hero wrongly framed for a murder. Mat Greaves manages to mix the crazy visuals of an Adult Swim animation with a slice of classic golden age crime noir. From the opening scene where Chip brews up some extra strength coffee in his own mouth, through the ethereal Detective Ghost who turns the whole world grey, Greaves takes all the best elements of a classic crime story and sends them off in a weird and wacky alternative direction. Pour yourself a cup of joe and dive in to this brilliantly bonkers book. And if you love this then be sure to check out Chip’s debut adventure as well!
#26 Trujillo / L1ma (Gustaffo Vargas)
As one of our favourite discoveries of the year, It’s difficult to pick which of Gustaffo Vargas’ books deserve mentioning and so we have opted for both! His unique blend of dystopian cyperpunk sci-fi and stylised South American visuals has created some of the most exciting and original small press comics we have read this year. Set in a near future Peru, L1MA and Trujillo feature Incan street gangs, drug peddling animals and grim and gritty, gory action. They read like an ultra-violent Futureshock from 2000 AD and while not for the feint hearted they are some of the most visceral and exciting small press books we have read in some time!
#25. Mandy The Monster Hunter: The Legend of the Spindly Man (Hellbound Media)
Although they made their name with gory horror like Shock Value and Slaughterhouse Farm, Hellbound Media’s true star is the ass-kicking, monster hunting Mandy. Her latest adventure sees her take on her most terrifying villain yet, in the form of the sinister Spindly Man – a kind of Babadook meets Pennywise the clown style super villain who terrorise children and monsters in equal measure! With artwork from the extremely talented Lyndon White giving the Spindy Man a terrifying arachnid quality, writers Mark Adams and Matt Warner continue to build the world of their heroine and have managed to create one of the most consistent and original female small press heroes around.
#24 Eternal (Black Mask Studios)
One of the first books on this list thanks to it’s January release, Ryan K Lindsay and Eric Zawadzki’s fantasy adventure evolved from a 20 page short into a highly ambitious 50 page graphic novel thanks to Zawadzki’s ambitious layouts and beautifully designed pages. The tale of a female sword maiden, her son and their battles with local tribes, this is career best work from both men, featuring some truly stunning set pieces and a cleverly conceived almost cyclical plot. A great example of artist and writer working in synergy to create something really exciting and different to their usual output, but ultimately achieving one of the best books that either have put out by the end of it all!
#23 Deadendia (Nobrow)
The latest from Pantheon’s Hamish Steele has the slick visuals of an Adult Swim animation, but the eclectic and inclusive cast of Lumberjanes. Norma and her best friend Barney work in an amusement arcade which also happens to be a gateway to hell. As well as managing the demonic residents,we follow Barney dealing with being trans, and their attempts to find their own identity, cope with family and also find love. While it may not have the crude belly laughs of Pantheon, Deadendia is a fantastically original and beautifully realised series that is the kind of book that when it finds it’s audience will create dedicated and passionate fans for life.
#22 The Times I Knew I Was Gay (Good Comics)
The most ambitious book from the team at Good Comics, this autobiographical tale from Ellie Crewes chronicles her journey of coming to terms with her sexuality. But rather than rely on some great expositionary moment it tells of the complexity and and dilemmas that this process involves which makes for a much more compelling and intimate read as a result. Chronicling her early life through to her coming out in the early 20s, it’s a beautifully poignant read that is made to feel even more intimate thanks to Ellie’s sketchbook style which makes it really feel like you are getting a glimpse into a very personal story as it reads like a diary or sketchbook. Her uses of full page imagery helps to pace the story to perfection and this is without doubt the best thing that Good Comics have released to date.
#21 Retrograde Orbit (Avery Hill Publishing)
A great example of how science fiction can be used to tell modern parables. Krystyna Baczynski ’s tale of a young alien girl living on a mining colony and yearning for her families home on the irradiated planet of Doma, is heart warming and poignant tale of searching for identity. Taking elements of Krystyna’s own experience as the daughter of a Ukrainian immigrant it mixes this emotive story of family and a search for belonging with slick industrial sci-fi styling and a beautiful sense of design and composition all rendered in a beautiful duotone colour palette. Released at the same time as On A Sunbeam and Follow Me In, this may well be Avery Hill’s most underrated release of the year, but one that is the most deserving of discovery.