We continue our rundown of the best indie and small press comics of 2018 ahead of our indie comic of the year 2018 with a supernatural murder mystery, a sit com in a time travel company, roller blading couriers, Celtic bog monsters, the worlds baldest man and a man shaped worm – or is it a worm shaped man?!
#40 Murder Most Mundane (Mad Robot Comics)
This murder mystery from Mad Robot Comics leans heavily on classic British crime from Agatha Christie to vintage horror like Wicker Man while having that sense of Hot Fuzz post modern parody. It’s played pretty straight throughout though and while writer Matt Hardy follows a very established whodunnit path it allows artist Clark Bint to really cut loose with the gore and more extreme moments. It also marks the continuing rise in quality from this Brighton based publishing house and if you love this then be sure to check out the excellent Cadavers anthology which is coming in 2019.
#39 Out Of Time (Markosa Enterprises)
Luke Halsall and Cuttlefish’s quirky time travel sit com comic gets another chance at greatness thanks to a new collected edition being released by Markosia (complete with the elusive 3rd issue – which is actually issue #4) The adventures of manic depressive Redmond, wannabe pop star Lizzie and NC-1000 aka Nigel who thinks he’s a robot mix the workplace humour of The Office with the time wimey weirdness of the best Dr Who or Quantum Leap. With some sublime and stylish visuals from the brilliantly monickered Cuttelfish, Out Of Time is as laugh out loud funny as it is beautiful to look at and the guys revel in the time travel elements to create a quirky and topsy turvy tale that manages to balance outlandish ideas and self referentialism to absolute perfection.
#38 Tumult (SelfMadeHero)
John Harris Denning and Michael Kennedy’s super hip tale sees a troubled movie director have his world collapse around him only to form a relationship with a mysterious girl who he meets at a party. But is this elusive lady all she seems as we learn she not only has multiple personalties, but that she may also be an assassin and part of a secret government conspiracy. Tumult is a tense Hitchcockian thriller, with super cool indie movie visuals and a complex and engaging plot, that features a truly unique femme fatale at it’s centre. A chaotic and challenging read with some cooler than cool visuals, it definitely lives up to it’s disorientating title.`
#37 Grind (Joe Palmer)
This tale of rival roller-skate riding couriers in the future is a high energy one shot from the brilliant Joe Palmer. When Tony and Joy go head to head to in order to deliver a package the quickest, things get a bit out of hand as they each try to outdo each other. But what makes this even more interesting is that one is a human and one is a robot. Palmer gives us the kind of high energy sci-fi that this kind of story deserves, while mixing snappy dialogue with super slick artwork to make this into a real gem of a read.
With the bargain price of just £1 then you’d be a fool to miss this delivery!
#36 The Bog Road
Barry Keagan’s Celtic infused graphic novel reads like a lost Vertigo title from the early 1990s – especially with it’s tangled and twisted, Swamp Thing evoking cover. It’s tale of bog creatures on a mysterious road in darkest Ireland and their interactions with humans, starts off as a fairly familiar slice of Celtic folklore featuring humans vs. monsters, but evolves into a mix of classic Neil Gaiman and Guillermo Del Toro’s Hellboy 2 with it’s mix of the supernatural folk and fairytales. It’s all underpinned with a strong Celtic undercurrent, and a grimy brown and green colour scheme. Keagan pulls double duty on both writing and art duties and the artwork is expressive, full of life and another great example of the exciting Irish comic scene in action.
35. I Feel Machine (SelfMadeHero)
This anthology from SelfMadeHero features one of the most exciting creator line-ups we’ve seen all year. Editor Julian Hanshaw and Krent Able (who also supply stories themselves) have assembled an A-list of innovative and exciting creators to examine the darker side of technology. With exclusive work from the likes of Box Brown, Tillie Walden, Erik Svetoft, and a show stealing story from the incredible Shaun Tan, the stories range is style and tone to create a really eclectic read. While each story is given enough room to breathe and so each creator really has a chance to say something of substance. When combined with the ambitious and eclectic ways they present the subject matter it makes for one of the most exciting and thought provoking anthologies we have seen this year and a fantastic showcase for these exciting creators.
#34. Bald (John Tucker Comics)
This year was our first introduction to the wacky world of John Tucker and so choosing which of his excellent books to include. We opted for the first book we read, which was Bald, and introduced us to the baldest man in the world – so bald in fact that thanks to a super follicle he goes double bald and you can see his brain through his skulls Tucker’s quirky cartooning style matches up perfectly with a very strange and sarcastic sense of humour makes his books utterly unique, and also utterly bizarre – but in the best possible way. If you like what you read in Bald then be sure to check out his fantastic mini comic Adrift, about what happened when the world stopped having gravity.
Purchase Bald for £3 and Adrift for £2 from John’s Online Store
#33 Left (Blurred Line Comics)
This tale of a young woman who escapes from a sinister Scottish cult who revere logic over artistic expression may sound like a very heavy read. And while it isn’t a laugh a minute it is given this really delicate touch thanks to the smart writing and subtle cartoonish artwork of creator Steven Ingram. With a slow building plot that sees our heroine Samatha learning to deal with life outside the cult she grew up in, before returning in order to get closure and stop the leader from trying to bring her back by force it is a really engrossing read. As well as looking at the perils of religious indoctrination, it also looks at the positive powers of creativity vs. cold hard logic. What makes it such a strong read is that never resorts to sensational moments or outrageous statements to do this. Instead it has a real quietness and eloquence to the story telling which makes for a very subtle and affecting read that deserves to not be left behind.
#32 Lady Hollywood (Cult Empire Comics)
It’s been a breakout year for artist Russell Olson and his work on this slice of 80s crime noir is every bit as accomplished as his work on the wonderful Gateway City (more of which later!). Teaming up with Cult Empire’s George Lennox to create the story of a female private investigator and honey trap expert who gets drawn into the world of a sleazy Hollywood producer, Lady Hollwyood has the style and panache of a Brubaker/Philips book but the neon visuals of a Michael Mann movie. The only reason this book isn’t higher on the list is that we only got to read one issue this year, but this is definitely one to watch in 2019! And so is Russell, who we expect even bigger and better things from in the coming year.
#31 Smedley/Not Your Cuppa Tea (Todd Oliver)
From the pages of his brilliantly bonkers anthology Boxes comes Smedley, the adventures of a worm shaped man (not a worm shaped like a man). As he struggles to keep a job and cope with the realities of life, we are treated to the familiar crazy scenarios that Oliver revels in, and sees Smedley get caught up in increasingly outrageous scenarios. As a break from this longer form books, Todd also released Not Your Cuppa Tea a collection of short strips which he published on social media and sees him return to his more experimental style of Boxes (and also include a lot of nose picking jokes). So if you like your humour, quirky, strange and border line offensive, then you will love both these books.