It’s finally here, the best of the best. The Top 10 Indie Comics of 2019 as selected by the teams at Pipedream Comics and A Place To Hang Your Cape. We are joined by AP2HYC’s resident indie comics expert Fred MacNamarra to bring you our unique insights into why we have picked these 10 books.
Once you’ve read the top 10 it’s time for you to choose winner which you can do here:
The poll is open until midnight on December 26th 2019 so get voting today and spread the word!
The Black Iris (Sassafras Press)
Alex says: Gateway City’s Russell Olson created this book as part of last year’s Inktober event, but it developed into something much more. A wordless series of single page images based around a fictious movie. It is packed with a powerful heroine taking on Nazi robots and more, and is the perfect vehicle for Olson’s pulpy style. However it also has this really original feel to it thanks to the full page images structure, which is based on 30s and 40s movie picture books. It makes into something much more original than the usual pulp inspired books we read, and thanks to Olson’s masterful use of a brush and pen marks (as well as it’s oversized, A4 landscape format) it make this into a truly sumptuous and gorgeous read.
Read our full review of The Black Iris here
Cry Wolf Girl (Short Box Comics)
Fred says: It’s a challenge to pick a standout title from your average ShortBox collection, but Ariel Ries’ Cry Wolf Girl is a riotous blend of grief, paranoia and empathy. Drawn and coloured with a fierce confidence that wonderfully compliments the schizophrenic nature of heroine Dawa, Cry Wolf Girl is a comic where everything clicks into place and rattles along at breakneck speed. Ries’ spry and compact comic bursts with feverish flavour, but never forgets to tell a rich, coherent story.
Read the AP2HYC review here
Earworm (Rick Quinn)
Fred says: Moody, melancholic and meticulous, Earworm is a muted powerhouse of narrative and visual talent. Rick Quinn and Milton Lawson’s downbeat tale comments upon the toxic dangers of drowning in nostalgia, whilst Martyn Lorbiecki’s evocative art fuse together into an exquisite package of wistful horror. Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou’s lettering is the glue binding everything together, resulting in Earworm boasting a delicate yet gripping power.
Read AP2HYC’s review of Earworm here
Gun #6 (Reckless Eyeballs Press)
Alex Says: Jack Foster’s subversive super villain series has been a perennial favourite here at Pipedream thanks to it’s winning mix of post-modern capes and gorgeous painted artwork. It’s like Superior Foes of Spider-man meet Kingdom Come. However for this latest issue Foster took a break from the current Slaughterball arc (which sees villains compete in a cross country race with a bomb) and gives us a one off look into a moment from Trevor ‘Mr Twists’s past. Foster uses the concept of a villain with multiple personality disorder to bring us a strange and twisted romance, that works as a fantastic snapshot of the wonderful world he has created in Gun. It also features some of the most breath taking painted pages we have seen this year and is a stark reminder of how important it is for indie comics to keep that vibrancy and originality throughout their run.
Read our full review of Gun #6 here
The Legend of La Mariposa: The Demon Gauntlet
Alex says: It’s been a strong year for wrestling comics in 2019, but this new print collection of James Lawrences excellent webcomic is the true champion! Our heroine is an aspiring luchador (aka a masked Mexican wrestler) who wants to join up with the Sons of Justice a kind of superhero style luchador group but she is sent on an initiation mission to claim the masks of four powerful demon. This gives the series a quest like structure that allows La Mariposa to battle an increasingly diverse collection go villains as well as making each chapter feel like a self contained episide of a Saturday morning cartoon.. With that high energy tone exhibited on every page, it mixes colourful over the top characters with a delightful sense of humour to create a book that should appeal to more than just grappling fans, but anyone who like an action packed all ages adventure.
Read our full review of The Legend of La Mariposa here
MANU: Altiplano Volume 1 (Tacy Tintu Press)
Alex says: Set in a world of cyborg jaguars and deadly augmented assassins who do battle in the South American jungle, MANU is one of the most exciting and original series we have read all year. After the appetisers that were Trujillø and L1MA, Gustaffo Vargas expands his scope to this first long form story set in his stunning South American sci fi dystopia. With more time to build characters and develop his world, Vargas’ tale of an enigmatic loner who is hunted in her jungle retreat only for her secret past to be revealed is a frenetic, action packed delight, that would feel right at home in 2000 AD. It is also one which is under pinned by some strong character work and some stunningly original visuals. This is a true one of a kind comic from one of the most exciting Indie creators around.
Read our full review of MANU here.
The Plot (Vault Comics)
Alex Says: It’s been a stellar year for Vault Comics in 2019, with plenty of mentions in this rundown already (and plenty that we couldn’t quite squeeze in!), however The Plot is the best of the bunch. A pair of teenagers go and live with their uncle after the murder of their parents by a mysterious swamp thing like creature. Instead of going somewhere normal, they go to live in the creepy family house, which has plenty secrets to hide – from family secrets to creepy haunted basements. It’s a classic slice of creepy Gothic horror which feels like a lost Stephen King novel, yet is told with a super stylish Bronze Age style that makes it feel like a lost Vertigo book from the late 80s. Co-writers Tim Daniels and Michael Moreci brilliant tease mystery after mystery in this tense and intriguing series, while the vintage artwork makes it feel as dark and murky as it’s enigmatic villain. It took something really special to stand out from Vault’s incredible line-up this year, but The Plot manages to do that by creating a slice of timeless creepy horror.
Read our full review of The Plot here.
Sentient (TKO Studios)
Fred says: Jeff Lemire and Gabriel Walta’s emotionally-charged sci-fi epic is deeply textured in the personalities of its characters. A group of children forced to pilot a space vessel to safety across the treacherous unknown of space, with only a single A.I. to assist them, quickly blossoms to become a deftly character-driven story of grief, trust and danger. Walta’s supple shapes and colours latches onto Lemire’s tense story to superb effect. With Sentient, TKO continue to be a publisher of exceptional taste.
Read the AP2HYC’s review of Sentient here
Stand In Your Power (Rachael Smith)
Fred says: With Stand In Your Power, Rachael Smith has somehow delivered a collection of autobiographical comics that’s rawer, more heartfelt and funnier than her previous collection, Wired Up Wrong. Themed around a turbulent breakup, Rachael’s warm, pleasant artwork juxtaposes the often unflinching nature of her slice-of-life stories, as she guides us through the ups and downs of pulling yourself out of emotional despair. Stand In Your Power stands as a cathartic roar from one of indie comic’s brightest stars.
Read our review of Stand In Your Power here
XYZ (Iqbal A)
Fred says: Iqbal Ali’s output weaves together sci-fi, fantasy, detective, horror and more, but always with an emphasis on characters. His greatest strengths come into play in x, y, z, a comic that utilises racism and youthful isolation as a metaphor for some determinedly weird, otherworldly drama. Beautifully drawn by Aleksander Bozic, whose vigorous detailing cements x, y, z in a warped flavour of reality, Ali’s and his 2019 graphic novel is a muscular and fearsome character study.
Read AP2HYC’s review of x,y,z here