25 Reasons Why Small Press and Independents Are Worth The Extra Money (And A Few Suggestions For The Future)

A column article, Comics Bulletin Soapbox by: Charles Satterlee

Let's face it; it is really tough to give up your hard earned money to buy something other than your DC or Marvel favorites. Other than those who strive to find the next great read, no matter who published it, the indy comics really survive through word of mouth and grass roots skill in marketing... and oh yeah, awesome storytelling skills.

This is my list of 25 indy comics that should, at the very least, be given a chance. This is in no order as I am equally fond of them all.

1.) Atomika (Speakeasy Comics)
God is Red! That's for sure in this series from Speakeasy Comics. Sal Abbinanti has a sort-of love it or hate it art style. (I think you can guess where I stand.) Andrew Dabb, the series' writer has spun a tale complete with it's own Bible, it seems. If you want to read a good story and take a chance on a non-conventional artist, Atomika is a great read.


2.) Hero Camp (Image Comics)
It's so simple, it's brilliant! A summer camp for super powered teenagers! This is classic greatness. When I read the first issue, I was teleported back to what it felt like to read a comic as a kid again. This series is just plain fun.


3.) The Goon (Dark Horse Comics)
The Goon is a book that jumps out at you. It is fairly well established, but you can catch up on by buying Eric Powell's TPBs. That's how I caught up. This book is written and drawn by a guy who knows his pop-culture history and calls upon that knowledge on every page. The Goon, you can find him down at the end of Lonely Street.


4.) Grimjack (IDW)
Grimjack is back. This guy (next to the aforementioned Goon) must be the ugliest hero in comics. But that doesn't stop him from getting the ladies. Seriously, it was awesome to see John Ostrander and Timothy Truman's creation come back to life. They started it at First Comics and now find themselves at another indy publisher making big waves...IDW. Grimjack: Killer Instinct is a welcome addition to my reading.


5.) Jon Sable Freelance (IDW)
Here's a stroll down memory lane and past First Comics titles. Mike Grell's classic story about the freelance detective and his alter-ego, children's book author, is just awesome to see back. Kudos to IDW for bringing these two great titles back to life.


6.) Owly (Top Shelf)
Stop what you're doing right now and go out and buy Owly for your kids. But hold on a sec...you should read it first! This is one great title and it is a breath of fresh air.


7.) Beowulf (Speakeasy Comics)
Written by Brian Augustyn, this title brings the classic poem about the great hero, Beowulf, to comics. Beowulf now goes by simply, Wolf. He lives in Manhattan and knows something big is brewing in the big city.


8.) Powers (Ikon)
Okay, IKON is really Marvel. We all know this, but I can't omit Powers from this list. It was with Image so long that you can't deny it its indy beginnings. Powers is literally my favorite title in the past ten years.


9.) Ellium (Genome Studios...soon to be Speakeasy)
Ellium is written and illustrated by Jason Moser, who has been battling in the cons and online with his tiny (128 pages) graphic novel. Ellium has just been picked up by Speakeasy Comics and will be coming out in a number of months in full color. Check it out if you see Jason at a con or visit his website.


10.) The New West (Black Bull)
I love Palmiotti and Gray. This series is no exception.


11.) Shaolin Cowboy (Burlyman)
Buy this series if not because it is freakin' Geoff Darrow, then for something like an eight page spread of dead people. It is the comic equivalent to that scene in Goodfellas where the camera continually follows Ray Liotta through the kitchen and out into the dining room and stage area. Seriously, it is a cool book.


12.) Doc Frankenstein (Burlyman)
Okay, ponder this...The Frankenstein Monster lives. He is immortal. He gets smart. He gets followers. He is hated by the conservative right. You know what? Just go read this. It is one of the best books published in the last twelve months.


13.) Wyatt Earp (Moonstone)
This is a great Western scribed by Chuck Dixon. Definitely try this if you even remotely like Westerns.


14.) The Walking Dead (Image)
Absolutely my favorite book from the past couple years. Kirkman is spinning a grand tale that I seriously get excited about when I see it pulled out for me by my retailer. There are three trade paperbacks to catch up.


15.) Invincible (Image)
Kirkman is king lately. Invincible is awesome. Between this title and Hero Camp, it looks as if Image has a lock on the teen superhero book.


16.) Hellboy (Dark Horse)
Do I need to say anything about Hellboy? Come on.


17.) Battlehymn (Image)
B. Clay Moore's WWII story is very, very cool. There is still time to jump on this series. Try to seek out and find issues one and two. Don't wait for the trade. Waiting for the trade, while cheaper, is like cheating to me. Comics is just about the last safe-haven for the classic cliffhanger and this book is classic!


18.) The Grimoire (Speakeasy Comics)
A talking raccoon? A magic carpet? A special book of spells? Evil vs. Good? Secret societies? Do I really need to go on? This is a great read and great fun.


19.) Deal With The Devil (Alias)
I am a big fan of Sherwin Schwartzrock, and he doesn't disappoint here. This is a creepy tale so far. There are still plenty of the first issue on stands as it was part of the $.75 roll out from Alias.


20.) Strangehaven (Abiogenesis Press)
I first read this title when I visited the UKCAC in London a number of years ago. This title simply knocks me out.


21.) Stray Bullets (El Capitan)
David Lapham's crime comic is right in my top five of favorite, long-running, indy series.


22.) Strangers In Paradise (Abstract Studios)
Speaking of great long-running indy books...Terry Moore's wonderful title is on issue #75!


23.) Lions, Tigers & Bears (Image)
The absolute best all ages book out there. I'd love to see LT&B get a movie deal!


24.) Michael Chabon Presents The Amazing Adventures of the Escapist (Dark Horse)
First, go read the book, The Amazing Adventures of Cavalier & Clay, and then start reading these books. They are just awesome and have some of the industry's best talent in every issue.


25.) The Silencers (Image)
This used to be a Moonstone title, but the creators made the move to Image. What more do you want than the Mob and superheroes?



Now here is a list of 10 titles to watch for:

1 & 2.) Look, this is a soapbox. I'm not a journalist. I don't have to be impartial. So, the first two on my list of what to watch out for are my own Speakeasy Comics titles. Of Bitter Souls and Smoke & Mirror are very cool if I do say so myself. Check them out at www.speakeasycomics.com and www.relativecomics.com.

3.) The Mercury Chronicles (Speakeasy Comics)
Vito DeLsante and Mike Lilly are creating an awesome tale that can not be pigeon holed into one genre. This series starts in October, so don't forget to order it!

4.) Armorquest (Alias)
This book is one that Sherwin Schwartzrock is very proud of.

5.) Buckaroo Banzai (Moonstone)
This is a cult-movie that promises to be a great read.

6.) The Hunger (Speakeasy Comics)
This one has a new take on Zombies.

7.) Dead Men Don't Tell Tales
As I am doing most of this out of memory, I can't recall the publisher on this book. I love pirates, and from the preview art I have seen on this, it looks beautiful!

8.) Mutation (Speakeasy Comics)
I know what you're saying...another Speakeasy book? But what do you want from me? I'm a Speakeasy Creator, and I truly believe they are putting out some great books! Ethan Beavers and George T. Singley have a great looking book.

9.) Hero @ Large (Speakeasy Comics)
I can only describe this book as Astro City on acid drawn by Dave McKeon and Sam Keith's love child.

10.) Rocketo (Speakeasy again)
Just wait 'till you see these pages.

That's all folks. These are my opinions and recommendations. I'm sure I left out deserving books, and I'll feel like crap later, but this is my list and I'm stickin' to it. (Except that you should also check out Parting Ways and Ravenous from...you guessed it...Speakeasy!)

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