You think of Marvel and DC Comics when talking about comic books. They are the strongholds of the medium and they have created a lot of characters that have transcended the medium. However, there are a lot of series from the indie market that deserves as much fanfare.
In this article, we are going to talk about some of the best indie comic book series out there. Some are done, some are still going and all of them are great. So let’s begin.
Y: The Last Man
Writer Brian K. Vaughan is a man known for liking high and ambitious concepts, and this is something that comes in full force with Y: The Last Man. And there is an argument to be made that this is the man’s best work in his entire career.
Yorick is the last man on Earth after a mysterious virus has killed most of humanity, and he is off on a journey to find his missing girlfriend. His only company is his pet monkey, Ampersand, and as he travels through the many wastelands, he is going to discover a lot of dark truths about this new world.
Y: The Last Man is suspenseful, challenges a lot of traditional conventions, and, above all else, is a very good story.
The Walking Dead
Yes, the TV series has beaten this franchise to death and it probably overstayed its welcome, but that is doing The Walking Dead’s comic book series a disservice. Writer Robert Kirkman brought the zombie genre back to the fold and did so with a now-classic indie comic.
Rick Grimes and his merry band of misfits must travel and survive across a world that has been ravaged by zombies. The premise is as simple and straightforward as it gets, but the key lies in characterization, pacing, and knowing which spots to hit for a maximum emotional reaction.
Also, props to Kirkman for ending the series with a very sudden issue instead of milking it to death.
Hellboy is another series that has become a classic of the medium and Mike Mignola’s crowning achievement in comics. This series has had movie adaptations, video games, and spin-offs, so it’s safe to say that it has accomplished a lot over the years.
The story is quite simple, actually: Hellboy, the titular character, and his group of friends protect the world from supernatural threats. This series, much like The Walking Dead, relies on strong characterization and also has an element of horror that makes it stand out from conventional superheroes or antihero comics.
Mike Mignola no longer draws the series but still writes it and the quality has remained to this very day.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (the original Eastman/Laird run)
The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are no longer an indie series, but they once were and were the best in the game. There’s no indie comic series that has been more successful than Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird’s creation.
Everybody knows the story of Leonardo, Michelangelo, Donatello and Raphael, four mutant turtles that use their ninja skills to fight evil in New York City. The original comic book run is a lot darker than what people used to the movies and shows might be used to, with a lot more violence, but the story is of very high quality and it gets better as time goes.
This is the pure essence of indie comics, starting out as a Daredevil parody, and fully becoming a worldwide franchise.
Legendary artist Todd McFarlane’s creation is not on this list due to storytelling merits, but rather because of world-class art and the fact that it represents the freedom and ambition of indie comics. McFarlane broke free of Marvel’s reign and, in the early 90s, during the height of his popularity, along with six other world-class artists, founded Image Comics and created Spawn.
Al Simmons is a former military agent that was killed in a rigged job and was sentenced to hell. He desired to see his wife once again and sold his soul to the devil, gaining the powers and image of the Hellspawn, kickstarting a journey of revenge, fighting, and darkness.
Spawn is not always consistent, but it’s fun, the art by McFarlane and the several artists he works with is always great, and there is a genuine desire to create an entire world.
The second series to feature author Brian K. Vaughan and there is no denying that his Saga series, published by Image Comics, is one of the best indie series of all time.
Everybody always says that comics are not just superhero stuff and Saga proves this point. It is a sci-fi epic that explores the love between Marko and Alana, two soldiers from opposite sides of a war who fell in love in the process. This results in them getting chased by their respective governments and the events of Saga begin.
Saga is a world-class story, filled with twists and turns, and definitely one to check out.
This one is in a gray area because Astro City has been all over the place in terms of publishers, but the first volume was published by Image Comics, so it started out as an indie comic.
Regardless, writer Kurt Busiek is an expert when it comes to writing superhero stories and Astro City is a love letter to the concept. It’s structured as an anthology and every story is centered around a superhero from the titular city, offering insight into the world that Busiek has created and adding a bit of tongue-in-cheek humor to the world of superheroes.
Astro City is one of those all-time classics of the superhero genre in comics and probably Kurt Busiek’s best work as a comic book writer. This is one of those indie series you cannot pass on if you are the kind of person that loves superhero stories.
There are a lot more great indie comics out there, but these are some of the finest. Do you have any other that we missed out on? Drop a comment below and let us know.