Help me start reading indie comics again
October 8, 2014 8:29 AM   Subscribe

I used to read a lot of indie comics, starting in college and during my first marriage (both a looong time ago), but I stopped. Now I'd like to start again, but have no idea where to pick up and I'm looking for suggestions.

I used to really enjoy reading comics, although not so much Marvel and DC stuff -- more the indie ones. Among the ones I used to read: Cerebus, Milk and Cheese, Hate, Naughty Bits, Palookaville, Peep Show, Bone, Eightball, Groo. I guess that gives a pretty good idea, right? (Looking at that list, I see that I lean toward dark comedies.) I didn't stop for any particular reason -- just had other priorities, I guess. But I'd like to pick up again and have absolutely no idea where to begin. I've browsed Comixology and it's just kind of overwhelming.

So what indie or alternative comics would MeFites suggest that I look at now? I don't really have any general subject matter I wouldn't consider or that I'd reject out of hand, although being able to support women artists would be a plus. (I also read both French and German, so anything in either of those languages would be ok.)
posted by holborne to Media & Arts (16 answers total) 44 users marked this as a favorite
Check out Heck, by Zander Cannon, or really, anything by him.
posted by umbú at 8:33 AM on October 8, 2014

Usagi Yojimbo is a comic by Stan Sakai, who did the lettering for Groo. It's about a ronin rabbit in the period just after the founding of the Tokugawa Shogunate. Sakai has been doing it for 25 years and shows no sign of stopping any time soon, so there's a lot of history there.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 8:41 AM on October 8, 2014

Sex Criminals by Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky is consistently great. A man and a woman who can stop time when they orgasm meet and decide to become bank robbers.

Saga by Brian K Vaughan and Fiona Staples is probably the comic that I look forward to most month to month. Massive sprawling Romeo and Juliet space opera story.

The Wicked + The Divine by Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie. Every 90 years, 12 gods inhabit teenager's bodies. Within 2 years, they'll be dead.

Lumberjanes by Grace Ellis, Noelle Stevenson and Brooke Allen. Supernatural hijinks at a girl scout camp. (Also check out Nimona by Noelle Stevenson, a webcomic that just wrapped up.

Pretty Deadly by Kelly Sue DeConnick and Emma Rios. Death's daughter rides around the old west and takes revenge.
posted by hobgadling at 8:48 AM on October 8, 2014 [6 favorites]

The new Best American Comics volume just came out and it's a pretty good primer, honestly, for where comics are right now. It may be a good starting point for you if you're wanting to get back into comics. (Also check out Bill Kartalopoulos' long list of notable comics and I suppose the necessarily disclaimer that Bill K. and I work on SPX together).

Simon Hanselmann's Megahex may hit some of your dark comedy buttons.

My list of best comics by women from this year are:
Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? by Roz Chast
How to Be Happy by Eleanor Davis (this may be out of print already?)
Operation Margarine by Katie Skelly
Over Easy by Mimi Pond
This One Summer by Jillian Tamaki and Mariko Tamaki
Through the Woods by Emily Carroll

Ulli Lust's Today is the Last Day of the Rest of Your Life is also amazing if you can find it (it's currently out of print). Nicole Georges' Calling Dr. Laura is likewise great.

New York has enough small press shows (check out Comic Arts Brooklyn next month) and that can give you a good idea of what's new and different.
posted by darksong at 8:50 AM on October 8, 2014 [6 favorites]

It's been several years since I've attended but the Small Press Expo (SPX) in Bethesda MD, outside of Washington DC, was a great way for me to discover weird new comics. Maybe check out their exhibitor list, tumblr, or see who has won the Ignatz Award in recent years.
posted by Wretch729 at 8:54 AM on October 8, 2014 [2 favorites]

Jeff Smith (author of Bone) is currently serializing Tuki online.

Not Marvel or DC, but still bigger, would be Preacher which is dark and humorous and Y: The Last Man. (Both by Vertigo, which I think is owned by DC.) (Read Preacher first as Y has a little joke in it that refers to Preacher.) And another by Vertigo which my husband and I have been following for a while is Fables.

Have you read Nimona yet?(on preview, mentioned above) Basewood came out this past year and is absolutely GORGEOUS. Saga, also mentioned above, is on my list to read, too!

Some Japanese manga I'm reading include the super amazing 20th Century Boys and now Monster.
posted by jillithd at 9:06 AM on October 8, 2014

A good place to start in terms of general browsing would be the Ignatz Award winners and nominees.

I'm covering a WIDE variety of genres and styles, but here are some women artists who've been doing interesting stuff in the indie scene recently(isn):

Emily Carrol
Abby Howard
Cathy G. Johnson
Sophie Goldstein
(and many many other artists who contribute to/are affiliated with Study Group)
Carey Pietsch
Brittney Sabo
Blue Delliquanti
Molly Ostertag
Meredith Gran
Lucy Knisely
EK Weaver
Jen Manly Lee
Dylan Meconis
Shing Yin Khor
Ashley Cope
Ursula Vernon
Sara Goetter

If you're all right with creator-owned graphic novels by largish print publishers, awesome women comics artists/writers to watch out for include:
Faith Erin Hicks
Raina Telgemeier
MK Reed
Carla Speed McNeil

Of course I'm forgetting a billion people, but that's a place to start, anyway!
posted by Narrative Priorities at 9:08 AM on October 8, 2014 [5 favorites]

Also enthusiastically seconding everything darksong just said, she knows what she's talking about.
posted by Narrative Priorities at 9:10 AM on October 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

MoCCA would probably be the most convenient indie-centric show for you, but if you don't want to wait that long and feel like a trip down to Philly, I've heard good things about the Locust Moon Fest -- takes place on October 25th. (I'll be exhibiting there for the first time, actually, as my friends have all talked it up so much!)
posted by Narrative Priorities at 10:05 AM on October 8, 2014

The Carter Family: Don't Forget This Song by David Lasky and Frank Young, 2013 Eisner Award winner.
posted by matildaben at 10:08 AM on October 8, 2014

I'd also highly recommend attending Comics Arts Brooklyn in November. Be sure to go on Saturday for sales as Sunday is all programming. It's a great show and many of my favorite indy artists are well-represented there.

In addition to some of the great suggestions above (esp Darksong's), I'd add Beautiful Darkness.
posted by quince at 11:37 AM on October 8, 2014 [2 favorites]

You are in luck because there is so much good stuff in indie comics now. Go to a comics show, but also go to people's websites and click through their lists of comix-friends.

Seconding all the stuff mentioned above, and it's worth paging through some related tags on Mefi for web comics stuff. Offhand, since you read French, definitely check out Boulet. Also, you might try John Allison (that's a link to his series Bad Machinery, but he has several great serieses, funny supernatural mysteries).
posted by LobsterMitten at 1:52 PM on October 8, 2014

If you had any interest in women writing more (auto)biographical works, I'd suggest Alison Bechdel and Gabrielle Bell.
posted by bevedog at 3:35 PM on October 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks for all the great answers, everyone! I have a lot to start with. Special thanks to those pointing me toward Comics Arts Brooklyn, which is now definitely on my calendar in November.
posted by holborne at 12:45 PM on October 9, 2014 [2 favorites]

If you like lady-made comics and Groo, you should definitely check out Katie Rice's Skadi, which is about a barbarian girl on a quest to "eat the flesh of every beast". She's also doing Camp Weedonwantcha, which is basically 'Lord of the Flies' as a comedy.

Also I do one called Decrypting Rita, about a robot lady dragged out of reality by her ex-boyfriend. Not sure it's up your alley but what the hey.
posted by egypturnash at 1:42 PM on October 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

Also worth checking out Shadowline's offerings, as well as anything by Colleen Doran.
posted by culfinglin at 1:24 PM on October 13, 2014

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