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Started from the bottom: The rise of the indie comic book

August 21st, 2013 by Jake Tanner Comments

‘This is how an idea becomes real, but ideas are fragile things. Most don’t live long outside the ether from which they are pulled, kicking and screaming. That’s why people create with someone else. Two minds can sometimes improve an idea’s survival…but there are no guarantees.’


I’ve done a few of these pieces now and it seems like I’m always writing about the negative things in comics. Truth is, for all the negatives, right now is one of the best times ever to start reading. With universes rebooted and new #1’s rolling out almost weekly, it’s easier than ever to jump in to new stories, but unlike 50 years ago, the best books being put out aren’t about saving the world or damsels in distress. The best books being put out today don’t even have a Marvel or a DC stamp on them. I think the best, most diverse books on the shelves today come from our indie publishers like Image or Dark Horse.

Let’s look at Image Comics. Image was an ambitious idea that started with the dreams of a large group of big name creators like Robert Kirkman (The Walking Dead), Todd McFarlane (Spawn), and Jim Lee (WildC.A.T.S.). That dream? To make the comics and characters that THEY wanted to make without giving up the rights to those ideas to the ‘big two’ publishers. Luckily for us, the idea took off and gave us some of the best, Eisner winning stories that are on the market today! (Like Saga)

Now, let me say I absolutely love super hero books. I grew up reading them and not only do I still read them, but a vast majority of my pull list consists of them. For today though, I’d like to look in-depth at all the amazing things our indie publishers are doing in today’s market.

Robert Kirkman did it his way.

Image is on an incredible hot streak right now and shows absolutely no sign of slowing down. The biggest reason for their success? They’re letting creators do what they do best, CREATE. When Image gave Robert Kirkman the freedom to tell the story he wanted, the pop culture phenomenon also known as The Walking Dead was born. The success of that book alone spawned the mega-hit TV show, but also started the boom of top-notch releases like Saga, Ten Grand, and Locke & Key. Not only are these titles fantastic to read, but also some of them are being adapted into TV shows and movies of their own! While the sales are great, I think the most important thing that this started is simple: you don’t need to slap a big name character on a cover to sell books. The results speak for themselves; we’ve been given some of the best stories in literature to read.

All good things come with a price; thankfully for us the price of these amazing stories doesn’t hit us hard in our wallets. Companies like Image offer affordable books and TRADES. When I want to jump on to a new series from Marvel or DC, I’m always hesitant because there are little to no savings in buying their trades at $20 or more a piece and they take forever to come out. Image on the other hand offers most of their first trades at around $10 and they come out pretty quickly. For me the choice is easy!

This is the start of something special. The more we support our indie creators and publishers, (not just companies like Image or Dark Horse, but the guy selling his own book at a booth at local comic cons) the more doors it will open for the little guy that has a dream of releasing his own stories for the world to read. The little guy deserves a fighting chance, and there are more of them than most of us are probably aware of. So go to your LCS, a local con, or even on the Internet and support indie comic books. They do great things for the medium and they give us amazing adventures to go on. I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comment section, or if you have your own ideas or books you’d like to get out to the world! Feel free to post a link to it!


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I'm 25 years old and I'm hugely passionate about comic books and I also LOVE gaming. The birth of my daughter, Abby, rekindled my passion for comic book stories. I grew up on them and I want nothing more than to share that passion with her! I'm a pretty typical guy, I love sports. (NHL-Blackhawks, NBA-Lakers, MLB-Cubs, and NFL-Daaaa Bears!). I've been writing for a pretty big portion of my life, and I've been nominated for multiple awards for some of the poetry I’ve written! Happy reading and follow me on Twitter @xJatmanx.

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