Having just read Peter Panzerfaust #11 and being pleasantly surprised with the quality of this title, I thought I’d write this blog on some of my musings on mainstream and Indie comics. I suppose I should start by defining mainstream as the Big Two comic companies, DC and Marvel and Indie comics as all other comic book companies such as Image, IDW, Dark Horse etc. Although I’m writing about indie comics, I’m definitely not an expert on them, that’s for certain. My expertise, and preference is, for now, with the Big Two due to their iconic characters and familiar creative teams. Thus, my desire to step outside into the realm of indie comics brings with it an unfamiliarity to it and for me, that’s a big appeal in my taking an interest in indie comics.
I was first exposed to the wider world of comic books upon joining this site although I had read a Dark Horse Star Wars graphic novel in the past. I can only remember a Qui Gonn Jinn/Obi Wan Kenobi story from that graphic novel but thinking of it reminds me of the biggest strength of the expanded universe. Much like the Big Two, the original films conformed to certain standards in telling their story. The original trilogy was fine with this and remains my second favourite film franchise of all time after Lord of the Rings (I wonder if there are any Lord of the Rings comic books) But the prequels, not so much. Fortunately, the best thing about the prequels was that they spawned many other stories from writers and artists who wanted to add their own nugget of history to the fictional world they adored as much as the fans. Hence, Star Wars fans received many more stories that fleshed out the prequel characters and gave them far more depth than George Lucas could even dream to accomplish. Indeed, many Expanded Universe stories have been suggested and offered up as candidates for what Disney should base their next Star Wars films on. Whether they’ll do that is debatable. But in any case, the rich history of the EU has increased the appeal of the Star Wars universe by either using familiar characters in different settings or crafting new characters from different points in the chronology of Star Wars using elements familiar to the franchise. Dark Horse has done an exceptional job delivering quality Star Wars stories and it’s a shame they’ll lose the rights to Marvel eventually.
Of course, I’ve gone off topic from the comic that spawned this blog. Peter Panzerfaust #11 was an impulse buy after Green Lantern #21 and Batman #21 disappointed me greatly. I figured I should dip my toes in the other comic book pool and browsed for any titles that interested me. June’s issue of Peter Panzerfaust solicited it as a jump on point and after a bit of research, I decided to pick it up. It offered a novel take on JM Barrie’s classic fairy tale as placing Peter Pan and his supporting cast into a World War II setting seems a bit of an odd idea. Yet I hear the series retains the classic boys adventure theme of the original tale whilst mixing it with wartime and modern sensibilities. I have to admit that reading this issue, I felt a totally different story being told than what I’m used to with the Big Two. June’s pull list for me so far has included Superman rescuing a falling space station, 3 different versions of Thor battling the God Butcher and Hulk attempting to stop a supervillain weapons arms exchange. Yet this issue of Peter Panzerfaust started with a 6 page speechless scenario of Felix, a character rescued by Peter and the ‘Lost Boys’, hunting a deer and killing a wolf. The sequence was excellently rendered and structured by Kurtis J Wiebe and Tyler Jenkins that it does not need the expositional thought boxes or bubbles that the Big Two love to use. Rather, they opt for a simple playing out of events that depicts the grim, brutal battle for survival and when paired with a scene with Felix later on, speaks a great deal about the character. There’s much more I could express about what was so good about this issue but that would take too long. Suffice to say, it was a good introduction to my first Image comic and I’m buying next month’s issue. The one after that, there’ll be problems.
But Peter Panzerfaust is not the first indie title I’ve been reading. Thanks to the venerable suggestion of Gregg Katzman, since August 2012, I’ve been reading IDW’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series. After Lord of the Rings and Star Wars, the TMNT are my favourite non DC or Marvel fictional franchise. My favourite interpretation of the Turtles is the 2003 series. It was my first introduction to the TMNT and for me, defined the Turtles and their supporting cast. With the exception of Splinter, I hear the voices of the 2003 cast when I read that series. And it was because I watched the 2003 series that I decided to pick this title up. And boy am I glad I did. Kevin Eastman and Tom Waltz deliver a fresh story each issue that introduces some new element and blends it seamlessly with the rich lore of the TMNT. The characters feel the same yet have same different tweak to them that adds to the uniqueness of the series. And the situations and challenges they go up against in these stories are a real testament to the creativity of the team involved on this project. It’s been a real treat following this series and City Fall is shaping up to be one helluva story using threads and plot points from many different TMNT stories so far. It’s the personal touches only allowed on a creator owned project close to the author’s heart where you get quality comics like this in the Indie realm.
I’ve barely scratched the surface of the comic book world outside the Big Two after all. There are many more companies besides the bigger ones (10 Internet points to anyone who’s heard of the company called Markosia) and many more undiscovered creators and stories. It’s a shame that due to university, I have to cut my already meagre pull list down from 8 titles to 4 must read DC and Marvel titles. It does mean TMNT will bite the dust though I’ll ask for the last two parts of City Fall for Christmas and keep up to date with the IDW Turtles until the summer when I’ll pick it up again. Ultimately, this is the best thing about an indie comic, when it grabs your attention and interest in much the same way a comic from the Big Two does. I doubt I've really revolutionised the way we look at indie and mainstream comics but I hoped you liked reading my blog on my thoughts on the two divergences in comics. Feel free to comment below on what you thought and what your interest in mainstream and indie comics is :)