Some of my musings on mainstream and indie comics

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 :)

40 Comments
40 Comments
Edited by TheAcidSkull

Awesome Blog

Marvel And DC are abusing their Polarity and produce mediocre stories. Sure there are a few Good and awesome titles of which i enjoy the heck out of, but the Number of Bads and Good are much different at different companies. though They are also Guilty of ruining good series.

Edited by Lvenger

@theacidskull: Couldn't agree more. Although most of my pull list is DC and Marvel, I've cherry picked the good and awesome titles they're producing with my favourite characters but the bad and mediocre is widespread too.

Posted by TheAcidSkull

@lvenger said:

@theacidskull: Couldn't agree more. Although most of my pull list is DC and Marvel, I've cherry picked the good and awesome titles they're producing with my favourite characters but the bad and mediocre is widespread too.

Me too, i'm stuck picking up the mediocre ones as well due to some of my characters. Though i love some Image titles, i'm sad that One of my favorites series eventually got screwed over, but the portion of bad is low over at the other companies.

Posted by Jonny_Anonymous

Posted by Lvenger

@theacidskull: Indeed. Despite the low sales, the critical reception at the other companies is more evenly distributed than at the Big Two.

@jonny_anonymous: I guess with Palpatine approving my transition to the Indie side, I'm all set lol.

Edited by TheAcidSkull

@lvenger said:

@theacidskull: Indeed. Despite the low sales, the critical reception at the other companies is more evenly distributed than at the Big Two.

@jonny_anonymous: I guess with Palpatine approving my transition to the Indie side, I'm all set lol.

Unfortunately.

Posted by Jonny_Anonymous
Edited by Lvenger
Posted by Jonny_Anonymous
Posted by Lvenger
Posted by ccraft

dropping TMNT? nooooooooooo! :P

Posted by Lvenger

@ccraft: I have to. Uni will leave me less time for comics.

Posted by Lvenger

@jonny_anonymous: By the way, how many indie comics do you read? More than the mainstream ones? I ask because you're one of the people I'd consider asking for indie titles to pick up outside my own limited experience.

Posted by Jonny_Anonymous

@lvenger: Currently I don't read any DC/Marvel books

Posted by laflux

Most of my pull-list is either Valiant or Image now, though I don't exactly see Image as Indie anymore. Good Article :)

Posted by Lvenger

@laflux: Thanks, I was just broadening the term indie to include anything that's not DC or Marvel. I can see how Image has become a titan of the industry in its own right.

Posted by MysteriousUsername

Indie is always the way to go man, sure you lose the icon status of the characters but you usually gain in quality and the concepts tend to be more interesting.

Posted by Billy Batson

You could start picking up TMNT as trades if you can.

BB

Posted by Lvenger

@mysterioususername: That's what I'm starting to see. Sure the Big Two will always have a special place but if things change too much, indie titles are at least there to compensate

@billy_batson Good idea. I might just do that after City Fall finishes.

Posted by Billy Batson

IDW releases the trades pretty quickly too.

I'll try to convert you to the indie side some more... I think you'd really love Astro City. It's an old title and it's back again after its hiatus.

The first issue is up free on comixology and it features Busiek's Superman homage to Superman, Samaritan. It's fantastic.

BB

Posted by MysteriousUsername

@lvenger: Also there's plenty of free indie titles and that always helps. :V

*Insert mandatory plugs for webcomics here*

Edited by Lvenger
Posted by MysteriousUsername

@lvenger: I have all the webcomics to plug.
But Rice Boy is my go to comic for such things.

Edited by Lvenger
Posted by MysteriousUsername

@lvenger: No problem, I'm probably the person you heard about it from. XD

(This is Decoy on an alt because my main is having issues)

Edited by Lvenger
Posted by MysteriousUsername

@lvenger: Good, I got a new computer, which doesn't have my screwed up setting so I'm having issues getting on Decoy.
I'm hoping to fix it this weekend(don't have enough time to really focus on it during my work week.

Edited by GundamHeavyarms

At first I was wary of indie titles, mostly because I thought that only snobs read them. I got over that when I found myself disappointed with the marvel dc fare. New volumes starting, old ones ending, big events where everything gets retooled, revamped, or rebooted. I found it to be more and more revolting.

So I decided to branch out and try some indie stuff for myself. I've really getting into archie books. Yes that archie. At first it was sonic the hedgehog, a title I've loved since I was a kid. I always thought it was interesting that a video game character had his own comic book. Then came mega man, and the new crusaders. The crusaders I like because it's a team of teenage superheroes trying to get into their fill their roles as legacy characters, but unlike the X-men its not filled with angst, nor does it cater to the tumblr crowd like young avengers. Its more straight forward, which I appreciate. The Fox, with the shield backup announced today, sounds very interesting as well.

One archie book that I really like that I never thought I would is The Married Life. It takes place in two parallel worlds where archie is married to Veronica in one, and Betty in the other. It covers the perils of being a young married adult, relationship problems, money problems, dreams not coming to fruition. It's a very mature book, without being overtly dark, violent, or sexual.

I am also looking forward to Afterlife with Archie in october, a zombie apocalypse starts in riverdale.

Posted by Lvenger

@mysterioususername: Ah so it's computer issues with your account then? I'm looking to get a new laptop in the future myself.

@gundamheavyarms: Glad you've found an Indie title to look forward too!

Posted by MysteriousUsername

@lvenger: Yeah. Best Buy had some pretty snazzy ones on sale when I was there if you're thinking of getting something now.

Posted by Hanson724

I love indie comics. If you mean indie's are anything besides the big two I read more than I thought. Right now I'm reading: Saga, East of West, Jupiters Legacy, Non-Humans and Sheltered from Image. Shadowman,Harbinger, XO Manowar, Harbinger Wars and Bloodshot from Valiant. I also read a few IDW's and Dark Horse. Black Science and Southern Bastards are coming out soon from Image and I'm definitely getting those and Eternal Warrior and I think Ninjak are both coming out from Valiant and I'll be getting those as well. Great time for Indie comics.

Posted by Catsnlynne

The indie titles I read are Black Bat from Dynamite and Captain Midnight from Dark Horse.

Edited by blkson

I like your musings. East of West and SAGA are the only indie books I'm reading. I'm thinking about branching out more though.

Posted by turoksonofstone

What will be the first Marvel/Star Wars cannon crossover once the comic rights come home to disney I wonder?

Posted by lykopis

Great blog (and too bad about cutting back but I get it). I still have mostly a Marvel pull list with a few DC but Vertigo is still DC (right?) so Fables etc doesn't really count I guess thought I enjoy that series plus Fairest and the newest title, Damsels.

I do like Conan and I am looking forward to Red Sonja (Simone's take) and not for anything, I see myself leaning towards indie more and more. Lady Mechanika with Aspen hasn't released a new issue in a while but it's been confirmed one is coming so that's good.

I think what it is for me is that I tend to read a lot of graphic novels which to me is indie, lol.

Edited by Lvenger

@hanson724: Saga was a definite contender for me if I were to expand into indie territory. But is it still going? The problem is that I can't find it on any of Image's solicitations which is weird. Oh wait never mind it has an August 2013 release for the 13th issue. Why the delay though?

@catsnlynne Nice choices. Haven't heard of those two before.

@lykopis Thanks Lyko! Though the cutting back doesn't start til September so I'm enjoying it whilst I still can. Vertigo is more of an offshoot of DC and certainly has the feel of an indie company judging from what comics I've seen them produce. Plus there's more of a creator owned vibe to it which is important in an indie company. I'd heard Simone was doing Red Sonja. Never been into the character though despite her..obvious appearance having an intended purpose for my gender ;) Never knew picking up graphic novels was an indie trend. Learn something new everyday lol.

Posted by Batmandemon23

Read invincible its a good mixture of superman and spiderman

Online
Posted by Lvenger
Edited by Hanson724

@lvenger: I think the reason for the delay is Fiona Staples is doing all of the art and colors and she's taking a break. They has a 1 month hiatus after the first 6 issues and now they're on another . Thankfully it'll be back next month but honestly I don't mind. This is not a book where you want fill in artists. Staples art fits it so well that consistency in that dept. is a must. Check it out you'll like it. Also be on the lookout for those others I suggested. Black Science is written by Rick Remender and looks really cool from the little I've seen and Southern Bastards is written by Jason Aaron and that also looks cool.

http://www.comicvine.com/articles/image-expo-2013-news-and-updates/1100-146811/

I don't know what happened with that link....stupid ipad

Edited by Lvenger

@hanson724: So that's why Saga is on a temporary hiatus? Makes sense. I mean familiar artwork must be a big thing in keeping up with the consistency of the title. Thanks for the other suggestions by the way! :)