The United Kingdom is responsible for producing some of the biggest comic book creators in the industry; from the legendary Alan Moore to the likes of Bryan Talbot, the UK is blessed with a great many creators and a thriving scene, especially when it comes to Independent comic books. There are so many good books out there that it can be a little daunting for some, so let’s take a quick look at some of our favourites of 2016.
We kick off with this deliciously different tale of football and alien invasions. Rok Of The Reds is the tale of Rok, an alien outlaw who crashes to Earth. In order to fit in, he takes the form of a notorious and badly-behaved football player Kyle Dixon. Can Rok evade those hunting him down and still save his adopted football team from relegation? It’s a lot of fun to find out.
It’s the creation of comic book legends John Wagner and Alan Grant, who are better known for many classic Judge Dredd storylines. Older comic fans will recognise their style instantly as it draws upon old school comic strips such as Doomlord and Roy Of The Rovers. It’s a cracking read for all ages. Look out for the concluding parts of this six issue mini-series in 2017.
This is a tale that’s very firmly intended for mature audiences. Beast Wagon is a darkly satirical and biting tale about the animals of Whipsnarl Zoo. The poor beasts – both human and animal – are suffering terribly under an unprecedented heatwave. The comic gives a literal voice to the animals as they angrily and sarcastically comment on the world around them whilst the oblivious humans only serve to make matters worse. As the heat gets worse, things turn violent and the social commentary becomes more obvious.
Darkly funny, Beast Wagon is black comedy at its best and a superb use of the medium. Writer Owen Michael Johnson has a glorious turn of phrase and a talent for compelling storytelling. Coupled with John Pearson’s gorgeous artwork, we get one of the best books of the year.
ComicHaus is an anthology comic book brought to you by the people who run the online comic book marketplace of the same name. ComicHaus peddles a lot of small press and indie books, so they are well positioned to recruit up-and-coming artists. We’ve only seen two 44-page issues so far (it launched in September) and the results have been very promising.
It’s a blend of one-shot strips and serialised adventures, with something for pretty much anyone. From the vampire slaying Karyn Shade to Wild West weirdness of The Troubleshooters, we get a strong mix of talent and tale telling. There’s a spot of future war and apocalyptic conspiracy thrown into the mix as well. This is a promising ongoing series, filled with work from some of the freshest creators on the scene. If you’re looking for the next Alan Moore or Dave Gibbons, there’s a good chance you’ll find it here.
Bust is one of those clever and compelling comics that takes a fairly popular idea and transforms it into something more. Bust follows the story of Jack, a card-shark with an extraordinary capacity for violence. The world has become a desolate wasteland thanks to a plague that reduced most of the human race to mutated monsters. Basically, this is The Walking Dead meets Mad Max, by way of any Jason Statham movie you’ve ever seen.
We’ve seen two issues of Bust so far, and writer Dave Cook has demonstrated his skill and flexibility by setting each tale years apart. The third instalment, coming in early 2017, promises to do the same. Coupled with Chris O’Toole’s apt and clever art, this one is definitely worth picking up.
Creators Neill Cameron and Kate Brown are responsible for some of the cleverest and most visually stunning art in the comic’s scene today. The pair of them worked together to produce something special with Tamsin And The Deep.
The comic book is a stylish reworking of traditional Cornish folktales, written with a younger audience in mind and adapted for the modern day. When a surfing accident almost kills young Tamsin, she discovers the magical mermaids and forgotten mythical beasts that lurk beneath the surface of everyday Cornish life. It’s a clever, beautiful and engaging read for children of all ages and an excellent example of the sort of amazing work the indie comics scene is producing.
••• Other titles bubbling under include Level 8’s super-hero tale Brethren Born, Terrier Studios horror anthology Tales of Mystery and Imagination and Boat, David Lumsden’s claustrophobic tale of survival in a flooded world. They are of course, many more indie comics out there for reader to discover, we’ve only plucked out a few gems for you to seek out and enjoy.
Article by Ed Fortune