Sunday, 30 December 2012

2012, the year indie comics defined my life (well, my pull list).

It's been nearly a year since I started this blog, writing about the comics I'm so addicted to and my opinions of a lot of the books I've picked up in that time, and what a year it's been. Comics has seen some great stories and big shake ups to the big two as well as its fair share of controversy regarding the writers and artists of the works that line the shelves of comic book shops. It's also seen a lot of new talent funnel through image and the more independent publishers, some ending up at the big two while, on the the flip side, some more seasoned writers have left DC and Marvel to work on more of their own stuff.
For me however, 2012 was the year that saw me move away from the the mainstream storytelling of both Marvel and DC and engross myself more in the independent titles produced by Image and Dark Horse. Since picking up the fantastic Who is Jake Ellis? by Nathan Edmondson at the tail end of 2011, I went into 2012 with a new perspective and, with the help of my local shop, have gone on to pick up the incredible Harvest by A.J. Lieberman, the terrific Punk Rock Jesus by Sean Murphy, the engrossing post-apocalyptic title the Massive by Brian Wood and the fantastic Think Tank by Matt Hawkins (which is without doubt my favourite of the year, though not by much) as well as Nathan Edmondson's sequel Where is Jake Ellis?
So why have I become so enamoured by indie titles? In truth, the reasons have been twofold; first of all, these indie titles are just so good! When, each of these books was sold to me (except for Where is Jake Ellis?) I was convinced to reluctantly pick up each title after being told that each book would be award-winning (or words to that effect) and though, not all recommendations hit the mark, the large majority impressed, which was a surprising notion for me.
However, this may have been influenced by the second reason; which was that while indie books impressed, many books from the big 2 failed to have any impact on me. For DC, only three titles spent the year on my pull list; Action Comics, Demon Knights and Earth 2. Throughout 2012 not only did no other title impress me enough to become a permanent fixture, but the titles I did get felt so bad that all three are in danger of being cut next year. Marvel fared a little better, with the early year presenting some quality story lines. However, as the year progressed many of the books fell short and some got cut while others teeter on the brink.
So why has my pull list gone a full 180 from mainstream to indie? The reason, I think, is that the inherent freedom in story telling is far more apparent in the indie books than the mainstream. In the year, a lot of stories have come out (on Twitter mostly) of editorial interference at both Marvel and (to a greater extent) DC, which has appeared apparent to me in the books I read. This results in stories from creators not being used to their fullest. Also, due to the characters used being the companies property, very little character progression or evolution is possible, stunting the story somewhat. Indie titles however, do not have the same constraints, as the characters used are creator owned and can be used in whatever way they imagine, giving them unlimited freedom to just go nuts with their books.
With 2013 round the corner, I'm seeing a big culling of my pull list in regards to the big two coming round the corner and further influx of independent books replacing them. Although, Marvel and DC continue to fight with quality books still coming out (the new Indestructible Hulk springs to mind, that is an awesome book), for me, unless their storytelling improves, the indie publishers will be getting the lions share of my comic budget from here on out.

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