One of the best things about the digital marketplace is the ceaseless ability to discover those small, lesser known comic books that (understandably) don’t get a chance to make it onto brick and mortar shelves. These books are often bold, pushing out past the mainstream boundaries to broach fresh concepts and break new talent, but unfortunately the freedom provided by the internet can also comes with a cost: good work can go undiscovered, suffocating in the black space of the web. With ComiXology’s Submit, though, the digital retailer has become a publisher, going splitsies with creators who want to embrace the pioneer spirit of true creator ownership without having to totally “go it alone”.
Is this a perfect system? No. Far too many good books still shrivel up and die from a lack of readers (or honestly, a lack of effort and/or marketing acumen on the creator side), but there are also plenty of success stories.
To help highlight the indie market we thought we would look at a few notable ComiXology Submit books — some that qualify as hits and some that have yet to reach their full potential. Please remember, though, these are just a few books out of the hundreds that you should at least consider “thumbing” through next time you find yourself looking for something original to read.
A ComiXology Submit title before it transitioned to Mark Waid’s Thrillbent.com, Moth City is a digital comic that seductively uses the Chinese civil war as a backdrop for a horror story that is made all the more impactful by the way that writer/artist Tim Gibson plays with guided view, allowing anticipation to build with every word and action. A lot of the praise that I see for Gibson mentions his ability as an artist and designer first, but his upcoming Moth City prequel, The Reservoir: A Western in Black, White, and Blood, (just released on ComiXology) really asserts his skill as a writer.
Writer Joshua Hale Fialkov and artist Joe Infurnari’s The Bunker feels like Lost through the eyes of Stephen King. In the story, five college age friends try to manufacture a moment of reflection for their future selves but instead discover a future with dire consequences and deplorable, yet necessary, deeds that are laid out for them via letters from their future selves. Naturally, friendships are stretched to snap, romantic entanglements choke off the air, and each struggles to deal with their destiny. Fialkov and Infurnari will bring The Bunker to Oni Press next month, putting a remastered version of the first five issues into the first Oni book before continuing the story. Surely you could wait for that, but the first volume stands on its own as a must read regardless of what is coming down the pike.
The first in a series, writer Jason McNamara and artist Rashan Ekedel tell a simple noir tale about an old bastard who fills his days evading court ordered confinement to pretend that he is still a detective. Ekedel’s art — specifically his character work — stands out, but the twist at the end will flick you in your heart place and put you in the mood for more.
Snake Oil #8
Snake Oil #8 put its hands on my hips and led me to the Oily Comics conga line. In the latest entry in this anthology series, Charles Forsman takes a sad and eerily complete look at the life of the kind of pop culture denizen that is created by misplaced hero worship and the imitation sense of achievement that it can create. You’re just a dude in a robot suit, dude.
Nick Mullins’ Holiday Funeral is a dreary story of loss and generational distance that centers on the life of a plain woman with the kind of dignified superpowers that many have when we reflect on the intricate details of their lives. A clearly personal story that really resonates if you have – as I have – found yourself dealing with the death of a loved one and the onset of the kind of guilt that comes from that last call you didn’t make and those times you rolled your eyes or stayed away. Sparse in all the right places, Mullins has authored a powerful yet simple tale.
Boobage by Monica Gallagher
A bio-comic about living with less than ample breasts. Fans of Sex Criminals #1 might latch onto this similarly charming tale of awkward adolescent development.
Gather by Anton Peck
The art is a little inconsistent and the pacing could have been better at the end, but despite those gripes, Peck delivers an ambitious story about a robot and his stray sidekick as they search for lost memories in the post-apocalyptic wasteland. That ending will surprise you and you will absolutely care about these characters. I hope to see more from Peck and this series.
RoboChuck by Chris Callahan
The design — which seeks to bring CG toons into a down-on-its-luck world of flat-toons, or hand drawn characters — is a little rough around the edges, but by portraying the struggle between these two warring factions, Callahan is trying to say something about the state of animation and he’s doing a good job. Fans of Roger Rabbit should sprint to ComiXology to pick up this book.