❉ Fred McNamara’s indie comic book roundup returns with his pick of titles for look out for in 2019.
Welcome back to Indiequential, the column that cherry-picks the best publications across the indie/small press comic book scene. In this special preview edition, we countdown 9 genre-heavy titles to be released throughout 2019. This year promises more spectacular releases, with some being a long time coming. Gear yourselves up then as we ramble through cyberpunk dystopias, magical guitar swords, fantasy tea shops, mental health commentaries and a talking dog and unicorn!
Writer Dave Cook and artist Craig Paton set the indie scene ablaze last year with their riotous cyberpunk thriller Killtopia. Not ones to rest on their laurels, #2 of the award-winning comic will be coming to Kickstarter later in the year. #2 will return us to Killtopia’s crisp blend of action-driven storytelling and evocative art, as our hero Shinji is thrown into a world even more depraved than the blood-sport obsessions of Killtopia’s residents.
#1 showed Killtopia to be a meaty, spectacle driven affair. However, with its world and characters firmly established, Volume 2 presents the opportunity for these characters to be explored with greater depth. With Shinji’s world rapidly descending as his secretive life joining in with the Wreckers is exposed, Killtopia’s story is ready to go into overdrive. Paton’s blistering depictions of ragged locales and characters will hopefully galvanise Killtopia #2’s qualities as it has done with #1. Killtopia #2 will be launching on Kickstarter in March.
‘NPC Tea’ #6
Sarah Millman’s endlessly charming NPC Tea is an ongoing series for fantasy fans to become besotted with. 5 issues in, its quirky mix of down-to-earth, character interactions is at odds with its robust fantasy flavour, particularly when those characters consist of orcs, elves and humans. However, it’s become a stand-out title in recent times, with a distinctive colour palette and warm, likeable characters. Millman’s expressive, character-focused artwork perfectly complements the slice-of-life feel of the comic.
2019 will bring issue #6, continuing NPC Tea’s low-key tale of banned magic on the edge of crashing into the world, forcing Bryn, Oz and Hannah to set aside their differences and band together in defending both their home and their tea shop. You can follow Millman on Twitter to make sure you don’t miss out on #6’s arrival.
‘Extraversal’ Volume 2: Life on the Wing
Big Punch Studio’s flagship anthology title will receive a second collection in 2019. It’s immensely fun package of science fiction, fantasy and adventure comes just as the comic itself winds down following its Perfect Storm event, a gargantuan crossover featuring characters from the Big Punch world. A perfect time to jump onboard for those keen on anthologies and who may have missed out on the title as it was previously published in issue form.
Extraversal packs in a variety of content, with strips ranging from razor-sharp, galaxy-twisting adventure to a more delicate, methodical take on invasions of Earth and topping it all off with a strip about a cat and meringue sailing the seven seas together. Volume 2 will hopefully be as witty, intriguingly-written and diversely drawn as Volume 1 as it continues to overlap these spectacular worlds.
‘7STRING’ Volume 3
Another title from the Big Punch stables, 7STRING will be returning to print form after a lengthily spell being published as a digital title across its social media platforms. 7STRING is rooted in age-old fables of heroes journeying a path of self-discovery as they attempt to overthrow villainous overlords, but does so set against an intoxicatingly illustrated world constructed from music. 7STRING bursts with visual richness that goes well with its narrative enthusiasms. A rapid spectrum of colour brings page after page to life throughout the first two volumes.
Our protagonist, Zach, who wields the infamous 7STRING guitar sword, may be on a quest to defeat the evil Lars, who’s on a mission to overthrow the musically-tuned world of Melodia, yet 7STRING is a multi-layered beasts. Whilst Nic’s story focuses on Zach, it’s at its most adventuresome when it balances the tales of other leads, Nette, Efex and Liph. Last appearing in print in 2014, 7STRING’s third outing in print form is due to arrive in the first half of 2019, and will bring us a step towards bringing these characters together in explosive fashion.
‘Stand In Your Power’
Rachael Smith has carved out a name for herself with her slice-of-life comics that fuse dry humour with mental health issues. Following her previous collection of autobiographical comics, Wired Up Wrong, she’ll be treading similar territory with Stand In Your Power, a further collection of her effortless blend of humour and taboo subjects.
Uncompromising yet deftly amusing, Wired Up Wrong was met with great applause thanks to its illumination of what it’s like for Rachael to live with anxiety and depression. Whilst Smith’s caricatured illustrations and snappy narrative tools made Wired Up Wrong an amusing read, it succeeds in painting an unsugar picture of mental health issue’s impact on everyday life. Smith’s knack for giving her lighter and darker moments in living with anxiety and depression equal aplomb makes Stand In Your Power a sure-fire winner when it’s released in April.
‘Adventures of Captain Cosmic’ #3
A passion project of Andy W. Clift whose work includes The Samurai Slasher, The Kill Screen, and 32 Kills, The Adventures of Captain Cosmic warmly harkens back to a bygone era of sci-fi comics. Captain Cosmic’s tales are one-off affairs, meaning each issue is a perfect jumping on point for new readers. Andy’s spry story-telling and retro-styled art makes him the perfect candidate to bring these space-age tales of vintage-toned heroism to life, as Captain Cosmic soars through the galaxy defending it from all forms of evil, assisted by his trusty side and daughter Kid Cosmic.
Clift’s love for sci-fi sequential pulpy past radiates from page to page as the Captain and the Kid do battle against a rogue’s gallery of villains, including Ken the Collector and Skeletron. #3 will pit the duo against the Phantom Spaceman, and with a name like that, Clift’s tongue-in-cheek story-telling and blindsiding depiction of alien worlds shows no sign of losing enthusiasm. You can follow Clift on Twitter to keep up to date with #3’s arrival on Kickstarter.
Lyndon White bears a prolific portfolio of illustrated work, but his forthcoming graphic novel Candles will expand his story-telling skills. Currently crowd-funding through Unbound and set for a release later in the year, his kaleidoscope artwork will be bound to a story of his own creation, rather than illustrating someone else’s work.
Candles’ stirs up some muscular fantasy elements with a world in which magic is seen as toxic, and anyone using it is cast aside from society. A young heroine, Grace, opting to unlock her own magical capabilities to free her village from the tyranny of an evil witch hints at a Studio Ghibli-flavour for White’s latest ‘solo’ work. White’s fantasy leanings and swirling artwork seem like a perfect match, hinting towards Candles’ success as a visually hypnotic take on classic fantasy characteristics.
‘Griff Gristle’ #3
Madius Comics’ ongoing fable of salty seaman Griff battling ravenous, ocean-going monsters is a comic only Madius could conjure up. 2019 will bring #3 of this wiry, whiskey soaked comic’s high tales of adventure to life. Griff Gristle’s rugged, explosive artwork, courtesy of Rory Donald, matches its enjoyably bonkers story-telling to great effect.
Years of writing other titles, including the 2000 AD/Beano-infused Papercuts and Inkstains shows how Rob Jones and Michael Sambrook are no strangers to fun, quirky story-telling. Donald’s artwork places a great emphasis on perspective, as both #1 and #2 routinely feature monolithic depictions of underwater landscapes and creatures that Griff is forced to endure, giving the comic a grand sense of scope. #3 of Griff Gristle’s ragged supernatural action will take to the seas (i.e. Kickstarter) later in the year.
‘Pup and Grumpicorn’ #1
Making its debut in full-length issue form will be the splendidly silly Pup and Grumpicorn. Written and drawn by husband-and-wife team Gavin Mitchell and Emily B. Owen, the talking dog and unicorn have had their mis-adventures of donuts, wild west stand-offs and outer space battles published regularly online and in Nottingham Comic Con’s series of anthologies.
Drawn with sharp vibrancy and written with plenty of delightfully daft wit, it’s playful, all-ages nature gives it a humorous kick that will be exploited to its comic potential with a full-length issue. That issue itself should be arriving during the first half of the year.
That rounds up this special preview edition of Indiequential. Tune in next time for another ramble through my indie comic collection as we continue to pick the best of the indie/small press scene!
❉ Fred McNamara is a contributing writer for a variety of digital and print publications, covering comic books, films, TV and more. His work has appeared on such websites as PopMatters, WhatCulture, Flickering Myth, Grovel, the Official Gerry Anderson Blog, ScreenRelish, and in such publications as Starburst Magazine, Andersonic and Comic Scene. His work has also appeared in anthologies published by Watching Books and Who Dares Publishing.
❉ All artwork © original creators. Reproduced according to the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 c. 48 Part I Chapter III General Section 30