❉ A pick of comic titles to help those who may need some indie entertainment in these isolating times.
Fred McNamara’s indie comic book roundup, Indiequential, returns to We Are Cult with a pick of titles to help fight against those Corona blues… Indiequential is the column to help guide through the worlds of independent and small press comics and zines that are well worth your time!
From the Bookshelf
On A Sunbeam
Tillie Walden’s sublime exploration of queer romance set against the stars is lengthily without being indulgent and epic without being complicated. Her striking yet tender colour palette and expressive, whimsical line art capture the coming-of-age vibe of the comic to great effect.
On A Sunbeam’s low-key story of two young lovers connecting, being pulled apart and trying to reconnect again in an future timeline of humanity cemented Tillie Walden as the next best thing to happen to comics when the comic was released back in 2018. She’s since marched on with her most recent work Are You Listening?, but On A Sunbeam is in no danger of losing its beautiful charm anytime soon.
You can enjoy On A Sunbeam via Avery Hill’s gorgeously produced hardback or read the comic online in its entirety for free.
Don’t Go Without Me
Another celebration of queer love is ShortBox’s most recent publication; Rosemary Valero-O’Connell’s anthology Don’t Go Without Me. A trio of short comics unconnected, story-wise, yet joined together through their poetic depiction of love, memory and loss, Don’t Go Without Me is tender, complex and gorgeous to stare at. Its various premises of a spacecraft that’s fuelled by human memories, a pair of lovers becoming separated when stepping into another dimension and a prophecy of a giant awakening from a deep, underwater slumber are used as metaphors to explore the aforementioned intimate themes, each illustrated in distinct colours, inventive panel structures and imaginative landscapes.
ShortBox is releasing digital editions of their comics for free via their Twitter page to help those who may need some indie entertainment in these isolating times.
A strange, haunting and absorbing one-shot, Tallin Aylward’s Red Petals feels like it was plucked from another time and another world. A nameless, anthropomorphic-esque gardener becomes enamoured with searching for a tall, red flower from their youth. Their journey leads them down a dark and dangerous path that Aylward illustrates with a mystical vibe that highlights both the beauty and danger of nature and how it’s often wise to leave nature alone. Aylward draws and colours Red Petals as if to give the impression that we’re peering into another, forbidden world, one where nature is given free reign.
How To Build a Feminist
If you can’t bare waiting for Lucy Sullivan’s startlingly raw debut graphic novel Barking, then her 8-piece set of zines, How To Build a Feminist, is hugely recommended. Each of the eight zines explores a unique yet vital component of feminism, drawn and written by Sullivan in a riot of aggressive design and language. Sullivan brings together her own life experiences, some quite terrifying, with a hugely empathetic worldview that fuse together to paint a raw, snarling portrait of what it means to be a feminist. When placed together, the 8 zines spell out a splendid phrase that should be on everyone’s tongue when examining how women are treated in the world.
The first two chapters of Barking are currently available for free to those who are fighting against those Corona blues.
Alex Automatic #5
Fraser Campbell, Colin Bell, James Corcoran and David B. Cooper’s riveting, subversive spy-fi thriller Alex Automatic returns for its fifth issue via Kickstarter in April. For fans of retro, Cold War-themed media, Alex Automatic has it all – the eye-popping vibrancy of TV21 (only Corcoran and Bell’s artwork is distinctly more rugged), the intellectual sharpness of The Prisoner and the downbeat vibes of The IPCRESS File. Alex Automatic interlocks these influences into a taught, mind-bending, action-adventure that gives you no quarter. The bare premise of government agent Alex Anderson believing himself to be a spy in a 1960s-style TV series only scrapes the surface of what this comic delivers. Alex Automatic is a gem in the UK indie comic scene and the bumper-sized nature of this latest, upcoming issue gleefully suggests all the more action-packed mind-warping will ensue.
Pick of the Kicks
Frank at Home on the Farm #4
The 4th and final issue of Jordan Thomas’ and Clark Bint’s farmyard folk horror draws to a grim climax. WW1 hero Frank has returned home from duty to the family farm, only to find his family missing and the neighbouring villagers acting as if the family had never existed. The only living things remaining are the farm’s animals, their actions slowly send Frank into a downward spiral of madness that he must battle against and discover what’s become of his loved ones. Bint’s exaggerated sense of perspective and suitably rural colours and line art bond well with Thomas’ slow-burning storytelling, making Frank At Home On The Farm’s final issue one not to be missed.
Peace of Mind
Callum Fraser, Emiliano Correa and Rob Jones work shoulder to shoulder in putting a narratively and visually novel perspective on dystopian sci-fi with Peace of Mind, as the sub-genre becomes savvier in incorporating digital aesthetics. Having previously crowdfunded the first two issues, this latest Kickstarter refreshes Peace of Mind by offering the completed story-arc in one volume. Peace of Mind takes a gluttonous addiction to virtual reality as the basis for its premise of a small band of rebels seeking to release a villainous corporation’s grip on the world via its exploitation of VR. Correa’s artwork is endlessly engaging, bursting with eye-catching detail and personality. Heartily recommended for fans of The Matrix and Ghost in the Shell.
❉ 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. Earlier this year, Spiteful Puppet/Chinbeard Books published Fred’s book, ‘Spectrum is Indestructible’, a comprehensive and passionate celebration of the series Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons as a Limited Print Edition paperback.