Why are independent comics (aka indie comics) important?
Indie comics are important, first and foremost, because they are comic books. They express theme and subject matter through visual means just like the comics from the big publishers Marvel, DC, Dark Horse and others. But why are they important, different, and require your attention?
What can indie comics do?
Indie comics can explore subject matters that might be too controversial for the big publishers to risk or too focused on a particular subject matter. There are stakes involved in all business decisions and the bigger you get, the more you have an established readership and corporate protocols to push expected practices. And in the past, a certain approval from a decidedly biased morality police was necessary.
As the old saying goes “Writing is an art but publishing is a business.” Goes for illustration as well but you get the point.
With indie comics, specific genres can be developed that appeal to a narrow but important readership that are sometimes ignored by the larger entities. Example: Fantagraphic Books can publish graphic novels like Ghost World, One More Year and The Love and Rockets comic book series.
Indie comics (those below the Image Comics echelon) can foster new talent, who might not want to conform their talents to a style that is required by the big publishers. These publishers also allow for young or new talent to grow and create a portfolio while getting editorial and tutorial feedback from the members of the indie comics company. This is also true for members of the indie comic book company. They get to learn through interaction with artists and with the larger business community.
Indie comic book companies can also generate big story concepts, if given the chance, that grows beyond publishing and into other entertainment industries. Why? The freedom. Indie comic book companies have more room to experiment. Though most dollars spent by the entertainment industry at large will buy the more well known intellectual properties with tried and true record of sales over time, doesn’t mean that smaller properties from indie comic companies can’t be a great Black Swan that soars among the clouds. Just think about Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles created by Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird and brought to life through their company Mirage Studios.
So when buying independent comic books, you not only support the company but directly assists in the development of new artists who might go onto be the Mike Mignola, Humberto Ramos, Jim Lee, Skottie Young, Eric Canete, etc… And you might help raise the profile of a story that deserves attention from the larger entertainment industry.
Indie comics can also provide a livelihood, meager though it may be, for those with a Punk Rock attitude and a love for comic books who want to place a mark in the industry outside of the mainstream or eventually work their way into it.
This arena can act as a platform to launch both careers and maintain creative control of projects dear to the creator. But it can’t if people don’t buy the comics. That is why I urge you to try new comics from Comix Tribe, Black Mask Studios, Fantagraphics, Drawn & Quarterly, Oni press, Abstract Studio and also the well known Avatar Press, Dynamite Entertainment, Image Comics and Valiant Comics that are just below DC, Marvel and Dark Horse.
The most important reason to support indie comics is… because it’s fun and cool to find novel things others have not yet discovered.
But really, just buy comics. Any and all. Love them and explore. Maybe it will lead you to new stories that inspire your lives. This exploration is what got us here at Wayward Raven Media into making comics and it is a tough life, but we love it.
Ars longa, vitae brevis.
Joshua Lee Andrew Jones of Wayward Raven Media
PS: you can checkout our stuff anytime. -> http://waywardraven.com/