With new film adaptations releasing, experimental spin-offs enjoying success, post-event announcements, secret wars being fought, and the convergence of multiple realms, there’s a lot of activity in today’s comic industry.
Perhaps even more so in the comics scene that doesn’t necessarily involve capes, superpowers, and familiar licensed characters. Recently, the indie comic scene has been overflowing with a massive range of series and titles, each with their own unique identity and appeal. Here are five, newer series that won’t require you to have encyclopedic knowledge of lore in order to enjoy.
Beyond the Western Deep
Alex Kain and Rachel Bennett serve as the creative writer/artist team on this high-fantasy series about different races of animal-like creatures on the brink of war. It’s well written, exploring the personalities of its main characters with surprising depth while also maintaining a grand scope and crafting a unique, believable world. Plus, the art is fluid and vibrant, adding life to already well-composed fight scenes.
For fans of: Brian Jacques’ Redwall series
Created by writer DeWayne Feenstra and artist Axur Eneas, Aero Girl features the eponymous young girl who aids her chosen-one superhero father in battles with ridiculously fun supervillains. While her father is imbued with the infamous “battle spirit” – a power that grants great strength to whomever holds it – and takes the lead in fights, Aero Girl uses a jetpack, a punching gauntlet, and her wits to serve as his sidekick. It has a wonderfully campy feel not unlike classic superhero cartoons and explores the relationship between a father and daughter with great respect and affection, and Eneas’ art has a bold wackiness to it reminiscent of Nickelodeon cartoons circa the late ‘90s.
For fans of: Princeless
Starring four boozy, violent mercenaries for hire, Kurtis J. Wiebe’s and Roc Upchurch’s Rat Queens is the perfect blend of raunch, comedy, and action. Violet, Betty, Hannah, and Dee are slightly unhinged, hedonistic fighters who occasionally treat themselves to candy and drugs or whatever else they fancy. They’re deeply flawed, but Wiebe’s writing allows for them to still have depth, redeeming qualities, and enough charm to keep you on their side. It’s also a high-fantasy epic with a gratuitous number of anachronisms that keep it from ever becoming too self-serious, making it relatable enough to draw you in, but strange enough to remind you of its fantastical setting. Upchurch’s gorgeous art features a great deal of varied character design and well-nuanced facial expressions that only serve to heighten the already brilliant writing.
For fans of: Red Sonja, Deadpool, Dungeons and Dragons
The five lumberjane scouts that occupy Roanoke Cabin regularly find themselves dealing with all manner of supernatural and strange happenings at summer camp in Shannon Waters’ and Noelle Stevenson’s Lumberjanes. During their stay at the camp, they discover weird creatures, wind up in alternate dimensions, and attempt to earn merit badges, all while learning the importance of friendship and self-discovery. Consistently funny and engaging, Lumberjanes maintains an air of magical realism and intrigue that makes each new issue an event to look forward to.
For fans of: Gotham Academy, Princeless
Chip Zdarsky’s bizzare space epic starts where many of the best sci-fi epics begin: in the aftermath of a space expedition gone horribly wrong. Stranded on the twisted world of Kaptara, Keith Kanga is thrust into an adventure where the future of Earth hangs in the balance. Kagan McLeod’s art is whimsical and strange, twisting reality just enough to keep the world feeling completely alien. Plus, there are a healthy number of cat tanks and weird creatures that serve to keep the art constantly feeling fresh.
For fans of: Saga