My Top Ten 80’s Independent Comics

Very early on in my foray into comic collecting I was introduced to the independent comics scene. The 80’s had a boom of independent publishers who were approaching the medium different than the “big two”. When I first started to collect comics seriously I had to frequent numerous grocery stores and 7-11’s to get my weekly comics fix. I mainly collected Marvel and a few DC titles, it was a chore and I was always missing issues. Eventually, an actual comic book store opened in Bremerton. Grant’s Comics was on 1st street downtown, tucked amongst the Crows Nest bar, an adult book store, numerous head shops and a McDonald’s. 1st street in 1983 was a pretty sketchy area of town. 1st street was also any entry point to the Bremerton navel base and shipyard and it was the red light district for the sailors.

Regardless of how sleazy the area was my friends and I would take the foot ferry from Port Orchard to Bremerton every Saturday morning to pick up our weekly haul.

You guessed it, the Port Orchard foot ferry

Reflecting back, Grant’s Comics was a pretty crappy comic book store, but what made Grant’s great was Grant himself. Grant loved comics and I’m sure that his dingy little shop was a labor of love for him. As my friends and I became regulars, Grant became an invaluable resource for everything comic books, he was our comics Encyclopedia Britannica. Grant was also our gateway to comics beyond Marvel and DC. He always made recommendations of books we should check out and his current comic selection was always top notch. Unfortunately that labor of love lasted only two years and Grant’s Comics eventually closed it’s doors. Fortunately, for me, the wide world of comics beyond Marvel and DC was discovered.

10. Mage: The Hero Discovered

Image Credit- Comico Comics

An urban fantasy comic that’s part allegorical autobiography, monomyth, and Arthurian legend. Plus, the back-up story was Grendel, Matt Wagner’s other great comic creation.

Image Credit – Comico Comics

Plus, the back-up story was Grendel, Matt Wagner’s other great comic creation.

Image Credit – Comic Comics

9. Scout

Dystopian 3rd world America mixed with American Indian folk-lore and mysticism with a dash of the blues.

Image Credit – Eclipse Comics

8. Xenozic Tales

Image Credit – Kitchen Sink Press

Great pulpy comic book fun. Dinosaurs, Cadillacs, and guns!!

Image Credit – Kitchen Sink Press

7. Love and Rockets

Image Credit – Fantagraphic Books

Created by brothers Gilbert, Jaime, and Mario Hernandez . This series is filled with pulp-culture, punk rock and a voice for women and minorities for the first time in comics. Weird, cool, and revolutionary.

Image Credit – Fantagraphic Books

6. The Elementals

Image Credit -Comico Comics

Great concept for a superhero team and some of Bill Willingham’s best work.

Image Credit – Comico Comics

5. The Rocketeer

Image Credit – Eclipse Comics

Dave Stevens paying homage to the old movie serials of the 1930s & 40s; the old pulp comics & radio-serials. The story is so-so , but the art is gorgeous. I’m still astounded that Steven’s didn’t do more interior work in comics before his untimely death.

Image Credit – Eclipse Comics

4. Zot!

Image Credit – Eclipse Comics

A deconstruction of the superhero genre that is as hopeful as Watchmen is bleak. I highly recommend Zot!: The Complete Black-and-White Collection: 1987-1991 where McCloud writes mini-essays at the end of each story-arc giving some insight to his creative process. The series started out in color and then went to black and white. I prefer the black and white.

Image Credit -Eclipse Comics

3. Nexus

Image Credit – First Comics

Mike Baron’s and Steve Rude’s take on superhero’s. Nexus is a galactic superhero granted extraordinary powers to assassinate random mass murderers around the galaxy that he sees in his dreams.

Image Credit – First Comics

2. Cerebus

Image Credit – Aardvark-Vanaheim

One of my all time favorite comics. Dave Sim’s series ends up tackling sociopolitical issues, spirituality, and male & female relations, but early on, Cerebus the Aardvark is simply a wandering barbarian motivated by money and booze. Brilliant! Collected it to the very end.

1. Miracle Man

Image Credit-Eclipse Comics

Alan Moore’s best work and one of the best superhero stories ever written. Oh, and Neil Gaiman takes over and starts the next story arc, that, unfortunately has been on a hiatus for a long while. Rumor is that Gaiman and artist Mark Buckingham are returning to the character, sometime in 2019, now that the legal issues around the character have been resolved.

Image Credit – Eclipse Comics

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