Friday, November 9, 2012

What Makes A Comic Book Title Independent?

As a reader of independent comics I am often asked the question, and often times I have to defend my answer; what makes a comic book independent?  Hopefully with this post I will help people understand more clearly what makes a comic book independent, and how that is a very fluid answer.
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Image: Relic & Ego #4, published by ECV Press

It's A Matter of Opinion

If you talk to people who mainly pick up independent comics, you will find that there will be many different answers to what makes a comic book independent. What it comes down to is a question of taste, opinion, and likes and dislikes.

Now let’s get to my answer for what makes a comic book independent.  It’s more than publisher, artist, writer, or print run.  For me personally, a book is independent based on the story it is telling, the way it tells it, and a few intangibles.

Superhero Stories Are Not Independent

First off, if it is a superhero story I do not consider it independent, no matter who is publishing the story.  Just because it is outside of DC or Marvel, does not mean it is automatically independent.  A superhero story is a superhero story no matter which publisher you happen to be with.

A perfect example is Invincible by Robert Kirkman.  People will consider this to be independent, just because it is published by Image Comics.  It is not; it is a mainstream title as far as I am concerned.

Independents Push The Limits

Independent comics should push the limits of what can be told in comic format.  They should tell stories that DC and Marvel will not tell - whether it be a modern day samurai story with vampires or a science fiction epic with the classic references.

Interestingly, the nearest that DC comes to having independent titles with the relaunch is both I, Vampire and Demon Knights.  While many people consider these two titles to be part of the DC Universe, I believe they should be in their own separate worlds, telling their own stories, not interacting with the main titles of the DC Universe.

Demon Knights is a classic fantasy tale of a hero, possessed by a demon, who tries to save the day.  I, Vampire focuses on a vampire queen who has awakened with her hordes and finally rules the world, and there’s one man out to stop her.  These two titles feel like independents although they are published by DC.

The nearest that Marvel gets is the Dark Tower series and The Stand series.

Another example is Image Comics’ The Walking Dead, which I no longer consider an independent title. It has its own television show, it feels like it is no longer pushing the boundaries of zombie comics, and it feels like it will never end (an important point for independents, but that is for another post).

What makes a book independent to you?

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About The Author

Kevin Winter is someone with an opinion about almost everything. A comic fan of several years, he can be seen around Empire's Comics Vault on Wednesdays, and generally spouting an opinion (if anyone wants to hear it or not)...  also trying not to get on Ben's bad side.