What happened to the independent comics icons?

Remember all those awesome, creator-owned, independent, iconic, American/Canadian comic series of the 1980s and 1990s? You had Cerebus, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, American Flagg, Concrete, The Crow, Flaming Carrot, Madman, Hellboy, Sin City, Bone, and more. (I’m certainly not counting the Image founders’ series because those were as corporate and mainstream as anything released by Marvel or DC.)

So, what happened? I don’t really see anything like this today. Sure, there are a lot of creator-owned things published by indie press after 1999 but a lot of it is by mainstream guys moonlighting in the slums or just trying to get hired by Marvel. Walking Dead is certainly iconic at this point but it doesn’t seem as unique or graduated from the mainstream as the series listed above (or at least, as different as they seemed to be when they debuted).

Am I wrong? Am I just missing this stuff? Has the landscape just changed so that my outlook is outdated? Help me.

One response to “What happened to the independent comics icons?

  1. I think that there are a lot out there that are missed by many comic shop owners because after the comic boom of the 1990s left them with tons and tons of back issues, they have to keep their new stock low and limit themselves to mainstream titles. There are a lot of great small press titles out there (like from the local Shocktrauma Studios). Plus there are larger print titles like Mouse Guard that are well written and has beautiful art.

    Now there’s the subject of Internet-Only titles. I don’t read a lot of these… mostly because there’s a large number of them out there that are made by people who think putting out comic books are easy. The one advantage of the old ways of comic publishing (ie. work for Marvel or DC) is that if you weren’t a good artist or writer they either didn’t hire you or had an editor look over your shoulder. Even in the self-publishing days an indication of people not liking your work was spelled out in sales. Today the recreational artist can put out a book without much thought into the quality of the product and without a huge investment in time or money.

    With such a large volume of internet comic books, it is really difficult to find one that is worth reading (I like “Sundays”, drawn by Scott Ewen). It’s almost like it was in the middle of the 1990s when you had to shuffle through 20 -30 independent titles a week to find anything good. It’s almost like trying to find a good lawyer… get recommendations from people you respect or with opinions your value.

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