The Avengers, Teen Titans, Deadpool, and Aquaman are all coming to a movie theater near you. The inspiration for these movies comes from decades of material published by the “Big Two” comic book publishers - Marvel Comics and DC Comics. These stories have been shaped by dozens of writers and artists over the years. And while my affection for Captain America rivals the love I have for my dog, in recent years, creator-owned comic books have captured more of my fervor.
With independently created titles, a small team of writers and artists, guide and retain a stake in their property on its ultimate run.
Writer/artist Mike Mignola created Hellboy in 1993, and he has written, drawn or contributed to each and every Hellboy comic, film, cartoon, toy or spin-off series. The Walking Dead has continued for well over 178 monthly comics under the vision of co-creator and writer Robert Kirkman. Since Mignola and Kirkman retain ownership of their creations, they are personally invested in their success. This kind of longevity and guidance doesn’t tend to happen in mainstream superhero comics put out by Marvel or DC.
The variety of genres in creator-owned books offers up something for everyone to discover, and it doesn’t have to be a superhero. Lumberjanes follows supernatural encounters at a girls’ summer camp. Alex + Ada is a romance/adventure mash-up where a man develops feelings for an android he didn’t want. Lazarus takes place after a worldwide economic collapse where the wealthiest families are in charge, not the government. There are also graphic novels featuring the tales of a samurai rabbit, psychic spies or a conspiracy set in outer space.
Another great aspect to creator-owned comics is they are largely self-contained and ultimately finite. If you’re enjoying Y: The Last Man by Brian K. Vaughan and Pia Guerra, you don’t need to read eight other books to understand the complete story, you can just dive right into the story collected across 10 graphic novels.
Independent, creator-owned titles are reminiscent of the DIY ethic present in so many art, music and creative movements these days. You find passionate creators that speak to and inspire you. As long as they can reach a sustainable base of support, they can go on creating more independent works. The world of independent, creator-owned comics is so vast, you can definitely find a creator or artist to latch onto, and you’ll be ahead of the curve when these titles make their way to your movie or TV screen in a few years. And by the way, all of these series are available for check out or download through the library!
Read the Series on Hoopla