Five Indie Comic Publishers to Check Out in 2021

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Comic superheroes are not Sherlock Holmes, who holds a Guinness World Record for being portrayed 254 times since his creation. In terms of this number, they are not even close. Yet, ask any kid whether they know Batman and Superman along with Sherlock? The answer will very likely be YES, with the high probability that younger kids will recognize superheroes even faster.

Kudos to DC Comis: they have surely succeeded in capturing the hearts of their fans and beyond. The dominance & rivalry of Marvel and DC in the comic industry became so evident that even people whose interests are far from the comic world know the central characters and the universe they come from. Both Marvel and DC penetrated not only cinema and video games but also the more distant niches. For example, you’ll easily find Marvel-themed LEGO packs or slots dedicated to DC superheroes — brands exploit this as a sure-bet theme for their new products.

However, the knowledge of an average person about comics ends here. Sometimes, we’re sorry to realize how many universes never intersect with the minds of the majority. DC and Marvel may be the largest brands, but not the only ones worth exploring.

Today we’re going to bring some justice into this Injustice and present you with a few indie comic publishers, some of which you could have never heard about.

  1. Aftershock Comics

Aftershock is the freshman on the comic market — the company was founded in 2015. Despite being that young, it already gained some popularity among comic fans, to some extent thanks to the prior experience of founders: Joe Pruett, author of iconic experimental book Negative Burn, and Mike Marts, who was an executive editor at both Marvel and DC of X-Men and Batman franchise.

The publisher is known for superb visuals and future-oriented, dystopian narratives. The most popular examples of its titles are apocalyptic Stronghold, a tale of dark powers Babyteeth, and insanely uncomfortable Animosity.

  1. Antarctic Press

Antarctic Press is quite a well-known yet still an alternative comic book publisher. Specializing in “amerimanga” with its distinctive art and storytelling practices, it offers a different perspective on the American comic market and also contributed a lot to developing furry comics. Overall, they published over 850 titles since the company’s birth in 1984.

The titles to pay attention to are iconic Ninja High School, the oldest publisher’s series, which is still running, Gold Digger, and Box Office Poison. Antarctic Press also issues a lot of political parody series — right now, for example, the main page of their website is all about Trump’s comic collection.

  1. Last Gasp

Last Gasp is positioning itself as a distributor of underground art and writing for 50 years. The themes and attitudes of the company always have been ahead of time. They are known for exploring ecological issues in their Slow Death since 1970: the times when the plastic boom everyone is talking about now was only unfolding. Also, they created an influential all-female anthology titled Wimmen’s Comix, which focused on the feminist concerns of the 70s-80s.

Nowadays, Last Gasp is focusing on graphic novels, art, and photography books. However, the vintage underground comics series are definitely worth reading today — they are still available for purchase on their website.

  1. Oni Press

It’s hard to say that Oni Press is a little-known publisher. There are plenty of Oni Press comics based on Nickelodeon. You, as a comic fan, likely know that Rick & Morty is one of the publisher’s flagships, with Invader Zim and Kaijumax following the leader.

The publisher avoids “superhero” themes, focusing more on romance, drama, thrillers, and cartoon-related topics. They value realism in their stories, yet with some exceptions: for example, a relatively new series, The Vain, is about the company of robbers who are also vampires.

  1. Iron Circus Comics

Iron Circus Comics was founded in 2007 and was largely specialized in issuing an erotic comic anthology named Smut Peddler, which was created by women for women. The publisher stepped aside, creating only erotic comics later on, and now the company’s titles include political-themed books like Banned Book Club and re-imagination of traditional European folktales like The Nixie of the Mill-Pond and Other European Stories. This is the one from our list that is open for submissions now: who knows, maybe you will be the next rising star in the comics universe. 

Aside from these five, there are dozens of decent publishers to check out, including the younger ones. The brightest examples of those started within the last 5 years are TKO Studios, Behemoth Comics, AWA Studios, and Darkside Comics.

Don Draper
Donald Francis "Don" Draper is a founding partner and the Creative Director at Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce Advertising Agency in Manhattan, NY. Prior to that position, he was the Director of the Creative Department at the Sterling Cooper Advertising Agency. He is regarded among his colleagues as the best to ever pitch copy.