The weekend at LA ComicCon was full of cosplay, vendors, panels and plenty of other entertainment opportunities, but it truly delivered on its promise of literary projects, including books and the titular comics. With so many titles to choose from, it can be difficult to make that choice as you peruse the wares of these artistic travelers.
Indie, for this article, means that the work is not published under a major, highly-recognizable imprint, such as DC, Marvel, Image, Harper-Collins, or Penguin. Obviously, every project is not going to be mentioned here since nobody has time for that. These are ten that really stood out, and the “death of the author” does not apply since a lot of indie projects are personal.
10 Yi Soon Shin
Combining a love for history and art, Yi Soon Shin is a comic book that tells the real-life story of the titular character. Set in Korea in the late 1500s, the story focuses on the conflict between Japan and Korea. After the Japanese invasion of Korea which left many dead, especially civilians, the Korean Navy is dispatched to deal with the invaders.
At the time, the Navy was underdeveloped and mismanaged. However, Admiral Yi Soon Shin, of the Left Cholla Division, is a strong strategic mind, facing the attackers head-on. With an interesting historical tale and amazing art featuring naval battles and samurai, this is one comic that shouldn’t be passed over.
9 The Unearthians
A merging of the brotherhood trope commonly found on television shows and the superhero genre, The Unearthians is a fresh take on superpowers and alien abductions. The comic is presented as a look at the brothers Mateo and Carter, boys who became family in an orphanage, and their navigation through life.
The boys get abducted by aliens in the first issue, but thanks to a deal made earlier in their lives, they have superpowers. By powering up, they become stronger and more animalistic. As they attempt to escape, they uncover dark plans and must work together to stop them. Two brothers against the forces of evil and hopefully they’ll win.
8 Hot Dog Water
As interesting as the name implies, Hot Dog Water is an anthology series that focuses on the most basic aspect of storytelling, the stories. Each issue features three distinct stories with an overarching framing device in the form of food. The table of contents is created like a nutrition facts label and the forward even sets the three stories as a three-course meal.
The variety of art styles and storytelling paths is refreshing. Each story has its own theme and genre, allowing for a true sense of diversity from talented writers and artists. An incredible note here is that all the writers and artists are friends who came together to put out Hot Dog Water as a group.
7 White Lily
Another historical piece, White Lily follows the first female flying aces from the Soviet Union’s Air Force during World War II. While the comic is written in English, it has a translated feeling, as if it were originally written in Russian to reflect real-life events. Focusing on two main characters, Lydia "Lilya" Litvyak and Yekaterina "Katya" Budanova, the women are put through many trials on their path to earning their wings.
The term “white lily” is translated from Russian call sign for Lilya during her time as the first female ace. The comic focuses on a lot of aspects, like Lilya’s Jewish background and death of her father, that really connect you with these amazing women.
6 Oi! Tales of Bardic Fury
It might seem counterintuitive to make a graphic novel about a bard, seeing as the sound of bards are typically what people want to see, but Daniel De Sosa does a great job of mitigating the actual music with beautiful visuals and melodic writing. The story follows a young bard just out of college who is assigned to the quaint village of Oi in Ancient Ireland.
This bard is not the only focus of the story as several characters take the spotlight because the overall story is about the tales told by bards. There is plenty of magic and mythological ideas that work their way into the book that makes it such a fun and engaging read.
A Kick-Starter funded series, Coronary follows the life of Justin Sharpe, the founder of BeautX, a plastic surgery and pharmaceutical company. The story is a spy-like tale with several major moving parts that are a blast to connect. There are several mysteries presented to the reader throughout the comics and the interpretations are revealed slowly.
This is not an action-heavy series, but it draws inspiration from spy films like the James Bond series. The slow burn has the reader asking questions that are answered in unexpected, sometimes emotional ways. The best thing this comic does is keep the reader reading. There is a need to know what happens next without being hung over a cliff.
4 Cover of Darkness
What Universal Studios’ Dark Universe tried to begin was something fans have been wanting since the classic crossovers of characters like Dracula vs. Frankenstein. While the Dark Universe mostly failed, you can turn to Cover of Darkness to fill that monster needing itch. Set in multiple times, the story generally centers around a family who live in a forest as they try to survive.
Also featured are multiple origin stories of classic monsters like Frankenstein’s Monster, Dracula, the Mummy, and several others. The family is mostly women who are trying to make it on the run, but they are joined by two boys who happen to be able to shift into any animal. It is moving and dark in all the right ways.
3 White Savior
Exactly what you think it is not, it is. This story is not about a white man coming into an indigenous area and being the hero, rather it is the opposite. White Savior is a parody of movies and television shows like Dances With Wolves and The Last Samurai. The main character, Todd, is a relatable Asian American man who is written like a real person, in his thoughts and dialogue.
After being told the story of the supposed white savior of Inoki by his grandfather, Todd faces a normal day as a twenty-something community college instructor until he accidentally ends up back in the feudal era. It seems he must fix the past, but luckily, he remembers the stories from his grandfather.
2 For Molly
Starting off a bit more serious than most of the stories told in these comics, For Molly follows Greg as he leaves his old life for one he didn’t expect. Drawing from his own experiences, Gabe Cheng writes about a divorcee going through a tough time. When he goes to housesit for his sister, Greg meets Molly, a talking dog who saves him from certain death.
The story brings a cool twist on humans and creature pacts by making the creature dogs. The overall serious initial tone quickly changes into a bit more action-oriented piece that invites the reader into a lore that they actually want to learn about.
1 The Lok
Described by writer Tommy Rice, a former-NFL player and present nerd, as a mix between Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, and Full Metal Alchemist, this book is a staggering space epic that draws the reader in with promises of grandeur it delivers on. The Lok is about saving the world of Partha Terra, a steampunk and magic-filled world in conflict.
Drawing inspiration from multiple sources, Rice manages to move mountains in a fresh, new world that wants to be explored. The story follows Prince Lincoln, Walker, who is a Spartan Paladin, and several other characters as they traverse the lands while learning about themselves, friendship, love and how to survive.