With an overabundance of new comics coming out weekly by a plethora of publishers, it can be difficult to keep track of various titles, or even to keep up with the books and their respective creators. However, there are some comics and graphic novels that stand out among the throngs of competitors, whether for their writing aspects, illustrations or both.
Below you will find 15 indie books that have yet to be released, but are planned for a debut sometime in 2017. These are highly anticipated comics by superb creators, covering a wide range of genres. So sit back, grab a cup of coffee and learn about some exciting upcoming projects you may not be aware of within the world of independent comic book publishing.
Who doesn’t like a good supernatural story with a deep set conspiracy at its roots, especially when created by two incredible talents? Cullen Bunn is a comic book creator best known for his work on various Marvel Comics like “Uncanny X-Men” and “Deadpool;” however, Bunn also has a creator-owned body of work as well, with such books as “The Sixth Gun,” “Harrow County” and “The Damned.” Illustrator Jack Cole is a relative newcomer, whose ornate art can be found in the web series “Deep Engines.”
In “The Unsound,” from Boom Studios, a nurse uncovers a frightening secret in the far-reaching depths of the psychiatric hospital where she works. For The Hollywood Reporter’s official announcement of the series, Bunn stated about the project (which has connections to his previous Boom title, “The Empty Man”) that “This is one of those stories that starts small, then escalates into an epic exercise in world — and mythology — building.” Hitting the stands on June 7th, “The Unsound" is one title that will surely give its readers a lot to ponder.
Meredith Finch is a comic book writer whose work includes “Wonder Woman” (alongside her husband, and artist, David Finch) and “Grimm Tales of Terror;” Ig Guara is an illustrator who has worked on various titles for DC Comics (“Batman: Arkham Knight” and “The Ravagers”) and Marvel Comics (“All-New Wolverine”). Together, they’re bringing the epic fantasy series, “Rose," to Image Comics; and it sounds fascinating.
A girl destined to save a dying world; a Khat whose connection to the girl could mean hope for everyone; and an evil sorcerous with evil friends who want the girl stopped. This is the story of “Rose,” a classic fantasy comic book that deals with real life issues in a strange world. Finch describes her love for the fantasy genre in the Image Comics press release, saying “Rose, for me, more than anything is a love letter to that genre.” With such a capable creative team, and at a company that thrives on quality, creator-owned stories, “Rose” is sure to be destined for greatness. The first issue of “Rose” will be released on April 12, 2017.
13 THE GREATEST ADVENTURE
If one thing is clear, Bill Willingham is a master at taking classic, beloved characters, and reinventing them in compelling ways, as is the case with his long-running series, “Fables,” about fairytale characters being stuck in the modern world. Now, alongside artist Cezar Razek ("Battlestar Galactica” and “Stargate: Vala Mal Doran”), Willingham is back, with a new cast of veteran characters, in a whole new, adventurous world.
“The Greatest Adventure,” from Dynamite Comics, sees a group of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ finest creations — Tarzan, Korak, John Carter, Dejah Thoris and more — coming together to stop a major, galactic threat. In regards to his love for Burroughs’ characters and his new book, Willingham announced that “The Great Adventure contains everything I love that I could fit into a single series, including his most popular characters, as well as many obscure ones, which are nevertheless beloved to me.” Get to your local comic shop on April 19 to begin what will surely be — dare I say it — a great adventure!
Comics creator Donny Cates is no stranger to working on independent titles, having done work for Dark Horse (“The Ghost Fleet” and “Buzzkill”) and Image Comics (“God Country”). With his latest book, “Redneck,” from Image Comics imprint, Skybound, Cates is joined by gifted artist, Lisandro Estherren (“The Last Contract”). Together they’ll tell the tale of the Bowmans: a family of vampires who are just trying to live a peaceful life. But you can’t always get what you want.
The reason family dramas can be so compelling is because of their real life roots. Add in the fact that this story revolves around a family that drinks blood — with a centuries-old bloody past — and you’ve got yourself a winning story. “Redneck” sounds awesome, and just from the gory, over-the-top cover, it’s bound to be a brutal, entertaining and tragic comic. “Redneck” debuts on April 19, so go take a bite out of this series to whet your supernatural horror appetite.
11 THE AGGREGATE
If you haven’t seen Ben Bishop’s work yet, you’re in for quite a treat. Bishop has created his own work (“Nathan the Caveman”), has contributed illustrations to award winning graphic novels (“Lost Trail: Nine Days Alone in the Wilderness” and “The Reason for Dragons”) and has done cover artwork for IDW’s “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.” Now, after a hugely successful Kickstarter (he more than tripled his goal of $10k), Bishop is breaking graphic novel ground with “The Aggregate.”
“The Aggregate” is the first-ever split-decision graphic novel — like the popular “Choose Your Own Adventure” book series — where readers are able to gain something new with every read through. The OTAs — pilots of a giant, robot killing machine called the Aggregate — have been asleep for a millennium; but now, they’re awake. "The Aggregate” is a post-apocalyptic book that seems to mash together aspects of “Power Rangers” and “Mad Max,” while at the same time being something wholly fresh; and man, the artwork looks phenomenal. This innovative book is now up for pre-order at TheAggregateBook.com.
When you’ve created such titles as “Transmetropolitan,” “The Authority,” “Planetary” and “Red,” and have worked on such comics as “Hellblazer,” “Batman” and various "X-Men” books, anything you release should be welcomed with excitement by your fans. The prolific Warren Ellis is re-teaming with "Supreme: Blue Rose” artist Tula Lotay, for “Heartless,” what is sure to be an engaging and haunting read.
In “Heartless,” a female musician with a secretive past returns to the woods of England to write her next album, but “the forest doesn’t want her there.” Don’t you just get chills reading that quote from the book’s initial announcement? Not only does this comic sound like a terrifying story, but it also has the potential to be one of great depth and mystery. “Heartless” was announced at Image Comics Expo back in 2015, and there hasn’t been much word on it since. But without a cancellation announcement, there’s still hope that “Heartless” will soon find its way to the shelves and into our hearts.
A series that was announced back in April of 2016 at Image Comics Expo was “VS,” written by Ivan Brandon (“Drifter” and “Viking”) and illustrated by Esad Ribic (“Silver Surfer: Requiem” and “Secret Wars”). A science fiction comic dealing with the concept of privatized and televised wars and a hero struggling with his public appearance, “VS” seems to be a book that places its focus on the very real issues with reality television and viewers’ desire for heightened drama.
Aside from the cool premise and its commentary on social issues, the talent on this project also makes it quite intriguing. Brandon is a skilled writer who knows how to tell a compelling story with layered characters, and the detail in Ribic’s art has an intense grittiness to it, and at times, even a surreal feel. Unfortunately, this is another series that hasn’t been mentioned much since its initial announcement, but hopefully we’ll be seeing this dark, futuristic world sooner than later.
A second entry from Cullen Bunn is “Regression” from Image Comics. This time, Bunn teams up with brilliant artist Danny Luckert (“Haunted”) for a horror story that sounds in equal parts fascinating and frightening. “Regression” sees protagonist Adrian — a man haunted by nightmares — seeking “regression hypnotherapy” as a means of helping him sleep; unfortunately for Adrian (and the readers), his time traveling consciousness witnesses something dreadful, and when he returns to his present state of mind, he doesn’t return alone.
Bunn is a masterful storyteller whose ability to create new and engrossing worlds is incomparable, and Luckert has a keen grasp on facial expressions and body language, as seen in his visually stunning illustrations. This creative team is sure to bring about an enthralling reading experience with “Regression,” and just like its hero, the book is bound to give you nightmares for the foreseeable future once it’s released on May 10.
7 ISOLA: ISLAND OF THE DEAD
Hayao Miyazaki is a beloved Japanese animator of such titles as “Spirited Away,” “Princess Mononoke” and “Howl’s Moving Castle;” Brendan Fletcher is a comic book creator whose work includes DC’s “Gotham Academy” and “Batgirl of Burnside,” as well as Image Comic’s “Motor Crush.” What do you get when you cross Fletcher’s writing with Miyazaki’s popular style of animation and storytelling? “Isola: Island of the Dead.”
Fletcher has been working alongside illustrator Karl Kerschl (“The Abominable Charles Christopher” and "Gotham Academy"), saying "Isola" is the culmination of everything they've been working on for 16 years and that it's a story inspired by Miyazaki’s films. The tale is about a trip to the underworld by two women, hoping to restore one woman back to human form. While not much is known about the comic itself, the images released thus far look incredibly beautiful, and with the creators telling their story in the spirit of such adored films, “Isola” should shape up to be an exciting adventure. Be on the lookout for Fletcher and Kerschl’s book from Image Comics sometime this year.
Anytime Jonathan Hickman releases a new book, it’s cause for excitement. The man has worked on top titles such as Marvel’s “Fantastic Four,” “Avengers vs. X-Men” and "Secret Wars,” and he’s also created some of the most interesting and critically acclaimed comics as an indie author, including books like “The Nightly News,” “The Manhattan Project” and “East of West.” With his latest Image Comics release, “Frontier,” Hickman will once again be taking the lead on both writing and illustrations.
In an interview with Image Comics, Hickman states that his new story is “about humanity finally achieving a perfect, utopian tomorrow and then having it taken away…Basically, it’s about trying to survive when you’re a doomed culture.” Sounds depressing, sure, but with Hickman at the helm, it’ll most likely be awesome. His art, too, will likely utilize his signature dark tones and various color schemes to create such a devastating world. The premiere issue of “Frontier” should be reaching new grounds this spring.
Did you ever think you’d hear the words, “Goodfellas meets Freaky Friday?” Well, now you have, and the comic to feature such a cross-genre mashup is likely to become a hot commodity. “Crosswind” is an upcoming Image Comics release written by Gail Simone (“Batgirl” and “Red Sonja”) and illustrated by Cat Staggs (“Adventures of Supergirl” and “Star Trek”).
In a strange occurrence, a hitman and a housewife switch not only bodies, but their lives as well. Thus is the story of “Crosswind” and you can just imagine the kind of crazy mayhem that will ensue after the initial events transpire. Simone and Staggs are both known for their respective work on comics involving strong female characters with a lot of depth, so it will be interesting and fun to see how they portray a woman’s mind in a male body and vice versa. But in case you thought this sounds more like an adventure romance, think again. “It smells of gunpowder, nitro, and one-hour hotel rooms. It’s wrong and messed up, and we hope people love it as much as we do,” Simone stated in her official Image Comics press release. Don’t miss “Crosswind” on its June 21 release date.
Imagine a world in which most people have their own individual god; a world where each god has their own individual mortal; a world in which an unfortunate few are able to shape the individual gods. This is the world of “Godshaper,” a new six-issue series from Boom Studios, Eisner Award-nominated author Simon Spurrier (“The Spire” and “X-Men Legacy”) and newcomer illustrator Jonas Goonface.
“Godshaper” is such a unique premise with such a fantastic creative team that the only thing one might be disappointed about is the fact that there are only six issues planned. One thing’s for sure, with Spurrier on writing duties, the story will certainly be a multi-layered thrilling experience. And if the promotional images for “Godshaper” are any indication, Goonface is the perfect person to bring this odd and mysterious book to visual life. Shape your own reading experience and pick up issue one of “Godshaper” on April 12.
3 ETERNAL EMPIRE
Jonathan Luna and Sarah Vaughn once worked together on a fantastic Image Comics title called “Alex and Ada” about artificial intelligence and its place in society. Now they’re back with a new book from Image called “Eternal Empire,” and if their past creator-owned project is any evidence as to their capabilities as a team, then their fans are in for a treat.
“Eternal Empire” is a fantasy series about an empress who, for a century, has warred against the major countries of the world, with only one country now remaining. The protagonist of the comic is a woman who is very much ingrained within the evil empire, but may have found a way out. Luna and Vaughn have both shared their passion for fantasy, with Luna mentioning in the press release that “Sarah and I have spent the past year immersed in building this story and world.” Their past stories are deeply personal and thought-provoking, so there is no doubt that “Eternal Empire” — when it debuts on May 3 — will be just as alluring.
2 WORST WORLD
Not all comics need to be so dour. Some creators understand how to develop an intriguing storyline, with flawed yet likeable characters, but still manage to add humor and light-hearted moments. One such creator is Bryan Lee O’Malley (“Scott Pilgrim,” “Seconds” and “Snotgirl”). With his newest story, “Worst World,” O’Malley will focus his attention on protagonists Benny and Aubrey as they navigate through Los Angeles.
In what is planned to be a three-book series, at about 300 pages each, the story is already complete, just without an official release date; but any fan of O’Malley knows it’ll be worth the wait. His trademark cartoony drawing style and perfectly timed humor always translate expertly to the page, and from the brief glimpses he’s released from the book thus far, it seems like he’ll be introducing music to the scene again — something that made his ever-popular “Scott Pilgrim” series so awesomely rare. This one can’t come soon enough.
The final entry on the list is a graphic novel that comes from the brilliant storyteller, Jeff Lemire (“Essex County,” “Green Arrow” and “Sweet Tooth”). In “Roughneck,” from Simon and Schuster, a once great hockey player, who’s now a lonely drunk, is blindsided when his sister returns home; especially since she’s escaping her abusive ex-boyfriend.
This is the kind of story that Jeff Lemire was made to tell: a mix of introspection and powerful, broken relationships. His writing is visceral, tragic and captivating in ways that many writers simply cannot pull off, while his illustrations manage to capture the many nuances of the human condition. “Roughneck” sounds like it will hearken back to the “Essex County” type of narrative that brought Lemire such notoriety and this is a very good thing. Join Lemire on his latest journey on April 18, with the release of “Roughneck.” It will surely be comic writing at its finest.
Let us know in the comments which independent comics titles you plan on picking up!