My definition of “indie” is extremely loose here: Basically anything that’s not Marvel or DC, including some DC properties. It’s just an easy way for me to distinguish between “Marvel/DC” and “everybody else,” but I’m on the hunt for better terminology if you have any suggestions!
1) Abadazad by J.M. DeMatteis
A three-volume series designed for middle-grade readers, combining prose with comic-book illustrations. The prose happens in our world, and the (gorgeous) art represents the world of Abadazad…
If you like comics, or you WANT to like comics, you’ve gotta at least TRY Bone! It’s cute and funny, but if you read the whole series, it builds into a pretty awesome fantasy epic.
3) Courtney Crumrin by Ted Naifeh
A cute-goth series that achieves both cuteness and gothness. This is another one that seems directed toward middle-grade readers, but is super intense. Several volumes.
4) Daytripper by Gabriel Ba and Fabio Moon
Thanks to Outright Geekery for recommending this one! It takes one man, a Brazilian writer, and shows all the most important days of his life. Unfortunately, he dies on each one. Intrigued? You should be.
5) Get Fuzzy by Darby Conley
This is a newspaper comic strip about a cat. It’s kind of a less-cartoony version of Garfield, maybe? The misanthropic Bucky is paired with a sweet Shar Pei named Satchel to create hilarious shenanigans beloved by cat and dog owners alike. Lots of collections!
6) Grease Monkey by Tim Eldred
A single-volume sci-fi comic, in which aliens have arrived on Earth and “uplifted” gorillas to sentience. (They offered it to the dolphins first, and they said no.) The story follows a human and a gorilla on a defense station above Earth, where they’re mechanics assigned to an all-female squadron of space fighters. Space opera does not get better than this!
It’s superheroes, it’s Christmas, it’s fantasy about toys coming to life, it is adorable! The first volume is a couple years old now, but there was another series published this year.
8) Hypothetical Lizard by Alan Moore
This is an Alan Moore short story adapted into a graphic novel, set in a brothel that caters to specific magical needs. The viewpoint character has a permanent mask over one side of her face, allowing her to observe but never translate her observations into verbal statements since she’s only seen things with one side of her brain, which allows her to cater to magicians who don’t want their secrets told. It’s everything Alan Moore — philosophical, fantastical, traumatic. (CN: Rapey abusive situation.)
9) I Kill Giants by Joe Kelly and J.M. Ken Niimura
A story about a girl who kills giants. The crying is strong with this one. (CN: Bullying, cancer.)
10) Icon by Dwayne McDuffie
This was a series published by Milestone Comics, a company that was designed to create minority superheroes that’s been folded into DC and is generally being ignored. (Static Shock came from Milestone too!) Icon is kind of black Superman. It’s a fascinating story cancelled after two volumes.
11) The Masterplan by Scott Mills
Another one of my favorite sci-fi comics, one volume. It’s got time travel, mad scientists, all my favorite things!
An adorable wordless-comic series about a little owl in the forest, kind of a Winnie-the-Pooh type setup. Appropriate for all ages, from little kids up to adults!
13) Sweet Tooth by Jeff Lemire
A six-volume series you’ll find in the “mature” section of the comic shop. It’s a dystopian future following a boy with reindeer attributes — the children born after a certain point all have animal qualities. It takes a supernatural turn later in the series, but it pulls off a stylistically satisfying ending. Kind of a Walking Dead tone here only with more child deaths.
14) We3 by Grant Morrison
This is a slim volume about three cyborg animals — like, real-world animals, not anthropomorphized ones. The crying is strong with this one too, it’s awful. Why do I do this to myself?