What do you consider to be an independent comic book? I used to think this was an easy question, but nowadays, not so much. I started collecting comic books in the mid 80’s, from small hole in the wall comic book shops and candy stores in Brooklyn. Candy stores never kept up the pace with comic book release schedules, and so I didn’t really get to complete story lines on a month to month basis. Things stayed that way until I found my local comic shop, and started going every week.
It was in the comic shops that I first found something other than Spider-Man, X-Men, and Justice League International. Off to the corner I saw a comic where an elf was on a wolf, and another where some gray pig was dressed like Conan the Barbarian. They didn’t look like any of the books I bought, so I kept it moving. It wasn’t until years later when a magazine called WIZARD came out, that I learned what Elfquest ( Wendy and Richard Pini 1978) and Cerebus (Dave Sim 1977) the aardvark were. Say what you want about WIZARD, but before the internet this is where we got our comic book information. WIZARD magazine would introduce me to Madman (Mike Allred) Dawn (Joseph Michael Linsner), Shi (Billy Tucci) Bone (Jeff Smith), Lady Death (Brian Pulido) and loads of other independent comic books and their creators.
Now while I was introduced to all of these comic books that were not part of the big 2, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles had run it’s course on television and arguably movies. While there is no question that Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird started off the ninja turtles as an independent comic book, it grew into a multimedia empire that rivaled both Marvel and Dc. You look at what the big 2 are today, and you would think they’d be untouchable. Yet Mirage studios had their hands in toys, clothes, television, movies, cereal, bed sheets, etc.
Now the question I have for you is, are Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird still independent creators? I think that depends on what your definition of an independent comic book is. Do you define an independent publisher as someone other than Marvel and Dc? If so that would include Dark Horse, Image, and both incarnations of Valiant wouldn’t it? Do you define and independent comic book as one who has had the creator that started the title, be the only one who works on the title, like Erik Larsen with Savage Dragon, or Matt Wagner with Mage? Is an independent defined as one that does not have national distribution? Is an independent comic book creator someone who sits at a booth in a con, trying to get people to buy their comic book? Is today’s independent comic book one that seeks funding on a website like Kickstarter, Indie GoGo or other platforms?
My place is not to answer that for you, it’s only to get you thinking about it, it’s to get you talking about it. My place is to spread the word as best I can, to give someone’s comic book a chance at success.