The Subversive Superheroes of Indie Comics
Friday, August 19, 2016
By Nicole Audrey Spector (for Publishers Weekly) --
Some of the greatest movements in comics have happened beyond the limits of traditional publishing. Take the underground comics, aka comix, of the 1960s that took on subjects Superman never could have with their defiant depictions of sex, drugs, and rock ’n’ roll. It was the provocative stuff of teenage delinquency, and though self-published comic creators may continue to push the envelope of conventional comfort, self-publishing has become the norm for a growing community of supportive readers.
"Self-published comics are as popular as they’ve ever been—at an all-time high," says Anthony Composto, an assistant editor and writer at the pop culture site Monkeys Fighting Robots. "People are gravitating to smaller, underground works ahead of the mainstream comics. It’s on an incline and I see that continuing."
There are a few reasons behind the rising interest in self-published comics. To an extent it has to do with increasing receptiveness to indie publishing in general, and the fact that social media has connected authors with readers more than ever before. "Readers seem to be moving towards a greater acceptance of self-published titles and a greater appreciation for work that is personal, creative, and the result of a more singular vision," says Amy Edelman, the founder and president of IndieReader. "It is also easier these days for authors to share their work."
But perhaps the most significant drivers of interest in self-published comics are the eccentricity and dissent that define the category. Before the blockbuster superheroes of DC and Marvel, there were pulp magazines, popular in the early 20th century, and penny dreadfuls, which date to the 19th century. The antecedents of comic books were bizarre and imaginative, and those sensibilities didn’t die off when Spider-Man was born—they’ve always been around, but now we have greater access to comics from a more diverse pool of creators as technology has made self-publishing easier.
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