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The All-New, Slightly Delayed IGW: Cross-Promoting Indie Books During the DC Relaunch

Written by Christian Hoffer on Tuesday, September 20 2011 and posted in Columns

Trying to figure out what to read after DC's New 52?  IGW humbly suggests some great indie reads!  Plus, news and reviews from the last two weeks!

The News Reel

In a stunning shocker, writer J.T. Krul announced that he was stepping down as the writer of Green Arrow. In an open letter to his facebook friends, J.T Krul admitted that he simply could not come to terms with DC's new editorial mandate that said that the character should have mutton chops instead of his usual goatee. "I'm not a fan of DC's new direction with Oliver Queen," said Krul. "Losing his lustrous goatee and giving him mutton chops robs the character of everything that places him apart from the dozens of other archers running around comics." DC pointed out that it was not his beard that set him apart but rather his liberal sensibilities, hot temper and misfortune with the ladies, all of which they also disposed of in the Relaunch.

Marvel and DC have been engaging in guerilla marketing tactics in social networking. DC fired the first shot when they bought ads that appeared every time someone searched for a Marvel character on twitter. Marvel countered by buying ad space on Youtube that popped up whenever someone searched for DC's TV ads or video reviews. DC upped the ante by setting a bag of dog crap on fire and leaving it at the front door of Marvel's publishing office in New York. No words on how Marvel will respond, but rumors indicate that Marvel has stockpiled a large amount of toilet paper.

Marvel announced that Ultimate Comics Ultimate Spider-Man #1 was the top-selling digital comic of all time. In related news, my aunt announced that her daughter's lemonade stand had also broken all records and had become the top-selling lemonade distributor on her block. Industry analysts believe that the sell-thru volume of the digital comic and the young girl's lemonade stand are comparable.

Cross-Promoting Indie Books During DC's Relaunch
DC has dominated the comic book industry buzz in recent months. Their (sort of) relaunch and (sort of) bold new direction has captured the industry's fascination and overshadowed several other "major" announcements from Marvel, leaving many fans frustrated that their favorite company is being overlooked in favor of the abolition of Superman's overpanties.   When discussing DC's dominance of the press yesterday, I realized that DC's recent press blitz has been detrimental to a different genre of book that has nothing to do with islands of spiders or a hairy mutant's penchant for filicide.

Independent comics have long been a rugged underdog when compared to comics that the big two put out. Although many indie books are superior in quality to their mainstream counterpart, their lack of recognizable characters and a dedicated marketing department puts the books at a disadvantage. However, unlike "mainstream" superhero comic books which rely on a dedicated fanbase's desire to read regular installments of their favorite characters, indie comics benefit by being "slow burners". Titles such as Y: The Last Man continue to sell years after the series' end due to a steady buzz and interest from "non-traditional" comic book readers.

If you're enjoying some of DC's new books, why not branch out a little and check out a corresponding independent title? Below is a list of some of DC's New 52 and some series you might want to try out if you're looking for more comics in a similar vein.

If you liked Justice League: Geoff Johns has stated that the new Justice League focuses on the interpersonal relationships between characters such as Green Lantern, Batman and Superman. Another superhero book built around relationships is Robert Kirkman and Ryan Ottley's Invincible. Invincible chronicles the struggles and development of Mark Grayson, the teenaged son of the world's premier superhero. After a stunning twist twelve issues in, Mark has to step in the role his father once held while juggling his relationships with his family and friends.

Invincible's strength is the methodical build-up of various subplots and arcs. Kirkman grows his plots organically and doesn't rush them to fulfill a need for a "big event" in the book. While I can't say that a moment in Invincible has shocked me per say, it is satisfying to watch a long-running subplot come to fruition. Invincible isn't a "perfect" superhero book, but neither is Justice League. If you're looking for a book that mixes action with characterization and drama, Invincible is the book for you.

If you liked Batwing: I've seen comments on several boards that Batwing fills a hole left by the cancellation of Unknown Soldier, a book that focused on the civil war in Uganda. While the first issue of Batwing only hints about the geopolitical turmoil in Africa, Jonathan Dysart's Vertigo series really digs in and brazenly confronts the reality of child soldiers and the daily brutality in one of the most ignored conflicts occurring today. It's a hard-hitting, uncompromising book that examines not only the tragedy in Uganda but also the ugliness of human nature.

If you liked Animal Man: There are plenty of superlative horror comics published by independent publishers today. The finest of these is Locke and Key, which is one of the best comics in publication today. At both Animal Man and Locke and Key's core is a unique family dynamic that's tested by paranormal forces.   While the Baker clan struggles with Buddy's life as a superhero and his connection to the Bleed, the Locke family have to contend with a mysterious force that haunts their father's childhood home and may have something to do with his death at the hands of one of his students.

Locke and Key is brilliant, frightening and dark with rich, vibrant characters and a paranormal plot that leaves you constantly begging for more. Gabriel Rodriguez's artwork is phenomenal and catches the surrealism and emotion that the Locke children face and their struggle to maintain a normal life in the face of mounting tragedy. There's a reason that Joe Hill's series was adapted into a TV series pilot (which was unfortunately passed by Fox, who decided that Ramsey's Violently Cursing at Food was a safer programming choice) and is widely hailed as a favorite by many industry pros. Do yourself a favor and read the first arc of Locke and Key and try not to hurt anyone when you rush out for more.

If you like Men of War: Men of War examines the life a soldier living in a world of superheroes. If you enjoy war genre comics, DMZ is a Vertigo title that examines civil war and the collapse of society from the eyes of an embedded reporter. Set in a not too distant future where the Island of Manhattan has become a battleground between the United States and a collection of separatist states, DMZ is a nuanced book that examines ideologue, warfare and American culture in a captivating series.

If you're more interested in how superheroes affect other public servants, be sure to check out Ex Machina as well. The Brian Vaughn series combines superheroics with modern day politics in a post 9/11 world. Shocking, controversial and engaging, Ex Machina is a must read for anyone curious about political discourse in a world of superpowers.

If you like I, Vampire: While I, Vampire hasn't come out yet, early buzz has the series pegged as a dark horse during the DC Relaunch. Vampires have always had a home in comics and there are currently two superior vampire stories on shelves today. The first is Undying Love, written by Tomm Coker and Daniel Freedman. The series is an action-packed series that focuses on the relationship between badass John Sargent and Mei, who's been bitten by one of the strongest vampires in existence. In order to save Mei from the eternal life of a vampire, Sargent has to face off against vampires and other Chinese supernatural creatures.

The other series is the much lauded American Vampire series by Scott Snyder and Rafael Albuquerque.   American Vampire examines the emergence of a new breed of vampire in American history. Snyder has built a surprisingly deep world in a variety of historical backdrops ranging from the Pacific Theatre of World War II to the Wild West. It's an amazing story and will instantly draw you in.

If you Like All-Star Western: Do you enjoy the Wild West? Would you like to see what happened after the West was won? Check out Scalped, Jason Aaron and R.M. Guera's modern day examination of the Lakota tribe in South Dakota. Much like Jonah Hex, All-Star Western's spiritual predecessor, Scalped doesn't hold back in showing the seedy underbelly and corruption in one of the last corners of the Old West. Scalped is a powerful read that captures the "spirit" of the Wild West in a modern setting.

If you're looking for a different twist on a Western tale, why not try The Sixth Gun, the best supernatural western on the market? Set in the Reconstruction Era, The Sixth Gun mixes thunderbirds with gunslingers and mummies with a train showdown. The book focuses on six guns of immense power who fall in the hands of Drake Sinclair, a mysterious rogue, and Rebecca Moncrief, an innocent but able-bodied girl.

If you Like Teen Titans: Teen Titans is the popular teenage superhero title that has suffered lately from a string of mediocre artists and writers. If you're looking for a more consistent source of angst, romance, drama and a whole lot of danger, check out Nick Spencer's Morning Glories. The Morning Glory Academy is a deadly academy in which students live up to expectations or die gruesome deaths, often at the hands of their teachers. A new group of students don't take too kindly to the administrations' brutal philosophy and look to escape with their lives intact. Spencer tosses in hints of a supernatural mystery mixed with Lost-like flashbacks to make the series one of the most captivating reads on the market.

If you Like Red Lanterns:   Red Lanterns may have been a stinker of a title, but it does feature one of the coolest characters to come out of DC in the last five years. Dex-Starr the Rage Cat is the angry blue furball that has won the hearts of everyone not named Punchy McChimneySweep. If you're looking to get a fix of kickass animals without having to suffer from one of DC's worst offerings, try IDW's revamp of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

It's impossible not to know the basic concept behind the TMNT. Four turtles were mutated in a lab experiment and evolved to become pizza-loving teenaged ninja. The revamp is written by Kevin Eastman, creator of the TMNT, and is delving into some less-explored corners of the TMNT mythos. Whether you're a fan of the cartoons and movies or simply are looking for a fun comic, TMNT is the book for you.

If you Like Swamp Thing: Swamp Thing, written by Scott Snyder, showcases the writer's ability to write weird and creepy tales that leave readers uncomfortable and wanting more. Another one of his creepy horror tales is Image's Severed. Severed is a period piece that focuses on a young man's search for his biological father who gains the attention of an unusual killer. The book is a disturbing read that leaves readers on the edge of their seats wondering what will happen next.

So what are your cross-sells for the DC Relaunch? Leave your suggestions in the comments!

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About the Author - Christian

Christian is the exasperated Abbott to the Outhouse's Costello. When he's not yelling at the Newsroom for upsetting readers or complaining to his wife about why the Internet is stupid, he sits in his dingy business office trying to find new ways to make the site earn money. Christian is also the only person in history stupid enough to moderate two comic book forums at once.


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