Not all popular comics are produced by the top-two publishing houses, Marvel and DC.
Ever since Image Comics put its first issues on store shelves way back in 1992, the independent, creator-owned publisher has been a mainstay at local comic shops. While Image isn’t the first independent publisher, it quickly became the best known as superstar artists Todd McFarlane, Jim Lee, Rob Liefeld, and Erik Larsen banned together to invigorate the market with all-new characters and stories geared toward an adult audience.
In recognition of the other publishing houses, today’s list focuses on the Hottest Comics over this past summer that are not in the mainstream.
By far, Spawn has been the flagbearer of characters published outside the big two. It all started when McFarlane and company branched away from DC and Marvel and started a creator-own line of comics under the Image banner. While most of those original titles have been forgotten, Spawn is still trekking. Since “Spawn” #1 debut back in 1992, there has been a movie and an adult-themed cartoon series. Now Spawn will be getting a cinematic reboot soon, and that will only keep the character in the limelight.
Over the summer, “Redneck” #1 was one of the hottest comics on the market. Image Comics sent comic shops dealer-incentive variants of the first issue, most with the gold foil printing on the title, and they were hard to come by. Since then, the popularity has dwindled, but it’s still an issue that’s traded regularly on eBay. Donny Cates, the writer behind two of the titles on today’s list, is moving over to Marvel Comics and penning “Doctor Strange” and “Thanos,” but his roots are in the independent circuit.
Technically “Preacher” #1 is part of DC Comics, but it’s printed under the Vertigo label. While Jesse Custer is becoming more popular with casual fans and even non-comic readers thanks to the television show, it’s still not what you could call a mainstream property. As the show gains viewers, Jesse and Cassidy will only become better known outside the comic realm. Eventually, Preacher could cross into the mainstream, at least the live-action version, but the ultra-violent and dark comedy of the Garth Ennis stories will likely keep the comics with more of the cult following.
Robert Kirkman, the brains behind “The Walking Dead” and the zombie explosion we’ve seen in pop culture, is still creating comics for us. Of course when you have “creator of TWD” on your resume, anything you write is going to garner attention. So it’s no surprise that Outcast has a television show that premiered just two years after “Outcast” #1 hit store shelves. LIke Preacher, the more popular the television series gets, the more collectible the first issue will be, but it’s doubtful that it will ever reach the heights of Walking Dead.
57. GOD COUNTRY
My person favorite on this list, Donny Cates’ “God Country” is an epic mix of real-world problems for its characters (the protagonist suffers from alzheimer’s) and fantasy (said character is free of alzheimer’s when he holds a magic, talking sword). There’s no talk of this limited series – there were only six issues – moving to either movies or television, but it’s such a good story that fans continue to buy up these issues. Personally, I feel this is Cates’ best work to date, and I’m hoping his takes on Doctor Strange and Thanos have the same realistic base combined with fantasy.
“Saga” #1 is a tough comic to get your hands on. This epic sci-fi/fantasy has built an impressive following since the first issue was published in 2012. The Brian K. Vaughn epic is a consistently hot comic on eBay. Throughout the summer, collectors were forking out anywhere from $140 to nearly $350 for high grade issues of “Saga” #1. If sales stay high, it would be feasible to see a major studio translate this into a television show or a feature film, which will only raise those prices even higher.