Comic book characters represent the eras they come from and become recognized icons, perhaps more so than in other media. The American comic book industry in the 1930s, a tangle of affiliated publishers and studios, slowly gave way to the hegemony of The Big Two: DC and Marvel Comics. However, a whole world of independent comic book characters made their appearance in the 1980s and 1990s.
Since the 1960s, there have been artists creating underground comics for a countercultural audience. In the late 1970s, an independent middle ground developed in which commercially viable characters appeared as alternatives to The Big Two. Companies like First, Caliber and Dark Horse arrived, but for the most part they failed to achieve stellar sales. Image Comics changed that in 1992, when the so-called Image Revolution exploded in comic book stores, outselling DC for a month. The industry, and its characters, have never been the same.
10/10 Michonne from The Walking Dead is tough as nails and irreplaceable
Even in comics, not all heroes wear capes and many are just human. Michonne’s The Walking Dead he is the best example of a hero making his mere mortal status work for him. In a world overrun by mindless zombies, the most important power is sheer determination. When she first appears, she is flanked by two chained ‘walkers’; one of whom turned out to be her boyfriend killed her.
by robert kirkman The Walking Dead The comic ran for 193 issues, with 174 of them published after Michonne’s introduction in 2005. The TV adaptation of the AMC comics has been wildly successful, and while the show is coming to an end this year, a spin-off has been announced. -off with Michonne. It seems that viewers and television networks can not live without it.
9/10 Mage’s Kevin Matchstick Is In A Personal Version Of The Hero’s Journey
An example of indie comics’ ability to marry the mundane with the extraordinary in a way that DC and Marvel can’t, Kevin Matchstick is a man chosen by fate. His life forms an allegory, combining the legendary King Arthur with the personal life story of his creator, Matt Wagner.
Wizard has been counted as a trilogy spanning 35 years of American independent comics. the first series Wizard: The Uncovered Hero was part of the black and white boom of the 80s, Mage: The Definite Herojoined at the end of the ’90s image revolution, and Wizard: The Hero Denied arrived during the heyday of the mid-2010s. Kevin has morphed over time to represent a kind of superhuman everyman, becoming who he needs to be in each new story.
8/10 Fone Bone is the inhuman everyman at the center of a fantasy epic
Ever since Scholastic picked up the reprint rights to Jeff Smith’s epic tale of beautiful maidens and dastardly giant rat creatures, the world has come to know the good-natured Fone Bone. In the midst of Smiley Bone’s antics and Phoney Bone’s schemes, Fone Bone kept perspective on him. He symbolically represents all honest joes and well done children’s comics everywhere.
Like his inspiration, that of Walt Kelly pogo, the Fone Bone story hasn’t really made it to the screens. In this case, it’s only because Netflix’s deal to produce an animated adaptation of the entire Bone The story fell through earlier this year. Regardless, for kids, parents, and readers of great comics, the story lives on.
7/10 Homelander is the most recognizable dark reflection of mainstream superhero icons.
Sometimes standalone comics are designed to comment directly on the iconic archetypes that Marvel and DC have proliferated. Few characters have epitomized this as well as Garth Ennis’ horrifyingly evil supervillain and Darick Robertson masquerading as a superhero, The Homelander.
Looking like an American ideal as Captain America and carrying Superman’s set of powers, Homelander corrupts the superhero’s image. In both the original comic and the live-action adaptation, Homelander terrifies many characters in Boys with assault, cannibalism and other atrocities. Independent characters can be dark mirrors of more conventional characters and, by extension, our own fears about power and the future.
6/10 ElfQuest’s Cutter became the longest-running main character in Indie Comics
Although the epic comic series elfquest Began in 1978 and has not been in constant publication, it has evolved into a family fantasy adventure saga through various spin-offs and through several different publishers. A new graphic novel, published by Dark Horse Comics in June, means the characters of Wendy and Richard Pini have spanned more than 40 years, an unprecedented success for independently owned comics.
Although some graphic novels were published independently and underground comics continued to challenge the mainstream, elfquest it was, in many ways, the first groundbreaking independent comic. Cutter and the other Wolfriders of the World of Two Moons reached a wider audience for longer than any other group of independent comics characters.
5/10 Madman’s Zany Pastiche embodies the freedom of independent comics
As indescribable as he is irrepressible, Mike Allred’s creation Madman can’t control his own superpowers. He is a wacky superhero who blurs the lines between parody and drama. The character’s out-of-control nature and his chaotic world push the creative envelope, making the life of Frank Einstein both hilarious and dramatic. Few comic book characters can fully encapsulate what makes indies different like Madman does.
For anyone casually reading comics in the ’90s, Madman is instantly recognizable. The simplicity of Allred’s Madman costume design perfectly reflects the character’s purpose as a conduit for wacky stories that reference pop culture and never temper the fun in the name of common sense.
4/10 Cerebus is a testament to the long-term potential of Indie Comics.
The first standalone character whose title reached 300 issues, Cerebus is among the longest-running characters in American comics. Specifically, Dave Sim brain was the longest running off-limits comic from The Big Two publications until Appear he broke that record in 2019, with 300 consecutive issues published for 27 years.
A cartoonish but murderous little anteater, Cerebus is unfamiliar to most non-comics readers and always had an edgy sense of humor that made him hard to like. To his detriment, the creator of the little boy was also surrounded by controversy. Using his comic as a platform, Sim published multiple misogynistic manifestos, losing a large chunk of his fan base in the process. Cerebus represents huge success in independent comics, and Sim was a once-in-a-generation talent, but they also prove that success is almost always fleeting.
3/10 Hellboy cuts a unique figure in the world of comics
If film, animation, and video game adaptations are enough to make a comic book character iconic, few outside of Marvel or DC can beat Mike Mignola’s lovable son of the devil, Hellboy. More importantly, the character’s attitude, unique look, and shared universe of BPRD the stories built around it stand on their own as the foundations of one of the greatest worlds in comics.
With his unmistakable silhouette, Hellboy has been a unique presence in the world of comics since 1993. Mignola’s character has starred in three live-action movies, two animated movies, and two video games. That’s more than any American independent comics property other than the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
2/10 Spawn rode the wave of change in the comics industry for three decades.
Spawn is the most recognizable superhero character created in the indie comics boom of the early 1990s. Created by Todd McFarlane in 1992, the character epitomizes the brave and violent heroes of that decade.
It’s also worth noting that Spawn’s meteoric rise, late ’90s fall, and slow revival paralleled those of Image Comics and the entire American comic book industry. McFarlane’s character has weathered some tough times. In 2019, Appear he became the first independent superhero comic to surpass 300 issues and is the only independently owned comic character to continue past issue 300.
1/10 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles changed the industry and became a household name
Many people don’t know that Ninja Turtles are comic book characters, assuming they first appeared in the famous 1987 Saturday morning cartoon. In 1984, the independent black and white production TMNT the comic appeared, inspiring the show and everything that came after it. It was self-published by the young Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird on a shoestring budget.
No one making comics outside of Marvel and DC had come close to TMNTThe worldwide success of and only a few have since. The creation of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles it changed the game and led to the black and white wave of the ’80s, the image revolution of the ’90s, and today’s redefined indie comics.
NEXT: The 15 Best Indie Comics Currently In Print (November 2022)