September 4, 2012 at 2:00 pm By:

Super hero comics are fine.  Lots of us started with them, and lots of us still enjoy the occasional cape-centric yarn.  Still, there’s a big chunk of readers who grow stagnant with recycled storylines and event gimmicks and want something different.  Sometimes I feel like there’s a social or psychological barrier that keeps super hero readers from dipping their toes in the Indie section (and vice versa).  I’m here to let you know it’s entirely okay to read a diversity of genres.  It’s healthy to like a little bit of everything, and that variety keeps you from getting burnt out on any single type of comic.  So with that said, here are a few examples from the plethora of well-crafted stories waiting for you in the Indie/Literature section in the back corner of our store.

1) Garage Band is a book I’ve been a fan of for several years.  This single volume paperback by Italian cartoonist Gipi is filled with lush watercolors and a refreshing take on the coming-of-age story.  There are four archetypal teenagers who come together to form a band and rage against the machine that is responsibility.  While the story and its themes might be fairly common, it’s Gipi’s execution that really sets this book apart.  In addition to the watercolors, Gipi’s use of silence and space show his wisdom as a storyteller.

2) Tim Lane’s Abandoned Cars is a great option for those interested in Beat culture, hobos, carnivals (and their sideshows) and the notion of escaping from general malaise.  This volume of short stories covers elements of all these and more, and would fit into your collection right between that book of Charles Bukowski poems and your Tom Waits records.  There’s alienation, disenchantment and longing, but they all reveal themselves as more than cliches, and present a unique look at modern America and its mythologies.

3) The cartooning of Jim Woodring is deservedly esteemed. You’ll find his books Weathercraft, Congress of the Animals and The Frank Book over in our Indie section, and each represents the artist’s utterly unique voice.  Aside from the dream-like quality of his cartooning, Woodring’s known for his use of wordless, silent storytelling.  But this isn’t to say there’s no narrative element present, because Woodring’s stories always unfold with a strong sense of story.  They just reveal themselves without language.  Sometimes they evoke a mild psychedlia, sometimes a celebration of the mundane, but they always move with a rhythmic and melodic sensibility completely original to Woodring.

4) Rob Vollmar and Pablo Callejo’s Blues Man is a graphic novel I’m sure lots of you overlooked.  Like you’d expect, it follows the troublesome life of a blues singer.  The book epitomizes the ping pong game back and forth between life imitating art and art imitating life.  It’s also full of plenty of literary techniques like foreshadowing, foreboding weather and a musicality of both language and form.  It appealed to me because of its inclusion of music, but I enjoyed it well enoughy to check out the creators’ other work The Castaways, which I also recommend.  The latter is remiscent of the aforementioned Abandoned Cars, and tips a hat to  the poetry of the Beat generation.

We all know comics aren’t just for kids, but it’s worth remembering that there are plenty of strong adult stories waiting for you in the Indie section.  If you’re among the uninitiated, don’t worry.  All you have to do is walk over and keep an open mind.




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