If you’re a certain age, then you’ll remember the days when the pages of comic books consisted of newspaper print. Those days are long gone. However, since 2006, Alterna Comics has been publishing creator-owned comics while simultaneously bringing back newspaper print. If you're looking for something new, look no further.
Alterna comics read like fanzines. It is evident that within these pages, the artists enjoy what they are doing and it’s apparent that each title is written and illustrated by those who merely love comic books and want to share their stories. When a local comic shop manager introduced me to Alterna Comics, he told me “Marvel and DC will always sell, but there are so many great indie comic publishers out there.” The most significant difference between Alterna and the more prominent comic book publishers is that they don’t try to be something they’re not because there is less production. The images are less refined, but in some way that lends itself to a more honest portrayal.
The list of titles is divided up between print (11), digital (19), and graphic novels (20). So far I’ve only read the print titles: The Chair, Amazing Age (written by Matthew D. Smith, art by Jeremy Massie, colors by Christine Brunson. Adam Wreck, Mother Russia (written and illustrated by Jeff McComsey). Scrimshaw (written by Eric Borden, art and colors by Dave Mims, and letters by Spike O’laochdha). And Trespasser (written by Justin M. Ryan, art by Kristian Rossi, and letters by D.C. Hopkins).
The print titles are then further broken down into the intended audience, with Adam Wreck and Amazing Age for General Audiences, Trespasser for Teen or Young Adult, The Chair, Scrimshaw, and Mother Russia for Mature Readers.
As given on the Alterna Comics homepage, the log-lines sum up each title:
Amazing Age: Three teenagers spend their days creating comics until one day, the stories come to life!
Adam Wreck: An interstellar road trip comes to a screeching halt when Adam’s parents are kidnapped by Space Pirates!
Trespasser: After a devastating war ruins the air supply for most of the world, Hector and his daughter Maria struggle to survive.
The Chair: Richard Sullivan has spent ten years on death row for a crime he claims he never committed.
Scrimshaw: With a planet ravaged by war, ruthless corporations have the governments in the pockets.
Mother Russia: One baby. One rifle. Two million zombies! A zombie apocalypse breaks out in WWII.
I’ve read my fair share of lousy indie comics, and I can honestly say all of the stories contained these published by Alterna comics have all been very good, and always leave you wanting more.
The only title I enjoyed a little less than the others was Scrimshaw. I enjoyed the cinema-like flow and scope, although the vision may be too vast for a comic series. I found the font tiny; the art is exciting but a little undistinguished and challenging to decipher at times. Also, I am not the biggest fan of post-apocalyptic stories. It seems by the end of each scene there should be another panel that got cut out before the next scene starts, leaving the reader hanging. This tactic is useful in getting the reader to want more but it can be a little overdone and frustrating. Give me what I want!
Most of the series are minis with monthly or bi-monthly publications. Adam Wreck recently published their last issue in a three issue series. Amazing Age has three issues published out of five; Trespasser just published issue two of four. Mother Russia just released issue two of three, The Chair just released issue three of four, and Scrimshaw is an ongoing series.
Overall, reading Alterna Comics brings back memories of reading indie books from the 70's like Star Reach. You get such a variety of story and art there’s something for everyone, and at $1.50 an issue, there isn't more enjoyable and affordable fun found anywhere else in comic form.