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Top 10 Kickstarter Comics Of 2016

Written by Robert Porter

Greetings comic lovers of the future! That’s right gang, I’ve been sent back in time to salvage anything good I could find from the year 2016; and wouldn’t you know it? It’s comics! Yes, comics. 2016 was a smashing year for independent, creator owned comics, with many excellent titles being successfully funded and released through crowdfunding campaigns. So without further ado, let’s take a look at my top ten favourites from the year 2016…in descending order, of course. Watch out for spoilers!

10: Unfamiliar Skies

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Now don’t let the fact that this comic is in the last spot on the countdown fool you. Sam Webster‘s Unfamiliar Skies is just what the doctor ordered for fans of galactic fiction like Star Wars. When humankind devises a plan to send generations of humans on a long voyage through space in search of habitable planets, teenager Claris Muston takes it upon herself to escape her forced fate as a traveller, and eventual settler of a distant world. Of course this leads to all sorts of dangerous shenanigans, and we meet a colorful cast of characters along the way.

My favourite aspect of Unfamiliar Skies (besides space, tee hee) is Webster’s artwork. There are excellent dynamics with regards to the locales in which we explore alongside Claris, and the designs of the various races of aliens really makes you feel like you’re in some expansive, galactic community. It is an immersive experience, and I for one have been salivating over the prospect of a follow up issue. No seriously, I’ve been saving all the saliva too. I mean, who knows? Saliva could be a currency on some far away planet. I could live like a king!

To pick up your own copy of Unfamiliar Skies visit Webster’s official website, then go ahead and follow him on Facebook and Twitter. If you’re a fan you’ll be happy to know that he regularly posts original artwork on social media!

9: Voracious: Feeding Time

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Some of our readers might be familiar with dinosaurs, yes? Well, Voracious and its sequel series Voracious: Feeding Time are all about those prehistoric pals, and begs the question: just how tasty are they? If this book is any indication, the answer is very. Markisan Naso weaves a modern day tale full of time travel, budding romance, and many, many pounds of Velociraptor meat. How does protagonist and expert chef Nate Willner obtain said meat? I’m glad you asked.

Besides mouth watering Stegosaurus steaks and tasty Tyrannosaur tenders (alliteration), Voracious throws its readers into the world of Nate Willner, a professional chef who falls on hard times. The silver lining is that Nate’s crazy (and deceased) Uncle Tony has left him a large sum of money as well as a sweet science lab, complete with time travelling SCUBA gear and some awesome computer…things. Oh, and it’s all neatly packed away in the mountains of good ol’ Utah! Nate takes to travelling back in time and serendipitously discovers that dino-meat is pretty delicious. Enter: Nate’s fantastic new restaurant, “Sara’s Fork and Fossil,” lovingly named after his late sister.

Be sure to feast (see what I did there) your eyes on Jason Muhr‘s spectacular artwork throughout Voracious. It’s absolutely astounding how Muhr manages to give life not only to the characters, but to the real stars of the show: the dinosaurs!

So, where does the success of Nate’s new dinosaur cutlet (and salad, I guess) enterprise take us? Into a strange new land, of course! Pick up Voracious and its sequel here, and if you want even more dino-delicacies then follow Markisan Naso and Jason Muhr on Twitter here and here. Bam!

8: Afterlife Inc. Volume 4: Man Made God

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Jon Lock‘s Afterlife Inc., a series that has been consistently well received and highly successful returned to us in 2016 with its fourth instalment, Afterlife Inc. Volume 4: Man Made God. After an incredibly strong first issue, Lock managed to streamline the series with each new volume, and has created a world with near limitless storytelling potential.

When con-man Jack Fortune dies and realises no one’s home in the afterlife, he takes it upon himself to capitalise on the open market and “improve the quality of death for all.” Sounds pretty genius to me. I mean, it doesn’t appear as through the afterlife will be going out of style any time soon (note to self: start a shamelessly similar and competitive business).

This most recent volume deals with the problem of Empyrean’s rightful owners returning and wondering just what the heck has been going on in their absence. Of course this leads to all sorts of problems and it seems as though Jack might have to handover the keys to pearly gates.

The creative team behind Afterlife Inc. Volume 4 consists of Lock, David Tinto, Ash Jackson, Mike Bunt, and Verity Glass. Readers of Big Punch Magazine will recognise Lock as the writer and creator of Orb, 99 Swords, and the especially mind-bending Cuckoos.

To catch up on all things Afterlife Inc. check out the official website and then follow Jon Lock on Facebook and Twitter for updates!

7: Cadavers #1: Doppelgänger

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For those of you who are more interested in reading about characters who didn’t quite make it into the afterlife, Matt Hardy‘s Cadavers is the book for you. Meet The Spectrals, a group of dimensionally displaced misfits with a penchant for delicious beer. Due to their…off putting appearances, The Spectrals are forced into segregation and live out (heh) their days squirrelling away what little money they can earn by engaging in some of the more suspect activities available to them.

Of course all this draws the attention of the mass media, which seeks to villainize The Spectrals any way it can (sound familiar?). At the centre of the smear campaign is Marckus North, a media mogul and all around slimey dude. What is North’s game?

Sure, Cadavers tackles some heavy socioeconomic issues, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t fun. From the eternally afflicted Bogeyman and chain-smoking three hundred year old “kid” Anima, to Doppelgänger, the focus of this first issue, the cast of Cadavers is lively (if a bit undead) and extremely entertaining. Edward Bentley‘s artwork brings the story to life in glorious full colour, and perfectly compliments Hardy’s script.

To get your own copy of the first issue of Cadavers visit Mad Robot Comics’ official website, and for updates on future instalments follow Mad Robot Comics on Twitter!

6: Torsobear Volume 3: Back on the Blocks

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Torsobear! Brett Uren‘s cuddly (and hard-boiled) anthology took readers back to Toyburg in 2016 with Torsobear Volume 3: Back on the Blocks. Toyburg may seem like a delightful and joyous little city, what with all the toys walking around, but below the surface something far more sinister lurks.

Detective Ruxby Bear and his partner Officer Hazbrow are back in this newest (and possibly final) instalment of the popular series, and they’re off to confront all manner of corrupt officials who wish to get their filthy paws (and other types of claws/hands) on the levers of power in Toyburg.

One of the biggest strengths of Torsobear has always been the Universe in which the stories take place. What Uren has managed to achieve is a departure from some of the trappings of more linear storytelling, while providing a gigantic canvas for the large team of artists he has assembled throughout the series’ run. While this can be a bit of a jolt as readers go from one story to the next, it does offer a fair amount of variety and keeps things visually interesting.

Want more Torsobear? Head on over to the official website and make sure to follow Bret Uren on Twitter for updates!

On to the top five in the countdown! Which comics made the cut? Only I know for sure (I think), so c’mon let’s go!

5: The Claws #1

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Ah yes, The Claws. Richard Carrington‘s premier issue of the book that kills the hero in its opening pages was certainly a highlight of 2016, a year I have dubbed “The Year of Sweet, Sweet Comics.” But enough about my lousy ideas, let’s talk about The Claws!

The city of Olympus was one protected by a fearless superhero called The Wrath, until one fine day when the villains decided to team up and beat the life out of him! Hmmm, that sounded a bit morbid, but I promise this book comes off as nothing but pure fun. With characters like The Carny, Bulldog Barnes and The Loon, the villainous team of criminal conspirators known as “The Claws” are a nefarious tapestry of evil (and some comedy) that will leave you wanting lots more.

Heck, the character of The Carny alone had me re-reading this first issue of The Claws over and over again. Now there are some moments in this book that may come off as offensive to some, so that’s something to watch out for, but as a whole The Claws is delightfully entertaining and doesn’t take itself too seriously.

Carrington takes on writing, colours and letters, while J.C. Grande handles pencils and inks. With their combined powers, the creative team behind The Claws create a memorable, humorous, spectacular looking experience for fans of comics that just want to see the bad guys come out on top for once. Watch out for a cliff hanger ending where that pesky hero shows up again. Here’s hoping to his second demise in issue two!

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For those of you who are unfamiliar with Split Lip Comics, it is an ongoing title that features stories of weird fiction akin to shows like The Twilight Zone or Night Gallery. What I like most about this anthology edition is the variety, and boy is it full of that! Writer Sam Costello teams up with artists from around the globe to bring readers an experience that is both frightening and illuminating. Also, this hardcover collected edition doubles as a weapon with which to defeat any ghosts and monsters that may be lurking in your closet or under your bed (trust me on that. I’m haunted as anything).

Seriously though, this book is tremendous. It is broken down into sections with names such as “Tragedies” that confront the different horrors of life; some supernatural, some all too real. Each story is written by Costello and all feature some of the best artwork I have seen in recent times. Unfortunately, there are simply too many great artists on this book to mention them all here, and you don’t really want to see me gushing all day do you?

One of my favourite aspects of this collected edition of Split Lip Comics is the amount of extra material that is packed in with the stories. From interviews with the creators, to script breakdowns and examples of the artistic process, there is no shortage of information and insight into the stories, and these extras provide a breather of sorts for the more craven reader (like yours truly) in between moments of terror and suspense.

For more Split Lip action visit the official website, and get those ghastly updates on Facebook and Twitter!

Top three time! Are you ready? Helmet? Shield? Here we go!

3: Samurai Slasher Part II

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Kicking off the top three best comics of 2016 (in my not so humble opinion) is Mike Garley‘s Samurai Slasher Part II, the sequel to Samurai Slasher! But you knew that already, didn’t you? Yes you did, yes you did (cutesy voice). That’s right friends, this collected edition of stories about our favourite, blood thirsty samurai is sure to knock your socks clean off and way up into what I like to call “outer space.”

The book contains several stories that deal with either the Samurai himself, or some poor sod that has been possessed by the Samurai’s armour. Complete with spectacular violence, mayhem and other hedonistic pleasures, Samurai Slasher Part II is infinitely entertaining and more often than not, very funny. One of my favourite moments is from a splendid little tale called “The Samurai Slasher vs. Sole Survivors” where a support group made up of individuals who managed to escape the Samurai’s wrath sit around and whine all day about their “terrible experiences.” What a bunch of wusses. Lucky for us the Samurai isn’t too keen on such a brazen display of self-pity, and shows up to put an end to the crying once and for all (ProTip: he uses murder).

I thoroughly enjoy Garley’s writing on each story. It’s totally hardcore and no holds barred; no one is safe. There are a number of artists featured throughout the book which provides a varied and dynamic experience, and each story looks fantastic. There’s even an appendix that showcases alternate covers and the like, which is something that is always welcome in these collected editions.

You know you want more carnage. Admit it. Go ahead, visit Garley’s official website to slake your bloodlust and then follow him on Facebook and Twitter!

2: Alex Automatic

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::prolonged silence::

Sorry gang, had to wait until I stopped drooling over here. Last September was an absolutely incredible month for independent, creator owned comics, and Fraser Campbell‘s Alex Automatic stands as one of the biggest triumphs of not only that month, but the entire year of 2016 (The Year of Sweet, Sweet Comics)!

Meet Alex Anderson, a man who is trapped in a television spy drama! Well, at least he thinks he is. You see, our man Alex has undergone some pretty drastic procedures to make him the ultimate weapon of espionage. Admittedly, after reading Alex Automatic for the tenth or so time yours truly decided to try something similar, to varied (READ: horrific) results. Oh well, not everyone is a doctor. Anyhoo, these augmentations have twisted Alex’s brain around like a pretzel (yum!) leaving him deranged and confused. Are his memories real?

This book is absolutely packed with mystery. From PRYSM, which is a sort of clandestine organization that is responsible for Alex’s insanity, to the elusive Zero who Alex relentlessly pursues, Alex Automatic provides enough intrigue for multiple readings.

Campbell’s script is frenetic and complex, and the way in which he weaves Alex’s past and present together is brilliant. Campbell manages to thrust the reader straight into the mind of madness, and it’s as bewildering as it is fun. The artwork is done by James Corcoran (pencils and inks) and David B. Cooper (colors), and the finished product looks like something that jumped straight out of the Golden Age of Comics. Everything in this book just works so well, and I would have to say it approaches sublime. And then beats sublime over the head, throws it cab fare, and says “take a hike, sublime.” Yeah, that’s what Alex Automatic does.

Want more? Follow Fraser Campbell on Facebook and Twitter for updates, as well as some often humorous material.

This is it friends, the number one spot in the countdown and the last stop on the best Kickstarter comics of 2016 train. It would be hard to top any of the previous entries on this list, but one comic has managed to do it (duh)! That comic is…

::fumbles envelope::

1: Last Driver

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Last Driver! What can I say about this book that I haven’t already said to anyone who is foolish enough to listen to me? C.S. Baker and Shaky Kane truly are the dream team of 2016. The stars and planets aligned and through the awesome power of the sequential art gods came Frank Sudden and the world of Last Driver. Warning: this book might be too good, approach with extreme caution.

What happens when giant monsters attack and destroy the entire world as we know it? For Frank Sudden it gets better, of course. You see, Frank Sudden is the kind of dude who walks the fine line between Snake Plissken and Confucius and believe me, that line is hardly distinguishable. Sudden lives life in the apocalypse by the moment, driving around in his sweet, vintage Corvette, drinking cold beer, and taking exactly zero guff from any swine.

When Frank finds himself captured by the villainous Chester and placed into a battle arena where he is forced to…battle…ehem, Frank takes it as an opportunity to deliver perfectly timed one-liners and save some babes. I want to be Frank Sudden. I used to want to be James Bond or Optimus Prime (or a mixture of the two), but since Last Driver entered my life I have only one goal: fight monsters and be impossibly and effortlessly cool, just like Frank. Now, to wait for that all important cataclysmic event (half joke).

So what makes this book so cool besides everything about it? Everything about it, of course! Baker’s script is superb and hysterical, Kane’s artwork is extraordinary, and the entire thing fits together so perfectly. Frank Sudden is one of those characters that comes along once in a while; a creation of such immense genius that men everywhere start wearing the classic white t-shirt, slicking their hair back, donning sunglasses day and night, twenty-four seven, and saying cool guy phrases such as “I don’t got time to bleed.” I do all those things, and I’m pretty cool…right guys?

::many tumbleweeds::

::crickets::

::a tree falls in the forest::

For more Last Driver check out Dead Canary Comics’ official website, then follow C.S. Baker and Shaky Kane on Twitter here and here. Capital!

That about does it for my top ten favourite Kickstarter comics of 2016! What were your favourites? Let us know in the comments section and on our Twitter page!

About the author

Robert Porter

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