What does your pal Mike do when he’s short on posting time?

§ April 3rd, 2023 § Filed under indies, reader participation § 115 Comments

Why, he asks you a question, of course!

PICTURED: a 1980s comic

Given what we’ve been chatting about here lately, I’d like to know…what’s your favorite 1980s independent comic?

Some ground rules/definitions here:

  1. Has to have at least started in the 1980s and have released at least a portion of its run in that decade. Say, like, a year’s worth of books…I’m not asking about books that started in December 1989. You know what we’re talkin’ about here.
  2. …Which also means I’m not looking for one-shots. I mean actual series, at least three issues long.
  3. JUST ONE BOOK! I don’t want a list of, like, five books as a five-way tie or “here’s my second choice” or anything. Put your nickel down on a single title. Yes, I’m cruel and heartless, you should know that by now.
  4. For the sake of discussion, “independent” means anything not published by Marvel or DC. HOWEVER, I will allow comics from Marvel’s Epic Comics division since those are so quintessentially ’80s (and being creator-owned, often moved on to other publishers).
  5. Black and white boom titles can be included, so if your favorite 1980s series is Samurai Penguin, go right ahead and throw it in the ring. …What? I like Samurai Penguin.
  6. You don’t have to explain your choice…you can just post a title and go, that’s fine. But if you want to write a few lines talking about it, that’s okay, too. A few lines, Sean.
  7. Comic magazines are also okay. Anything that was a periodical is fine, so I’m going to leave graphic novel series out of this particular discussion.
  8. Did I say just pick ONE BOOK? ONE TITLE ONLY, don’t give me a list, or “here are my runners up” or “here’s the pool of titles from which I had to decide” or anything. C’mon, gimme a break.

Okay, that’s enough of my draconian laws. I look forward to your ONE TITLE ONLY and OPTIONAL BRIEF EXPLANATION being left in my comments!

115 Responses to “What does your pal Mike do when he’s short on posting time?”

  • Smicha1 says:

    Pirate Corp$/Hectic Planet from Evan Dorkin

  • Paul Engelberg says:

    Zot! The art, the emotions, the wackiness. So much imagination and creativity. The only comic from the 80s that I felt that I had to buy again in the 2010s. Trade paperbacks wouldn’t do it. I needed to enjoy those beautiful comics again in my senior year’s.

  • philfromgermany says:

    I’d be lying if I didn’t say Cerebus

  • Mike Loughlin says:

    Love & Rockets: the best soap opera (Maggie & Hopie), the best character studies (Palomar), great art, unique experiments- Los Bros operate on a different level.

  • Nicholas says:

    Usagi Yojimbo. It’s my favorite ’90s, ’00s, ’10s, and (probably) ’20s comic, too.

  • Cassandra Miller says:

    Critters! Loved that book.

  • If I have to pick just ONE, it would be the3-part miniseries _Dinosaur Rex_ from Upshot Graphics by Jan Strnad and Henry Mayo, but really for the backup story “The Dragons of Summer” by William Messner-Loebs and Dennis Fujitake

  • James G says:

    Akira. ‘Nuff said.

  • Chris says:

    Tough choice, but I’d have to say Flaming Carrot – nothing comes close to the weirdness and originality ( maybe Herbie). There’s a genuine love of the medium and the superhero genre as well behind the hijinks.

  • Sean Mageean says:

    Dave Stevens’ Rocketeer. The best drawn comic of the ’80s.

  • will richards says:

    Representin’ the U of K, Deadline. Strictly speaking a magazine,but c’mon, Tank Girl, Wired World, Cheeky Wee Budgie Boy…

  • Joe Gualtieri says:

    Grimjack, by Ostrander, Truman, Mandrake, Pugh, Henry, etc.

  • Joe Gualtieri says:

    I’d like to change my answer to Cerebus if it’s actually allowed, given that it started in 1977.

  • John Lancaster says:

    Mr. X – specifically the Vortex era.

  • Mikester says:

    Joe, philfromgermany – Yeah, Cerebus started in the ’70s, so it’s disqualified! (But it did have a lot of its best work in the ’80s!)

  • Chris Gumprich says:

    Crossfire. Which is funny because I wasn’t that big a DNAgents fan.

  • Thom H. says:

    I hate to be this basic, but Miracleman was my ’80s obsession for quite a while. Still is, honestly.

  • Jason-L says:

    Elementals, the first run from ’84 to ’88 published by Comico.

  • Hal Shipman says:

    Zot!, easily. From the first Eclipse house ad.

  • Sleestak says:


  • Bob Temuka says:

    Love and Rockets, always.

  • Kevin Church says:

    Love and Rockets, and it pained me to narrow it down to just that.

  • ArghSims says:

    I also select the Carrot

  • King of the Moon says:

    The Tick

  • William Burns says:


  • CalvinPitt says:

    Ostrander and Truman’s (and Mandrake, Henry, etc.) GrimJack.

  • Evan Waters says:

    Larry Marder’s Tales of the Beanworld. A masterpiece.

  • Brian F says:

    As a dumb kid in the late 70s / Early 80’s I was no fan of Kirby & DD was the first book where I came to appreciate him. I’ve since grown up and have a buncha his work now, but at the time DD and Gerber held my hand to Kirby enjoyment.
    I am happy to own every Destroyer Duck funny book.
    PS – Byrnes spine – ha – so memorable!

  • Eternity’s The Mighty Mites. Their accurate satire of Claremont’s style sticks with me to this very day.

  • Jess Nevins says:


  • LongTallJodie says:

    Sentimentally, Edlund’s original Tick run. It had a outsized influence on my own comic experiments for YEARS.

  • Jack says:

    Grimjack. One of my favorite titles during the Truman era, dropped off slightly during Mandrake (but still near the top of the list) and my favorite monthly comic period during the Flint Henry era. I will freely admit that there were other books that were better on a technical level, either writing or art (though both were great on Grimjack) but Grimjack just hit so many of my interests as a reader at the time, it was never going to be topped.

  • Dave says:

    Flaming Carrot

  • Mike Baehr says:

    Gotta be L&R.

  • John says:

    I love me some Baron and the Dude, but since I’m only allowed to pick one title, let’s spotlight Tales From the Heart from (mostly) Slave Labor.

  • Kyle says:

    Troll Lords by Scott Beaderstadt and Paul Fricke

  • Xason V says:

    Favorite single issue Tick #1. It took Edlund like 2 years to draw it but it comes out fully formed. Pre-sages so much comedy that comes after it (sometimes directly: Tick Karma Tornado writer goes on the co-create Venture Bros) – but the high level of creativity and execution is all there right away. Similar to TMNT #1 in that regard.

  • Mike McGee says:

    Grendel, duh

  • King of the Moon says:

    The only comic I ever mad and got printed just for myself was completely homages to Ben Edlund’s The Tick

  • Tim says:

    Tales of the Beanworld

  • Josh says:

    Love and Rockets, easy.

  • Mela says:

    Zot! Especially fond of the “day in the lives” of the TTRPG group members.

  • One Big Marvel says:

    Concrete by Paul Chadwick

  • Robert Dahlen says:

    I’m going with the first volume of Mage. It was fun to see Matt Wagner’s growth as a creator from the first issue to the last.

  • swamp mark says:

    i’d have to say Faust. nothing else like it on the shelves.

  • Michael Grabowski says:

    Lloyd Llewellyn by Daniel Clowes.

  • Julia says:

    Tim Truman’s Scout blew me away when I first got into it and I’ve been picking up anything with Truman’s name on it ever since

  • Joe Fourhman says:

    First book to spring to mind was Space Ark. Not sure how it holds up, but it was one of my favorites of the funny animal explosion.

  • Jeff R. says:

    Also going with Mage:The Hero Discovered.

  • Michael Grabowski says:

    But there’s a lot of other series I enjoyed showing up here, too. Comics was fun back then.

  • James Klann says:

    Adventurers from Aircel/Adventure Publications. There was a magical alchemy about the story and the art. The Skeleton variant of the first issue was a grail of mine for years. If memory serves, it was a wall book for a long time. Eventually stumbled across a copy in a back issue bin during the late 90s for $3. That was a good day.

  • Isaac says:

    It’s hard not to look at it through adult eyes and go with Grendel or Mage or Concrete… but I was a kid in the eighties and I liked what I liked. Boris the Bear.

  • Linnen says:

    Miracle Man! So happy it’s back!

  • Jim L says:

    Dynamo Joe!

  • Casie says:

    Concrete! :)

  • Heslin says:

    If I eliminate series I read in reprints, series I read in Humble Bundles and series I was only allowed to read at my friend’s house, I guess I’m going with ElfQuest.

    But Rusty Shackles above is a smart guy.

  • Todd Gray says:


  • Katie Beaszler says:

    Steelgrip Starkey and the All Purpose Power Tool!

    Only because Elfquest was eliminated on a technicality.

  • John says:

    Gotta be Zot! Read a rave review in Amazing Heroes and like a week later found the full first series in the bargain bin at my LCS and it was even better than I’d been led to believe.

  • Mikester says:

    Elfquest started in ’78, so it’s excluded from this poll. It is a classic series, so I understand why folks want to choose it!

  • Lane Hermanson says:

    No one has mentioned Dalgoda yet. I enjoyed many of the previous titles, I even have Samarai Penguin.

  • ExistentialMan says:

    The amazing Xenozoic Tales by Mark Schultz!

  • MrJM says:

    Because Grimjack is already well represented above, I cast my ballot for Jim Starlin’s Metamorphosis Odyssey/Dreadstar.

    All the grim, cosmic holy wars of Warlock, but with an ensemble cast!

    — MrJM

  • ...mats says:

    gah. seeing a lot of favorites here that i know will get plenty of coverage. i’m going to go with one that jumped off the shelves at me then and primed me for indie faves in the 80s and 90s: Doc Stearn ….Mr. Monster

  • Bat Masterson says:


  • Nate A. says:

    Bacchus (originally Deadface) by Eddie Campbell!

  • Keef says:

    Ted McKeever’s “Eddy Current.” It cracked my pubescent brain open like an egg and fried the hell out of it. A straight-up masterpiece.

  • MichaelWayne says:

    100% Zot!

  • CP Bananas says:

    Like a lot of folks posting above, most of my real #1 picks have already been mentioned so (since I don’t think the Eagle reprints of Judge Dredd would count) I’m going to toss Airboy into the mix. Not high art but a lot of fun, with often gorgeous artwork.

  • Ryan McSwain says:

    Mister X, because no one has said it. Dean Motter, Los Bros Hernandez, Seth, psychetecture. What’s not to love?

  • Sean Mageean says:


    (based on the song by Killing Joke)

    Eighties, I’m reading independent comics from the eighties
    Eighties, I have to smile, I have to chuckle
    Eighties, go to eBay, these comics aren’t for sale no more
    Eighties, let’s time travel ’til we get back there
    And we sang
    You do it this way
    Eighties, by day we draw by night we dance, we do
    Eighties, I’m in love with the past comics
    Eighties, I’ve got the best, I’ll take all I can get
    Eighties, I’m reading from the eighties
    Eighties, I’m reading independent comics from the eighties, I smile
    Eighties, I’m reading
    Eighties, I’m reading independent comics from the eighties, I chuckle
    Eighties, I’m reading
    Eighties, I’m reading
    Eighties, I’m reading independent comics from the eighties
    Eighties, I’m reading independent comics from the eighties, I smile
    Eighties, smile, smile, chuckle
    Eighties, I’m reading
    Eighties, eighties, I’m reading
    Eighties, I’m reading independent comics from the eighties, I smile

  • MixMat says:

    Im cheating- Empire Lanes by Peter Gross(which rightly belongs in a ’90s era round up, but it started as a 1986 Northern Lights indie-which i never owned or read, i think)i just wanted to mention it [do i have the privilege since i almost started this by mentioning Nexus, Flagg!, Sable in a previous comment on 80s independent series?]

  • Snark Shark says:


    ” gimme a break.”

    David Lee Roth voice: “One break, coming up!”

  • Snark Shark says:


    I remember that being a “hot” book, and that it had cool cover art.

  • Gary C says:

    Sisterhood of Steel miniseries (by Epic, so allowed)

  • D says:

    So many to choose from but since it has no votes I’m going to pick William Messner-Loeb’s JOURNEY from A-V and later Fantagraphics. Issue 6 might be my favorite single issue ever. Sadly unfinished series, I don’t think it’s ever been fully reprinted although there was graphic novel collection released in the 90’s of the 1st 4 or 5 issues.

  • Bryan Levy says:

    Since my first two choices were already mentioned (Rocketeer and Xenozoic Tales), I’ve got to put in a vote for Ms. Tree. Max Allan Collins knows how to write mysteries, and Terry Beatty is just the greatest.

  • Allen Mozek says:

    Grendel! The series took so many genre & tonal swerves throughout, all while retaining its core ethos & creativity! Matt Wagner selected a murderers row of young artists to work w & each arc fits the artists style. It’s pretty brave to lead off the series w art so idiosyncratic (& so eighties!) as the Pander Bros! & if the comico series is intrinsically 80s, the later War Child mini screams 90s for me in the way something like James Cameron’s T2 does!

  • ArghSims says:

    Argh! Just realized Flaming Carrot debuted in 1979!

  • Daniel T says:

    Impossible to choose just one.

  • DK says:


    It’s fun!

  • TIP says:

    Mage: The Hero Discovered

  • King of the Moon says:

    Only Xason brave enough to say what we are all thinking: no independent comic was more loved by any of us in the 80’s than TMNT.

    Even if we say we were too cool, we all secretly loved it and how it took over the world. Before the MCU, Turtle Power let nerds have something cool in the mainstream

  • Tom W says:

    Has to be those 40 issues of Grendel. Comics still haven’t caught up with the distance covered.

  • Chris V says:

    OK, since Grimjack is well represented, I am going to choose a series which no one else has spoken for yet:
    The Puma Blues by Stephen Murphy and Michael Zulli.

  • Rob S. says:

    Oh, man, so many! And they’ve pretty much all been mentioned here. So while it’s hard to measure one fave against the other on quality, I’ll just shout-out the one indy comic that first grabbed me and pulled my dollar-twentyfive away from DC and Marvel. A comic so gorgeous and compelling and grown-up seeming (and so, SO eighties!) that I just had to have it: Jon Sable: Freelance.

    Mike Grell was already a favorite of mine for his Legion work, and Sable’s action-hero without being a capital-S Superhero shtick just felt so *mature* to me. An older high-school friend lent me a few issues of the comic, and I was well and truly hooked.

    There are plenty of great indies that came later for me, but Jon Sable was the first, and the one that immediately springs to mind whenever I talk about this era.

  • Patrick Joseph says:

    Love and Rockets. The impact that series had on me starting around April in 11th grade is massive. My first issue was 17, and I had never read anything like either of the 2 tales that issue. It truly blew my mind. It wasn’t the most current issue, so I went back and got 18-20 a couple of weeks after. That night I went out with friends and got drunk for the first time. After the drinking, I read issue 20 safely at home. That was it. I was going to love this series forever. Exactly 36 years later, I stand by that.

  • […] pals! Still looking for your single, ONE, UNO favorite title from the 1980s! Drop in your choice…and even if your pick’s been mentioned, drop it in […]

  • tomthedog says:

    I mean, my buddy, you know it is GRIMJACK who reigns supreme

  • David Allen Jones says:

    Since Epic comics are allowed, Timespirits.

  • John says:


  • So many great comics named already but if I have to pick one, it would be Zot!.

  • Aaron G. says:

    So many great comics from this era! No one’s mentioned my personal favorite: Starstruck, the feminist space opera by Elaine Lee & Michael Kaluta.

  • Daniel T says:

    Okay–I still think it’s impossible to choose just one, but since no one else has mentioned it I’m going to say Yummy Fur.

  • Isaac P says:

    Concrete for me. I may not have started reading it until the early 90’s, but it’s the 80’s indie that stuck with me the most.

  • Jim Kosmicki says:

    I liked Fish Police and followed it faithfully through it’s perambulations through multiple publishers

  • LouReedRichards says:


    As most people have said, narrowing it down to just one is difficult. It’s not the best indie comic of the 80’s, but it is my favorite.


  • Hank says:

    Xenozoic Tales

  • Roel Torres says:

    Loved Jon Sable, Freelance by Mike Grell for First Comics. Favorite book of the 80’s.

    Loved First Comics in general, really interesting books.

  • DavidG says:

    Another vote for Miracleman. Pretty sure it was the first non Big Two title I actively collected.

  • […] still taking your “Fave ’80s Title” picks, at least through the weekend. I’ll tally things up and start discussing stuff on […]

  • Bob Stec says:

    Yummy Fur! I loved anything by the “Canadian Trio” – Chester Brown, Joe Matt, or Seth, but Yummy Fur was just so outrageous I’m putting it on the top of the list.

  • joecab says:

    I too vote for Larry Marder’s Tales of the Beanworld, a genuine all ages book that can be incredibly deep for anyone.

  • I hope I’m not too late (I was on vacation). My pick would have to be…’Mazing Man. Not saying its better than any other title on this list, but it is one of my favorite books of all time. I get the feeling I am the only one who likes it that much.

  • Eric L says:

    Way late to the party and committing the cardinal sin of picking it mainly because I haven’t see it mentioned, but Peter Bagge’s Neat Stuff was pretty great.

  • Mike C says:


  • Usagi Yojimbo by Stan Sakai!

  • David E Beard says:

    The Kitchen Sink run on the Spirit changed my life, as a comic reader.

  • D. E. B. says:

    Wordsmith was under-rated, although I did not read all issued.

  • Philip Flores says:

    Tales from the Beanworld

  • Eric says:

    Jon Savle, Freelance. Few comics have ever felt so cinematic, especially the first few arcs. The man himself even did a Maggie the Cat sketch for me at a con a few years back.

    It’s a shame there’s never been a movie, beyond that awful TV pilot with Gene Simmons.

  • Zack says:

    Love and Rockets is actually the best comic book ever, but I feel like the answer that’s truer to the spirit of the question is Grendel.

  • […] cut off the voting as of Sunday evening, but if you still want to point out your faves in the comments, feel […]

  • Justin Mohareb says:

    Lemme just throw in Elfquest.

  • There are so many to list, but so long as Love & Rockets qualifies, there can be no other answer.