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2022 Year in Review: Best Small Press Publisher

By | December 9th, 2022
Posted in Columns | % Comments

Welcome to the Multiversity Year in Review for 2022! We’ve got over 25 categories to get through, so make sure you’re checking out all of the articles by using our 2022 Year in Review tag.

Every year, we award the best comic book publishers. But we noticed that while lots of us read lots of different comics, all of us read the same popular comics. Inevitably, the most popular publishers are over-represented. We wanted to boost all the cool work being done with smaller companies so we added a new category last year: best small press publisher. These are companies who make comics that are more difficult to obtain through traditional means, like through the Previews catalog, which is where most comic shops order most of their inventory. You may see some of your favorites represented or you may learn something new in our best small press publishers of 2022.

3. Avery Hill

I’ve been a huge fan of Avery Hill for years now. They’re a small, UK based publisher putting out a wide array of graphic novels from memoirs and biopics to genre titles to weird indie titles that are very experimental and wildly creative. Their team’s eye for talent is unmatched and you can guarantee that even if a book isn’t your bag, it will give you plenty to chew on and is worth the risk.

What works in Avery Hill’s favor is this limited volume of publishing. Quality over quantity. They can take the time to bring about an artist’s vision and then put it out in the format that fits best. The print quality is something to be commended too. Single issue, paperback or hardcover, all are beautiful to hold and sit wonderfully on my shelf. Shout out to their “On a Sunbeam” edition which, while being a few years old, is so gorgeous I bought the book twice just to have it.

I’m continually amazed by the kinds of new talent Avery Hill publishes. In past years they’ve introduced the world to the likes of Tillie Walden and Zoe Thorogood. This year sees the introduction of Shanta Rai, whose work on “Sennen” already has me excited to see where she goes from here. But it’s not all new artists either. Claire Scully and George Wylesol return with new works that are bugnuts wild and out there while Taki Soma and Tom Humberstone bring the personal and the historical into sharp relief.

I could go on and on about these titles but I won’t. I think they can speak for themselves and, in some ways, that is also true of their publisher. 2022 was a good year for Avery Hill and it’s looking like 2023 will be even better. That’s something worth celebrating. – Elias Rosner

2. 3W3M

Three Worlds. Three Moons.

When writer Jonathan Hickman opened up this Substack in August of 2021 I’m sure I wasn’t the only one hit with mixed emotions. His groundbreaking run on the X-Men line at Marvel ended somewhat unceremoniously, or at least felt incomplete. To go from the largest, most successful line in comics to a self-published webcomics experience seemed like a downgrade, no matter how you slice it. But then the details of this venture start trickling in. First, it’s not just Hickman at the helm – he has enlisted incredible visual artists Mike Huddleston and Mike Del Mundo to handle the art direction.

Second, this isn’t so much a comic book project as it is the beginnings of an entire shared universe. Not only are the three primary creators heavily involved, Hickman brought some friends in to help develop and nurture the early concepts along – this started with writers like Al Ewing, Tini Howard, and Ram V, but has since exploded to include a host of other creators such as Steve Epting, Vanessa Del Rey, Jerome Opena, and Michael Avon Oeming. Lastly, Hickman hired highly respected comics editorial veteran Stephen Wacker as Editor-In-Chief, a move that seemed to further legitimize this online enterprise. Via a steady stream of digital content released throughout 2022 (and an absolutely gorgeous hardcover sourcebook), the sci-fi universe at the core of 3W3M has proven itself to be a fascinating experiment in worldbuilding – with subscribers getting the feel of being “in the writers’ room” so to speak, a front row seat to the beautiful collaborative process of comic book making.

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Better still, the talent involved all seem game to really have fun with the base concepts that Hickman is playing with – that of a universe rediscovering its connection to magic, to the essential engine of creativity. One gets the feeling – from the jam band vibe to the wonderfully bizarre and fantastical ideas and imagery being produced, that these creators are tapping into that very same engine. Simply put – they’re making magic. – Johnny Hall


In the musical Gypsy, the stripper Tessie Tura gives some advice to young Louise (soon to be Gypsy Rose Lee): “You’re more than just a mimic, when you’ve got a gimmick, take a look how different we are!” In a crowded comics field, particularly for small and independent presses, you have to find that gimmick to rise head and shoulders above the rest. Has AHOY Comics found that gimmick? Absolutely.

And what is that gimmick? It comes down to their tagline on their website: Expect More. Their series find an irreverence in parts of modern society and bring it to the surface in biting social commentary that emphasizes humor to make the point. “Billionaire Island” and its follow up “Billionaire Island: Cult of Dogs” take down capitalism through a modern interpretation of Jonathan Swift’s A Modest Proposal. “Second Coming” and “Second Coming: Only Begotten Son” shine a light on the hypocrisies of religion in a way that doesn’t offend, but makes the reader think. Even the backbone of comics – – superheroes – – aren’t off limits from the AHOY touch in series such as “My Bad,” and “Highball.” If you’re thinking that AHOY Comics is “The Nib meets Deadpool” then it should come as no surprise that Matt Bors, founder of The Nib, joined the AHOY family this year with the dystopian satire series “Justice Warriors.” Good satire makes you laugh. Great satire, what AHOY provides, makes you laugh and think.

That mantra of “Expect More” isn’t just in the types of stories that AHOY brings to print, but what you can find within those stories. The bonus content in each issue – – from backup comics stories to prose pieces – – make each AHOY issue feel like a more accessible version of The New Yorker. Occasionally these extras relate to the issue at hand, like the “Bubble City P.D. Crime Files” featured in “Justice Warriors” #1. For the most part, they don’t have a connection to that issue, but provide a literary palate cleanser of the same high quality as the floppy you just finished reading.

AHOY Comics has a formula for success that can attract a different kind of comic reader, one that, just like their tagline, expects more. And do they deliver? Absolutely. – Kate Kosturski

//TAGS | 2022 Year in Review

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