6 Series From Dark Horse Comics You Should Be Buying (Aside From Hellboy)

A week ago I wrote an article highlighting six titles worth buying amongst Image Comics’ large and confusing catalogue, so I thought I’d follow up this week with Dark Horse.

The Dark Horse line-up isn’t nearly as random and baffling as Image’s, but that said, Image still regularly outsells Dark Horse (by a narrow margin) so clearly there’s still a lot of people out there in need of a roadmap. Here are six Dark Horse series being published right now that deserve your dollars…

Note – As with the Image article, the one Dark Horse comic lots of people already buy, Hellboy, isn’t on the list. Although if you aren’t buying Hellboy, you really really should start. It’s the best thing in comics.

Dark Horse Presents – Dark Horse recently revived its anthology series Dark Horse Presents, and it’s been pretty great. So far it’s featured the work of creators like Neal Adams, Howard Chaykin, Richard Corben, Frank Miller, Paul Chadwick, Dave Gibbons, Jim Steranko, Jill Thompson, Eric Powell, Fabio Moon and more, and each issue is only 7.99 for 80 pages. Besides all that, the anthology format is just a fun departure from the standard 20-page pamphlet. It’s pretty much impossible to not find something you enjoy here.

The Goon – One of the funniest, liveliest, strangest and best-looking comics out there. The Goon was first created back in the late 90s, and it still has the “wacky” feeling of a lot of the entertainment from that era — think LucasArts adventure games, or cartoon series like the Tick or Freakazoid. Unlike other 90s characters though, the Goon has been allowed to continue on and mature — not just in terms of the amount of “mature content” any given issue contains, but in the complexity of the art and storytelling.

Put more simply, The Goon is a wacky 90s cartoon filled with dirty jokes and awesome pictures. How can you say no to that?

Usagi Yojimbo – Hey, do you like old-school cartoon animal adventure stories by guys like Carl Barks and Floyd Gottfredson? Do you like classic Japanese samurai movies and manga? Well if you do, why the heck aren’t you reading Usagi Yojimbo?

Even if you aren’t into those things, you should still give Usagi Yojimbo a try. It’s a unique blend of serious, violent, sometimes even sexy, samurai intrigue and furry animal adventure comics. Despite there being nearly 150 issues of Usagi Yojimbo, the series remains fairly accessible — just find the beginning of a story-arc and jump aboard.

The Strain – Based on director Guillermo del Toro’s series of novels, the Strain is the answer for folks tired of the continued sparklification of vampires. Violent, disgusting, hard-hitting and great looking, this is one to check out if you’re a horror fan.

Conan – So, Dark Horse has been doing the Conan thing for a few years now and the various series have delivered all the blood, boobs and bare pecs you’d expect. Besides those good things, the writing by guys like Kurt Busiek and Roy Thomas has been consistently good, and the books have usually looked fantastic.

A new “King Conan” mini-series starts this month, and a new ongoing “Conan the Barbarian” series starts in February, so if you want to get on board, now’s the time.

Mike Mignola’s non-Hellboy, non-BRPD stuff – Yeah, I said no Hellboy, but there’s no avoiding at least a little Mignola on a list about Dark Horse — the guy writes half of what they publish.

I love Hellboy, but I’m actually not a huge fan of Dark Horse’s numerous BRPD mini-series. It’s clear Mignola is just not that involved in the BRPD stuff, mostly handing the scripting duties over to other writers. As a result, most of the BRPD books don’t quite have that magic Mignola spark.

The same can’t be said for the numerous non-BRPD mini-series and one-shots Mignola also produces for Dark Horse. Mignola is often the sole writer on these projects, and even when he has a co-writer, his voice comes through much more strongly. They may go ignored by most readers, but any Mignola scripted minis or one-shots under titles such as “Witchfinder”, “Baltimore”, “Lobster Johnson” or “The Amazing Screw-on Head” are more than worth your time and money.

What are your thoughts? Any good Dark Horse comics I’m missing? Am I a fool for not liking BRPD more than I do? Sound off in the comments.