Do you remember that time when you were young and you found a band or a tv show that just blew you away and you couldn’t believe how good it was and it had a certain something that just appealed to you so much that you couldn’t wait to share it with your friends? Well to be honest it hasn’t happened to me in a long time. However an Indie comic company, I think it’s ok to call them that, has taken a retro approach to comic books that has captured my imagination so much that I’ve spent the last few weeks trawling through the shelves in my local Forbidden Planet in Glasgow to seek out an array of their titles.
Before I mention some of their many titles perhaps I should try and explain just what makes Alterna so endearing. First of all the trade dress on these comics just looks great, looking at the covers of the titles fills me with nostalgia, they look like 90s Marvel comics with the required fonts and idents and just seeing them on the shelves gave me a warm feeling. They also feel like older comics.
Alterna has swam against the tide and decided that it’s about time to return to newsprint. That on it’s own may not sound like much but just grab a copy of one of these titles and open the first page. In your left hand you feel the traditional glossy paper of the cover but in your right hand is the unmistakable feel of newsprint. Instantly feel yourself transported back to an exciting time in the age of comics. Sure glossy is nice for high quality masterpieces like Marvel’s or DC’s but for those ongoing series the feel of that newsprint just seems right.
Now if you are still running with me in this article then forgive the following, but it has to be said. Take any Alterna company and bring it to your nose and breathe in. Now tell me you are not transported back to a more innocent time of comic reading enjoyment. These comics are like portals to a time when you bought the adventures of your favourite heroes from spinning racks in your local newsagents. They look feel and smell like childhood. Now the advantage of this is the price point. Alterna are selling their line of comics at an incredible one dollar and fifty cents. In the UK they retail for around one pound forty pence. That’s just incredible and I honestly don’t know how they do it. Even if you buy an issue of a title and find its not for you, who cares? You can gift it to a comic book friend and move onto another title and at that price it’s no loss.
The idea, from what I can gather, is that the Alterna line of comics can be purchased anywhere, just like you used to be able to do. Do you recall purchasing comics in the local newsagents? Well Alterna wants a return to that level of availability for comic lovers. They want to see comics everywhere not just in specialist shops, another genius piece of marketing that deserves to be supported.
Alterna comics have captured my imagination and I haven’t even begun to talk about the content of any of their titles. Perhaps it’s the current climate or a growing disillusionment in the big hitters just now, I should probably say that I’m a collector of comics for over 35 years, but Alterna has made buying comics fun again. It’s great picking these titles up, and believe me I want to sample them all, and just carrying them around in my back pocket or reading them while having a coffee. No offence, but I have no intentions of sending any of them away to get CGC’d.
These titles are meant to be read, enjoyed, given away to friends or put in a long box to be read again at a later date. They have no pretensions and certainly don’t claim to be anything they aren’t. In the next article on Alterna I will talk a little about the issues I have picked up and read. In the meantime feel free to do your own research and let us know your thoughts in the comments below!