Don’t let any perfectly sensible distaste for indie music let my terminology here deter you. I’m using it to collect a few creators I want to mention who can’t be pegged into a genre easily, perhaps more akin to modern underground comics than anything else.

Daniel Clowes gained fame when Ghost World was made into the best comic book movie ever. His work generally focusses on odd outsider characters, alienated and often kind of grotesque, written and drawn with a cool clarity, with a huge enthusiasm for pop culture. I find his work compelling and often shocking (he edges towards horror at times), with genuinely memorable characters. As well as Ghost World, any of his collections (mostly previously serialised in his Eightball comic) are worth reading – I’d particularly recommend David Boring and Like A Velvet Glove Cast In Iron.

Peter Bagge is an exceptionally funny cartoonist, drawing exaggerated figures and expressions in a bouncy, vicious style. His characters tend to centre on middle-class slacker youth into punk and grunge and the like. The Buddy Bradley stories seems to be almost autobiographical: a young man with no great purpose in life, no hopes, and with rubbish friends. His territory isn’t so far from that of Clowes, but his style is very different. Any of the Buddy Bradley collections are worth having, as is just about anything else, though I’ve not liked his more recent work so much.

Chris Ware‘s Acme Novelty Library comic book is expensive, though beautifully made. The main storyline was collected as Jimmy Corrigan, The Smartest Kid On Earth, one of the most praised comics ever, and understandably so. Its formal qualities are particularly thrilling, exploiting countless possibilities of the medium that have hardly been seen before, and never handled and combined as well. The story, of a timid middle-aged man, is also rather moving, though working out what is real and what isn’t is not easy.

I suppose I should declare bias when mentioning Eddie Campbell, in that he did a series of stories for my comics years ago. He made a name, in a small way, with his autobiographical Alec stories. His art is rather scratchy, realistic and deceptively sophisticated, largely from a grasp of some very old illustrators and cartoonists. His writing is exceptional, full of insight and gentle humour, and moved on from Alec to stories of the Greek god of wine, Bacchus, in the modern world. He also illustrated From Hell, a Jack The Ripper tale written by Alan Moore, made into a pretty dull movie.

Everything I have mentioned here should be available in comic shops, and you are very likely to find Jimmy Corrigan and Ghost World, maybe more if you’re lucky, in libraries.