With a name like Alternative Comics, you expect something a little off the beaten path.

The home to such independent comics stars as Sam Henderson, James Koschalka, Nick Bertozzi and Scott Annable, Alternative offers a range of quirky and thought-provoking material.

Publisher Jeff Mason originally got into comics as the editor of Indy magazine in 1993, before starting to publish comics in 1996. "I see it as my publishing duty to take the brilliant young 'unknowns' and help them to be become wildly appreciated."

AC offers cartoonists an opportunity to publish and to "retain complete artistic and legal control of their work," he said. "We strive to nurture the career of each cartoonist, both artistically and commercially."

Mason is celebrating AC's 10th anniversary in 2003 by offering Hickee, Graham Annable's new anthology; Sam Henderson's hilarious Humor Can Be Funny collection; and When I'm Old, a collection of fiction by newcomer Gabrielle Bell.

"The market for well-written comic books is the best it's been in years," said Mason. He added: "And it is continually improving. More college-aged people are reading nontraditional, non-superhero comics."