13 Horror Comics to Get You in the Halloween Spirit
Posted on October 3, 2018
by Franco V
While most people think of superheroes when they hear the word comics, the medium is actually rich with a variety of different genres. There are an incredible amount of high quality horror comics on the shelves and if you’re looking for something spooky to gear up for end of October festivities, the following is a list of comics to check out. And the best part? The Library has most of them available digitally through hoopla.
This isn’t the Melissa Joan Hart version of “Sabrina the Teenage Witch,” or even the teenybop original that first appeared in Archie Comics in the 1960s. Instead, this iteration of Sabrina is refined, mature, and comes from the creator of the popular TV show “Riverdale.” If that’s not incentive enough, it’s also about to debut on Netflix as a show of its own and is this month’s reading selection for the Library’s Books on Tap discussion group.
Speaking of Riverdale, Archie and the gang have been on a horror roll as of late. In this series the kids of Riverdale High are met with the zombie apocalypse, and Sabrina even makes a cameo for maximum Archie Comics synergy. If you’re a fan of “The Walking Dead” or like a little bit of humor injected into your scary stuff, you’ll love this book. And if you still can’t satisfy the horror itch after reading “Sabrina” and “Afterlife,” I highly recommend checking out their sister series “Vampironica” (where yes, Veronica is a vampire) and “Jughead: The Hunger” (featuring everybody’s favorite burger-loving sidekick as a werewolf).
“Ice Cream Man” written by W. Maxwell Prince; illustrated by Martin Morazzo and Chris O’Halloran
This comic is truly bizarre and downright frightening. Each installment follows a different cast of characters dealing with their own set of problems, from addiction to existential crises. The one thread that ties them all together is the friendly face of the Ice Cream Man. But don’t let the sweet treats and bright colors fool you! Much like Pennywise tortures the children of Derry, Maine in Stephen King’s “It,” the Ice Cream Man preys upon his victims under the guise of summertime bliss.
“Revival” written by Tim Seeley; illustrated by Mike Norton
“Revival” is about a small Wisconsin town where every person who died on on New Year’s Day comes back to life, but not as zombies, as is the usual horror fare. Instead, the “revivers” return as their normal selves, except that they are immortal. While there definitely is a creep factor in this series, the comic also examines complicated family relationships, small-town life, and what it means to live in a world without death.
“Redneck” written by Donny Cates; illustrated by Lisandro Estherren and Dee Cunniffe
It’s Hatfield and McCoys…but with vampires! Donny Cates (“Doctor Strange,” “God Country,” “Venom”) brings us this bloodsucking tale of the Bowmans, a vampire family that owns a Texas BBQ joint, who have been at war with the Landrys, a mortal family that knows the secret the Bowmans keep hidden, since the 1800s. This comic is one-part crime story, another part horror, and a whole lot of blood and guts.
When I first read this book I was somewhat disappointed – the stories move slowly and quietly, and though there are elements of horror present, this collection mostly feels like medieval fantasy. However, the stories wrought here will linger and haunt your dreams well after you’ve put them down. Cloonan writes and draws beautifully and efficiently, which only makes her mystical tales more disturbing. “The Mire” is especially eerie, following a young squire travelling through a haunted swamp as he learns a difficult life lesson. And I can guarantee that you’ll be spooked and sobbing by the end of “Demeter.”
“Kill or Be Killed” written by Ed Brubaker; illustrated by Elizabeth Breitweiser and Sean Phillips
I’ll admit this pick barely qualifies as horror, save for the presence of a demon that haunts the main character, driving him to kill criminals vigilante-style, a la “Dexter” – with the added caveat that the ongoing murders are in exchange for the demon preserving his own life. On the surface this series is filled with pulp thrills, but on closer look presents a troubling portrayal of mental health and how we cope with personal troubles.
“Mystik U” written by Alisa Kwitney; illustrated by Mike Norton and Jordie Bellaire
If you always wanted a dose of Harry Potter in your superhero comics with an added helping of college angst, this is your comic. The book centers around the magician Zatanna Zatara and her enrollment at Mystik University, a school for the dark arts. But upon her arrival, the faculty begins to investigate a mysterious force called the Malevolence that is poised to threaten the school. This is the kind of silly and fun horror that isn’t very scary, but is still great to read during the fall season.
“Harrow County” written by Cullen Bunn; illustrated by Hannah Christenson, Tyler Crook, and Carla Speed McNeil
“Harrow County” is simply magic, and that’s not speaking to the Southern Gothic witchcraft at play in the book. Cullen Bunn’s writing and Tyler Crook’s artwork are nothing short of astounding. The series follows Emmy, a farm girl with a secret origin and emerging magical powers, as she fights against the sinister plans of her evil sister Hester. Even the land and people of Harrow County are unearthly in their creation. This series is an incredibly rewarding and entertaining read.
Fans of late night B-movie horror flicks will be right at home in the first volume of “My Favorite Thing is Monsters.” Less of an actual horror comic and more of murder-mystery, the book follows monster-obsessed 10-year-old Karen Reyes as she investigates the murder of her upstairs neighbor and in doing so, discovers the heartbreaking story of a Holocaust survivor.
The one manga on the list, “Nijigahara Holograph” is a complicated story about disappearance, butterflies, a monster that may or not be hiding out in a local tunnel….and that’s only scratching the surface. There’s a lot to follow in this book – multiple character threads, inexplicable jumps in time – but Asano’s artwork alone is worth the hurdle. A trigger warning is also probably warranted here: there is violence in this book that is sexual in nature and specifically targets women. This violence does make the book uncomfortable, but the challenges presented (both literal and metaphorical) carry an expert-level of emotional nuance.
“Wytches” written by Scott Snyder; illustrated by Jock
There’s practically no arguing that Snyder is one of the biggest name in comics. His legendary run on “Batman” during DC’s New 52 era gave us a contemporary classic with “The Court of Owls.”In “Wytches,” Snyder dials up his horror chops to spin a terrifying story about a New Hampshire family trying to escape their daughter’s anxieties. The scariest thing about this comic? It goes into the depths of the frightening world of being a parent.
Others may not agree, but I’ve always found Batman to be very Halloween-y. From the costumes to the rogue’s gallery, there’s just something a little bit ghoulish about the Dark Knight. This collection, from the creative team that gave us the legendary Batman tale “The Long Halloween,” is a series of short stories, all set on the last day of October. Each story is scary in its own right, but of particular note is “Ghosts,” which features a feverish Bruce Wayne coping with his past, present, and future through a Dickens-like cast of visiting specters.