5 Essential Horror Comics for the Modern Horror Fan
One of the most often overlooked aspects of horror media is the comic book, which is a bit ironic considering film and television series have adapted them for decades. Films like Hellboy, Spawn, Blade, 30 Days of Night, or series like The Walking Dead, Preacher, and Outcast. I could go on a while, here. But the world of comic books is vast and admittedly overwhelming, particularly if you have no idea where to start. Naturally, we’ve got your back. There’s a ton of stellar work worth seeking out, but for the modern horror fan, these horror comics are absolute must reads:
Pretty much everything written by Joe Hill is a worthy read. The son of prolific horror author Stephen King has every bit of his pop’s horror chops, but with his own unique style and rhythm. Whether you want to get into comic books or not, Hill’s team up with comic book artist Gabriel Rodriguez is an all-timer. Weaving a twisted tale of Lovecraftian proportions across six graphic novels (7 if you count a collection of shorts separate from the main story) that follows the Locke family and their move into Keyhouse, a large estate that holds secrets and portals to other dimensions. The evil within it wants to be let out. Stunning artwork and a story that’s unafraid to kill its darlings, it’s a gripping, fast read. More importantly a TV series adaptation is coming to Hulu with director Andy Muschietti (IT, Mama) at the helm for the pilot. Get ahead of the curve on this one; you can thank me later.
This short horror comic series spans six graphic novels by Joshua Williamson and Mike Henderson, with art by Henderson, that ran from 2014 until May of last year. Beautiful coloration and illustrations that enhance a mysterious plot that hooks you from its first pages, where NSA agent Nicholas Finch travels to Buckaroo, Oregon to find his friend, FBI agent Charles Carroll, who recently went missing. What was Carroll doing in Buckaroo? Researching why the small town was the birthplace for 16 serial killers, and it’s a secret that doesn’t want to be discovered. Finch is forced to team up with the most notorious of the killers, Edward Charles Warren, otherwise known as “Nailbiter” due to his habit of chewing off his victim’s nails and part of their flesh before murdering them. Gory, violent, and witty, Nailbiter is a must.
This series ran a bit longer than the previous, from 2009 to 2017, for 60 issues (12 trade paperbacks), but doesn’t feel long enough. It is written by John Layman with art by Rob Guillory, and won numerous awards. As for plot, it follows poor Tony Chu, a police detective turned Food and Drug Administration agent that solves crimes with his cibopathic ability, that is, he gets psychic impressions from whatever he eats. Notice I didn’t say food? Yeah, it can get a little gruesome. As for why Chu solves crimes for the FDA, well, that’s because in this world, poultry is banned thanks to a catastrophic outbreak of the bird flu that killed 23 million Americans. If you like the series iZombie for its horror comedy tone and Liv’s ability to solve crime by the brains she eats, well, you’ll love Chew.
Have you been watching Riverdale on the CW or Netflix? I hope so. It’s a fantastic series that borrows from horror and Twin Peaks. If you have, then this series is your next step. Taking the same Archie crew and Riverdale setting we love, but applying it to a zombie apocalypse is way better than it sounds. It’s written by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa with art by Francesco Francavilla, and it’s an ongoing series with only two trade paperbacks released so far. More than zombie carnage among the plucky gang, there’s vampires, Cthulhu, and of course, witches.
This spinoff of Afterlife with Archie, also written by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, but with art by Robert Hack, follows the horrific adventures of the teen witch, which is only fitting since she was essentially responsible for the zombie outbreak. Unlike the original series, Sabrina the Teenage Witch and the family oriented sitcom that aired in the mid ‘90s, this is not your family friendly take on the character. Set in the 1960s, these witches are the scary kind, right out of Hell. Think Rosemary’s Baby and The Exorcist for tone and art style. It’s dark, which is why Netflix ordering two full seasons right away is something to be extremely excited about. And the casting of Kiernan Shipka as the titular character is absolutely perfect. That this is getting an adaptation so fast, with only one trade paperback released in the series thus far is telling.
Which horror comics are your favorites?