I’m not sure if you’ve heard yet, but today is Halloween, which is a very special day for this writer. It’s one of my absolute favorite holidays and for a comic fan with a penchant for the holiday, it’s a good day to bust out some great horror comics.
So instead of my typical look at what’s going on in industry trends and what not, I’m simply going to answer this question: what horror comics are must-reads?
It’s going to be a mix of old and new, indie and Big Two, but I can tell you what book it won’t be including – The Walking Dead.
Fact: The Walking Dead is awesome. Fact: It’s a horror book. Fact: You’re already reading it, because it’s so hot right now.
But what else could you be reading to celebrate this most excellent holiday? Find out after the jump (they are in no particular order), and if you have any other suggestions, please let us know in the comments.
Why You Should Be Reading: These two books are two sides of the same coin. Both are created by Mike Mignola, both exist in the same universe, and both feature the world falling down around the characters at all times it seems. The former is co-written by Mignola with John Arcudi (with art previously by the great Guy Davis and now by rising star Tyler Crook), and it tells the tale of the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense as they constantly try to stave off the apocalypse while also surviving each other. The latter follows former B.P.R.D. member Hellboy as he pushes off towards his own destiny, as written by Mignola with art by Duncan Fegredo, Mignola (coming back finally!) and a bevy of others.
They’ve both been doing what they do incredibly well for a long, long time, and while neither are explicitly scary, they both handle monsters, folklore and demons with an eye for detail (Mignola is basically a scholar of the subject at this point) and incredible storytelling. Both have long arcs building forever into themselves, and both are at particularly exciting parts in their lifespans. If you’re looking for good times in comics with ghouls and ghosts (and frogs!), both of these books would be a great place to start.
Animal Man/I, Vampire/Swamp Thing
Why You Should Be Reading: Three new DCnU books that fill decidedly different niches of comic book horror storytelling. All three are headlined by rising star writers in Jeff Lemire, Josh Fialkov and Scott Snyder respectively, all three feature some of the most original artistic voices out there in Travel Foreman, Andrea Sorrentino, and Yanick Paquette, and all three are exciting, fresh takes on things comic fans know.
Better yet? Unlike Hellboy and B.P.R.D., these books are each only two issues in, so they are much more approachable for new readers. All three are good options, but if I was going to throw down money on one, I’d go with Swamp Thing. Snyder and Paquette are a killer team, it’s arguably the most generically accessible, and let’s face it, the current villain is some sort of demon that infects people with flies and spins peoples heads around 180 degrees and makes them do its bidding. It’s remarkably creepy and original.
Why You Should Be Reading: Vampires, werewolves, large talking spiders, zombies…you name it. This book is filled with each and every type of fictional monster you can get your mitts on, and it’s all about The Goon and his buddy Franky trying to live their lives with limited bother (and beers spilled) from that aforementioned slew of baddies. Eric Powell writes and draws this book, and it’s both funny and occasionally quite heartfelt, plus it actually seems to push horror ideas further than we get in other mediums (and by that, I mean often in more disgusting or hilarious ways).Continued below
The Goon is basically everything you want in horror, but with beautiful art and hilarious, original ideas. It’s one of the most fun books on a month-to-month basis.
Locke & Key
Why You Should Be Reading: If Stephen King is the master of horror, his son Joe Hill is quickly proving himself every bit the heir to his throne with this book. While most of the books on this list seem to touch on familiar tropes fairly regularly, Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez’s Locke & Key is one of the most original creations in fiction around – and not just comics. It tells the story of the Locke family, one that is cursed with a sordid history that has one dark figure at its core, and when tragedy befalls them, they head home to Lovecraft, Massachusetts and their patriarch’s childhood home – Keyhouse.
I’d say more, but I don’t want to rob even one bit of story from you who haven’t read it. Suffice it to say, this book is one of the creepiest and best comics on the racks. It’s only one and a half arcs from the end, so now is the pretty much the best time to start catching up.
The Sixth Gun
Why You Should Be Reading: One part supernatural thriller, one part western, all parts awesome, this book from Cullen Bunn and Brian Hurtt is another book that doesn’t just measure amongst the best in horror comics but in all of comics. This book deals with the occult, zombies, mummies and any number of other horrific ideas, but at the center are six guns that could bring on the apocalypse. Within that central idea is a cast of characters that are rich and three dimensional, and the drama that develops between the cast helps push the ideas the two creators come up with to new heights.
This book is hugely underrated, and not that far in either. Pick up the first three trades and get onboard with this awesome book sooner rather than later.
Why You Should Be Reading: This book is from writer Brandon Seifert and artist Lukas Ketner, and its first four issue mini-series is coming to a close this Wednesday. Why should you be buying it? Because it’s laugh out loud funny, genuinely creepy, and the first mini-series feels like it’s the start of something big in the vein of B.P.R.D. or Hellboy. Given that in many ways those series are the holy grail(s) of horror comics these days, that’s quite the compliment. All I can say is I finished reading the latest adventure of Doctor Vincent Morrow and his compatriots as they try to sort out how to defeat a cadre of assaulting creatures from the Black Lagoon (true story), I became incredibly bummed out. I wasn’t going to get more Witch Doctor and creepy monsters and incredible art for another couple months.
While it sucks that it’s ending, getting a new issue of Witch Doctor this week is a true Halloween miracle. Buy this book!