For those who scoff: “A comic book could never scare me!” - there’s something about the way good writers and illustrators use the space on the page and in the frames that can make comics and graphic novels absolutely chilling. It’s the anticipation, the quietness, the occasional first-person perspective.
It’s the way your mind fills in the blanks, maybe by adding sound – the click of heels on an empty, dark street, the sound of something crawling across the attic floor - or allowing one scene to bleed into another.
Since Halloween is right around the corner, what better time to test your mettle than with these classic horror comics and graphic novels?
Uzumaki, Junji Ito: The first time I came across Uzumaki it was in T.V. form - a late night creature feature so disturbing that I just had to seek out the original manga. The small Japanese coastal town of Kurôzu-cho is cursed – not by a ghost or a madman, but by the shape of spirals. Fair warning: Junji Ito’s illustrations are extremely graphic, and you will never look at a washing machine or snails…oh God, especially snails…the same way again.
Severed, Scott Snyder: Loosely based on serial killer Albert Fish, the Depression-era road tale had me reconsidering any and all cross-country journeys. 12-year-old Jack has run away, hopping a freight train to Chicago in search of his father - his “blood,” as he likes to call him. But someone, something is searching for Jack.
BTW! The first issue of Snyder’s newest book Wytches is out this month, and you should get it. Featuring skeletal creatures that live deep in the woods and feast on human flesh, it makes the Blair Witch Project look like a quaint little tale about camping.
Black Hole, Charles Burns: Spread amongst teenagers in a suburb of Seattle, Black Hole focuses on a sexually transmitted disease causes disturbing mutations. Add small town stigma and panic, and Black Hole will worm its way into your subconscious like a parasite. FYI: Purell is sold by the 12-pack on Amazon.
His Face All Red, Emily Carroll: A minimalist web comic with a somewhat ambiguous ending that is best read at night in a remote cabin in the woods (most things are).
Bongcheon-Dong Ghost, HORANG: Jump scares in comics? But of course! Based on a Korean urban legend about a woman who committed suicide in 2007, this super-short web comic has been called one of the scariest of all time. I don’t disagree – it almost made a grown woman cry. Hey, I’m not alone! Feeling bold? Read its follow up, Ok-su Station Ghost…and make sure your computer’s volume is on.
Welcome To Hoxford, Ben Templesmith: Full disclosure: I am a Ben Templesmith (30 Days of Night with writer Steve Niles; Wormwood: Gentleman Corpse) fangirl. His art is gorgeously creepy, all mussed lines and watery blood – of which there is plenty in Welcome To Hoxford.
Hoxford Correctional Facility and Mental Institution houses the worst of the worst: rapists, pedophiles, murderers. But a strange thing is happening there. It seems as though the predators are becoming the prey.
So tell us, what horror comics keep you up at night?