Are you a horror enthusiast in search of your next bone-chilling thrill? If you’ve exhausted your watchlist on Shudder, devoured every spine-tingling page penned by Stephen King, and even binged every episode of Hulu’s Into the Dark, fear not! There’s a realm of terror waiting for you in the realm of horror comics. In recent years, comic book creators have flocked to the genre, crafting stories that will leave you sleepless. These tales of horror, much like their superhero counterparts, offer a unique experience that transcends traditional media. Join us as we unveil the 10 best horror comics that will keep you up all night.
10 Best Horror Comics That Will Keep You Up All Night
The Low, Low Woods
DC Comics’ Vertigo imprint held the throne as the ultimate haven for horror comics, boasting monumental Sandman and Hellblazer series. Despite the shuttering of Vertigo by DC in 2020, its legacy perseveres within the Hill House imprint, masterfully curated by acclaimed author Joe Hill. Hill’s inaugural venture proved triumphant as he enlisted the talents of Nebula Award-winning writer Carmen Maria Machado for The Low, Low Woods. This eerie tale, beautifully illustrated by Dani and enriched with the vivid coloring of Tamra Bonvillain, along with Steve Wands’ lettering, unfolds within the meticulously crafted mining town of Shudder-to-Think, Pennsylvania.
Within The Low, Low Woods, the narrative delves into a chilling realm where systemic misogyny and the brutalities of capitalism reign, witnessed through the eyes of teenage girls El and Octavia. Dani’s evocative artwork, reminiscent of Vertigo’s golden era, captures the essence of sinkhole-riddled women and skinless men with its gritty linework. Yet, what truly sends shivers down the spine are the hauntingly plausible motivations that drive the town’s male inhabitants.
Writer Pornsak Pichetshote expertly weaves a tale of horror and social commentary in his comic Infidel, brought to life by artist Aaron Campbell. The story follows Aisha and Medina, two Muslim women of color and close friends living in an apartment building that is rumored to have housed a terrorist. Infidel addresses issues such as racism and the ghosts that still haunt America. Pichetshote creates believable and relatable characters through their dialogue, despite the heavy themes. Campbell’s frantic linework adds to the realistic portrayal of the characters. With the help of José Villarrubia’s unsettling colors and designer Jeff Powell’s inventive lettering, Infidel creates a chilling, yet ultimately compassionate, piece of fiction that explores important social issues.
When it comes to “Cosmic Horror,” many people immediately think of Cthulhu and extraterrestrial beings. However, Gideon Falls, a series by Jeff Lemire, Andrea Sorrentino, and Dave Stewart, introduces a new and ominous figure to the sub-genre: the Black Barn. The series spans 21 issues and delves into the mystery of the haunted Black Barn, which seems to appear only to those who are slowly losing their minds, including the story’s protagonists, a struggling priest and a lifelong mental patient. Sorrentino and Stewart’s artwork is one of the most unique and unsettling in the horror genre across all media, with a fantastic cubic double-helix that brings together characters from different times and places. These visuals can only be found in comic books, making Gideon Falls a rare example of inexplicable terror.
Maniac of New York
Known for his work as head writer on The Daily Show and Mystery Science Theater 3000, Elliott Kalan has a knack for turning serious matters into ridiculous entertainment. However, in his comic series Maniac of New York, Kalan takes a different approach, offering a grim and realistic portrayal of the absurd slasher genre, reminiscent of films like Friday the 13th Part VII: Jason Takes Manhattan. Collaborating with artist Andrea Mutti, Kalan delves into the municipal response to an apparently unstoppable masked killer. By emphasizing the everyday aspects of this fantastical tale, Kalan and Mutti intensify the horror within the familiar slasher framework. They showcase how the ordinary individuals just going about their jobs become the thin line separating a normal life in New York from a gruesome demise, heightening the tension and fear that lurks in the shadows.
Something is killing the children
Stephen King and Guillermo Del Toro are known for their depictions of dead children in horror, but James Tynion IV and Werther Dell’Edera’s Something is Killing the Children is a close contender. Erica Slaughter, a mysterious drifter, arrives in Archer’s Peak to help when the town’s children start disappearing. Dell’Edera doesn’t shy away from depicting young children being attacked by insect-like monsters, and Miquel Muerto’s use of sickly greens and blues heightens the drama. Tynion’s writing includes believable emotions and humor, adding depth to the characters and avoiding the clichés of the “Man with No Name” archetype for monster hunters. The series has been nominated for an Eisner award, cementing its status as a standout horror comic.
The Immortal Hulk
Marvel may be known for its superheroes, but it actually started with monsters. Characters such as Spider-Man and the Thing were originally created to be monstrous. This is particularly evident in the Hulk, who was modeled after the Jekyll and Hyde archetype and transformed into a monster at night. In The Immortal Hulk, writer Al Ewing revives this element of the Hulk’s origin story, crafting an environmental allegory that links the gamma radiation that transformed Bruce Banner to Satan and Hell. Artist Joe Bennett and inker Ruy José draw on the effects of John Carpenter’s The Thing to depict Banner’s transformations in a painful and visceral manner. Paul Mounts’s otherworldly colors add to the terror, creating a mixture of body horror and supernatural fear that makes The Immortal Hulk one of the most frightening comics out there.
Venus in the Blind Spot
Junji Ito, the master horror mangaka, is known for his ability to take readers to some of the weirdest and creepiest places in horror. In his collection Venus in the Blind Spot, Ito explores unsettling stories that range from a man hiding in an easy chair to body-shaped holes in caves. However, the collection’s most unsettling story is the first one, “Billions Alone.” The story follows young agoraphobe Michio, who finally decides to enter the world again, only to face a killer who sews people together. What starts with a couple quickly escalates to larger groups, providing Ito with an opportunity to draw disturbing tableaux of bodies joined together. Yet this unsettling premise also delves into themes of loneliness and the fear of groups, which becomes even more poignant during a pandemic.
Let’s get one thing straight: the most bone-chilling moment in Chip Zdarsky’s writing career might just be that single-panel Frog-Man scene in Original Sins #5. However, his work in Stillwater comes dangerously close to matching that level of terror. Co-created and illustrated by Ramón K. Perez, with vivid colors by Mike Spicer and expert lettering by Rus Wooton, Stillwater immerses us in a peculiar town where death is impossible.
On the surface, this may seem like a desirable quality, but the sinister truth emerges: nobody in Stillwater can age, not even children. Faced with this grim reality, a desperate mother takes the daring step of smuggling her toddler son, Thomas, out of the town. Years later, circumstances bring Thomas back to Stillwater as an adult, unaware of his own past. The tensions escalate as a clash erupts between those yearning for contact with the outside world and the tyrannical Judge who aims to keep them hidden from the rest of civilization.
Among the remarkable titles from Hill House Comics’ collection, Daphne Byrne stands out as a Victorian ghost story that will send shivers down your spine. The chilling tale is skillfully penned by Laura Marks and brought to life through the haunting artwork of horror legend Kelly Jones. Set in Victorian England, Daphne Byrne follows the young protagonist after her father’s demise. Seeking solace for her mother’s loneliness, Daphne’s path intertwines with a dubious medium who harbors sinister intentions for the Byrne family. As the story unfolds, Daphne encounters a mysterious young man who lures her with promises of companionship and power. Embracing the classic Victorian style, Daphne Byrne blurs the boundaries between fantasy and reality. Marks and Jones skillfully transform each character into an unreliable narrator of their own narratives, be it the enigmatic suitor captivating Daphne’s mother or the elderly rationalist offering his assistance.
The Dreaming: Waking Hours
The Dreaming, delving into the intriguing lives of dreams and nightmares. Continuing in this rich tradition, Waking Hours emerges as the newest addition, treading the delicate line between horror and contemporary fantasy. Within its pages, a captivating character, deeply engrossed in her Shakespeare dissertation, finds herself ensnared in the ethereal realm of the Dreaming. Here, she encounters multiple incarnations of Shakespeare himself, while simultaneously, an ominous nightmare named Ruin finds himself trapped in the waking world. In an ironic twist, Ruin’s sole connection is his ex-boyfriend, an angelic cherub named Jophiel.
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