The 10 Best Modern Horror Comic Books, Ranked
These should be read under a blanket with a flashlight.
October is always a great time to read spooky stories. Personally, I like reading these stories all year round, but something about the crisp fall air and Halloween makes scary stories seem especially appealing. Horror movies and novels usually get the most attention, but creepy comic books deserve some love too.
Horror comic books were around almost since the beginning of the medium but fell from the limelight when the oppressive Comics Code Authority established harsh guidelines. Since the 2000s, however, there has been a resurgence of scary comic books. One of the most popular shows on TV, The Walking Dead, started life as a zombie comic book. Since that success, horror comics have exploded in popularity. These comic books aren’t limited to jump scares or simple monsters, these are layered and beautiful stories combined with wonderful artwork. Here are 10 of the best modern horror comics available.
10. Bitter Root (2018)
Bitter Root focuses on the Sangerye Family who has a long history of hunting monsters. The series, by David Walker, Chuck Brown, and Sanford Green, picks up in the 1920s, during the Harlem Renaissance. So we’ve got family drama, jazz, and monsters all in one place.
9. Cthulhu Tales (2008)
In 2008, BOOM Studios revived the Cthulhu Tales comic book title. If you like Cthulhu but get sick of reading H. P. Lovecraft’s racist stories, then this comic series is for you. It features twelve issues, and each issue has a couple of stories inside. Several artists and authors worked on the series to add many facets to the Cthulhu mythos.
8. Insexts (2015)
With Insexts we get horror, shapeshifting, and a hot romance (they are showing off more than just their ankles). Set in the Victorian era, two women have had enough of the patriarchy and decide to live by their own rules. Their new lives include saving other women, having a son together, and turning into giant butterfly monsters. Written by Marguerite Bennett and art by Ariela Kristantina, the series could have lasted longer than the published 13 issues.
7. Basketful of Heads (2019)
Writer Joe Hill and artist Leomacs gave us a horror story that reminds me of the horror movies from the 1980s, only better. June Branch goes to visit her boyfriend at the end of the summer and walks into a (metaphorical and literal) storm. The high-end small town is much more corrupt than it appeared and there are escaped murderers on the loose. Wielding a magical ancient Viking axe, June takes out the men who attack her only to find that cutting off their heads still won’t shut them up.
6. Killadelphia (2019)
Written by Rodney Barnes and art by Jason Shawn Alexander, Killadelphia is several genres rolled into one. When Jimmy comes home to bury his estranged (and sometimes abusive) father, he stumbles into a murder mystery. Instead of a vengeful criminal killing his dad, Jimmy uncovered a vampire underground. And there is a lovely alternative history about a former American president.
5. The Dollhouse Family (2019)
As implied by the name, The Dollhouse Family by Mike Carey, Joe Hill Peter Gross, and Vince Locke, is about a family across generations. The things that connects the members of the family is an antique dollhouse … and the demonic creature living inside of it. When Alice received the dollhouse, she had no idea that her new doll friends would change everything in her real world. It is a scary story that could be an allegory for the way generational trauma haunts many of us.
4. Sea of Sorrows (2020)
Sea of Sorrows is a five-issue series written by Rich Bouek and art by Alex Cormack. After the Great War, salvage crews roam the Atlantic Ocean looking for sunken U-boats and a rumored golden fortune. What the double-crossing crew finds instead, is a bunch of not-so-sweet mermaids. For me, five issues weren’t enough, I would love to see more of the deep-sea sirens. Plus those old-timey diving suits are terrifying.
3. The Me You Love in the Dark (2021)
The five-issue series, by Skottie Young and Jorge Corona, took the haunted house trope and mixed it with an abusive relationship. Artist Ro moved to a Victorian-style house in the country to focus on her painting. Between her painting and drinking wine, she realized she was not alone in the house. An entity (spirit, demon, alien, who knows) is there with her. At first, the being is inspiring and seductive, but things get unhealthy pretty fast (and no, having sex with a ghost is not unhealthy).
2. The Nice House on the Lake (2021)
Written by James Tynion IV and art by Alvaro Martinez Bueno, The Nice House on the Lake is a dream and a nightmare. Walter invited several of his friends to a week of fun at a picturesque lake house. The house looked like something a billionaire would summer in. In paradise, the friends have food, entertainment, and booze, but then they find out the rest of the world has been set on fire. Their wonderful escape quickly turned into a gilded cage as they struggle to understand what has happened. The limited series still has two issues left to be published so make sure you get caught up now.
1. The Low, Low Woods (2019)
The series by Carmen Maria Machado and Dani is only six issues long, yet it left a huge hole in my heart. The Low, Low Woods follows best friends El and Octavia who are trying to navigate their final year of high school. The small town they live in is like if Silent Hill combined with a very angry Mother Nature. There are horned and skinless creatures haunting the woods, but something even more disgusting walks among the people in town. The story is terrifying and heartbreaking while being poetically beautiful.
Bonus Comic – Sea Dogs
If you read titles from Hill House comics (Basketful of Heads, The Dollhouse Family, The Low, Low Woods, Daphne Byrne, and Plunge), you will find a bonus comic book story at the end of each book. You will need to read all the comics to get each chapter of the 30-part series. But Sea Dogs is well worth it. Sea Dogs takes place in 1779, on the seas near New England. There is a lot of high-seas murder and mayhem thanks to werewolves on the ship.
(featured image: DC/Hill House Comics)
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