6 Horror Graphic Novels You Must Read For Halloween
Written by David Gallaher
When I was a small boy, I was scared of everything… getting bitten by dogs, choking on a spider in my sleep, getting sucked into the toilet after I flushed, tornadoes, quicksand, getting hit by a car on the way to school, and teachers following me home to tell my parents about what a rotten kid I was. I lived in a perpetual state of horror from age five until about age thirteen. Exposure to horror movies, monster comics, and spooky radio shows helped me find the courage to be brave; but every now and then… I still find something to be scared of.
These graphic novels are some of the downright spookiest and terrifying stories I’ve read in years. With Halloween just around the corner, you’re in for a real treat if you add them to your reading list.
SPREAD by Justin Jordan, Kyle Strahm, Liam Cobb, and Felipe Sobreiro. Image Comics.
Imagine John Carpenter’s THE THING, but directed by Quentin Tarantino… now add some rabid religious fanatics, blood-thirsty cannibals, and some badass bladed weapons and you end with The Spread. Oozing from the minds of Jordan Jordon and Kyle Strahm, the Spread is a scarlet plague that warps everything in its path. This is an infectious story that has some of the most visceral storytelling I’ve ever experienced.
COLDER by Paul Tobin and Juan Ferreyra. Dark Horse Comics
If waking up in sheer abject terror is totally your jam, then Colder is the book for you. I mean, just look at the cover. It’s sheer nightmare fuel. I’ve always found eye-ball trauma to be deeply unsettling. Beyond the cringe-inducing cover, Paul Tobin and Juan Ferreyra introduce us to a colorful cast of characters, including a charismatic monster that feeds on insanity, a caretaker whose curiosity exceeds her common sense, and a catatonic patient named Declan who has the curious ability to ‘step inside’ the mental illness of others and heal it, but at a severe cost. This is supernatural noir at its finest with bone-chilling sequences that will have you hiding under the blankets.
BEASTS OF BURDEN: ANIMAL RITES by Evan Dorkin and Jill Thompson. Dark Horse Comics
You won’t find anything more picturesque than Burden Hill. Adorned with white picket fences and picture-perfect homes, it is an idyllic community. But unbeknownst to its human populace, sinister secrets are buried under the manicured lawns. Fans of Bunnicula and The Incredible Journey will find a lot to love in this haunting tale of household pets sworn to protect their town from sheer supernatural chaos. Loaded with heart and humor, this gorgeous hardcover has tremendous crossover appeal for horror fans of every age.
THE CROW: SPECIAL EDITION by James O’Barr. Gallery Books
After his fiancée’s death at the hands of a drunk driver, James O’Barr channeled his anguish and pain into a story that would become a cult-classic — The Crow. It is the heart-wrenching story of Eric, who returns from the dead to avenge his fiancée’s murder. O’Barr is able to articulate raw emotion in a way that few artists can. If you’ve only seen the films, you are missing out on a powerful story of how love and loss can haunt us from the grave.
SQUEE by Jhonen Vásquez. Slave Labor Graphics.
It’s hard to pick the MOST horrifying stories from Jhonen Vásquez. Do you pick the colorful and zany Invader Zim? The troubling tales of Johnny the Homicidal Maniac? Or the more utterly soul-draining I Feel Sick? While they are all delightfully morbid in their own way, I find Squee to the most appropriate for the Halloween season. Todd Casil, better known as Squee after the noise he makes when frightened, is an introverted child and frequent victim of bullies. His resilience in the face of absolutely unspeakable horror is both heart-breaking and hysterical.
UZUMAKI by Junji Ito. VIZ Media.
With Uzumaki, Junji Ito transforms the mundane into the macabre. Ito’s subversive magnum opus is cruel, nihilistic, and unlike anything I have ever experienced. It’s the story of how sheer madness can be found in simplest of shapes. When spirals start manifesting everywhere, the residents of Kurôzu-cho are sucked into a chaotic vortex of insanity and sheer tragedy. The mere mention of this book makes me shiver.
David Gallaher is the writer of High Moon, a horror western comic set for release on October 17th from Papercutz. If you liked any of the above graphic novels, you're going to love this one.