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Sequential Fear: Horror Graphic Novels You Must Read

Ever wonder where to start when it comes to horror comics? Kingdom of Blood creator Robert Geronimo has outlined a go-to list of funny book scares below. His graphic novel is currently on Kickstarter.

“The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown.”
-H.P. Lovecraft
I’ve always relished tales set in the horror genre. They took me to strange, nightmarish worlds filled with fantastic beings and creatures. Horror is pervasive in almost every form of mass culture, making Stephen King, Freddy Krueger, Jason, and Chucky household names. Even video games have lent themselves to creating interactive, frightening experiences with characters that the player can identify with to heighten the immersion.
While comic books are widely known for their colorful-costumed superheroes and villains, the medium has also invited storytellers to create a sense of terror and dread through the visual movement of sequential storytelling. Hellblazer was the series I gravitated to when I made my first trip to the local comic shop as a child. The opening scene of Jamie Delano’s Hunger arc left me in a trance and needless to say, it had induced chills. While my mother wasn’t inclined to have John Constantine serve as my first introduction to comics, I did eventually get my hands on it years later. And since then, I have always been drawn to the element of the grotesque—body horror in comics. As seen in works of Clive Barker (Hellraiser), Junji Ito (Uzumaki), and Hidetaka Myazaki (Dark Souls / Bloodborne), the grotesque has a staying power, since we are beings made of flesh and blood, and so long as we have bodies, we can experience body horror.

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The grotesque plays a large role in my work as well, particularly my latest horror project, Kingdom of Blood . It is a graphic novel that mixes gothic fantasy and horror all in one nightmarish tale, told in eerie black-and-white illustrations. My intention for this project is to be the beginning of an anthology, with each volume telling a different tale in this dark universe.
I’m hoping that by offering up this list of horror graphic novels, I can inspire you to explore the sequential worlds of the storytellers that have inspired more than just my work..

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Uzumaki (Junji Ito)
A masterpiece of horror manga! Kurôzu-cho, a small fogbound town on the coast of Japan, is cursed. According to Shuichi Saito, the withdrawn boyfriend of teenager Kirie Goshima, their town is haunted not by a person or being but by a pattern: uzumaki, the spiral, the hypnotic secret shape of the world. It manifests itself in everything from seashells and whirlpools in water to the spiral marks on people's bodies, the insane obsessions of Shuichi's father and the voice from the cochlea in our inner ear. As the madness spreads, the inhabitants of Kurôzu-cho are pulled ever deeper into a whirlpool from which there is no return!

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The Marquis: Inferno (Guy Davis)
In eighteenth-century Venisalle, faith governs life and death, and the guilty hide their shame behind masks, showing their faces only in the secret rites of the confessional. It is to this stronghold of the Inquisition that the souls of Hell have escaped to possess the living, spreading sin, murder, and chaos. Amid the carnage, one man is blessed with the clarity to recognize the demons that prey on his countrymen - and the means to return them to the fires of Hell. But as the stakes rise, the lines separating good and evil begin to blur, and the Marquis - the dark avenger whom even demons fear to cross - finds himself torn between the blind faith that has defined his life and the bitter truths exposed under his new sight.


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Hellblazer: The Laughing Magician (Andy Diggle & Leonardo Manco, Giuseppe Camuncoli)
John Constantine, the dark prince of England’s occult underground, knows the sooty streets of London like the back of his cigarette-toting hand. But half a world away there’s a new threat rising that not even Constantine can see coming. In the blood-soaked sands of Darfur, a murderous mage is drawing power from genocide and cannibalism, eating magicians alive to gain their hard-earned powers. His ultimate target: the so-called Laughing Magician, an eternal presence that maintains the world’s mystical balance.

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Gyo (Junji Ito)
Something is rotten in Okinawa... The floating smell of death hangs over the island. What is it? A strange, legged fish appears on the scene... So begins Tadashi and Kaori's spiral into the horror and stench of the sea. Here is the creepiest masterpiece of horror manga ever from the creator of Uzumaki, Junji Ito. Hold your breath until all is revealed.

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Spread (Justin Jordan, Felipe Sobreiro, Kyle Strahm)
Ten years ago, we dug too deep and unleashed something we couldn't control. Something that twisted and warped every living thing in its path. Something that remade the world in its own image. The Spread. Now, one man has a found a child who could save the world, but he has to fight monsters, raiders, cannibals, religious fanatics, and one cranky baby to do it.


Be sure to check out Kingdom of Blood on Kickstarter for more from Robert Geronimo.


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About The Author
James Ferguson
Lord of the Funny Books
James has a 2nd grade reading level and, as a result, only reads books with pictures. Horror is his 5th favorite genre right after romantic comedy and just before silent films. No one knows why he's here, but he won't leave.
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