Well, cut my pumpkin and choke me with candy corn, Halloween is here. All Hallows Eve, the festival of Sam Hain, the beginning of fall, the end of summer, sweatshirt season, fires, masks, candy and copious amounts of alcohol and weed. While all those things help make Halloween one of the best holidays out there (suck it Santa), there’s more we need to make the spookiness complete.
What else do we need, Iann? Slutty Halloween outfits for hot chicks? Yep, that’s a good one. A high stacked collection of horror movies? Yep, another check in the win column. Lines of cocaine? A stolen car? Three dead hookers and a bag full of money ripped off of a Satanic drug lord with a huge co……sorry, I digress. No, what we need are horror comics. Not just lame representations of Michael Myers or Jason Voorhees, but really fucked up and disturbing books that we dare not read alone. I understand that there are lots of them, so, in the spirit of the holiday, I’m come up with 13 Kick Ass Horror Comics.
13. The Blot
Artist: Tim Neely
The Blot is one of the weirder horror comics I’ve ever come across. The story deals with a nameless main character suffering through the fallout of a doomed relationship. During his time of struggle, a peculiar but seemingly harmless black splotch begins following him. The Blot continuously changes and grows and keeps terrorizing our everyman. Neely uses an old time style of comic book art to tell the tale, which works to make it that much more unsettling. The Blot is not just a horror comic, it’s a metaphor for the demons we all carry with us.
12. Panorama of Hell
Artist: Hideshi Hino
This one is a doozy. A man known as the Hell Painter uses his own blood to paint pictures of Hell. While orchestrating the masterpiece of his life’s work , the Hell Painter reflects on his family and how they all inspired him to paint images of Hell. Graphic, violent, and filled with disturbing examples of family dysfunction, Panorama Of Hell is a manga treasure that too many people have overlooked. If you dig manga and horror, I highly suggest picking it up.
11. 30 Days Of Night
Writer: Steve Niles
Artist: Ben Templesmith
With all the spin-offs, sequels and the big movie version, it can be hard to remember the classic original story that launched the career of comic scribe Steve Niles. Vampires looking to bask in the month-long night descend upon a quiet town in Alaska. A vampire elder named Vincent, who wants to keep vampires a secret, attempts to stop the attack. The cold renders the vampires senses dulled, so a few of the towns’ people survive, including the sheriff. In the end, the heroic sheriff sacrifices himself in order to defeat Vincent and save his town. Crisply written, gorgeously penciled, 30 Days Of Night was a chilling look at vampires before they became teenage boys who sparkle in the sun.
10. Werewolf By Night
Writer: Gerry Conway
Artist: Mike Ploog
Werewolf descendant Jack Russell first appeared in Marvel Spotlight #2 and, for 43 issues, he battled his hairy demon as well as any and all of those who would step to him. There’s way too much history to squeeze into this paragraph, but trust me, Werewolf By Night was one of the greatest horror characters to come out of the 1970s. When his series was cancelled, Werewolf By Night was regulated to special appearances and guest shots. Most recently, Werewolf was part of the team that fought by the side of The Punisher during his Frankencastle run. Interestingly, Werewolf By Night #32 marks the first appearance of Moon Knight. I highly suggest picking up the collections if you can find them.
9. Black Hole
Writer/Artist: Charles Burns
Every so often, we need an injection of reality into our horror. Black Hole, while not a horror comic, is disturbing enough to belong on this list. Set in Seattle in the mid-70s, Black Hole tells the story of a mysterious sexually transmitted disease affecting only teenagers. The results of the disease are horrible mutations, leading the teens to become social outcasts who build a small community outside of town. Beautifully written and illustrated by Burns, Black Hole is a metaphor for sexual awakening and feelings of not being understood, two of the scariest things we, as human beings, can go through. The first four issues were published in 1995 by Kitchen Sink with the final eight published by Fantagraphics after KS went out of business.
8. Tomb of Dracula
Writer: Marv Wolfman
Artist: Gene Colan
After the Comic Code Gestapo relaxed some of their ridiculous regulations on horror comics, Marvel decided to go all in with Tomb Of Dracula. The first six issues were written by various staff, but by issue seven, Marv Wolfman stepped up to become the writer for all seventy issues. TOD mostly told stories of vampire hunters going after Dracula, though they did occasionally team up to go against a bigger threat. The series was incredibly risqué, using nudity and over-the-top violence to tell stories. Wolfman had a no-holds-barred style of writing and Gene Colan followed suit with some incredibly gifted artwork. For those who love Blade, his first appearance was Tomb Of Dracula #10.
7. From Hell
Writer: Alan Moore
Artist: Eddie Campbell
Year: 1999 (Collected Edition)
This is one of Alan Moore’s greatest works and one of the most complex views of serial killer Jack The Ripper. Filled with political intrigue, royal bloodline cover-ups, brutal violence and even Masonic involvement, From Hell is one of those rare points when sequential art becomes a true work of literature. Moore’s attention to detail is staggering and, as complex as the plot is, it never becomes boring or convoluted. Campbell’s pencils are lush and gorgeous, giving the series a true noir feel. There’s no way to explain the plot to you, but I urge you to read From Hell immediately, if not sooner.
6. The Drifting Classroom
Artist: Kazuo Umezu
I’m not a manga guy, but this horror comic is one of my absolute favorites. Part Lord Of The Flies, part sci-fi time travel and part horror, The Drifting Classroom unfolds the tale of an entire school time-warped into the future, where Earth is a wasteland. The series is told through the eyes of Sho Takamatsu, a sixth-grader trying desperately to hold onto his wits. Umezu builds a wonderful arc here, starting with insanity and murder, taking us through monster attacks and an attempt to build a new government, then ending with a tiny ray of hope. Umezu has a real knack for writing interesting characters and draws you into the story in such a way that every gruesome and unnecessary death effects you. The Drifting Classroom is an absolute triumph of the medium.
Writer/Artist: Kevin Holden
This is another of my absolute favorites, mainly because the horror comes from real life as opposed to monsters or serial killers. Kevin Holden tells the story of a murdered Philadelphia teenager and the effect it has on the town. Holden uses an elliptical, non-linear style to get his point across, and at no point does he present it as a mystery. We know almost immediately who is responsible, the story is more about who they are and why they did it. Holden’s lack of simple moral lessons and his ability to let the brutality of the crime speak for itself makes Fishtown very powerful. I also loved how Holden’s color palate was mainly deep blues, pale yellows and washed-out pinks. It gave the book a feeling of moral ambiguity and desperation. Fishtown is the most terrifying kind of evil because it comes from those around us.
4. Eerie Comics
Writer: Edward Bellin
Artists: Joe Kubert, Fred Kida and George Roussos
Sure, Eerie Comics was a one-shot, stand-alone book, but it started the horror comic genre, so we must maintain the respect for it. Eerie #1 told six stories: “Mystery Of Murder Manor”, “Dead Man’s Tale”, “Proof”, “The Eyes Of The Tiger” (about a man haunted by a stuffed tiger), “The Man Eating Lizards” (and island of man-eating lizards) and “The Strange Case Of Henpecked Harry” (a man haunted by the bloody corpse of his murdered wife). While tame in comparison to today’s horror market, Eerie had quite an impact in its day. In 1951, Eerie was revived, running for seventeen issues.
3. Route 666
Writer: Tony Bedard
Artist: Karl Moline
Route 666 was a book I bought simply because I liked the title. What I got was an amazing horror comic that was also an incredible disappointment. Using violence, horror and humor, Bedard told the story of Cassie Starkweather, a girl who can see demons. Turns out there’s a lot of them on Earth and nobody will believe it. Through a grisly series of circumstances, Cassie is blamed for several deaths and must hit the road to try and figure out how to stop the demon hordes plus clear her name. Just as the comic began to reach it’s stride, CrossGen went out of business and the series stopped. As wonderful as it was, and as original as it unfolded to be, the fact that there is no resolution to Route 666 haunts me to this day.
2. The Walking Dead
Writer: Robert Kirkman
Artist: Tony Moore, Charlie Adlard
You knew I had to put The Walking Dead on this list. Outside of all the hoopla surrounding the TV show, The Walking Dead comic series is a monumental slice of horror fiction. From issue 1 to 103, Kirkman has kept the focus more on Rick Grimes and his group of traveling survivors in a post-zombie apocalypse world. The horror comes from both zombie attacks and man's inhumanity to man. While I personally feel the series is losing steam, you can’t deny how solid the writing is and how captivated the world has become by the story. There are many trades for The Walking Dead, I highly suggest you read all of them
1. Tales From The Crypt
Of course, Tales From The Crypt is number one. This is the jam folks, the big kahuna, the grand pappy of all horror comics. William Gaines and Al Feldstein took EC Comics into the stratosphere with this bi-monthly title. Zombies, monsters, murders, creepy crawly things and all kinds of unspeakable horror erupted between the pages of Tales From The Crypt. The stories were so over-the-top that it helped bring the world down on comic books and inspired the creation of the Comics Code. Nothing even comes close to the superb writing and blisteringly amazing pencils. Every single horror comic out there pales in comparison to Tales From The Crypt, the most single most amazing and important horror comic ever.
So, there’s my list. What would you add?