It’s October, and that means it’s time for us to bunker down in blankets with hot drinks and popcorn and sequester ourselves in the wonderful world of all things horrifying.
But for every scary movie out there, there’s a scary book. I’ve compiled a list of my most recommended horror comic books for this Halloween, ranging from slasher to psychological terror, and each one an eerily perfect addition to your haunted reads.
6. Jook Joint (TW Rape, Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault)
Written and created by Tee Franklin, Bingo Love, with art by Alitha Martinez, colors by Shari Chankhamma and letters by Taylor Esposito, Jook Joint is a brand-new mini-series being published through IMAGE COMICS. A haunting homage to jook joints, establishments used during slavery and segregation to safely allow the Black community to socialize, this story is about what happens when men don’t follow the rules. Auntie Mathalia, a hoodoo witch, is taking back the power stolen from her and other women at the hands of men, and when a new girl comes into her life, she offers a choice: save her and her daughter, or continue to suffer. A powerful story about survivors and vengeance, you can read my review here for a lengthy look. Jook Joint gets an honorable mention for not only being created entirely by people of color but primarily by women as well. Tee Franklin, herself, is a queer, disabled black woman, and her work is driven by the need for representation of different body types and orientations and able-bodiedness.
Created by Scott Snyder and Jock, Wytches has been praised by Stephen King, the Master of Horror, himself. Everything you thought you knew about witches was wrong. Snyder and Jock demonstrate how much darker, eviler and truly twisted these ancient beings are.
And how much hungrier.
Gorgeously done art paired with stellar and bone-chilling writing, Wytches follows a family desperate to escape a recent trauma in their daughter’s life. With a new town comes a new house, new school and new enemies. But some things are ancient and dwell deep within us, primitive and waiting to be set free.
Another (complete) mini-series from IMAGE COMICS, Wytches is required Halloween reading.
4. Long Lost
Long Lost follows the story of Piper and Frances, two estranged sisters with a haunted past. When Piper’s dog goes missing and a strange creature calls them home to Hazel Patch, the girls find themselves inexplicably drawn to the tiny Southern town they’d fought so hard to escape. There’s something going on in their hometown, and somehow, they’re right in the middle of it. With a mother they hadn’t seen in fifteen years suddenly missing from the asylum, aunts they never met coming from nowhere and a lethal encounter on the edge of the woods, Long Lost is a rollercoaster of thrills and terror. From the minds of Matthew Erman and Lisa Sterle with Scout Comics, Long Lost may make you double-think how much you like those cute Halloween monsters ringing your doorbell…
Another new story hot off the shelves, Poser is an homage to the 90’s punk rock scene and a love letter to classics like Jason. Urban legends are seeded in truth, and this group of friends is about to discover the truth about the Poser slasher. With bloodshed, guitar shreds and some teenage drama, this ongoing run from Matt Miner, Clay McCormack, Doug Garbark and Taylor Esposito is a perfect addition to your Halloween list. If you’re a fan of cult classics, punk music or one-of-a-kind comics, then Poser is for you. And if you’re not… well… Don’t force it. Just in case.
2. Anything done by Cullen Bunn
Seriously. I tried to narrow it down but Cullen Bunn has the horror genre cornered. Anything that was written by him that looks even remotely creepy probably is. My favorites include Cold Spots, Dark Ark and Bone Parish. Bunn has a special ability to tap into the human psyche and twist your deepest fears into knots. Even when dealing with something as mundane as demons, Bunn manages to make every trope in the book seem new, and make a few of his own. I cannot praise or recommend his work enough. His creator-owned work is a step above awesome, and on a whole other level from his peers. I simply refuse to believe that reading a Cullen Bunn work wouldn’t add a level of delightful terror and suspense to even the most mundane Halloween celebration. I do, however, recommend leaving a light on, and checking your candy twice. Bone Parish is about a family that manufactures drugs using the remains of the dead, and powdery substances are suspicious.
1. Locke & Key
Not only is Locke & Key the epitome of comic book horror, but it’s also one of the most highly recommended comics series, period. Any fan who’s been in the fandom for a long time, and ventured outside of the spandex, is going to tell you that this series, created by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez, is a must-read. It’s a strange mix of psychological terror and supernatural horror, and the marriage is a beautiful, happy one. When things go bump in the night, there’s a reason for that. Centered around Keyhouse, a New England mansion of the utmost creepy factor, Locke & Key tells about the many doors that should remain locked and hidden away from the prying eyes of the world… and of the malignant creature that dwells there waiting for some stupid kid to open them, one by one. Seem like something you’d read in a King novel? It’s for a reason. Joe Hill is the son to Stephen King, and from page one, the family resemblance is strikingly familiar.
If you need a break from the scary movies that send screaming and evil clown laughter ringing through your home, take a peek into these titles and hear it in your soul instead. Happy Halloread!