A Bloody Good Time
If I had my way, Halloween would be a 6-month affair. I especially love all things spooky. Horror as a genre has generated some of my favorite pieces of media out there, including movies, television, video games, books and especially comics.The following are some of the excellent, horrific graphic novels I've found on our shelves. Make sure you have a blanket, a light and your door locked tight. These pieces won't let you go to sleep too easily afterward. A final aside for you too: all of the following volumes are absolutely, 100% recommended for adults. The horror might be hard to handle for younger patrons. That said, enjoy!
Flinch by Brian Azzarello, et. al.
If you consider yourself a fan of any degree of Creepshow, Tales from the Crypt, or The Twilight Zone, then Flinch is an anthology for you. Our collection has the first volume which gives us 24 spooky short stories. With subjects ranging from the reanimated dead to aliens to body horror to frightening historical fact, you're sure to find at least one story to keep you awake at night. The thing I really, truly enjoyed about this collection is that you get a huge range of story tropes as well – horror can be a range of things from viscerally terrifying to hilarious and this collection is an excellent example of that. The variety gives us a wide range of horror experiences, so if you're easily scared but want to give the genre a try, I'd recommend this book. If you've read the Sandman series, there are some familiar artists in this volume as well!
Clean Room by Gail Simone, Jon Davis-Hunt, and Quinton Winter
Gail Simone, hopefully, is a person you're already well aware-of. A longtime fan-favorite writer of numerous series since 2002, she's been responsible for some of my personal favorite runs of Wonder Woman and Batgirl. Clean Room is her latest serial work, ongoing since 2015. Simone's characters in Clean Room tell a deeply unsettling story: Chloe, our protagonist, attempts to infiltrate an organization that seems to be responsible for the death of her fiancé but is responsible for much more than that. With a fresh take on demonic possession mechanics and a company that is entirely not what it seems, Clean Room is the horror comic you'll want to read next.
Five Ghosts by Frank J. Barbiere, Chris Mooneyham, and Lauren Affe
As someone who wholeheartedly enjoyed the 90's adventure film The Mummy, Frank J. Barbiere's Five Ghosts is massively appealing to me thanks to its supernatural-swashbuckling bend. The story follows Fabian Gray – isn't that a great action hero name? - and his adventures after his encounter with The Dreamstone. This artifact embedded in his chest allows him to commune with and use the abilities of five ghosts, hence the title. His companions are only ever referred to as The Wizard, The Archer, The Detective, The Samurai, and The Vampire, but the story heavily alludes to their true identities, all of which come in handy during Gray's adventures. This series is highly campy and is highly reminiscent of old pulp serials, which makes the reading of it a lot of fun. It's not necessarily wholly horror, but it's a great choice if you're still testing the horror genre waters.
Hellraiser: The Dark Watch by Clive Barker, Brandon Siefert, Tom Garcia
Hellraiser is one of the gorier entries in the American horror film catalog. Clive Barker's descent into Hell is remarkable for its use of special effects and makeup design, but it is definitively not for the faint of heart. The sequels, novels, and graphic novels all follow suit. The canon for Hellraiser has expanded far beyond Barker's own contributions to it, but the expansions make for wild journeys into his universe. This graphic novel run specifically was based on another one of Barker's novels and follows familiar characters as they deal with discontent in Hell's ranks. The Dark Watch has a few familiar faces, but you don't have to solve any puzzle boxes to enjoy this run. At three volumes from start to finish, it's a perfect snack-sized story compared to the original film's three-course meal. Unapologetically gory describes this series to a tee.
Wytches by Scott Snyder and JOCK
If you're on the lookout for something different, Wytches is the graphic novel to put on your list. The story focuses on the Rook family during their fresh start: Sailor and her parents Charlie and Lucy move after Sailor has an encounter with a particularly brutal bully. Their new town promises peace and quiet, but not everything is as it seems. I don't want to give anything away, but I have to emphasize that this was an amazing rural noir story. JOCK's art with Scott Snyder's writing create a stark atmosphere that feels inescapable until the last page. Unfortunately the series was left on a nasty cliffhanger, but there are rumors circulating that we may be seeing a return at some point in the future. This is a story begging for continuation although it's certainly not for the faint of heart. Read this story with the lights on.
Revival by Tim Seeley and Mike Norton
Despite my love of horror I don't actually enjoy gore that much! Give me a story that sends chills up my spine without gallons of movie magic blood and I'm happy. Revival is a rare exception to my rule. Having grown up in Michigan I was happy to see a zombie story set in the Midwest. Taking place in rural Wisconsin, this book is extra-special to me as it features indigenous characters who use Anishinaabemowin! As for the story: our heroine Dana Cypress is in the thick of "Revival Day" when the dead return to life while discovering that her little sister Martha has been murdered. The story takes us through the lives of different faces in the small town of Wasau as everyone deals with the revival, with Dana hunting for her sister's murderer all the while. I can't say enough about this 8-volume series – if you like zombie movies and/or small town intrigue, please give this a read.
Uzumaki by Junji Ito
I've been a long-time fan of Japanese manga and anime, specifically since those heady days of Sailor Moon and Dragon Ball Z in the after-school slot on cable. Junji Ito's work was a happy discovery that perfectly combines my love of manga and my love of horror. A lot of his work lives on the grotesque/gore section of the spectrum, but in a lot of stories there's a lot of humor as well. Uzumaki is the only title we have in our collection by Ito, but if you can get yours hands on his other titles I'd highly recommend those as well. In this particular story, the school-aged protagonists are trying to live their lives as normally as possible in their small home town when strange spirals start to take over. They have to figure out what's happening – and escape – before it's too late. This series may not be for the horror beginner, but I'd recommend you check out the first volume and test the waters a bit.