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Best Of Best of Comics Comics and Graphic Novels Featured Horror Books

Puzzle Box’s Best of Horror Comics

Comic books have been entertaining millions since 1933, and as the art has gotten better, illustrators have been able to create amazing panels with visceral and intense visuals. Combined with increasingly sharp storytelling, comics have only gotten better and better at giving readers those incredible, bone-chilling moments.Those are the moments we live for as horror enthusiasts, and these are the best comics that really bring the screams.

Gideon Falls by Jeff Lemire

This story is split between an urban conspiracy and small town secrets that are lynchpinned by the Black Barn. This urban legend appears throughout human history as a harbinger of doom mind-bending doom. Our urban protagonist, Norton Sinclair, is searching for the truth in city dumpsters, and Father Wilfred, the country mouse, is arriving at yet another new parish in the mysterious town of Gideon Falls following the death of the previous pastor. Together,  they’ll learn the truth about the Black Barn. Whether they learn it in time to escape it is another question. Available on Amazon here.

Babyteeth by Donny Cates

It’s been a troubling time, but there’s one thing we can all still agree on: Teen Pregnancy is the devil, hands down. But what’s extra devilish? I’ll cast a vote for giving birth to the Antichrist, which is exactly what happens to sixteen year old Sadie Ritter. It’s a sweet story, and that’s what makes the dark twists and turns that much sweeter. A lot of people would rather avert the apocalypse. Sadie just wants to raise a kid. Available on Amazon here.

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The Beauty by Jeremy Haun and Jason A. Hurley

Beauty standards are, often times, unattainable. Anything that could help people reach that would be in high demand. But what if it’s an STI that makes you sexy overnight? Even more intriguing is what if everyone wants it?  Of course, tradeoffs are never simple, and a disease that makes you sexier by the day is just begging for consequences. The Beauty plays with this premise and takes a turn to the noir, as Detective Foster and Detective Vaughn inadvertently come closer and closer to the ugly truth. Available on Amazon here.

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The Black Monday Murders by Johnathan Hickman

Great Depressions, Recessions, market crashes–these are the dynamic breaks and burst bubbles that come to define capitalism. But who defines capitalism? In Hickman’s black and white masterpiece, Lucifer is the one pulling the strings of the free market, and this comic feels like a strange hybrid between The Big Short and the Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. With incredible aesthetic, detailed runes and epic corporate memos, this comic will really make you question: is the really fiction? Available on Amazon here.

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Hillbilly by Eric Powell

Pastoral literature has a history of using the imagery of the countryside to create a stunning and magical world, almost entirely separate from the city to busy and absorbed in its own mass. We can use that same magic to draft isolation and brew eye-twitching terror, no? That’s what Eric Powell does in Hillbilly, transforming Appalachia into a dark, unsleeping wilderness, with nightmarish whimsy and a mythology that grows with every installment. Available on Amazon here.

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Bones of the Coast by Cloudscape Comics

I love anthologies. Let’s start there. Their strength, when done correctly, is their ability to weave strong themes between shorter stories that can be terrifying vignettes when compared to sometimes bloated full length stories. Bones accomplishes that in spades, with standouts like ‘Drag You Down’ and The ‘Cove,’ full of magic, doppelgangers, and a host of otherworldly influences. This anthology, set in the Pacific Northwest, uses its hauntingly beautiful environment to deliver an anthology that is equally so. Available on Amazon here.

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BPRD by Mike Mignola

BPRD: The Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense. Sound familiar? Any fans of Hellboy will be nodding their heads. Hellboy makes consistent appearances in BPRD and also has an a comic series “Hellboy and the BPRD.” The BPRD is tasked with defending humanity from the occult, supernatural, and the paranormal, working in conjunction with many national and international government organizations. Noir and action allows BPRD to set a dark tone perfect for fiendish creatures like frog monsters and real fiends like the CIA. Available on Amazon here.

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Cat Eyed Boy by Kazuo Umezo

Another anthology series here and Kazuo’s second appearance here, Cat Eyed Boy tells stories that are all linked by the half demon with cat eyes. The rambunctious demon boy runs around with a vague moral system that leans very closely to chaotic neutral. The wicked are punished, but the innocent are hilariously ridiculed. Maybe that isn’t so strange. Available on Amazon here.

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Delphine by Richard Sala

Richard Sala’s feverish take on “Snow White” is not Snow White, and that’s why I love it and why it’s on this list. Our primary protagonist is Sala’s Prince Charming, chasing after the beautiful Delphine. The sephia illustrations are perfect for creating those dark shadows, making the forest, the town, and the people that much creepier. This dark fairy tale slides into horror effortlessly, and is so inevitable, it’ll leave you screaming at the page. Available on Amazon here.

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The Hound and Other Stories by H.P. Lovecraft and Gou Tanabe

We end this list with a classic: H.P. Lovecraft’s The Hound and Other Stories are faithfully rendered by Gou Tanabe, who provides stunning visuals to the stories that pioneered the horror genre. This comic is closer to reiteration than homage, which highlights Lovecraft’s use and appreciation of a slow, building fear and paranoia, as opposed to the sheer terror of his mythical Elder Gods. Available on Amazon here.

Thanks for reading our best horror comics list! We love giving you guys these recommendations and spotlighting a great genre. Don’t hesitate to give us a shout either! Tell us what deserves to be on this list and what doesn’t, and until next time, keep it spooky. 

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Best Of Best of Comics Comics and Graphic Novels Featured Horror Books

Puzzle Box’s Best of Horror Graphic Novels

Welcome to Puzzle Box Horror’s Best of Horror Graphic Novels. We love all forms of horror here at Puzzle Box, and graphic novels have seen some incredible stories and artwork emerge and come to define horror in the same ways that iconic movies and shows have in the past. In honor of that level of terror, we’ve compiled this list of our best horror graphic novels, where terrifying is an understatement. 

Sandman by Neil Gaiman

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Supernatural and suspenseful, Sandman is the story of Morpheus, the god of Dreams. He escapes an occult ritual and goes on a journey for vengeance. Readers are introduced to Morpheus’s kingdom, the Dreaming, that fell into despair during his imprisonment, and his brethren, the Endless. Sandman’s initial cruelty makes for thrilling moments and as his character grows, so does the darkness around him. With an electric plot, Sandman keeps the pages turning and gives you a good excuse to leave the lights on. Available on Amazon here.

Adamtine by Hannah Berry

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A master take on a classic figure, Berry’s story starts with a simple premise: an accused serial killer delivers notes from “a bogeyman. A monster.” He disappears, and the plot expands and entrances in complexity, only to unfold with astounding, and terrifying clarity. Four strangers on the late train home, whose pasts hold the key to the mystery, are forced to confront the very same terror.  Full of hidden images, cover to cover, it not only terrifies, but it demands a reread. Available on Amazon here.

Locke & Key by Joe Hill

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Keyhouse, the haunted house on the hill, is the New England home of the Lockes. Nina Locke, the widow of Rendell Locke, moves her family to the Locke ancestral seat following his death. The family, overcome by grief, fails to see the forest for the trees, but the secrets of Keyhouse–and the creature lurking inside–are slowly revealed. What ensues is a combination of real terror and psychological terror for the Lockes, who must learn to survive in the darkness surrounding them. Available on Amazon here.

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Gyo by Junji Ito

Junji Ito is a prolific author, and his work probably deserves an article on it’s own. It only makes sense another one of his works should be on this list. Ito always blends comedy into his horror, and Gyo is definitely one of the prime examples of that. What starts with mechanical-legged fish with an extreme stench coming from the ocean, leads to a population infected by the same mechanical virus and a world on fire. With the subtitle ‘The Death Stench Creeps,” Ito’s manga is true to the course, subverting expectations and using them to take us to a terrifying end. Available on Amazon here.

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Wytches by Scott Snyder

These aren’t the wytches you’re used to. The citizens of Litchfield, New Hampshire, sacrifice people to these ancient forest-dwellers for favors and boons. That’s bad news for the Rooks, the new family in town, who are running from their own family trauma. Rumors in their old home drove them away, and followed them to Litchfield. This ostracizes their daughter, Sailor, the first to learn about the town’s dark secret. This interesting and ravenous take on witches transports readers to the haunting chill of the New England night, the birthplace of American horror. Available on Amazon here.

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Infidel by Pornsak Pichetshote, Aaron Campbell, and Jose Villarrubia

With a topic that feels very current, Aisha, a Muslim-American woman, struggles to deal with xenophobia from her new neighbors, and even from her mother-in-law. What this graphic novel does is take that xenophobia and personifies it in truly horrifying forms that Aisha is prey to as she learns more about her housing complex’s past. Available on Amazon here.

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Clean Room by Gail Simone, Jon Davis-Hunt, and Quinton Winter

Reporter Chloe Pierce’s fiance commits suicide after devoting himself to the teachings of a self-help book. The self-help book’s author has created a cult that has incredible influence. Chloe’s reporting instincts and her quest for answers drive her to learn the truth, even if she has to infiltrate the Clean Room, the cult’s headquarters. What she finds is worse than she, or you, could have ever imagined. Available on Amazon here.

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Through the Woods by Emily Carroll

Behind You is an anthology of five short horror stories, full of ghosts, awful morality, haunted houses, and beautiful art. Each story is grounded in the dark fairy tale motif, as creatures of the night, humans included, emerge with thrilling and terrifying consequences. The two standout stories are “His Face All Red” and “The Nestling Place,” but all of the stories deserve to be read, in dark sleepless nights or midday–with a light on. Available on Amazon here.

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The Dregs by Zac Thompson and Lonnie Nadler

Art with a cause is my kind of art, and The Dregs does that by flipping the slogan “Eat the Rich” into a stunning graphic novel, both visually and fictionally. Set in a gentrified Vancouver neighborhood, Arnold, our homeless protagonist, is struggling to survive with his friend Manny, until Manny goes missing. In his search, Arnold uncovers truths both disturbing and dreadful, with resounding parallels to the plight of homelessness today. Available on Amazon here.

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Aliens: Salvation by Mike Mignola

Mike Mignola adds another incredible chapter to the Aliens franchise, with the Xenomorphs terrorizing another set of space explorers. As if the Xenomorphs aren’t terrifying enough, Mignola uses religious symbols to amp up the creeping paranoia the Nova Maru crew experience as they realize their cargo is hunting them, with chilling effect. Available on Amazon here.

And that’s a wrap! Our favorite horror graphic novels take us to the razor’s edge, and everyone’s edge is different. Let us know what stories keep the lights on in your bedroom in the comments below, and you could see it featured in our next updated list. Until next time, thanks for reading!

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Best Of Best of Comics Comics and Graphic Novels Featured Horror Books

Puzzle Box’s Best of Supernatural Graphic Novels

Winter winds are blowing, the nights are getting longer, the days are colder, but we still have plenty of graphic novels to go through, and today we’re bringing you a list of the best graphic in the supernatural sub-genre. We’ll see some overlap between some of our other “best of” lists, but some newcomers will definitely leave you needing a little something extra to go to sleep.

Sandman by Neil Gaiman

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Morpheus, the titular Sandman, is the god of dreams. Set in the realm of the Dreaming, Morpheus faces many challenges: he has to rebuild his realm that fell apart while he was imprisoned–by an occult ritual, no less–and search for those who imprisoned him. This revenge tour follows Morpheus to the living world as well as magical worlds like Faerie, Asgard, and Hell. What more could you want from a supernatural graphic novel? Available on Amazon here.

Adamtine by Hannah Berry

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I wouldn’t take the night train for a while after reading this one. That’s where you meet four strangers that are seemingly unconnected, but, as Berry slowly reveals, are all intricately linked to a dark secret that they’d all rather forget. Keeping a light on helps, not only to keep your fear at bay, but to illuminate the details hiding in those dark panels that may hold the keys to the entire mystery. Available on Amazon here.

Wytches by Scott Snyder

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Perhaps the only thing more terrifying than these wytches in the woods are the people who submit to them. The Rooks come to town looking for a new start for their daughter, Sailor, but the rumors that drove them away from their old home have followed them to Litchfield, New Hampshire. And much darker things are waiting for them in the woods at the edge of town. Such is life in these old New England towns. Available on Amazon here.

Infidel by Pornsak Pichetshote, Aaron Campbell, and Jose Villarrubia

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Infidel follows two Muslim-American women living in an apartment building haunted by racism. After a recent bomb blast in their building, a specter starts to play an increasingly disturbing role in the women’s, Medina and Aisha, lives. It seems to feed on hate and as Medina and Aisha search for the cause and the cure, more and more of their neighbors fall prey to the specter’s violence and bigotry. Available on Amazon here.

My Favorite Thing Is Monsters by Emil Ferris

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This is one of the more unique graphic novels on this list and it’s a very interesting read. Our main character, Karen, is a middle school outcast who loves monsters. Shocking, I know, title be damned. The story, set in 1968, is told in incredible detail through Karen’s illustrations, where she draws herself as a werewolf and investigates the murder of one of her neighbors. Honestly, so many notes are hit by this graphic novel, from outcast angst to mystery, to a little history. Available on Amazon here.

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Hellboy by Mike Mignola

Hellboy is an incredible character that has piloted several stories, from graphic novels to the silver screen, with plenty of spin-offs contained in the Mignola-verse. Our demonic anti-hero tangles with Nazis, cyborg Nazis, terrestrial and extraterrestrial monsters, all while bearing a destiny all his own: being the biblical Beast of Revelations. The occult and otherworldly take all manner of appearances in Hellboy, each as terrifying as the last. Available on Amazon here.

Something Is Killing The Children by James Tynion IV, & Miguel Muerto 

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The woods hold a host of unknowns, and the darker the days gets, so too do the woods. Something Is Killing the Children, the second graphic novel on this list with a fearsome forest, is about the disappearing children of Archer’s Peak. The ones that are taken rarely return, but those who do are forever changed and forever traumatized. Their only hope is Eliza Slaughter–she kills monsters– but they soon discover she may not be able to protect anyone. Available on Amazon here.

American Vampire by Scott Snyder, Rafael Albuquerque and Stephen King

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Vampires, finally! Vampire lore is mixed with fanfiction, classic literature, and young adult novels, each with a unique take on the age-old fiends. This take sees the birth of the American Vampire, with unique abilities and unique weaknesses, a new branch in vampiric evolution. The vampire history weaved throughout builds a familiar world that contrasts well with the vampires fully influenced by the 1920s as well as the Wild West. Available on Amazon here.

Revival by Tim Seeley and Mike Norton

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The dead are rising in central Wisconsin, for reasons unknown. It falls on the shoulders of Officer Dana Cypress to keep the balance and the peace in a town living with the undead. Noisy media coverage, religious fanatics, and a grisly murder stands in his way, but the truth about the murder and the return of the dead will make peace nearly impossible. Available on Amazon here.

Moonshine by Brian Azzarello

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Azzarello’s story of blood and wolves is set in the exciting era of prohibition. Our hero, Lou Pirlo, an accomplished New York City slicker, travels to West Virginia to close a deal with a cunning moonshiner, but the task proves to be much taller than anticipated. This story of bootleggers and lycans does an incredible job of not only making the werewolves terrifying, but also shines a light on the toll the curse has on its victims. Available on Amazon here.

These are our favorite supernatural graphic novels, and we love them because they all cast a pretty wide net and nab a host of otherworldly creatures. What I love about these novels is that more often than not, the darkest elements are somewhat, if not exclusively, human. So, did we miss anything? Do some of our lower ranked graphic novels deserve to be higher? Let us know in the comments below! Thanks for reading!

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Best Of Best of Comics Comics and Graphic Novels Featured Horror Books Reviews

Rogue Planet Sci-Fi Horror Comic Review

In his seminal novel Dune, author Frank Herbert writes, “I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer”. This idea, that fear steals and kills who we are, is taken to a terrifying new level in the space horror comic Rogue Planet (2020) where the fears of our main characters literally come to life and hunt them down in a strange alien landscape. Though the story shackles itself within its sci-fi horror conventions, if you’re a fan of the Alien franchise or H.P. Lovecraft then you will probably still have a good time with this one. 

Rogue planet horror comic cover
Rogue Planet Horror Comic Book Cover

In a faraway galaxy there is a “rogue” planet (i.e. one not bound to any planetary system or star) where aliens worship a grotesque and horrifying elder god. The comic wastes no time introducing us to some of its main elements, namely the towering fleshy monument of the god and the lengths the inhabitants will go through to appease its bloodlust. We see an alien father sacrifice his own son in front of the multi-eyed obelisk, which really helps set the dark and dangerous tone that runs throughout the story.

After this jarring opening we cut to the salvage ship Cortes, where the crew is just beginning to wake from hyper-sleep. They’ve found a distress signal and followed it to the unknown world, hoping to loot whatever treasures they may find. However, upon discovering a massive ship graveyard they begin to feel something is amiss. This uneasy feeling quickly turns to outright terror as they are attacked by a massive tentacled monster, and they spend the rest of the comic fighting for their lives against numerous bizarre and deadly enemies.

alien art from Rogue Planet horror comic
The god of Rogue Planet demands sacrifice

No spoilers here, but the Rogue Planet comic makes it clear pretty early on that none of the crew are safe from the planetary nightmares they face. While this ramps up the stakes and tension, it would have been even more effective if we cared more for our main characters. We do get scenes of expository banter that lend layers to their personas, but for the most part they remain static archetypes typical of the sci-fi horror genre. This isn’t inherently a bad thing, but it adds to the feeling of “been there, done that” that permeates the story. 

For a story about a ship following a distress signal to a hostile world, it plays out about like one would expect. The humans are placed in increasingly dangerous scenarios as the mysteries of the planet are slowly revealed. The aliens are all fairly nondescript, resembling a primitive tribe that has been intruded upon by foreigners. Following its cosmic horror roots the plot also dips into a baffling spirituality and mythos in its final act. True to the genre I was left wondering what I’d just read, but unfortunately it didn’t have the unnerving impact that the best in cosmic horror carries.

Where Rogue Planet really shines is in its unsettling imagery, abundant violence, and eye-catching artwork. The chaotic evil force is presented in various ways: there’s a gargantuan, veiny, many-mouthed worm (reminiscent of Junji Ito’s manga Remina), a host of hollowed out astronauts with streaming tentacles where their heads should be, and even a larger, bonier version of the facehugger from Alien. All iterations are unnerving, and all represent new levels of dread and mayhem for our misfortuned crew. These creatures are particularly creepy thanks to the bold illustrations from Andy Macdonald and the shimmering colors from Nick Filardi.

alien spacemen art from Rogue Planet horror comic
The horrors of Rogue Planet

In terms of sci-fi horror, Rogue Planet doesn’t break any new ground. But the comic also manages to elevate above being a completely awful rip-off. There’s enough here – between the intriguing concepts and provocative artwork – to keep readers engaged in the story, even when they’re confused or find themselves feeling déjà vu. Though previous entries in the genre have tackled the same concepts with better results, the creepy images and stellar coloring make this one still worth a read. Just lower your expectations and you’ll have fun with it.

Rogue Planet is available now from Oni Press.

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Subgenres of Horror from A to Z

Are you a die-hard horror fan? Are you someone looking to expand your horizons, and find just the right kind of horror for you? Well, we’ve got just the thing. We’ve dissected the horror into the nine main subgenres of horror with our recommendations on where to start with each.

How many types of horror are there?

Categorizing the subgenres of horror genre is harder than you might think. We’re not talking about the periodic table of elements here. It gets murky. There’s a lot of overlap, a lot of genre-bending and crossover. If you asked ten popular horror writers to make a list of subgenres within the main genre, you’d get ten different lists.

But let’s tackle it anyway!

We’ve broken horror down into fourteen categories or subgenres. These subgenres of horror account for the majority of horror fiction available today, while also harkening back to the origin of the genre.

Apocalyptic | Avant Garde | Cosmic | Comedy | Dark Fantasy | Found Footage | Gore | Gothic | Lovecraftian | Paranormal | Post Apocalyptic | Psychological | Sci-Fi | Supernatural

What are Horror Genre Characteristics?

Horror can range from internal terror to jump scares. Each sub genre has different characteristics but they all have one thing in common. They are intended to scare you.

Without further fanfare, let’s explore the most popular subgenres of horror fiction, with some sterling examples and basic characteristics of each genre.

Apocalyptic

Apocalyptic horror centers around the collapse of civilization. The world you know it can no longer exist with a complete collapse of systems and order. In horror this subgenre is often closely tied to sci-fi creatures such as the classic alien invasion, mysterious demons like Aamon coming to enslave mankind, and of course major religious events coming to fruition.

Best Apocalyptic Horror Movies

Avant Garde

For this subgenre, we’re getting a little weird. Avant Garde is as social a movement as it is an artistic one, with artists standing at the forefront of our preconceived notions of acceptable art and ideas. In horror literature, this takes the shape of mind-bending twists and impossible odds. In comics, it is the same incredible evil with terrifying and spine-tingling art. Recommended reading: Annihilation, by Jeff Vandermeer. Uzumaki, by Junji Ito. Sleep of Reason, by Spike Trotman.

Best Avant Garde Horror Comics

Body Horror

This subgenre of horror intentionally focuses on grotesque or psychologically disturbing violations of the human body. From disease to dismemberment the core of it is what can happen to the human body. It is not unusual for this to also include sexual, alien infestation, strange movements, transformations, and utter destruction of the human body. We’re talking everything from Human Centipede (is this really even horror?) to John Carpenters “The Thing.”

Comedy Horror

Tucker and Dale vs Evil Movie Poster

When dark humor just isn’t enough we have comedy horror. Accidental gore films like Tucker and Dale vs Evil to subtle quips from Ash Williams in the Evil Dead. A common theme in Comedy Horror is the victim who stumbles through the film and somehow manages to survive.

Cosmic Horror

The cosmic horror genre is both personally existential, and darkly expansive. The darkest corners of space, the pitch-black pits of demons, the sense of no real control, the fear of the unknown, and dread that comes with the ineffable size of the universe. This genre is strongly tied to H.P. Lovecraft who brought it to life with novellas such as At the Mountains of Madness (1936), The Shadow over Innsmouth (1936), and The Shadow Out of Time (1936). “The Shape Of Water” by Guillermo Del Toro or “The Imago Sequence and Other Stories” 2009 by Laird Barron are other strong modern works of cosmic horror. Space itself and extraterrestrial adventures also play a preeminent role in the genre, with standout comics like Nameless, by Chris Burnham & Grant Morrison, and Southern Cross, by Becky Cloonan and Andy Belager.

Best Cosmic Horror Movies | Best Cosmic Horror books | Best Cosmic Horror Comics

Dark Fantasy

These novels give readers the best of both worlds. They contain fantasy elements like magic, strange creatures, etc. They also add a dark layer of terror and suspense, just to keep things interesting. Recommended reading: The Citadel of Fear, by Gertrude Barrows. The Girl From The Other Side , by Nagabe. Beautiful Darkness, by Fabien Vehlmann & Marrie Pommepuy.

Folk Horror

Folk horror is a subgenre of horror for film, books, comics or television which includes elements of folklore or urban legends as the inspiration of the main focus of horror for the story. Sometimes stated as “based on a true story” this subgenre loosely uses the phrase “true story” as many of these legends have little fact checking if any at all.

Found Footage

The Blair Witch Project movie poster

Although found footage films date as far back as the 1960’s the seminal work in horror is often considered to be The Blair Witch Project. Shakey cameras with low production quality are the foundation of the story. This genre has exploded with cell phone footage and continues to grow today. Possibly due to the ease in which someone can create a found footage horror film.

Gore

Also sometimes labeled as a splatter film the main focus of the film is well the blood, guts and dismembered body parts. Shock is a key element of this genre. Movies such as the SAW series are famous for the difficult to watch torture sequences. The main goal is for the audience to wince in disgust as the victims bodies are torn to bits. This genre crosses out of fiction with some popular series in the 80’s and 90’s with actual death in them but we only focus on fictional horror here so we will leave that for other sites and forums to discuss.

Gothic

Gothic horror goes way, way back. In fact, it’s the literary predecessor to the horror genre we know and love today. So in terms of cultural education, this subgenre warrants some attention. These dark, brooding stories often blend romance and horror, with a side dish of death. They’re usually atmospheric stories, where the setting itself becomes a kind of character. Recommended reading: Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley. Dracula (The Graphic Novel), by Bram Stoker and Jason Cobley. Gotham by Gaslight, by Brian Augustyn. The Woman in Black, by Susan Hill.

The Best Gothic Horror Comics

Lovecraftian

H.P. Lovecraft often described his own work as “weird tales.” But they contain horror elements as well. He created his own subgenre that many writers still emulate today. Lovecraftian fiction often focuses on cosmic elements that are beyond human understanding. Thus, it’s also referred to as “cosmic horror.” These stories can make us humans feel small and insignificant, in the grand scheme of things. Recommended reading: At the Mountains of Madness, by H.P. Lovecraft. Songs of a Dead Dreamer and Grimscribe, by Thomas Ligotti. The Ballad of Black Tom, by Victor LaValle.

ghost or supernatural spirit

Paranormal

Merriam-Webster defines paranormal as something that is “not scientifically explainable.” That’s a broad definition. When it comes to horror fiction, the term “paranormal” usually refers to ghosts, hauntings, demons and possession. And there is some truly frightening fiction that falls into this subgenre. Recommended reading: The Exorcist, by William Peter Blatty. The Shining, by Stephen King. The Haunting of Hill House, by Shirley Jackson (it fits here, as well).

Post-Apocalyptic

The world as we know it has ended, and something terrible has risen in its place. Post-apocalyptic fiction challenges us to envision a world beyond our own, a doomsday scenario that takes us into uncharted and often terrifying territory. Not all post-apocalyptic fiction uses horror elements. Some of it falls into the dystopian category. But there are plenty of good stories out there that paint the end of the world in horrifying hues. Recommended reading: Swan Song, by Robert McCammon. Monument 14, by Emmy Laybourne. Feed, by Mira Grant. The Road, by Cormac McCarthy.

Psychological:

The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari poster

Put the ghosts, monsters and slashers aside for a moment. Let’s talk about the psychological effects of horror. The internal terror and the long lasting trauma that occurs under moments of major duress. Psychological horror fiction uses intense human emotions like fear and dread to grip the reader, with a healthy dose of anxiety and suspense on the side. Recommended reading: Rosemary’s Baby, by Ira Levin. Come Closer, by Sara Gran. Silence of the Lambs, by Thomas Harris.

Psychological horror also has a rich history in books and film that dates back to the late 1800s.

Scary Documentaries

Yep even documentaries can be a subgenre here and these have certainly become more popular. Unlike the found footage genre these have at least some reason to believe the experience were real. They are often paranormal experience but also look at things like serial killers. We’ve compiled a list of the most terrifying documentaries and it sure looks like horror to us.

Sci-Fi

Mad scientists, experiments that did not go as planned, alien invasions and creatures we never wanted to know coming into existence. This subgenre of horror crosses well into Cosmic Horror but maybe with a touch less existential dread. You know where the alien came from and you know the moment the scientist crossed the line. We’ve explored the history of sci-fi horror here.

Best Sci-Fi Horror Books | Best Sci-Fi Horror Comics

Supernatural

The supernatural subgenre of horror overlaps with the paranormal category. Again, we’re dealing with things that “appear to transcend the laws of nature,” according to Merriam-Webster. I’ve broken this out into a separate category to distinguish it from the ghostly and haunting world of the paranormal. Here, we’re talking about werewolves, witches, and other things that defy the laws of nature. Recommended reading: Wytches, by Scott Snyder. Salem’s Lot, by Stephen King. The Hunger, by Alma Katsu. B.P.R.D., by Mike Mignola.

Best Supernatural Horror Comics | Best Supernatural Horror Streaming Online

So there you have them, the popular subgenres of horror with some representative works to keep you up at night. For more literature, Puzzle Box has original literature as well as features on Edgar Allen Poe and Bram Stoker.

Survival Horror

This subgenre of horror is typically found in video games. The point of tension, like much of horror, is surviving the environment. The main character is often put to the test to survive against all odds. It’s often considered “action horror” due to the physical activity often required to survive. Apocalyptic horror scenarios are often used for survival horror.

True Crime

Pretty straightforward as the title implies. The subgenre of horror is based on real life horrors that have happened. The most popular arena here is serial killers with movies and documentaries about people like Ted Bundy, Jeffrey Dahmer, John Wayne Gacy and more. The main focus is it must be from a real life crime. With that said, these are often dramatizations of the events not to be confused with the scary documentaries subgenre.