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10 Horror Comics That Will Keep You Up At Night

You’ve watched everything on Shudder. You’ve read every book Stephen King ever wrote. You’ve even seen every episode of Hulu’s Into the Dark. So now where can a horror lover get their next scare? Maybe horror comics are the answer you’ve been looking for?

Fortunately, comic book creators have been flocking to horror over the past few years. Like their superhero brethren, horror comics can offer mind-twisting visuals that other media can’t quite provide. By mixing words and images, comics involve readers’ imaginations while using pictures to push their minds into places they would never go on their own. 

With the expansion of third-party publishers like Aftershock Comics and with indie mainstays like Image moving away from cape books, writers and artists have many places to let their creativity run to the dark side. So if you’d like to get some four-color fear, here are ten recent horror comics that will keep you up at night. 

Infidel comic book scary horror comic art
Infidel Vol. 1. Art by Aaron Campbell, colors by José Villarrubia, Letters by Jeff Powell

Horror has always been an ideal genre for addressing social ills such as racism. But writer Pornsak Pichetshote takes it to the next level in his comic Infidel, drawn by artist Aaron Campbell. The tale of Aisha and Medina, two Muslim women of color and longtime friends living in an apartment building that recently housed a suspected terrorist, Infidel is a ghost story about the ghosts that still haunt America. Pichetshote grounds his characters with believable dialogue (even as they discuss heavy issues), and Campbell’s frantic linework creates figures who are both recognizably human and relatably flawed. But when covered with José Villarrubia’s unsettling colors and designer Jeff Powell’s inventive lettering, the human and the supernatural collide to make a terrifying, but ultimately compassionate, piece of fiction. 

Gideon Falls, Vol. 1 comic art
Gideon Falls, Vol. 1. Art by Andrea Sorrentino, colors by Dave Stewart, letters and design by Steve Wands

Too often, “Cosmic Horror” brings to mind only images of Cthulhu rising from the deep or unknowable aliens arriving from space. But in their series Gideon Falls, writer Jeff Lemire, artist Andrea Sorrentino, and colorist Dave Stewart add a new menacing figure to the sub-genre: the Black Barn. Over 21 issues, Gideon Falls unravels the mystery of the Black Barn, a haunted building that appears to those going mad, including the series’ protagonists, a struggling priest and a life-long mental patient. Sorrentino and Stewart create some of the most unique and disturbing visuals in horror of any medium, including a fantastic cubic double-helix that brings together two characters in different times and places. It’s the kind of thing one can only see in a comic book, a rare example of ineffable horror. 

Maniac of New York #1 comic art
Maniac of New York #1. Art by Andrea Mutti and letters by Taylor Esposito.

As a head writer for The Daily Show and Mystery Science Theater 3000, Elliott Kalan has made the very serious look very ridiculous. But Kalan does the opposite with Maniac of New York, offering a grimly realistic take on silly slashers like Friday the 13th Part VII: Jason Takes Manhattan. In Maniac of New York, Kalan and artist Andrea Mutti follow the municipal response to a seemingly unstoppable masked killer. By focusing on the mundane parts of a fantastical story, Kalan and Mutti heighten the horror in the established slasher genre, showing how people “just doing their jobs” can be the only thing between a normal life in New York and a grisly death. 

Something is Killing the Children vol. 1 comic horror art
Something is Killing the Children vol. 1. Illustrations by Werther Dell’edera, colors by Miquel Muerto, and letters by Andworld Design.

When it comes to dead children in horror, it’s hard to top Stephen King or Guillermo Del Toro. But James Tynion IV and Werther Dell’Edera come close with their Eisner-nominated series Something is Killing the Children. When the children of Archer’s Peak begin to go missing, a mysterious drifter named Erica Slaughter arrives to help. Dell’Edera is never precious about depicting young children being ripped apart by an insect-like monster, and colorist Miquel Muerto heightens the drama by washing the creatures in sickly greens and blues. But Tynion finds plenty of spaces for believable emotions and actual humor to enrich the characters, never falling back on “Man with No Name” stereotypes when writing monster hunter Slaughter. 

The Low, Low Woods #1 comic horror art
The Low, Low Woods #1. Art by Dani, colors by Tamra Bonvillain, letters by Steve Wands

For years, DC Comics’ Vertigo imprint was the premier home for horror comics, producing landmark Sandman and Hellblazer runs. But even though DC shuttered Vertigo in 2020, its spirit remains alive in the Hill House imprint, curated by author Joe Hill. For his first run, Hill scored a coup by recruiting Nebula Award-winning writer Carmen Maria Machado for The Low, Low Woods, drawn by Dani and colored by Tamra Bonvillain, with letters by Steve Wands. Set in the richly realized mining town of Shudder-to-Think, Pennsylvania, The Low, Low Woods tells a horrifying story of systemic misogyny and the cruelties of capitalism from the perspective of teen girls El and Octavia. Dani’s scratchy artwork recalls the linework of Vertigo in its prime, powerfully rendering women with sinkholes in their bodies and skinless men. But it’s the believable motivations of the city’s men that make The Low, Low Woodstruly terrifying. 

The Immortal Hulk #36 comic horror art
The Immortal Hulk #36. Pencils by Joe Bennett, Inks by Roy José, letters by Cory Petit.

While Vertigo may have established DC as horror’s home with the Big Two publishers, it’s important to remember that Marvel was in the monster business before it did superheroes. In fact, many of the first Marvel heroes, including Spider-Man and the Thing, were originally designed to be monsters. That’s particularly true of the Hulk, who was a Jekyll and Hyde riff who became a monster at night. Writer Al Ewing brought that element back for The Immortal Hulk, an environmental allegory that ties the gamma energy that transformed Bruce Banner into the Hulk to Satan and Hell. Artist Joe Bennett and inker Ruy José draw from Rob Bottin’s effects on John Carpenter’s The Thing to make Banner’s transformations feel painful and visceral. Combined with Paul Mounts’s other-worldly colors, The Immortal Hulk successfully mixes body horror with supernatural terror to create one of the scariest comics currently running. 

Billions Alone horror comic art
“Billions Alone.” Art by Junji Ito

Unsurprisingly, master horror mangaka Junji Ito goes to some pretty weird places in his collection Venus in the Blind Spot, including stories about a man hiding in an easy chair and body-shaped holes in caves. But the collection’s most chilling story is its first one, “Billions Alone.” Just as young agoraphobe Michio finally decides to enter the world again, he must deal with a killer who’s sewing people together. What begins with a lone joined couple quickly spreads to larger and larger groups, giving Ito a reason to draw disturbing tableaux of bodies joined together. But this grisly conceit serves to explore themes of loneliness and a fear of groups, a concept that hits that much harder during a pandemic. 

Stillwater vol. 1 comic horror art
Stillwater vol. 1. Art by Ramón K. Perez, colors by Mike Spicer, and letters by Rus Wooton.

First, I need to make this clear. The most terrifying thing Chip Zdarsky ever wrote was this one-panel Frog-Man bit in Original Sins #5. But Stillwater comes pretty close. Co-created and drawn by Ramón K. Perez, with colors by Mike Spicer and letters from Rus Wooton, Stillwater takes place in a town where no one can die. While that sounds good, the town’s strange ability means that no one can age, including children, which drives a desperate mother to sneak her toddler son Thomas out of Stillwater. But when circumstances bring a now-grown Thomas back to the town he no longer remembers, tensions and Stillwater grow between those who long for outside contact and the fascist Judge who wants to keep them hidden from the world. While that synopsis makes for good thriller material, Zdarsky and Perez take the story to some genuinely disturbing places, including characters being buried in the ground for weeks on end or living through a bomb explosion. 

Daphne Byrne #2 horror comic art
Daphne Byrne #2. Art by Kelly Jones, colors by Michelle Madsen, letters by Rob Leigh.

The other standout in Hill House Comics’ inaugural batch is the Victorian ghost story Daphne Byrne, written by Laura Marks and drawn by horror legend Kelly Jones. Daphne Byrne follows the adolescent title character after her father’s death in Victorian England. While her mother’s loneliness drives her to a disreputable medium, who has darker plans for the Byrne family, Daphne is visited by a dark young man who promises the girl companionship and power. In the classic Victorian style, Daphne Byrne blurs the lines between fantasy and reality. But instead of only asking us to question Daphne, Marks and Jones make everyone into an unreliable narrator of their own stories, from the man suddenly wooing Daphne’s mother to the elderly rationalist who offers his help. 

Razorblades: The Horror Magazine #3 horror art
Razorblades: The Horror Magazine #3, Cover by David Romero

In addition to writing some of the best recent horror comics (including Something is Killing the Children!), James Tynion IV has teamed with writer Steve Foxe to bring back the anthology comic with Razorblades: The Horror Magazine. In its first three issues, Razorblades has already featured some truly memorable stories, but my favorite so far is “Strands,” by Jess Unkel and Jenn St-Onge. St-Onge’s vibrant linework and innocent figures belie a chilling story about a widower who notices bits of her late husband’s hair still lingering in her home. Both a sweet story about missing a loved one and a genuinely haunting tale, “Strands” builds to a satisfyingly shocking ending. 

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Featured Horror Mystery and Lore Scary Movies and Series

1408 (2007) and the Nine Circles of Hell

Although not a critically acclaimed horror movie, 1408 (2007) was actually an incredibly enlightening horror movie; this movie, for a lot of people, may have come across as a simple ghost story narrative in a haunted hotel room, when in reality the story was a lot deeper than that. Adapted from a short story written by Stephen King, 1408 is actually a modern-day narrative that parallels Dante’s journey into the depths of hell in Dante’s Inferno (1427).

1408 (1999) A Short Story by Stephen King

1408 by Stephen King – Audiobook Part 01
1408 by Stephen King – Audiobook Part 02
1408 by Stephen King – Audiobook Part 03

1408 (1999) is a short story that was penned by Stephen King, it was released as the third story in an audiobook collection titled Blood and Smoke. In 2002, it was collected in written form as part of a twelve-part collection of Stephen King’s short stories under the titled Everything’s Eventual.

In the Introduction, King tells us that 1408 is really just his version of the “ghostly room at the inn,” this was his way of describing the theme of a haunted hotel or motel room within the horror genre of fiction.

The Plot of 1408

Stephen King spins the tale of a non-fiction writer named Mike Enslin–he writes about the paranormal and his goal is to find evidence that ghosts exist. Although Enslin privately does not believe in the paranormal or ghosts for that matter, he feels guilt that stems from his books being best-sellers.

Enter the Dolphin Hotel on 61st Street in New York City–a hotel that has one room with a sinister reputation and Enslin plans on staying there as part of the research for his next book, “Ten Nights in Ten Haunted Hotel Rooms.” Before being given his key to the room, the hotel’s manager, Mr. Olin, gives Enslin the details of the morbid history of it; room 1408 has been responsible for 42 deaths, including 12 suicides over the span of 68 years. Olin insists that Enslin not stay in the room, because he believes there is something evil that resides within, even if he himself does not believe in the paranormal.

One interesting detail that Olin provides is that the Dolphin Hotel doesn’t have a recognized 13th floor, so even though room 1408 is labeled as the 14th floor, it’s really on the 13th. What’s worse, is if you follow the rules of numerology, the room’s numbers even add up to the number 13 (1+4+0+8=13).

The Great Poet Dante Alighieri, and His Famous Inferno (1427)

Dante Alighieri wrote the Divine Comedy, the first part of which was the famous Inferno (1427), a poem told from the perspective of the narrator, who happens to be lost in a dark wood wherein he is attacked by three beasts from which he cannot escape. Virgil, the Roman poet having been sent by Beatrice, rescues him from these beasts and together they begin the journey into the Nine Circles of Hell.

Dante's Inferno
Dante Alighieri’s Inferno by Gustave Doré

First Circle: Limbo

The First Circle of Hell is inhabited by virtuous non-Christians and unbaptized pagans–here they are to endure a punishment which is an eternity within a subpar form of Heaven. Those in Limbo live in a castle that has seven gates which are there to symbolize the seven virtues–it is here that Dante recognizes many prominent non-Christian people from classical antiquity like the author Homer, the philosophers Socrates and Aristotle, the statesman Cicero, the physician Hippocrates, as well as the infamous Roman consul, Julius Caesar.

Second Circle: Lust

The Second Circle of Hell is the level at which Dante and Virgil find people who in their lives were overcome by lust. Their punishment is to endure an eternity of being blown violently back and forth by tumultuous winds which prevent them from finding any peace in their afterlife. The winds symbolize the ferocity with which a person pursues the object of lust and the restlessness they find by being led by their desires for the carnal knowledge of their object of lust. Once again Dante sees many historical and mythological people of note–Egyptian pharaoh Cleopatra, the Cornish Knight Tristan, Helen of Troy and many others who were adulterous or let their lust control their path in life.

Third Circle: Gluttony

Upon entering the Third Circle of Hell, Dante and his companion see the souls of gluttons who guarded by a worm-monster Cerberus. The sinners in this particular circle of Hell are forced to lay in a vile slush that is caused by an constant sleet. The slush that lay in symbolizes the personal degradation of those who overindulge in food, drink, and other worldly pleasures. Even though there are others laying beside them in the slush, they have an inability to see each other, which represents the sinner’s selfishness and coldness.

Fourth Circle: Greed

The Fourth Circle of Hell, they find the souls of people who committed the sin of greed; this circle is divided into two factions of sinners, those who hoarded worldly possessions and those who spent it on unnecessarily lavish things. These two separate groups are meant to fight each other for all eternity, using enormous weights that they must push with their chest to symbolize their selfish desire of fortune within their lifetime. The damned within this circle is watched over by Pluto–likely due to his ancient Greek origin as the god of the underworld. In Dante’s narrative, he claims to see many clergymen including greedy cardinals and popes.

Fifth Circle: Anger

The Fifth Circle of Hell is reserved for the wrathful and the sullen; while being transported via boat by Phlegyas over the river Styx, Dante and Virgil witness the wrathful fighting on the surface and the sullen drowning below the surface. This punishment symbolizes their sins in life, where the wrathful show their anger on the surface and the sullen drown in their own turmoil.

Sixth Circle: Heresy

The Sixth Circle of Hell is where Dante and Virgil see the heretics that have been condemned to an eternity entombed within their flaming crypts.

Seventh Circle: Violence

In the Seventh Circle of Hell, the two companions see that it is divided into three rings–the outermost ring houses murderers, as well as those who were violent to other people and property in general, wherein they are sinking into a river of boiling blood. The middle ring houses those who have committed violence upon themselves and have ended up within this circle by taking their own lives–these people have been changed into trees and bushes where they are fed upon by harpies. Within the middle ring Dante also sees profligates as they are chased and ripped to shreds by rabid dogs. The innermost ring is reserved for blasphemers and sodomites, who are doomed to inhabit a desert of burning sand as a burning rain falls from the sky.

Eighth Circle: Fraud

Those who are fraudulent are meant for the Eighth Circle of Hell–they are watched over by Geryon, a flying monster with different natures, just as the fraudulent have ever-changing natures. This circle is divided into ten bolgias, or “evil ditches” that have bridges between them. The first is for panderers and seducers, the second is for flatterers, the third is for those guilty of simony (such as those who sold tickets to heaven, or a heavenly pardon to those already passed). The fourth ditch was for sorcerers and false prophets, the fifth for corrupt politicians, the six for hypocrites. The remaining four ditches were reserved for thieves, evil counselors and advisers, divisive individuals, and in the last various falsifiers, like alchemists, perjurers, and counterfeits.

Ninth Circle: Treachery

The Ninth and final Circle of Hell is divided into four different rings and who is housed within them is in accordance to the seriousness of the sin. While all of the inhabitants are frozen in an icy lake, the more severe the sin, the deeper within the ice they are. The first ring is named Caina, after Cain who killed his brother Abel. The second ring is named Antenora, for Anthenor of Troy the primary counselor for Priam during the Trojan War. The Third ring is named Ptolomaea, after Ptolemy, and the fourth ring is named Judecca, in honor of Judas Iscariot, the famous apostle who betrayed Jesus.

1408: The Philosophical Depths That Horror Can Reach

Real Dimensional Pictures on Youtube does a great job making this Philosophical argument that can made when the movie 1408 (2007), or Stephen King’s short story 1408 (1999) are put in juxtaposition with Dante’s Inferno (1427).