Blue in Green – Music, Secrets and Ghosts

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Best Horror Books Best Of Best of Comics Featured

It is well documented that music can have an almost otherworldly hold over us; lowering stress hormones, raising dopamine levels, evoking specific memories, or transporting us to various times and places. But if music has this sort of cosmic power, could it possibly turn into a type of cosmic horror? For example, could a malevolent force created from art stalk us with intent to harm, as in the film Velvet Buzzsaw? Or could the bewitching and obsessive pursuit of art make monsters out of regular people, like what happens in the film Whiplash? Or maybe, as we see in the graphic novel Blue in Green, the terrifying reality lies somewhere in between. 

The story begins with a man named Erik getting a call that his mother has passed, prompting him to return to his childhood home, where he finds a photograph of an unknown man in his mother’s most prized possessions. The ensuing questions launch Erik on a quest that will lead him down some unexpected paths. Who was that man? What was his mother’s connection to him? And who exactly is the pale figure lurking in the periphery of the pages? More clues are uncovered and the mystery deepens as the story twists and turns, winding its way to an ultimately shocking conclusion.

Erik is a character struggling with his current situation in life. A talented saxophone player, he now squanders his skill teaching college classes and avoiding any close relationships. He ponders the fragility of life and wonders how many of us will leave this world without making an impact. His own desires, his failings, the expectations of family and society – all of these topics are the swirling subconscious maelstrom that push the story forward and pull back the curtain to its darker underpinnings. 

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Image from Blue and Green Graphic novel featuring a scared face and a tentacle

And this story certainly has a sinister underbelly. I love stories like this, full of dread, ambiguity, and uncertainty. From the very first image of the pale man you know something is off, but the terror stays in the background for much of the story, adding to the mystery and unraveling the deeper Erik digs. It’s still horror, but more of the understated, slithering-beneath-the-skin kind, which makes those moments when it bursts into daylight even more terrifying. I’ll be honest, I don’t want to say too much about the plot. Not just because I don’t want to give away spoilers, but because this is truly a tale that needs to be experienced.

While the story from writer Ram V is good, the art from Anand RK is really what makes this graphic novel shine. I don’t think I’ve seen a style quite like this, and I was continuously blown away with every page. It’s a mesmerizing blend of architectural precision, vaguely brushed forms, and a particularly gorgeous and enchanting array of colors thanks to John Pearson. The unconventional design of the pages is also really neat, shifting from full page spreads to pages with panels strewn about it like panes of glass. It reminds me of Dave McKean’s work, specifically on the Grant Morrison tale Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth (and now that I think of it the pale man shares a resemblance to the Joker). Regardless, the art is captivating and it works well to elevate the story. 

The Blue in Green graphic novel is a story first and foremost about music and the creative pursuit. But it also weaves in ideas about the burdens of the past and the ghosts that haunt our present. It’s about family secrets, loss, rapture, unexplainable feelings, and cosmic dread. We are confined to the mind of Erik, and as the story progresses we have to question how reliable of a narrator he really is. I may not have understood everything that happened, but I know it was well worth the experience. This is a story that is ripe for further read throughs and I’m already itching to dive back in.

Blue in Green is available now from Image Comics.

Puzzle Box’s Best of Gothic Horror Comics and Graphic Novels

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

We’ve covered a lot of different genres here at Puzzle Box, and it’s been a blast giving you guys recommendations and sharing our favorite comic book and graphic novel stories. 

This Best Of is a classic subgenre, and perhaps one of the most defining subgenres of horror: Gothic Horror. This dark extension of Romanticism produced classics like Dracula and Frankenstein, as well as Edgar Allen Poe’s signature masterpieces. These dark, haunting tales are deeply personal and, at times, disturbing. The comics and graphic novels in our Best of Gothic Horror bring the darkness of our minds onto the page, with terrifying effect. 

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Anya’s Ghost by Vera Brosgol

Anya, a Russian immigrant, is struggling to fit in at her private school in New England. One day, she falls into a dry well and finds a human skeleton at the bottom. The skeleton’s ghost Emily appears and starts to help Anya at school. But as their relationship grows, Emily’s amiable nature belies a darker past and a sinister truth. This may not be the Ring, but still, dead girls in wells don’t turn out to be friendly.

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Gotham by Gaslight by Brian Augustyn and Mike Mignola

Part of D.C.’s Elseworlds series, this graphic novel finds Bruce Wayne transposed into 1889. Following a long missive with Dr. Sigmeund Freud, Bruce Wayne dons the cowl as a series of murders grips Gotham. What follows is a long trail of conspiracy involving the Wayne family and Jack the Ripper, with the terror closer to the Batman than he would have imagined. 

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From Hell by Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell

The story of Jack the Ripper is as terrifying as it is gruesome, and From Hell is the second story based on the serial killer to make the list. The darkness surrounding the terrible murders allows writers and artists to weave so many narratives into the legendary figure. Alan Moore is another one of those brilliant minds to use the mystery of Jack the Ripper to reveal a darker reality, while portraying Jack in very twisted, yet human, terms.

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Hellblazer by D.C. Comics

John Constantine, the hellblazer, is a D.C. anti-hero who embodies the idea of the occult bad boy. A world-class cynic and working-class warlock, Constantine’s dark societal themes mix perfectly with the demons he tracks down and cults he takes down. Constantine’s stories, both mythical and earthly, are a strong representative of modern American gothic storytelling. 

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Gloomcookie by Serena Valentino

Gothic horror can certainly lend itself to campiness, and Gloomcookie is no exception. Gloomcookie is about a goth girl named Lex, a more than willing participant in goth culture, and the mundane and supernatural encounters in her life. Featuring star-crossed lovers, Reality Warpers, and demon worship, Gloomcookie will take you back to the best part of your weird years.  

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The Crow by James O’Barr

This dark superhero comic is tragic and disturbing, and takes the emotional weight of gothic horror to a pretty dark place. Our protagonist, Eric, is dead, and so is his fiancee. A crow revives him and acts as a guide to help him take his revenge. Eric and the Crow’s relationship is complex, especially as Eric wallows in his own pain and suffering. Edgar Allen Poe’s poem, The Raven, is infused throughout the story, making this a great comic for gothic horror fans. 

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Dracula by Jason Cobley and Bram Stoker

The classic vampire is incredibly adapted by Jason Cobley and illustrated by Staz Johnson and James Offredi. A foundational piece of gothic horror as well as horror at large, the blood-sucking creature of the night, inspired by Vlad the Impaler, attempts to move from Transylvania to England, with Van Helsing standing in his way. Dracula is one of the most well-known stories in horror and this graphic novel does it justice.

That’s a wrap on our Best of Gothic Horror comics! This is probably my favorite horror subgenre, with its emotional weight making the twists and turns all the darker. A lot of our favorite tropes and classic works come from gothic horror too, so this subgenre plays a role in more kinds of horror than you may realize. Make sure you represent your favorite gothic horror in the comments below. Your favorite comics could make the list. Thanks for reading!

Puzzle Box’s Best of Horror Graphic Novels

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

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!

Puzzle Box’s Best of Supernatural Graphic Novels

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

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!

The Empties – you are who you eat

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Indie Horror

We love independent horror and we are pretty sure you do too. So we are happy to share a new graphic novel to be released on Tuesday, Feb 18th, 2020. There is a link at the bottom of the article to read the first comic book from the novel for free. Maybe something to “wet your appetite” before diving fully into The Empties. See what we did there?

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The Empties: You are who you eat.  

A chef has a simple desire – he wants to be happy and he wants his wife to be happy too. But just because his wife has a roof over her head, it doesn’t mean that she’s happy or fulfilled. There’s something missing in her life, and even she can’t put a finger on what it is. That is, until she develops an insatiable desire for flesh!

Story by: Kristen Renee Gorlitz
Art: Eli Powell
Cover Art: Jeanne Vadeboncoeur
Letters: Marshall Dillon
Executive Producers: Alexander A. Garcia and Kristen Renee Gorlitz  

Puzzle Box Horror fans get the first comic book in the series for free (requires an email address) at http://www.freehorrorcomic.com/empties

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