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17 Horror Comic Books for a Chilling October

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The horror genre always finds a way to creep out of some dark corners to find its public. Thanks to pulp magazines in the early 20th century, horror stories quickly established themselves via the “weird menace” subgenre, giving readers tales with sadistic villains and graphic scenes of violence.

By the late 1930s, and the influence of Universal horror films, vampires, mad scientists, and other creatures began appearing in superhero stories.  The horror genre peaked in the comic book sphere in the late 1940s and early 1950s before some worries and the establishment of the Comics Code Authority came to put a halt to numerous graphic tales while simply leading to the toning down of many others.

But everybody knows how hard it is to kill those creatures who haunt the night, and, in the 1960s, some publishers found a way to bypass the Comics Code Authority restrictions by publishing magazine-sized black-and-white horror comics. With time, the loosening of the Code in the 1970s, horror resurged in vivid colors and has always been present, with some up and down, since then.

As October is famous for being horror month, the following is a selection of comic books to frighten you and make your skin crawl:

Abbott by Saladin Ahmed and Sami Kivelä – Meet Elena Abbott, a tough, chain-smoking tabloid reporter living in Detroit in 1972. Her reporting on police brutality hasn’t helped her make many friends but her editor, her ex-husband, and her community support her work. But that’s only the beginning for Abbot who now is investigating several gruesome incidents of an otherworldly nature that the police have chosen to ignore. A mix of magic and mystery that Abbott knows she has to deal with, as she has sworn to destroy those dark occult forces that are right now in action in her city.

The Courtyard/Neonomicon/Providence by Alan Moore and Jacen Burrows – Many writers have delved into the Cosmic Horror created by H.P. Lovecraft and contributed to the ‘Cthulhu Mythos’. This trilogy is Alan Moore‘s take on Lovecraft and the Cthulhu cult that started in a short piece written by Moore in 1994, converted into comic book form by artist Jacen Burrows (and adapted by Antony Johnston). Moore was then inspired to write more Lovecraftian tales that could be illustrated by Burrows. The result was the 4-part series Neonomicon, followed by the 12-issue comic book Providence. A work that explores Lovecraft’s body of work and the man himself, a slow burn that descends more into mania with each issue.

Did You Hear What Eddie Gein Done? by Eric Powell and Harold Schechter – You are maybe unaware that you have actually heard a little bit about what Eddie Gein has done, as the murderer and body snatcher inspired many tales, none the least Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho. Eric Powell and Harold Schechter’s true crime graphic novel is neck and neck with Alan Moore’s From Hell (see below!) as an in-depth exploration of a dramatization of a gruesome true story. Gruesomely researched and illustrated, this graphic novel explores Ed Gain’s tragic and psychotic tale in a way that has never been done before.

Fatale by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips – As we wrote earlier, many authors have been inspired by Lovecraft, and Fatale is Brubaker/Phillips’ take on it. Without any surprise, you’ll find the classic elements of the duo, the hard-boiled, noir-ish elements mixed this time with some cosmic horror. Fatale is a character study of the femme fatale stereotype as it chronicles the life of Josephine “Jo”, who has survived from the 1930s to the present without showing signs of aging. More than being ageless, Jo also possesses magical powers and can hypnotize men into becoming intensely infatuated with her, whether she wants them to be or not.

From Hell by Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell – Jack the Ripper is one of the most infamous serial killers and From Hell is the comic book masterpiece that gives life to the horror that engulfed Whitechapel and the Victorian London of the time. An exploration of the period, the gruesomeness of the crime, and how fact and fiction intertwine with each other. A dark tale that can be experienced in black and white (as it was originally released) or in color (made by Campbell himself).

Hack/Slash by Tim Seeley and Emily Stone – Cassie Hack is Tim Seeley and Emily Stone’s Final Girl.  The one who survived. And she is hellbent on hunting and destroying the monsters, known here as slashers, that intend to hurt other teenagers. While doing so, Cassie met some truly famous characters from the horror genre, such as Re-Animator and the iconic Ash Williams from Evil Dead/Army of Darkness.

Harrow County Reading Order Volume 1 Countless Haints

Harrow County by Cullen Bunn and Tyler Crook – The woods occupy a mystical and dangerous place in literature. They hide fantastical and dangerous creatures. Or, to be more precise, the woods of Harrow County crawled with ghosts and monsters. It is something that Emmy Crawford always knew, but her life quite changed when she learned on the eve of her eighteenth birthday that she is connected to these creatures–and to the land itself. This witchy tale will satisfy every amateur in folklore horror.

Original Sins Hellblazer John Constantine Reading Order

Hellblazer by various writers and pencilers – The long-running series featuring John Constantine, Vertigo’s longest-running antihero, England’s chain-smoking, low-rent magus, is one of the perfect read for your October evenings next to the fireplace. Or any evening of the year, if you like dark stories with flawed characters, some good cynicism, and deadpan wit. If you haven’t read any Hellblazer stories yet, go no further than Original Sins, the first collection written by Delano is also a classic and lays down the foundation.

The Hellboy Universe, created by Mike Mignola – He’s a half-human, half-Demon with red skin, a tail, two horns, cloven hooves, and an oversized right hand made of stone. Despite being nicknamed World Destroyer or Beast of the Apocalypse among others, Hellboy is actually here to help (with the B.P.R.D.) to fight against the dark forces of the world, such as Nazis, witches, and other monsters. The  Hellboy Universe is full of amazing and fascinating characters, haunting tales, and epic stories. For just a peak, check out Hellboy: Weird Tales, Hellboy: An Assortment of Horrors, or even, the spin-off Witchfinder featuring stories about Sir Edward Grey, an agent of Queen Victoria and paranormal investigator.

Locke and Key by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez – Following a tragedy, The Lock children move with their mother Nina to the family estate of Keyhouse, located in Lovecraft, Massachusetts. Soon, they discover magical keys opening some magical doors, but there are also dark forces in action and a relentless creature that will not rest until it forces open the most terrible door of them all… Locke and Key delivers an emotional journey about family and growing up facing the monsters of the past and the present.

The Low, Low Woods by Carmen Maria Machado – When your memories are stolen, what would you give to remember? In the mid-1990s, two high school girls woke up in an empty movie theater, uncertain as to what happened to them. They go on a search for answers to the questions everyone else forgot, and this leads to an eerie tale of friendship, female exploitation, and burying trauma with great art creating an ominous mood at every turn.

Manifest Destiny by Chris Dingess and Matthew Roberts – In 1804, Captain Meriwether Lewis and Captain William Clark set out on an expedition to explore the unchartered American frontier. This is the untold story of what they discovered lurking in the wilds. This is a story of great exploration, filled with horrible and gruesome violence and death, with danger and horror taking many forms.

Nameless by Grant Morrison and Chris Burnham – You know that a Comic Book Treasury Reading List would be incomplete without a Grant Morrison comic book! An occult hustler known only as ‘Nameless‘ is recruited by a consortium of billionaire futurists for a desperate mission. This is Morrison’s take on Lovecraft mythos combined with sci-fi tropes to give us a high-concept story filled with some visual gore and occult references.

Rachel Rising by Terry Moore – After being murdered on Halloween, Rachel woke up and dug her way up to the surface. Now, she wants revenge but can’t remember anything of that particular night. And things are complicated by the little fact that she is dead. As she investigates, Rachel digs into the wicked secrets of small-town Manson and its terrible role in Earth’s final days. A story full of ghosts, evil spirits, and dire wolves as well as personal drama and horror.

Red Room by Ed Piskor – In the dark web, people anonymously pay in cryptocurrency to watch live-stream displays of horrific torture. Who are the killers? Who are the victims? Who is paying to watch? How to stop it? For people with a strong stomach, Red Room dives into the dark corners of humanity with some graphic content and dark humor.

A Slight Case of Murder and Other Stories (and other EC Comics) – You cannot really speak of horror in the comic book sphere without making a detour by EC Comics. From a man who abused residents of a home for the blind to the story of a man whose brain is transplanted into a gorilla before being blamed for the death of his former self, or the gruesome murders of four young women, those chilling tales by George Evans are perfect examples of what EC Comics can deliver.

Through the Woods by Emily Carroll – Journey through the Woods for some Gothic horror fairy tale stories, accentuated by haunting imagery. This collection of five stories reconnects with the darkest part of fairy tales where the beautiful and mystical meets the weirdest, creepiest, and most terrifying things there are.

What are your favorite horror comic books? Tell us in the comments!

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