These horror comics will make your skin crawl!
Why is it people stop bringing on the frights after October? We like to be freaked out all year round! There are two things we love here at Gemr: being scared and comic books (okay, okay, we like a lot of other things too, but let us have this one). With that in mind, we decided to look outside of horror movies for a while, because there is no better tool for freaking yourself out than your brain! So we delved into some of the creepiest, crawliest, unsetteling-est comics around to give you this list. Without further ado, here are our favorite horror comics — and they are sure to leave you shivering.
Image comics is a big presence in the horror comics game. Sure, the haunted house trope has been done to death (heh, heh), but we’re still in love with getting the doodoo scared out of us by this creepy series. Joshua Williamson continues to creep us the heck out, and the art of Goran Sudzuka is perfectly suited to this ghost story.
Jackson Winters is a thief who can steal anything. After a heist gone wrong ends in the brutal deaths of all of his teammates, he winds up in prison. That is, until a very wealthy man breaks him out to conduct the greatest heist of all time. He finds himself with one last job: stealing a ghost (yes, you heard us right). Now the premise might be a little…different, but don’t let that stand in your way. This story hits the tropes exceptionally well. He’s tasked with putting together the perfect team for the heist and getting it done. We really enjoy this romp, it’s like a horror Oceans 11 — but the team composition feels a little bit off.
It can be a bit clunky, and there is a deep held interest in many of us here at Gemr to see a little more of the ghosts and a little less of the humans, but outside of that, if you like haunted houses and you like heists, this is a great place to get creeped out.
Look, we know the market is saturated to the brim with serial killers of all kinds (heck, even the standard superhero gets to battle crazed killers nowadays). What sets a killer apart from the horde is a new and disturbing calling card. The title Nailbiter is very, very on the nose. Image Comics comes at us once again with another horror title which leaves us rattled. For that, you can thank Joshua Williamson and Mike Henderson. They crafted this unsettling story.
Nailbiter differs from the average serial killer story in that it starts with the killer for whom the book is named after — behind bars. Edward Charles Warren is known as “Nailbiter” because he would chew off the nails (and sometimes parts of the fingers) of his victims. FBI agent Charles Carol, who caught the Nailbiter, has disappeared. His friend, NSA Agent Nicholas Flint, is tasked with looking into his disappearance. It turns out Warren was raised in a town named Buckaroo, Oregon which, as it turns out, has produced many of the worst serial killers in history.
Flint begins to wonder why this town produces so many horrible people. The story feels a bit reminiscent of Hannibal Lecter as Flint is forced to reach out to one of the only sources they have, Warren. The story leaves you unsettled, and very, very disquieted. The pacing can be a little bit off, and the storylines can be a bit wavering, but we still suggest it to any fan of serial killer focused horror.
This psychological thriller by Gail Simone had us gripping the edges of our book so tightly they wrinkled (yeah, we regret it, but also we don’t). The incredible art of Jon Davis-Hunt brings this unsettling story to life, and you can thank Vertigo Comics for putting it out there. Enter Chloe Pierce. Her husband picked up a self-help book by guru Astrid Mueller — a woman with a self-help empire and a rumored cult behind her.
The reality of what Chloe finds is far worse than her initial fears, and that growing paranoia sits with you. The story is one of cults of personality, conspiracies, and very real paranoia. There are three volumes, and all of them are equally compelling and disquieting. It’s sure to leave you questioning the world around you and the reality in which we exist.
Another unsettling tale that sometimes feels a little too close to reality. This Image Comics story by Steve Niles is just as much as you would expect from the 30 Days of Night author. Putting Alison Sampson in charge of the visuals was a fantastic choice. The comic opens on a satanic ritual and then leaves you with the bloody (literally) knowledge that this awaits our heroes.
After the gory opening, we land on the family we will follow into this horrific scene: a mother, her son, and his stepfather. After an argument, they stop at a carnival so everyone can cool their heads and enjoy themselves, but their family vacation quickly turns into a nightmare when their winnebago is stolen. The carnival folk are suddenly cold and don’t offer help, sending the family (who left their phones in the now missing vehicle) to be shepherded in the direction of a dismal townscape we know contains a murderous cult.
Steve Niles is a pro at filling a comic with tropes from horror classics: the creepy carnival, the straight, empty, dusty road, the house that is clearly haunted. The other thing he’s a pro at? Not making these tropes feel tired. Alison’s wonderful visuals add an air of unease to this read that leaves you spooked long before anything happens. The choice to include the cult at the beginning leaves a sense of dread hanging over your head like the sword of Damocles — and we all know nothing in a horror comic ever ends well.
The Empty Man
Nothing is scarier than a story that borders on possible in our reality. Boom! gave us just that with The Empty Man. Cullen Bunn wrote a story so gripping that we were captivated right through to the end, and Vanessa R. Del Rey’s art style is precise and at the same time gritty. The story is a crime noir style story following a terrible disease that is claiming lives. “The Empty Man” causes horrible hallucinations, blind rage, self mutilation, and those who survive end up catatonic (thus the name).
The fear of a disease that could reduce people to empty shells is close enough to our own reality that it quickly sinks under your skin. The FBI and CDC work a joint investigation on the virus, which has been ravaging the population for a year. There are no drugs that can combat it, and they are no closer to finding the cause or the patient zero. Without answers, there will be no end to the virus. Some claim it’s the apocalypse and murder cults begin to rise, leaving the police force scrambling to fix the problem. As it progresses, The Empty Man takes a turn for the supernatural, but we won’t spoil how. This story still gives us chills just thinking about it. If you like to be unsettled, give The Empty Man a chance to get inside you.
If you come to love this chilling story as much as we do, you’re in luck. It has been optioned for a movie! They are keeping it pretty under wraps for now, but we feel like we’re going mad waiting for more news.
Afterlife with Archie
Yeah, it’s Archie, but don’t let that stop you from reading. Before the darker phenomenon that is Riverdale came into existence, this comic had our hair standing on end. Afterlife with Archie takes familiar characters and drops them into a world you would want nothing to do with. When an attempt to revive a beloved pet goes really wrong (like Pet Cemetery wrong), Riverdale becomes ground zero for the zombie apocalypse. This story is penned by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, and he does a great job making familiar characters feel the same, but placing them in a world so very different than the one we know. The whole thing started when Francesco Francavilla created a zombie variant for Life With Archie and people fell in love, so of course they got Francesco as the artist.
Sure, it has all the teen drama you could expect from an Archie comic, but it is honestly terrifying. The outbreak feels as intense and frightening as it should, and when a character dies, it’s someone from your childhood. This is not your father’s Archie, and we recommend you give it one heck of a chance.
A new take on the traditional witch story that leaves us haunted (especially because it takes place so close to home for us). Scott Snyder brought the story to life, and Jock provided the unsettling art that gives this story such a heavy, ominous feel. We can’t get enough of the strange twisted story that unfolds.
The Rook family is forced to move after a very severe bullying incident involving their daughter Sailor ends in the disappearance of the bully. With the children and townsfolk believing Sailor murdered the other child, the family moves to the nearby town of Litchfield, NH. Unfortunately the rumors continue to follow, and we soon discover there is something dark, ancient, and unsettling happening in the forests that surround their new home.
Wytches gives us a whole new take on the “sacrifice” trope and leaves readers wondering if the forests are safe to venture into. This horror story is sure to give you chills and stay with you for months to come.
Black Eyed Kids
Sometimes things just can’t be explained, and that is what makes them horrifying. The Black Eyed Kids is an urban legend that has long had people spooked. The comic Black Eyed Kids capitalizes on this legend and weaves it into a mystery that’s completely unsettling. The gritty art style of Szymon Kudranski perfectly melds with the masterful writing of Joe Pruett in this Aftershock Comic horror masterpiece.
Nothing is scarier than an evil little kid. We can’t stand when they show up in horror movies, and it’s even worse in comics. The legend says that children will appear and knock on doors asking to use a phone, but upon closer inspection, you’ll find that their eyes are completely black. They must be invited in before they can attack, but once you do, it’s already too late.
The story flows through a small town as residents keep getting murdered or disappearing. There seems to be no logic in who the children target, and that makes everyone a possible victim. Sometimes mysterious and evil things happen, and Black Eyed Kids gives you plenty of that.
It’s rare we get a great sci-fi horror series in comics, but Southern Cross brings us an environment more terrifying than most. Space (on its own) scares us. It’s so vast we will never know what’s really out there, and there are unknowable horrors that lurk at the edge of imagination when you are trapped alone in darkness for that long. Image does it again, this time with Becky Cloonan at the helm and with Andy Belanger making amazing work of the art.
The story has all the creeping paranoia of Alien, but mixes in a heck of a lot of Lovecraftian horror. Ex-con Alix Bariath boards the tanker ship the Southern Cross to discover the truth behind her sister’s murder. The story quickly begins to turn for the dark, and twists its way into your psyche where it nests uncomfortably. We love it! Somehow even the ship itself develops into an unsettling character. Let this horror filled murder mystery unfold. You won’t be disappointed.
Sometimes a story really gets under your skin, and Harrow County is almost always at the edge of our minds. It has plenty of light hearted moments, but at its heart, this story is all creepy horror. It’s penned as a southern-gothic horror and it very much fits the bill. This is the second story by Cullen Bunn to make our list, and that should tell you something about his eye for weaving a compelling, unsettling tale. The art is by talented horror artist Tyler Cook (B.R.P.D), who has a great wealth of experience bringing terror into our lives. The story they give us is captivating, and (sadly) almost over. The last issue is set to release in June 2018!
The forest surrounding this small southern community is full of zombies, goblins, and many other dark and terrifying monsters. When Emmy turns 18, she suddenly feels a connection with them and the land on which their community is built. More unsettling, she finds the skin of a boy (yes, just his skin) and he begins to talk to her. When the town folk declare her a witch and begin to hunt her, she has two options: embrace her new found kinship with the dark entities, or die. The story revolves around Emmy finding out why she was chosen and what to do about it, all while a mob hunts and seeks to burn her.
If you like witches, monsters, and creepy talking skin boys, this is the comic for you.