Comic books are notoriously difficult to make scary. They don’t have the advantage of sound to build atmosphere, and there is no possibility of jump-scares. Creators must rely on storytelling, mood, and still images alone. It takes a talented team to create a horror comic book that gets inside your head, and stays long after reading. As Bloody-Disgusting continues to highlight the very best that the horror genre has to offer, the staff put together a look a list of the comics that we feel will truly terrify readers.
Writer A.J. Lieberman and artist Colin Lorimer give us this dark and twisted take on the world of black market organ selling. The series protagonist doctor Benjamin Dane is in a downward spiral of drugs and alcohol that costs him his medical license. After hitting rock bottom and watching his life spin out of control, Dane’s deep flaws make him the perfect candidate to be recruited into the seedy underworld of black market organ harvesting. ‘Harvest’ is a dark, dirty, and extremely twisted take on the classic premise of someone awakening in bathtub of ice missing their major organs. This series has all the elements that keep readers on the edge of their seats from human traffickers, rogue medical teams, and members of the Yakuza. “Harvest” is the bastard offspring born out of a twisted 3-way between “Dexter”, “ER”, and “100 Bullets”.
There is no other comic that continuously pushes boundaries like “Crossed”. The series is based in a post-apocalyptic world where a plague turns the majority of the population into ravenous zombie like beings that try to rape and pillage everything in their path. Nothing is off limits when it comes to the world of “Crossed” and the series has given audiences their terrifyingly take on rape, incest, and killing children, which has made readers run to confession afterwards. “Crossed” is simply not for the faint of heart and is one of the most extreme books out there in the market.
When Avatar Press gave legendary writer Alan Moore free reign to take on H.P. Lovecraft and Cthulhu with artist Jacen Burrows, it hit readers like a proverbial kick to the nuts. Moore and Burrows lead readers straight into the mouth of madness as they tackle the Cthulhu mythos from a real world perspective following a pair of cocky FBI agents who soon find themselves wrapped up in a world of unspeakable terrors. This book is littered with disturbing scenes of sex, violence, and monstrous perversion. Most importantly, it gets inside your head like any good Lovecraftian tale.
When heavy metal god Glenn Danzig launched his own comic book company, his debut offering was “Verotika”, an erotic horror anthology that attracted some of the best talent in the industry. Grant Morrison, Simon Bisley, and Frank Frazetta all worked on this anthology that offered creators the opportunity to unleash some of the most depraved, filthy, perverted and downright immoral stories ever told in comics. After every issue readers were left with the feeling that they needed to bathe in holy water. Issue #4 features a story by Christian Moore and Hart D. Fisher entitled “Taste of Cherry,” that stands out as one of the most disturbing stories about snuff films you’ll ever read. The story is so vile that a comic shop owner in Oklahoma City was actually arrested for selling it and had to enlist the help of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund to help him avoid jail time. During the entire 15-issue run of “Verotika”, there was no other book on the shelves that could match the depths of this series depravity.
Lapham and Andrade Avatar Press series “Ferals” is a refreshing take on the werewolf mythos that gives fans a reason to be scared when they hear a howl in the night. “Ferals” is the story of Officer Dale Chesnutt, a small town lawman stuck investigating the brutal slaughter of his best friend. During his investigation everyone around Chesnutt begins to turn up dead, including the woman he had a sweaty sexual encounter with the night before. Pulled in for questioning, Chesnutt is attacked in jail by a werewolf who proceeds to brutally slaughter the entire police force. Escaping by the skin of his teeth, Dale’s body begins a transformation that finds him becoming the horror that he’s been hunting. This book is extremely graphic with some simply awesome depictions of victims being torn to shreds by series artist Gabriel Andrade. While the book has more than its fair share of bloodshed, its the world building and character development that keeps us coming back to “Ferals” months after month. Lapham and Andrade have crafted a powerful mythos for “Ferals” that is simply captivating month in and month out.
Very few horror books can claim to be completely original, but the reality is that Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez’s “Locke & Key” is a truly unique reading experience. “Locke & Key” tells of the story of a haunted New England mansion that is filled with supernatural keys that transform those who wield them. The book mixes together supernatural horror with emotional drenched family drama, teen angst, and a complex mythos to create one of the most chilling comics out there. “Locke & Key” is one part H. P. Lovecraft mixed with portion of Stephen King, as Hill and Rodriguez slowly unravel one of the creepiest long-form stories that the comic world has ever seen.
Before his rise to fame over at Marvel and DC Comics, writer Joshua Fialkov created a stark black and white mini-series with artist Rahsan Ekedal. “Echoes” is the story of one man’s battle with schizophrenia and his attempt to maintain any semblance of sanity after finding out that his father was a serial killer. This complex drama scares readers to the core with the emotional baggage of the characters, and dark, moody artwork that perfectly captures the twisted and intense paranoia the protagonist feels. Years after its initial release, “Echoes” strong storytelling makes it a must read for horror fans. “Echoes” is an intense journey through the depths of insanity with the readers riding shotgun and a schizophrenic behind the wheel.
“Dubbed the most dangerous man in comics”, Hart D. Fisher lived up to his title with the release “Jeffrey Dahmer: An Unauthorized Biography of a Serial Killer”. The book is written and illustrated by Fisher as a truly terrifying look at one of America’s most notorious serial killers. Upon the release of the book, Fisher was caught up in a whirlwind of media attention that drew that landed him appearances on ABC’s DayOne, CNN, ABC, Entertainment Tonight, Larry King Live, and even The Jerry Springer Show. Fisher made no apologies for the book and stood his ground to defend his freedom of speech and his art. The real life graphic depictions of Dahmer’s cold blooded murders is still the most unforgettable comic book images to have ever graced the printed page.
Writers Scott Snyder and Scott Tuft deliver a heart-wrenching coming-of-age tale about a kid train jumping across the country as he searches for his missing father. Along the way he befriends a demonic serial killer that threatens to make him his next victim. “Severed” is a jarring, unsettling and an emotionally draining take on Hitchcock style horror that reminds readers that the most frightening thing is the one you can’t see. It is loosely based on Albert Fish, which makes it all the more horrifying. While most books utilize graphic violence to hammer home the feeling of terror, “Severed” fully immerses readers in fear from the first page to the last.
The Japanese make some very bizarre, very terrifying art. Legendary manga creator, Junji Ito, has a little series called “Uzumaki” that centers around a small town who’s citizens become utterly obsessed with spirals, yeah that’s right, spirals of all shapes and sizes. As their strange obsession develops, things “spiral” out of control, leading to horrific and grotesque scenes of deaths and suicide. Abstract horror is far and few between these days, but looking at pages of this book Junji Ito makes everything look gorgeous and surreal. ‘Uzumaki’ is a unforgettable tale that leaves you horrified and wanting more. Pick up anything by Ito, you won’t regret it.
– The Walking Dead
– 30 Days of Night
– From Hell
Anything we missed on this list? Tell us what you think in the comments section!