Sexuality and comics are good buddies. Have been for uhm…ever. Not all comics. Obviously. But a lot of them. If you don’t believe me, go look at the breasts of every female character in any given superhero comic. Actually don’t, because that’s weird.
But recently, we’ve been seeing the psychosexual genre trending upward in comics and graphic novels— “psychosexual” being the psychological issues that come with sexuality. For example, although the sexually intimate relationship between The Joker and Harley Quinn is merely implied, we see Quinn deal with psychosexual breakdowns on the regular.
Now for the real coup. Psychosexual Horror is really starting to find its way into comics. When you add horror to the mix, the psycho part of psychosexual changes a bit. Emotions and sensibilities change. They are emotions and sensibilities you’d have when confronted with horror. So psychosexual horror of a very interesting mix — I’ll just say it, it’s essentially getting turned on by horror.
Over the last five years, there’ve been five psychosexual horror comics/graphic novels released that I highly suggest reading. This is my list of “must read” psychosexual horror comics/graphic novels… so pay attention, you fiends.
I’m actually cheating a bit on the timeline here because Black Hole was a series of comics that ran for nearly ten years ending in 2005. But in the last 5 years, Pantheon released a collected edition TPB of the series.
Black Hole centers around a group of Seattle teens who start contracting a new STD (which spreads like crazy because ALL THE SEX!!!). The mysterious STD begins to mutate these kids. Mutations that are very horror worthy. Like… a tail. Unsettling shit, for sure. In this particular example of psychosexual horror, the horror is a direct result of the sexuality. And the psycho comes after. It’s a phenomenal example of the genre as it can be taken literally or metaphorically. It deals with sex and its consequences, being an outsider, fear, and hatred. It’s a horror comic on a deeper level. An emotional level that is married to sexuality and loathing. Essentially, this is the body horror that Cronenberg helped to create throughout his early career.
This is a collection of short horror comics that are insanely sexual, in a really crazy, read at your own risk, sort of way. This is skin-crawling horror, and it IS such a horror strictly because of the use of sex in the stories.
For example, one might not think that necrophilia would find its way into a mainstream graphic novel. But it does. And it’s so extreme (as with the rest of the stories in The Furry Trap) that you quite literally have to pick your jaw up off the floor. This type of psychosexual horror is heavy on the “psycho” and “horror”, using “sexual” as a means to an end. Read it though. Seriously. Then you can send me hate mail.
Lust is the type of psychosexual horror that is just so damn beautiful. It’s…well, it’s the opposite kind than The Furry Trap (and I mean that as no insult at all). I’ve been quoted before as saying this is a big, terrifying, sexual, wonderful, beautiful, hot lusty piece of horror art. It deals with lust (obviously) but also chastity–virtues and vices. But not in an after-school special sort of way, in a horrifying way. It showcases Niles’ signature horror writing. Something no one can deny as being in the top tier of horror comic writing. But almost more importantly, it utilizes the very different strengths of both Templesmith and Menton3 to augment Niles’ horror, ultimately leaving you stunned and frozen with emotion. LUST is the literary fiction, the black tie gallery art of psychosexual horror.
This is the type of comic series that you don’t want to think of as psychosexual horror (RE: my description above “getting turned on by horror”) and I’ll concede that this is not the type of psychosexual horror that will turn you on — hopefully. But it fits the bill in almost every way.
One psychotic to another — father and son — enjoy killing young girls and making dolls of their flesh and remains (like it or not, that’s a form of sexual fetish). The sexuality here comes in hints and innuendos. And yea, it’s creepy as hell. Not the type of sexual fetish that should work for the average person. But it’s there, side by side with a horror infused storyline of murder, mental illness, distrust in others and in yourself.
Echoes is a terrifying read, it will give you ALL THE EMOTIONS. As a good psychosexual horror should.
TEOTFW utilizes simplicity and dread to overwhelm you with fear. It utilizes dark fetishes to overwhelm you with emotion. It’s a subtle yet very dark psychosexual horror that stays very true to the genre. The type that makes you wonder about your own darkest desires.
There is a lot of murder, a lot of self harm, a lot of sex, a lot of loneliness… and a lot of these four things happen on the same page. It combines to give you an eerie feeling of spaced out sexuality and lost mayhem. This dark psychosexual horror comic is so terrifying in its bold statements yet simplistic art. It will trip you out and make you question a few of your true emotions.
Marvel’s illustrated Picture of Dorian Gray and DC’s Batman: Mad Love. Both of which are way more subtle than the five comics/graphic novels listed above, but are still beautifully fantastic psychosexual horror comics.
Editorial by – Bree Ogden