A Taste Of Terror: Graphic Novels And Horror Comics

Published on September 29th, 2009 in: Comics, Halloween, Horror, Issues, Top Five Lists |

Dark Horse

All right, forget touching, forget funny; what if you want straight up scary? You may want to turn to the Japanese style of graphic novels, manga. If you thought The Ring movie or its original Japanese version Ringu were scary, then these are the books for you. Many Japanese horror manga are set up in a similar way: a series of chapter-long vignettes all containing a common character or place. The Japanese are often much more creative with their ghosts, and have a way of making even the most outlandish ones seem like they actually could be lurking somewhere nearby. This might be why their stories are so unsettling. Malicious spirits hide in the most unexpected places, waiting for normal people going about their daily routines. Suddenly, renting a new apartment, riding in an elevator, or even driving that new car are frightening experiences that even the strongest of us would find bone chilling.

One of the creepiest manga series out there is Mail by Housui Yamazaki. A story about a paranormal detective and the people he saves from ghosts, each story starts off with a normal situation, which quickly becomes more and more terrifying until the detective has to step in and save each person from the ghost trying to kill them. Combining elements of shock, surprise, gore, and a feeling of helplessness, Mail, like most good horror manga, is a wonderful creepfest. Each story is disturbing in a way that may not unsettle you right away, but when the lights go out you’ll be checking under the bed at least twice before going to sleep.

Of course, any discussion on horror graphic novels wouldn’t be complete without some mention of zombies. Zombies are taking over the comic book world, with even Marvel and DC jumping aboard and turning some of their classic characters into zombies. It’s sad to say that for every well-written zombie graphic novel out there, however, there are at least ten that are awful. Don’t fret, there is one zombie title that everyone should be reading and that’s The Walking Dead by Robert Kirkman. This series has been going on for over five years and has released over 60 single-issue comics and ten graphic novels (with an eleventh due out before 2010).

walking dead
The Walking Dead

Like most zombie tales, The Walking Dead begins with the world being overrun with zombies. However, the story soon focuses on the struggles of one man, his family, the other survivors that they band together with, and the trials they must endure to stay alive. The zombies themselves are often the least scary of the creatures they encounter. Since the world has fallen apart, people start to show their true natures, and we meet killers and psychopaths (and worse) who often do more damage to the heroes than the zombies ever could. Kirkman only has one rule in The Walking Dead: No One Is Safe.

So now that you’ve gotten your pumpkins carved, your costume planned, and your candy ready to go, stop by your local comic shop and check out a graphic novel this Halloween for something a little different. A graphic novel can be as frightening as any scary movie, and there is often much more variety in the plot, art, and style. There truly is something for all tastes this Halloween season.

If you live in the Toronto area, be sure to visit Big B Comics in Hamilton, ON, where Laura is the assistant manager. You can also check out Laura’s manga blog at Shojo Manga.

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3 Responses to “A Taste Of Terror: Graphic Novels And Horror Comics”

  1. jemiah:
    October 2nd, 2009 at 4:31 pm

    Great survey! I’d be remiss if I didn’t also mention both the CREEPY and EERIE reprint archives, and the new CREEPY comics series… the second issue is going to be absolutely legendary; keep an eye out for it!

  2. Antonia:
    October 30th, 2009 at 10:28 am

    The Japanese really do know how to do horror. Mail is great – the only problem with it is that it ends ubruptly when it starts to get good. Fortunately there’s Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service which it crosses over into. MPD Psycho is also good.

  3. Popshifter » Sometimes Undead Is Better: The Walking Dead:
    January 30th, 2011 at 9:06 pm

    […] I’ve never read The Walking Dead comic series, I have been intrigued ever since Popshifter covered it in a past Halloween issue. When news of the AMC series popped up, I was relieved that it was […]

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