It’s October, the universally-recognized month of all things scary. But while there are perennial books like The Walking Dead out there, as you count down to Halloween, you’ll need a lot of entertaining reading material to keep your spine thoroughly chilled. So why not sit down and spook yourself with some of the best horror comics available right now?
Okay, so Eerie isn’t exactly a regular ongoing comic. But this revival of the classic horror anthology series over at Dark Horse is still putting out selections of great horror short stories from a whole host of writers and artists. The issues have basically become bi-annual releases at this point—the most recent landed in August, but a new collection will be available in December. It’s an excellent blend of sci-fi and fantasy horror tales that is perfect if you’re yearning for that sort of old school pulp. Eerie more than lives up to the legacy of the original Warren magazine that inspired it.
(Dark Horse, Written By: J. Torres, Larry Lama, Archie Goodwin, R. Michael Rosen, and more Artists: TK, Tony Parker, Kelly Williams, and more)
Yes, Robert Kirkman has another horror comic series! And it’s about as far as you can get from The Walking Dead. Following the story of a man who’s cut himself off from society after a life of being plagued by demons, Outcast is visceral in its horror atmosphere in the way that The Walking Dead is depressing. It has a totally different vibe, and the combination of Kyle Barnes’ personal terrors and his journey to understand the blight that affects him, as well as the creepy demons, makes for a tantalizing page-turner with some genuinely good scares.
Plus, it’s about to become a TV series that looks pretty damn petrifying so far—so you’ll definitely want to give it a read before you watch.
(Image, Written By: Robert Kirkman, Artist: Paul Azaceta)
October Faction isn’t a typical horror comic. It’s less about the scariness of monsters, and more about a world they exist in—and more specifically a family of mad, bad, and dangerous-to-know monster hunters that are just as likely to want to rip the throats out of each other as the monsters they fight. The gothic aesthetic cooked up by Worm is vivid and great to read, and while the spot-on horror atmosphere is a huge draw, you’re just as likely to get wrapped up in the backstabbing and interpersonal drama of Frederick Allan’s bizarre brood.
(IDW, Written By: Steve Niles Artist: Damien Worm)
Another Steve Niles joint on the list, but very different to his other work—this is a scifi ghost story that is amazingly spooky. Set on Ganymede in the near future, Disciples follows a group of Private Investigators who are tasked with retrieving the daughter of a Senator who’s joined a cult of people worshipping the billionaire who colonized Jupiter’s moon. Simple enough? Well, it is until they actually land on Ganymede, and everything goes sideways in a spectacularly horrifying manner. If you’re video game fan, think Dead Space, but with less weird alien zombies and more messed up ghosts.
(Black Mask, Written By: Steve Niles Artist: Christopher Mitten)
What if Grant Morrison wrote a scifi dystopian nightmare story about an asteroid filled with Lovecraftian nightmares coming to smash into the Earth and kill us all—that is, if a bunch of horrifying secret experiments don’t get us first? Oh wait. He did.
Nameless is scifi horror like no other because of its outlandishly large scale—it captures a sense of inevitable dread on such a wide scope, unlike your typical horror story that relies on small scale threats amplified to great extremes. Equal parts following the downfall of civilization as apocalyptic threats make themselves known and the terrifying journey of a team of astronauts sent to investigate the asteroid, Nameless is flat-out one of the best comics of 2015, let alone just the horror genre.
(Image, Written By: Grant Morrison Artist: Chris Burnham)
You may be surprised to hear this, but if you want some of the best, most gorgeously rendered horror comics right now, you better be reading Archie Comics.
I know, right?
One of the first comics from the company to be made after it dropped the Comics Code Authority in 2011, Afterlife with Archie is a genre mashup that, in any other case, would make you groan: Riverdale’s cheery denizens find themselves fighting for survival in the midst of a zombie apocalypse. It shouldn’t work, but it absolutely does. Afterlife almost gleefully tears down the light and breezy walls of the classically reserved Archie characters with grit, grime, and gore, and is an absolute pleasure to read. Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa does a great job of making the survivors still feel thoroughly like they would in the pages of Archie, but equally believable in the face of a horrifying apocalypse. All that is married with the outstanding artwork of Francesco Francavilla, aping classic horror art and with great, bold shadow work. Afterlife with Archie might just be one of the most gorgeous comic books on shelves.
(Archie Comics/Archie Horror, Written By: Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa Artist: Francesco Francavilla)
A kinda-sorta spinoff from Afterlife with Archie, it would be remiss to not mention Archie Comic’s spooky reboot of Sabrina, The Teenage Witch. Set in the 1960s and laden with homages to classic supernatural horror, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina follows Sabrina Spellman’s struggles to balance her lives as a human and a witch, while she confronts horrors from the depths of Hell itself. If your only experience with Sabrina was the 90s TV show, then prepare to have your socks spooked off.
(Archie Comics/Archie Horror, Written By: Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, Artist: Robert Hack)
You might be more familiar with Becky Cloonan from her work on Gotham Academy for DC, but if you’re already a fan of her work there, you should totally be checking out Southern Cross.
Part scifi, part horror, part murder-mystery, Southern Cross takes place on the moons of Titan as a young woman tries to find answers about the death of her sister—only to find there were elements far stranger and more horrifying than she could have imagined involved. Highly claustrophobic at times and almost Alien-esque, there’s some pretty shocking moments in the series that make for gripping reading.
(Image, Written By: Becky Cloonan Artists: Andy Belanger and Lee Loughridge)
Focusing on the coming-of-age of a young girl in small, southern town, Harrow County mashes its horror roots with fairytales, depicting a dark, daunting forest on the outskirts of Emmy’s town that’s filled with horrifying monsters and deadly secrets. Intensely disturbing, Tyler Crook’s art makes the forest the perfect amount of messed up and creepy that you want this time of year.
Also, for a minor tease: it takes the phrase “skin-crawling” to a whole new level of disturbing meaning.
(Dark Horse, Written By: Cullen Bunn Artist: Tyler Crook)
Wytches is basically a Stephen King nightmare in comic book form. A young family moves to a quiet New Hampshire town, only to find themselves under ceaseless threat from the titular monstrous creatures (which are genuinely petrifying) lurking in and around the local forests. It’s as much a dark family drama and about the challenges of parenthood as it is a horror story—and while it’s completely gripping in that regard, where Wytches shines the most is its art. Jock conjures up some truly vivid panel art, and the splashes from colorist Matt Hollingsworth make for some spectacular pages. If you live anywhere near a big old forest, you might want to read this one with a few lights on, and never at night.
(Image, Written By: Scott Snyder Artist: Jock)
There’s plenty more in terms of great horror comics out there—got any suggestions to creep your fellow readers out? Put them in the comments below!