Vertigo's Preacher makes our list of the Top Ten Scariest Comics!
Here’s the thing about horror comics: they’re not usually that scary. In a movie, or on TV, you have the element of surprise – but in a comic, the reader controls the pace, so tension is extraordinarily difficult to build. And the whole “cat suddenly jumps out of nowhere” thing? Nearly impossible. But there are some comics that buck the trend, and should not – under any circumstances – be read on a dark and stormy night. There are ten of the scariest, spookiest comics ever:
10. Arkham Asylum
Batman’s prison for the criminally insane is turned into the world’s most terrifying – and dangerous – haunted house in this inventive mixture of horror and superhero comics, from Grant Morrison and Dave McKean. Claustrophobic, violent, and as insanely constructed as one of Arkham’s famous inmates, this book is more bat than man.
Though Garth Ennis’ seminal series often relies on ultraviolence, religious parody, or outright action, it also has healthy doses of terror and horror. Beyond the character designs (Arseface, anyone?), Preacher often plays out like the best hillbilly slasher movies, with all the blood, guts, and insanity that implies.
We’ve talked about this series on the site before, but Alan Moore’s take on H.P. Lovecraft will have you heading to the mouth of madness in no time. Along with Jacen Burrows art – which spares no detail (or tentacle), this is the terror of the Cthulu mythos done right.
Okay, this one is probably just me, as the short lived Vertigo series was aiming more for action, and occasionally comedy. But goddammit there’s a lot of bugs in this. And for someone who cannot stand the creepy crawlies, watching our heroes got covered in literal waves of roaches made us run screaming for the Raid.
6. Vault of Horror
Though many of the older horror anthologies don’t quite hold up, horror-wise (though they remain good stories, and classic examples of horror art), Vault of Horror is an exception, an olde-timey collection of stories that will still have you keeping the nightlight on.
A multi-volume horror Manga (that was later made into a movie), Uzumaki deals with one of the basest of emotions: obsession. But because this is horror, obsession starts to literally transform the denizens of a small Japanese town in disgusting monsters.
4. Black Hole
You wouldn’t think a book about growing up in a small town would necessarily be terrifying, but Charles Burns book about a monstrous STD has a slow feeling of dread that suffuses every single panel. And really, what’s more terrifying than being a teenager?
There’s a number of absolutely terrifying visuals and sequences in Neil Gaiman’s seminal series, from the serial killer convention in awe of The Corinthian – a monster with mouths for eyes – but it’s issue #6 that’s the doozy. “24 Hours” shows what happens as a man – Dr. Destiny – in possession of gem that makes the patrons at an all night diner feel whatever he’s feeling The aftermath is bloody, terrifying, and the worst part? True to human nature.
2. Domu: A Child’s Dream
One of the other major works from the creator of Akira, Domu has all the classic elements of horror movies we know and love: creepy telekinetic children; a decrepit apartment building; and lots and lots of blood. Truly, the tagline “You’ll never go in Japan again!” was appropriate. Note: that wasn’t the tagline.
1. Locke & Key
Remember up top how we said its impossible to reproduce the pacing of a movie in a comic? We lied. Gabriel Rodriguez – artist of Locke & Key – has figured out how to create absolutely perfectly paced terror in comic book form, from an evil ghostly woman slowly, panel by panel sneaking out of her prison in a well, to creatures laying in wait for the heroic Locke children, this book has kept us up at night, and given us nightmares. Just the way we like our horror comics.