For those new to the world of comics, it may seem as if the genre is made up solely of tights and capes and BOOM-POW-saving-the-world action sequences. But when you look closer, you start to see that there is so much more. And for those who spent their formative years hoarding their parents’ John Saul and Stephen King novels, and who have grown up to revere the likes of Josh Malerman and Nick Cutter, you find something amazing. Because while part of the terror of reading a horror novel is the way in which your imagination interacts with the text, there is something special about an artfully-rendered full moon swallowing up the sky, or a beautifully drawn phantom creepy-crawling its way up someone’s body as they sleep. Working together, writer and artist create something that brings horror to a whole new level. So which are the best horror comics with which to start?
The classic example of horror in comics is Neil Gaiman’s Sandmanseries, followed by the ongoing Locke & Key from Joe Hill. But in recent years, horror writers and artists have been honing their craft and getting even better. From American Vampire, Outcast, Nailbiter, and Pretty Deadly to Monstress, Harrow County, Descender, and Injection, horror comics (and creators) have been evolving. I’ve mentioned some of my favorite horror comics in the past, in the context of larger horror lists, but here are (in my humble opinion) the 12 best horror comics that will really scare the crap out of you.
1. NIMONA BY NOELLE STEVENSON
Let’s start slow. Dip a toe in. Stevenson’s Nimona isn’t billed as horror. No. This webcomic-turned-graphic-novel about an “evil” villain and his mysterious new shape-shifting sidekick is meant to be all-ages fantasy. And both the story and the drawings are, for the bulk of the book, both charming and silly. But as we near the end of the story arc, we begin to get a glimpse of the eponymous Nimona’s true origin story, and the true extent of her powers. And it’s surprisingly dark.