Horror has been a part of human culture since the dawn of time. We’ve always told stories of fear, mortality, morbidity, and existential struggle, perhaps as a way of dealing with their existence in our real lives. It’s easy to feel a connection to fear when you’re a caveman (caveperson?) whose entire world is out to get you. These feelings seem to be universal across time and culture. Monsters like vampires, werewolves, and ghouls exist in every corner of the world. They seem to be an inescapable part of our collective consciousness.
That being said, I’ve never called myself a horror fan. In fact, for most of my life I would have said the opposite. I’ve gone out of my way to actively avoid horror movies, because I’m well, scared of being scared. As a kid, even just the commercials for The Ring and The Grudge prompted many sleepless nights. I doubt I have a brave bone in my body. But as I look back on the last few years of the stories that connect with me, the stories I seem to write, I’ve noticed a trend. There’s a lot of horror. I think maybe I actually love horror? Despite avoiding it for most of my adult life. I love the creepy, the mysterious, sometimes even the morbid (I went through a true crime phase like the best of us).
Horror speaks to our primordial lizard brains in a way that many other genres can’t. It gets to the gut and gives us a way to experience the fear, tragedy, and grief that surrounds our everyday life in a safe and removed way. Particularly horror in books, as the stuff on the big screen can get a little too real for some of us. When you think of stories that make you feel something, horror tops the list. It may not always be enjoyable, but it is always thrilling. And horror comics? The breadth of storytelling and chill inducing vibes is endless. So as a newly self-proclaimed horror fan, here’s a list of my 13 top bone-chilling reads sure to keep you up all night.
Through the Woods by Emily Carroll
One of my all-time favourite comics, Through the Woods is a master class in short story telling and the building of dread and fear. The stories feel like familiar fairy tales, but each one is a new creation and absolutely chock full of the suspense that honestly, we’re all looking for in a horror book. I’m more of a creepy mood guy than a gore guy, and Carroll delivers stories filled with anxiety and terror that check all my boxes for chills and sleepless nights.
House of Penance by Ian Bertram, Peter J. Tomasi, Dave Stewart, and Nate Piekos
If you do go in for gore, House of Penance by Ian Bertram, Peter J. Tomasi, Dave Stewart, and Nate Piekos will certainly delight. The fictionalized story of the building of Sarah Winchester’s bizarre and insane Winchester House, House of Penance feels like a fever dream filled with blood, intestines, and hallucinations. How Bertram makes intestines beautiful will always be a mystery to me, but he manages it somehow and the intense colours by Stewart add to the nightmarish mood of the whole book in a way that is sure to have you wishing for more.
The Man Who Came Down the Attic Stairs by Celine Loup
Meticulously rendered and absolutely nightmare-inducing, Celine Loup’s allegory about postpartum depression, the constriction of life as a 1950s housewife, and resignation to the horror of living a life you never wanted hits home with a sensory overload that feels all too familiar.
Geis by Alexis Deacon
Another absurd and violent fairy tale (can you tell I like the romance of horror?) in Alexis Deacon’s Geis. The story of a fantastical competition of fate and death, Deacon’s multimedia illustrations really shine. They are lush, bewitching, and often off-putting in a way that draws you in completely. This two-part series will leave you feeling strange, awed, and definitely a bit creeped out.
Harrow County by Tyler Crook and Cullen Bunn
Harrow County sure lives up to its name. A harrowing tale of witches, haints, and fright in the backwoods of the old south, Harrow County is filled with eldritch horror that is sure to make your skin crawl. Crook’s pages are filled with foreboding and menace. His lovingly watercolored monsters and ghosts will be sure to give you the heebie-jeebies and leave you feeling disturbed and exhilarated.
By Chance or Providence by Becky Cloonan and Lee Loughridge
If tales of mythic beasts, knights, and romance are your jam, By Chance or Providence is the book for you. Combining three short stories that feel as mystical as they are horrifying, Cloonan covers tales that feel familiar but with new life breathed into them. Her drawings are rendered with emotion, heart, and deep-seated fear. Loughridge’s colour adds to the already heavy atmosphere for an absolutely gorgeous and affecting book.
Beautiful Darkness by Fabien Vehlmann and Kerascoët
When I finished reading Beautiful Darkness for the first time, I just sat there asking myself “what did I just read?” in the best possible way. Purchased for its sumptuous and colourful watercolor paintings, the darkness and absurdity of Beautiful Darkness actually came as a bit of a shock. Cute, morbid, and slightly deranged, Vehlmann and Kerascoët’s masterpiece is sure to enthrall and horrify.
Dental Plan by Joy San
Never underestimate the impact a short story can have in the horror genre. Dental Plan is short and sweet, but ultimately absolutely terrifying. San’s beautiful line drawings are simple and clean which may seem at odds with the darkness we expect in horror, but they’re effect has an unforgettable impact. If you don’t already have tooth related nightmares, you will after reading Dental Plan.
The False Doe by Kelsey Wroten
Vampires and lesbians? Sign me up. I’ve been a fan of Kesley Wroten for a long time, but this older work from 2016 really delivers on the fun and creepy vibes I love in a vampire story. Sexy, irreverent, and beautifully drawn, The False Doe hits all the right notes.
BTTM FDRS by Ben Passmore and Ezra Clayton Daniels
Passmore and Daniels BTTM FDRS is a delight in the horror comedy game. A critical and thoughtful allegory of gentrification, BTTM FDRS entertains, terrifies, and analyses. Set in Chicago’s South Side, Passmore brings grit and colour to a story of two twenty-somethings pushed out of their neighbourhood and in search of affordable living. It’s gory, it’s funny, it’s gross, it’s cool, what more could you ask for?
Pretty Deadly by Kelly Sue DeConnick and Emma Rios
Combining magical realism, Death mythology, and Western tales, Pretty Deadly is beautiful and devastating. Lending a feel of the ethereal to traumatic times in history i.e. the American Old West and WWI. DeConnick and Rios weave an enthralling story filled with wonder that combines the alluring with the macabre.
2120 by George Wylesol
If you’re a fan of Myst, point and click video games, and existential dread, 2120 is for you. With a clever and creepy mix of comics and video game mechanics, 2120 is filled with the fear and malaise of the everyday American dream.
The Cheapest NBN 50 Plans
It’s the most popular NBN speed in Australia for a reason. Here are the cheapest plans available.