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Horror Comics


#1

I’ve been thinking about this for a long time and I’ve seen various discussions on the subject so I’m putting it out to the forums here.

Is is possible for a comic to be scary?

Horror comics deal with horrific and/or supernatural elements but is it possible for the medium of comics to actually scare someone? I’ve read books and seen films that ave scared me hand , in a way, haunted me but I can’t think of any examples of the same in a comic.

The way I see it is that compared to prose, you can’t get the reader as immersed in the story and compared to films, you don’t have the medium of sound of the shortcut of a ‘jump shot’ (the right hand page reveal isn’t quite the same thing).

Any thoughts?

Dan


#2

I think comics would be better for a psychological horror story. It would be something that sticks in your head long after you but the book away. Gore and many horror tropes don’t always translate very well to the comics page, especially when you can see them done very well on the big screen.


#3

Wytches. Severed.


#4

There are two kinds of horror: the kind we see in movies today that depends a lot on sudden shocks, and the kind of creeping horror that we saw in movies and books like ROSEMARY’S BABY and THE EXORCIST and Kubrick’s THE SHINING. It’s difficult for comics to accomplish the former, but there are currently some strong examples of the latter.

WYTCHES mentioned above is a good horror book; the art in that one contained some creepy imagery. Kirkman’s OUTCAST has some moments of true horror, as do the current storylines (somewhat intertwined) of BPRD and ABE SAPIEN.


#5

I think Horror is really hard in comics because its so visual. I’ve never been truly scared like I have with Movies, Books or Even audio. I think there are a few reasons. Horror really takes advantage of sound or your mind creating imagery for you. I heard a Podcast with Mike Mignola (geeks guide to the universe) where he claimed HP Lovecraft is scary because the monsters are never really defined for you, but when people riff off them in comics, they show you all the tentacles and things. Not much left to imagine. I think that’s a big part of terror…letting your mind create the scare.

There’s lots of creepy, gorey, things out there in comics, but i’ve never been “afraid to go to bed” or “walk outside at night” because of something I read in a comic. I’d love for that to happen!


#6

I think that the horror genre doesn’t work in quite the same way in comics as it does in other media. Comics have their own strengths, but the whole “Psycho killer jumps out of nowhere” shock moment doesn’t work quite as effectively on a printed page.

There are obviously lots of exceptions. And maybe digital comics technology will open up new possibilities in how to tell a story.

One comic that I loved, and which went down the road of unsettling the reader was The Devil’s Footprints by Scott Allie and Paul Lee. I don’t know if it is still in print, but I really enjoyed it.


#7

Yeah, I’m not a huge horror fan but quite seriously:

Read Wytches on a dark, dark night and you’ve only got yourself to blame.


#8

Slasher style horror definitely doesn’t work in comics in my opinion. If for no other reason, than the reader is in control of the pace the story unfolds. If they wish to stop for a moment and really study the art on a spread they can dull the notion of a simulated jump scare from a page turn. As an example.

But there have definitely been comics of a horror style that have stuck with me long after reading them. And they are usually either psychological in nature or unexplained horror kind of stuff.

I liked Junji Ito’s Uzumaki quite a bit. The story is about a town being haunted by a spiral and the bizarre ways it manifests itself.

But even then it was never a sleep with the light on kind of experience. Though I’m not sure I can remember a novel or a movie that has elicited that response out of me since I was a kid either.

Really the best I hope for is something I’ll continue to think about afterwards.


#9

I believe in Comics as an art form. True art will illicit a response. Great art makes you ask questions. About the world around you, about yourself, and your inner monologue. I think this is where the horror is in comics. A couple of recent comics do this well.
Wytches as mentioned above, where Jock’s art really is creepy, and you often times can’t quite see clearly. Another is of course Outcast where Robert Kirkman is dealing with the mind, and the supernatural. And another is Cullen Bunn’s Harrow County, where a girl doesn’t really know her past.
I think in most cases it really is a personal thing. Like in Harrow county. That spoke to me, as I was like her. My father passed when I was 1, and My mother when I was 8. When my mother passed away, I found out I had this whole other family, with a 1/2 brother and 2 1/2 sisters. No clue they existed up to that age. So I could envision what the main protagonist in Harrow County goes through.
For Outcast, it’s cerebral. I always think about how we’re told we only use 10% of our brains. So what happens with the other 90% of it. Are there abilities we have we have, that we just don’t know how to use yet? If you have ever forgotten something like a conversation, that someone else clearly remembers having, but to you it never existed, then this should speak to you.
So in the end it’s the questions, and answers, that art makes you ask, and try to answer that truly scary and horrifying results come from.


#10

I can’t say it actually scares me,but my favorite horror comic right now is Nailbiter…


#11

Uzumaki and a few of the shorts in Ito’s recent Fragments of Horror are effectively scary.

Emily Carroll’s Through the Woods has a pretty frightening story in it, “The Nesting Place.” All the stories there are good, but that one really unnerved me.

A little more recently, I’ve thought that Morrison & Burnham’s Nameless and Moore & Burrows’ Providence have done a good job with Lovecraftian horror. Nameless effectively evokes a feeling of vulnerability and doom whereas Providence makes you more intellectually aware of humanity’s meaninglessness in the universe.


#12

Yes, so far I’ve only read the first five issues of Outcast, but it is very effective. Very much by knowing how much to tell, and how much it requires the audience to ask and answer (as you’ve already stated.)


#13

Well I mean you get to use the page turn for that, but you can’t rely on that device for every scary moment.

There was a story over on thrillbent written by James Tynion IV and Jeremy Rock called “The Eighth Seal” that had some really creepy moments early on and that’s because they were able to use the format that “moved” a bit to do a slow reveal of a character. It worked, but it needed motion.


#14

The easy answer: yes.

But where to begin?

I’d also suggest the easily accessible (and newest horror comic creator) Emily Carroll. You can read most of her comics for free on her website, but begin with the comic that most exemplifies her style and claim to fame: His Face All Red.

To chime in with @WillCarper and @WarrenB, Junji Ito is a must read. His Uzumaki series is fascinating and disturbingly well done. Personally, I didn’t find it as scary as his Tomie collections, but if you want a small taste of his nightmare world, try this short The Enigma of Amigara Fault.

A really underrated horror series is Beasts of Burden by Evan Dorkin and Jill Thompson. Although it has one of the most cheesy and comical premises (a group of pets investigate a series of occult happenings in the town of Burden Hill), the standalone stories are unimaginably dark and terrifying. Dorkin’s storytelling skills really pull the reader into the character’s suburban world, while slowly inching into the macabre. And watch out for Thompson’s art. It doesn’t bark. It bites!

If you’re into gothic horror, try Ragemoor by Jan Strnad and Richard Corben. Somehow it manages to conjure the spirits of Poe and Lovecraft exceedingly well, while staying fresh.

If you want bloody, visceral carnage, go for the first volume of Garth Ennis’ Crossed. I admit, I was immediately reluctant to try this series because of the gutwrenching art on the covers, but I’m so glad I stuck it out. Ennis will wow you with this survival story and his page turns are captivating.

Finally, if you haven’t done so already, read Alan Moore’s The Saga of Swamp Thing. Not only is issue no #21 a near perfect revamp, but it’s a mighty fine horror-revenge tale (well written, well paced, well done). And the proceeding issues only get better from there.

There’s plenty more horror comics I could mention. But I strongly suggest starting with these (check out your local library–chances are they own a few).

So… yes, horror comics work. And they’re very much alive and screaming :smiling_imp:


#15

Yes. Garth Ennis’s Crossed. Someone insisted that I read it, but told me not to read beyond Garth Ennis’s authorship. I was glad I did, and I did not read past his authorship.


#16

Word here is Alan Moore’s Crossed 100 is worth a look.


#17

Can’t believe that I forgot “The Enigma of Amigara Fault”! That is my favorite of Ito’s work (haven’t read Tomie, unfortunately).


#18

Cool. Thanks! Didn’t know Alan Moore made a contribution.


#19

Haven’t checked it out myself but a few others have.

The other point I’ve heard is to just read Moore’s opening volume and leave it at that.

Oh, in case you weren’t aware, the 100 in the title refers to it being 100 years on.

Might be a review in the Trades Thread now I think of it.


#20

I will take a look. Thanks!!