Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark: Sabitha’s Five Favourite Horror Comics

THE WALKING DEAD

Walking Dead

 

The AMC TV show is a huge-hit with discerning horror audiences, but l have always believed that the book (in this case the comic series) is better than the show/movie. This holds true for Robert Kirkman’s masterpiece, which, even in a world overflowing with zombies in popular culture, stands head and shoulders above anything else out there. Rick Grimes’ band of unlikely survivors trying to make their way in a world infested by zombies (‘walkers’) who outnumber them 10:1 is a tale of graphic violence, gore and some heart-stopping twists and turns, and definitely not for the faint-hearted. But the real fascination that this series holds lies not in dodging from the walkers, but rather how this motley crew survives each other, and the unsavoury characters they keep bumping into in their journey towards a renewed human community. The series has is a must for any self-respecting horror fan.

LOCKE AND KEY

Locke and Key

 
The very fact that this series was written by that prodigy of horror writing, Joe Hill, is a good enough reason to pick up the series. With Stephen King for a father, there are no doubts about Hill’s street credentials as a horror writer, but for those not easily convinced, you might also try his brilliant debut, Heart-Shaped Box. Locke and Key revolves around a New England mansion called Keyhouse, which really is a portal to another dimension called the Plains of Leng, populated with demons who can mesmerize and possess anyone who see or touch them. Harbouring its secrets for a long time, the story really kicks in when the Locke kids move into Keyhouse with their mother after the gruesome death of their father, and begin discovering its secrets. When a long-forgotten vengeful spirit, Dodge, gets a much-sought after release from an abandoned well, all hell breaks loose, as he goes about finding various magical keys which to unleash havoc. These keys were forged from demon forms decades ago by the original owner of Keyhouse, after the demons from Leng attempted to cross over into the real world. The long-running series came to an end in early 2014, and new fans should be delighted about not having to undergo the ordeal of waiting for each new thrilling issue. Bonus fact: the art by Gabriel Rodrigues is simply stunning.

CROSSED

Crossed

A word of caution before I delve into this series: stick to the original series by Garth Ennis, and pay no heed to the sequels or spinoffs. Of all the series I have listed down here, this is possibly the most gory of all, not to mention severely disturbing. In a rather different take on the zombie genre, Crossed follows a band of characters as they try to survive a plague that causes its victims to turn into raging homicidal maniacs, carrying out their worst evil thoughts. These victims are referred to as the Crossed due to a cross-like rash which appears on their faces. When I say evil, I mean it in the most wide-ranging meaning of the term possible: mutilation, rape, torture, et al. The infection is spread through bodily fluids, which the Crossed quite easily accomplish with their most depraved acts. There is a level of violence in this series which is unlike anything I have come across, and even the most hardened of horror lovers may be easily put off by the degeneracy.

 

UZUMAKI

Uzumaki

Strictly speaking, this is a manga, and so is different from others on this list, not the least because of its more obvious psychological horror. Written and illustrated by Junji Ito, the plot revolves around a small Japanese town, whose inhabitants slowly turn paranoid as they become obsessed with spiral-like formations that are creeping up all over the town, leading to some gruesome deaths. There are a lot of Lovecraftian influences present in the series, and readers are warned beforehand that the plot can get haunting, and much like the town’s cursed residents, you might find yourself falling into a spiral of terror!

AMERICAN VAMPIRE

American Vampire

If you feel there has been overdose of vampire lore in modern horror pop culture, you’re not off the mark; but give this series as a chance before you write off vampires altogether. Written by the award-winning Scott Snyder and the master of horror, Stephen King, American Vampire traces the vampire population as made up of different sub-species, and charts their evolution, as well as the historical inter-species conflicts. The main story revolves around the Skinner Sweet, an outlaw who discovers that he is the first of a new bloodline of vampires, stronger and powerful than any before, and Pearl Jones, his first vampire progeny. Weaving vampire folklore with more contemporary themes, this is a breath of fresh air, and the two talented writers at the helm of the series don’t hurt. An absolutely brilliant read