Look out your window. Are there leaves on the ground? Is the sky gray? Can you see at least one person wearing a sweater? We can’t deny it any more, my summer-loving friends: fall is almost here. For some people, the arrival of fall means pumpkins, or at least pumpkin-flavored things, or maybe just several decorative gourds and a dream. For me, fall has always meant one thing: it’s ghost season, bitches. Time to re-watch Casper, remember what a cutie Devon Sawa was, and weird out all of my friends and coworkers who didn’t know I was into this stuff. Sorry, guys.
For my fellow ghost fans who also love comics (fine, comics fans who also love ghosts), here are a few awesome ghost comics to enjoy with a cup of tea and all of the lights in your house turned on.
Okay, if you guys haven’t seen this amazing collection of five short comics by Emily Carroll, you need to rectify that, like, immediately. Through the Woods is terrifying and beautiful and somehow also hilarious. It’s just so good. “The Lady’s Hands are Cold” is the only actual ghost story in the collection, but all of them have creepiness and death waiting in the margins to jump out at the reader. I don’t know what it is about her art, but Carroll is somehow able to evoke unspeakable horror using rosy cheeks, strained smiles, wide eyes, and well-placed blotches of black and red. UGH, just READ IT.
Also, if you can manage it, you should get your hands on Frontier #6, the zine that features a short ghost story comic by Carroll called “Ann by the Bed.” It’s a classic sleepover ghost story, except you won’t be able to sleep after you read it. For a long time.
The New Ghost is a one-shot comic published by Nobrow Press, so you know it’s arty and gorgeous. It tells the story of a newly-minted ghost trying to make his way among his “colleagues,” a.k.a. other ghosts that have been around the block. He gets stuck in a tree and befriends a living man who comes to rescue him. At first, the ghost seems clumsy and stumbling, but the brilliance of the story shows through as we find out what he’s really after. The art is bright, the colors cool and calming, and the layout is intriguing. A-plus, 10/10, would read again.
This awesome anthology contains stories by Mike Mignola, Jill Thompson, Paul Chadwick, Gary Gianni, P. Craig Russell, and many more. Published in 2003, this volume showcases some amazing work – Jill Thompson won an Eisner for her artwork in “Stray,” about a bunch of very wise dogs and a haunted doghouse, and “Dr. Carp’s Experience” was the only new Hellboy story from Mike Mignola published that year. My personal favorite is Mike Richardson and P. Craig Russell’s “Gone,” about a house that people go into… and NEVER LEAVE! I actually can’t really describe that story without underselling it, because it’s the combination of the story and the art that gets to you. You’ll just have to trust that it’s really great.
The Graveyard Book was one of my favorite books of 2008, and when it was published as a graphic novel in two volumes in 2014, I was so unbelievably excited. It follows the story of Nobody, a boy whose family was murdered. He’s just a baby, but he escapes the killer, crawls to a graveyard and is subsequently raised by ghosts, vampires, werewolves, and all sorts of other awesome creatures. One of the coolest parts about these books is that each chapter is illustrated by a different fantastic artist – like Kevin Nowlan, Galen Showman, Jill Thompson, and P. Craig Russell – so even though the story moves along fluidly, the art might look a little different at different points in Nobody’s life.
Ryan North, the guy who at least one time made the news by becoming stuck in a hole with his dog and live-tweeting it, is also a pretty great comic artist and writer. You might know him from little things, like, I don’t know, Dinosaur Comics, or, whatever, UNBEATABLE SQUIRREL GIRL. Well, in 2013, he did a Kickstarter for a choose-your-own-adventure version of Hamlet, and it is absolutely as awesome as it sounds. And HUGE. It is a large book. It will take you a long time to get through all those adventures. It contains art from at least 7 billion amazing artists, including Kate Beaton, Matthew Inman, Noelle Stevenson, Kate Leth, Jess Fink, Jeph Jaques, and oh my god, I can’t breathe, they’re all so great. I’m including it in this list of ghost comics because you have the option to adventure as Hamlet Sr., who spends most of his time being a ghost. I feel like this is not a spoiler, because the play is about 400 years old.
Enjoy, ghost lovers! Hey, did the lights in your room just flicker?