The costume’s gone, the decorations are stowed away for another year, and the candy you hid from roving bands of trick-or-treaters is rapidly disappearing. By my count, there are approximately one million hours to pass before another Halloween. Short of dressing up like a turkey to liven up your next family gathering, what’s a Samhain celebrant to do?
Escape into fine literature, of course. And nowhere is the creepy and fantastical on better display than in the pages of comics.
Through the Woods by Emily Carroll
This graphic novel is one of the best books I’ve read this year. The stories are original and creeptastic in the tradition of gruesome and thrilling fairytales. And Carroll’s storytelling and illustrations are both A+. I love the way she winds the narrative and text in with the art, creating suspenseful and enthralling stories.
Wytches by Scott Snyder, Jock, Matt Hollingsworth, Clem Roberts, and David Brothers
How many comics have a blurb from Stephen King, the master of horror, on their covers? (To be honest, I don’t really know. But this is the only one in my collection!) Wytches is both enticing and brutal—not for the faint of heart or weak of stomach. It plays upon that feeling we’ve all had, standing in the woods and feeling watched by a thousand eyes. What, you’ve never had that feeling? Trust me, you will after reading this.
V for Vendetta by Alan Moore, David Lloyd, and Tony Weare
If you’re already missing the parade of Guy Fawkes masks by your door, or just wondering why they’re a symbol that continues to grow in popularity, V for Vendetta is your jam. It takes place the post-apocalyptic near-future, when a fascist political party has begun ruthlessly hunting its opponents. (Hopefully, this scenario is not too close to our future… Go vote, people!) If all you know about Alan Moore is Watchmen, this is required reading. And it’s plenty scary!
Preacher by Garth Ennis, Steve Dillon, Matt Hollingsworth, Clem Robins, and Glenn Fabry
It’s a classic battle of good versus evil, angel versus demon, preacher versus… vampire? OK, yeah, let’s do this. If you haven’t read Preacher before, it’s a great story to discover (or re-visit) in light of your Halloween jonesin’. This series combines a slapdash sense of humor with a story arc of epic (and eternal) proportions. Also, you know, a vampire and a preacher become best buds. Why haven’t I seen these characters properly memorialized at Halloween parties yet?
Fables by Bill Willingham, Lan Medina, Steve Leialoha, and Craig Hamilton (among others)
If only all those miniature Snow Whites and Little Red Riding Hoods streaming past my door on Monday knew what their heroines were up to now! This classic series provides an adult take on what it would be like to live in the fairy-tale worlds we all know—or think we know.
Ladyiller by Joelle Jones, Jamie S. Rich, Laura Allred, and Crank!
Perhaps your spine-tingling sensibilities run more toward serial killer tropes? Then I have just the series for you. Josie Schuller is the embodiment of the perfect ‘50s housewife. She throws excellent parties, cooks gourmet dishes, and knows how to get the most persistent stains out of the laundry—a skill that comes in particularly useful given her secret identity as an assassin. On a nerdier note, the exploration of violence and domestic bliss in mid-century America is really fascinating.
Monstress by Marjorie Liu, Sana Takeda, Rus Wooton, Jennifer M. Smith, and Ceri Riley
Cleverly combining storytelling traditions and techniques from the East and West, Monstress is like no other comic out there. It will yank you from this world into a terrifying but infinitely fascinating place of mystics and monsters. Although the landscapes and the characters are like nothing we’d encounter on this earthly plane, the story’s themes are jarringly familiar. It’s a story of oppression and the drive to freedom—an exploration of what it means to be human, and why sometimes it feels as though a monster is lurking inside us all.
Nimona by Noelle Stevenson
I’m a SHARK!
(This one is for the kid who dressed up as a shark and endured my overwhelming enthusiasm on Halloween. I should have given you ALL the candy. I deeply regret the error.)