Witches and other magical creatures dominate the season. This is because of the Halloween aesthetic and the dark, foggy nights wherein we can better imagine witches, ghosts, werewolves, vampires, zombies, and more are coming out to play.
In addition to being featured in a beloved witch movie or television show from each decade of the past 70 years, witchcraft and dark creatures tend to recapture the zeitgeist during times of eroding interest in public institutions. Magic doesn’t have to follow the rules: it flouts the strictures of capitalist society. Famous works of dark creatures are associated with deeply troubled times in various societies. Frankenstein came from Mary Shelley’s dream of a terrifying creature, and it has become a staple monster that can represent the fears about science going too far, a lack of agency over ourselves, and the general fear of the unknown.
Witches and their magical compatriots have a long history in comics as well, especially in horror comics, which always welcomed the strange and scary onto their pages. In addition to the witches of the past, there are plenty of great comics about contemporary witches and dark magical creatures making their way through recognizably modern problems, but with magic. Whatever level of fantasy you’re into, there’s a witch or a werewolf or a zombie story waiting for you. Embrace the time of witches and monsters with a stack of comics, a pumpkin latte or apple cider, and a roaring fire.
Witchy Comics For Middle Grade Magic Enthusiasts
The City on the Other Side by Mairghread Scott and Robin Robinson
Set at the beginning of the 20th century, this comic follows a young girl named Isabel discovering the entrance to the fairy world. She quickly aligns with the Seelie (the good fairies), and has to adjust quickly from her wealthy upbringing to being a fighter in a fairy war that has been going on for ages. The setting of a fairy portal through San Francisco is fun and engaging, and it’s a great fantasy world for kids who like comics.
Beetle & the Hollowbones by Aliza Layne
In the universe of this graphic novel, the mall is a haunting ground for ghosts stuck for all eternity. Beetle is a 12-year-old goblin-witch whose best friend Blog Glost is a ghost stuck in the mall, but yearns to be as successful as her friend Kat, who has a sorcery apprenticeship and a devoted online following. When everything quickly changes for Kat and Blog, Beetle has to step into her magical power to help her friends.
Pilu of the Woods by Mai K. Nguyen
Willow loves wandering the woods. One day, she crosses paths with a tree spirit named Pilu who’s unable to find the little place where she grew up. Willow realizes Pilu grew up in a place she knew from her mother taking her there when she was younger. Willow is dealing with grief and having trouble relating to everyone around her. On the journey to the grove, Pilu and Willow deal with creatures that turn out to be manifestations of Willow’s intense, unresolved emotions. The art style is also perfectly autumnal and Halloween-y.
Nightlights by Lorena Alvarez
Sandy is a young girl fascinated by the stars outside her window. Drawing the starlights helps her endure the long days at her Catholic school, where she feels friendless and alone. After a girl named Morfie comes and asks Sandy to draw her something. What follows is a magical journey driven by Sandy’s imagination. She has to pull herself out of the hole by facing her fears. The illustrations are stunning and totally worth it for any comics fan.
Young Adult Witches and Magical Friends
Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Willow & Tara by Amber Benson, Christopher Golden, Andi Watson
Willow and Buffy were my first introduction to the idea of witches living among us and doing magic in day-to-day practice. Willow and Tara are on summer vacation with Dawn in a small town, and then they discover that nefarious magic is going on in the small town. Willow and Tara need to combine their forces and push out a demonic creature to save the day. Amber Benson (who played Tara on the TV show Buffy the Vampire Slayer) has proven herself to be an excellent writer across genres, and this comic is just a lovely little interlude with two of my favorite witches.
An Embarrassment of Witches by Sophie Goldstein and Jenn Jordan
I’ll admit that I wished for magic powers many times in my early 20s, but this graphic novel proves that access to magic can’t fix the vagaries and angst of young adulthood. Rory is reeling after a tough breakup and trying to find something to hold onto, while Angela is juggling an insanely competitive internship and an overbearing mother. Close friendships after college are especially difficult to navigate: it feels like the rest of your life is riding on the decisions you make and the paths you start to go down. There are plenty of ages where you can change your life, but the young adulthood time is a time of big emotions, enhanced in An Embarrassment of Witches by spells and familiars. Magic can’t heal all your ills, but it certainly makes them look a little more fun.
Anya’s Ghost by Vera Brosgol
Anya and her family immigrated from Russia to the U.S., and Anya is having a lot of trouble fitting in at school because the other kids treat her like a pariah. After an accident where she falls down a well, she finds herself attached to a 90-year-old girl ghost who died under mysterious circumstances. Anya and her ghost bond quickly over their outsider feelings. Their friendship gives Anya the ability to accept herself and not suppress her heritage to fit in at school.
Horror-Tinged Creature Comics
Jughead: The Hunger by Frank Tieri, Matt Herms, Pat Kennedy, and Tim Kennedy
From the Archie Horror series, this comic gives Jughead a werewolf backstory to tie into his famously bottomless pit stomach. Something sinister is attacking the rich people in Riverdale, so Jughead’s family history comes out while they’re trying to solve the mystery. It also comes out that Betty Cooper is from a long line of werewolf hunters. The Archie Horror comics are best when they lean into the campy, gross-out style of old horror comics and vintage horror movies, and mixes them with classic Archie teen angst.
The Low, Low Woods by Carmen Maria Machado and DaNi
El and Vee live in a town called Shudder-to-Think where they are constantly in danger of losing their memories. It’s such a high stakes problem: how can you chase a threat that takes away your ability to even identify it? El and Vee are pushed into action after they fall asleep at a movie and lose hours of their memory. Rich with sinister imagery and metaphorically-loaded monsters, the story follows them trying to regain their power and agency in a dark world.
The New Deadwardians by Dan Abnett and I.N.J. Culbard
Poor zombies and wealthy vampires are at odds in Edwardian London. Chief Inspector George Suttle is attempting to solve murders in this strange universe where everyone is undead in some capacity, so being a murder detective is essentially the most boring job in London. However, Suttle is determined to solve the case when an aristocrat washes up on the shores of the Thames. There is even more darkness in this world than the zombies and vampires, and Suttle is determined to get to the bottom of these dark mysteries plaguing London.
Bubble, Bubble Toil and Trouble
The time of witches, goblins, zombies, ghosts, werewolves, tree spirits, selkies, banshees, Loch Ness monsters, and more is upon us. One of the joys of the colder season is embracing the dark creatures that thrive in dead leaves imagery. I find magical creatures so appealing because so many of these stories center on something lurking just out of vision that you can only find if you turn around at the right time. Because of this, falling into a fantasy with witches and dark magical creatures is always going to appeal to me.