It’s been over half a decade since horror comics reigned supreme, and superhero comics were all but passé. But the genre never left the stands completely, and has been constantly reinventing itself to suit the needs of generation after generation. There have always been breakout horror comics that everybody knows about – THE WALKING DEAD, PREACHER, HELLBLAZER, and so on – but for every blockbuster series there are usually a few that fall through the cracks.
Maybe they weren’t marketed terribly well or maybe the fans didn’t quite know what to make of it. But there is no shortage of great horror comics out there that you – for one reason or another – probably haven’t read yet. Here are five of the best horror comics in our collection that we’ve found that most of our horror-loving brethren haven’t discovered yet (or that they haven’t accepted en masse).
If you’re looking to expand your horizons, look below.
ANTOINE SHARPE: THE ATHEIST
Released to some acclaim and then, sadly, forgotten, Phil Hester’s smartly written mini-series is about a paranormal investigator who doesn’t believe in the paranormal. So when people start waking up all over the world, suddenly possessed by long-dead spirits who proceed to “live” themselves to death, Antoine Sharpe is the only man for the job.
ANTOINE SHARPE: THE ATHEIST is a creepy book full of big ideas, with an unusual protagonist thrust into an impossible situation, and a villain you never, ever saw coming. Hester is better known in many circles for his artwork but he’s also one of the most inventive comic book writers around, and THE ATHEIST is one of his most underrated works. This is a non-believer you can believe in.
CHILLING ADVENTURES OF SABRINA
It may be odd to think that SABRINA, THE TEENAGE WITCH is currently one of the best horror books on the market, but it’s already odd to think that the various ARCHIE books are still being published and, what’s more, experiencing a creative renaissance across the board. Following on the heels of the similarly great AFTERLIFE WITH ARCHIE, in which the Riverdale Gang fight off the zombie apocalypse, this period piece series finds Sabrina back in the 1960s, consorting with the devil, shirking her cannibal aunts and confronting her dead father’s jealous, face-stealing ex-girlfriend.
CHILLING ADVENTURES OF SABRINA is still in its early issues, thanks to some unfortunate delays, so there are no collected editions yet. But you can pick up those first few issues very easily from just about any reputable comics vendor. Don’t let this title scare you. Actually, come to think of it, let it scare you… to death!
HELLRAISER/NIGHTBREED – JIHAD
Two of Clive Barker’s most horrifying creations met and waged war in JIHAD, a two issue mini-series from Marvel’s now-defunct Epic imprint. The story is relatively simple: a group of (relatively) young Cenobites view the Nightbreed as a chaotic threat to Hell’s beautiful, painful law and order. Defying Pinhead , they wage war on the pagan Nightbreed in a bloody battle that ultimately defies Hell itself.
JIHAD’s clever combination of two seemingly unrelated mythologies makes it a horror geek’s dream come true, and the colorful, vicious artwork by Paul Johnson is equally memorable. This mini-series might be a little hard to track down but to serious fans of HELLRAISER and NIGHTBREED it would be entirely worth the trouble.
Created by Simon Oliver and original THE WALKING DEAD artist Tony Moore, THE EXTERMINATORS is one of the most inventive and unusual comics to emerge from DC’s acclaimed Vertigo imprint. It is the story of Henry, an ex-con now working as an exterminator for Bug-Be-Gone, a gig that invites him into the homes of the city’s most disgusting residents. That would probably have been enough fodder for a episodic foray into the grotesque, but THE EXTERMINATORS is also infested with satisfying subplots involving a pesticide conspiracy and an ancient pagan cult.
THE EXTERMINATORS was not one of Vertigo’s most successful books, and was tragically cancelled twenty issues earlier than the creators intended. Still, several trade paperbacks were published (most of which are now available for next to nothing), featuring gruesome and witty tales of killer butterflies and more. Let this series lay its eggs in you. You won’t regret it.
Supernatural private detective stories are a dime a dozen, but Ales Kot’s and Matt Taylor’s WOLF is one of the more satisfying entries in the subgenre lately. This series is still revealing its many mysteries but, like a lot of the better noirs, it takes place in the surreal melting pot of Los Angeles where disparate communities, longstanding hatred and – of course – an anti-Christ named “Anita Christ” are all vying for our immortal hero’s attention.
WOLF sucks you into its world with a variety of intriguing characters (like a loquacious Cthulhu spawn who makes his living in tentacle porn) and a complex mythology that, in all fairness, isn’t always laid out particularly well. But a few pages of confusion are soon forgotten, in favor of a whole series that features cool new takes on popular horror concepts.