The GeeksverseLeaving Proof 156 | Recommended Halloween Reading

Leaving Proof 156 | Recommended Halloween Reading
Published on Monday, October 29, 2012 by
In search of some holiday-appropriate reading for the week? Look no further than today’s Leaving Proof, where we list some of the best horror books we’ve reviewed in this space over the past two years.

Halloween is upon us again and over here at Leaving Proof Central, nothing puts us in the mood for the holiday better than some good old-fashioned horror comics. Horror comics are no longer the dominant genre they were in the pre-Code era, but the past decade or so has seen something of a horror comics renaissance, led by the likes of creators such as Mike Mignola and Steve Niles and publishers such as Dark Horse Comics, Image Comics, IDW, Oni Press, among others. Below you’ll find a list of what we consider to be some of the best horror books reviewed in this space over the past couple of years along with one relatively recent horror book that we haven’t covered for the site (yet).

  • The Amazing Screw-On Head and Other Curious Objects
  • Mike Mignola/Katie Mignola/Dave Stewart/Clem Robbins/Pat Brosseau
  • Dark Horse Books/104 pages/Full-Color/Hardcover/$17.99
  • From the review: “The Amazing Screw-On Head and Other Curious Objects collects a number of previously published one-off short stories Mignola wrote and illustrated over the past 12 years and a couple of previously unpublished shorts. Strictly-Hellboy fans might think this volume inessential reading (due to the absence of the character Mignola has become most famous for), but I’m of the opinion that this hardcover contains some of Mignola’s best work as a writer.”
  • Bonus media: Watch the pilot episode of the aborted Amazing Screw-On Head cartoon series below

  • Hotwire: Requiem for the Dead
  • Steve Pugh
  • Radical Studios/136 pages/Full-Color/Trade Paperback/$14.95
  • From the review: “The thing that really stuck with me after reading the TPB is how Pugh uses the ghostly “Blue Lights” as a metaphor for the people we’ve learned to tune out of our lives, whether they’re family members that we keep at a certain emotional distance through layers of impersonal communications technology or the homeless, the indigent, and the persecuted minorities that are increasingly becoming just another part of the ubiquitous and easily ignored background media noise that saturates our day-to-day lives.”
  • Marvel 1985
  • Mark Millar/Tommy Lee Edwards/John Workman
  • Marvel Comics/176 pages/Full-Color/Trade Paperback/$19.99
  • From the review: “Stephen King’s influence on Millar’s writing for [Marvel 1985] should be obvious to any reader familiar with the bestselling author’s work (artist Tommy Lee Edwards makes the comparison between King and Millar’s writing for the mini-series in this 2008 CBR interview). The intersection of growing adolescent pains, horror, and fantasy; the highly self-aware protagonist/narrator; the small town setting; and various plot devices featured in Marvel 1985 are hallmarks of King’s It, The Body, The Regulators, and lesser known work such as The Word Processor of the Gods, The Monkey, and Umney’s Last Case. Like King before him, Millar deftly employs a conversational narrative tone pioneered and mastered to great effect in horror and fantasy by SF Hall of Famer Ray Bradbury, something I’d like to see more often in Millar’s work. Despite being steeped heavily in Marvel Comics superhero lore (and the subset of that lore extant in 1985 at that), Marvel 1985 is accessible to even the superhero comic book novice, requiring of the reader only a superficial familiarity with Marvel’s most popular properties and a very basic understanding of superhero comics and the niche they occupy in popular entertainment (which are nonetheless communicated between the lines in the story).”
  • Feeding Ground
  • Swifty Lang/Michael Lapinski/Chris Mangun
  • Archaia Entertainment/184 pages/Full-Color/Hardcover/$24.95
  • From the review: “Lang, Lapinski, and Mangun’s Feeding Ground is ostensibly a horror tale first and foremost, a werewolf story to be specific, but the horror trappings are also used as a metaphor for the struggles of illegal immigrants crossing the border from Mexico into southern Arizona: the illegal border crossing experience through the desert literally dehumanizes those who dare risk the journey, leaving them more beast than man.”
  • Spontaneous
  • Joe Harris/Brett Weldele/Douglas E. Sherwood
  • Oni Press/142 pages/Full-Color/Hardcover/$24.99
  • From the review: “Harris, to his credit, keeps the proceedings going along at such a brisk and entertaining pace that I found myself setting aside any and all reservations about the subject matter of [Spontaneous Human Combustion] and just enjoying the ride. He throws a couple of curveballs in the plot to keep readers on edge but resists the urge to inject gratuitously complicated plot twists. This is fun (and occasionally funny) stuff that manages to be straightforward without being tedious or boring.”
  • Garry Gianni’s Monstermen and Other Scary Stories
  • Gary Gianni/William Hope Hodgson/Robert E. Howard/Perceval Landon/Clark Ashton Smith/Sean Konot/Todd Klein/Clem Robins
  • Dark Horse Books/168 pages/Black & White/Hardcover/$24.99
  • From the review: “The main draw here for most readers familiar with Gianni’s lauded Prince Valiant material should rightfully be the artwork, but the writing has a macabre charm worth noting. Reader comparisons with Mike Mignola’s Hellboy and B.P.R.D. mini-series and one-shots will likely be inevitable—the titles definitely share weird fiction and Gothic horror roots as well as pulp magazine sensibilities—but Gianni’s peculiar protagonists and their eerie exploits are hearteningly original creations that deserve to be appreciated on their own merits. Stand-out stories in the publication are “Autopsy in B-Flat” and “The Skull and the Snowman,” narratives that showcase Gianni’s offbeat sense of humour and ability to render the bizarre and the grotesque to their fullest.”
  • Courtney Crumrin Vol. 1: The Night Things
  • Ted Naifeh/Warren Wucinich
  • Oni Press/144 pages/Full-Color/Hardcover/$19.99
  • From the review: “Naifeh doesn’t hold back (within reason and good taste) on the occasional violence and horror, nor does he settle for easy and clean story resolutions. As the writer-artist rightly observes in the in-character foreword, children know more about the perils of the world than they let on, and that the truly classic and timeless children’s tales are the ones that are subversively honest about life’s ugliness.‘”
  • Severed (note: My favorite horror publication of 2012 so far)
  • Scott Snyder/Scott Tuft/Attila Futaki/Greg Gilhaumond/Bill Nelson/Steven Finch
  • Image Comics/192 pages/Full-Color/Hardcover/$24.99
  • From the review: “While the rest of their horror comics peers perfunctorily regurgitate zombie and vampire tropes with increasingly diminishing creative returns, the writing duo of Snyder and Tuft have managed to produce a work of genuinely affecting horror that doesn’t solely rely on cheap shocks, gratuitous gore, or the preprocessed familiarity with genre convention. Severed is a story about a twelve year-old’s search for his absentee father across pre-Depression America and the cannibalistic terror that he encounters along the way, but it is a story deftly shaded by subtle psychological frights that exploit our dread of betrayal, failure, and the loss of family and friends. This is stuff reminiscent of vintage Ray Bradbury or the best of Stephen King’s short horror fiction.”
  • Uzumaki, Vol. 1
  • Junji Ito
  • VIZ Media/208 pages/Black & White/Trade Paperback/$9.99
  • Japan’s Junji Ito has been cranking out some of the most disturbing horror comics imagery readers on either side of the Pacific have ever seen. Ito can draw the grotesque, the bizarre, the gory, and the flat-out disgusting with the best of them, but it is how well he combines his nightmare art with Lovecraftian psychological horror that sets him apart from his peers. In the world inhabited by Ito’s characters, humans are at once the punchline and the victims of some cruel cosmic joke beyond our ken. In Uzumaki (translated and published by VIZ Media in 2002), spiral shapes start randomly appearing in a small coastal town. and before long, spirals begin manifesting themselves as all manner of horrific deformities in the town’s inhabitants (click to images below to view in larger size)

   

  • Other notable Junji Ito works available in English are Tomie (about a succubus-like creature; published in 2005 by Dark Horse Manga in their Museum of Terror series) and a 16-volume collection of his works released by defunct comics distributor ComicsOne.
Discuss this article below or contact the author via e-mail
4 Responses
    • I like how your list brings together a great list yet completely skips all of the obvious choices of Walking Dead, Ring (manga), and Marvel Zombies. Honestly, I like my horror films with a little more substance than a slasher flick, so your list is better than mine. Although Hack/Slash does a nice job adding satire to the mix like Behind the Mask: The Leslie Vernon Story, so I’d throw it in the list too.

      If one chose to celebrate Halloween with a Troma film marathon, and I can think of worse ways to celebrate this growing holiday, then they may want to pick up Marvel Zombies volumes 1-100? (I’ve lost track).

      Joking aside, nice list.

      • I deliberately chose to focus the list primarily on books I’d previously reviewed for the Comixverse (with the exception of Uzumaki, although I do plan on covering Junji Ito’s horror comics work at some point in the future), but now that you point it out, the omission of popular zombie titles like Walking Dead and whatever vampire comic the kids are reading these days does stick out.

        I guess the list reflects the fact that I’m a little sick of zombies and vampires in popular entertainment at this point (although a zombie and a vampire do appear in The Amazing Screw-On Head and Other Curious Objects, so they’re not totally absent from the list).

        • There is so much more out there then The Walking Dead. So much more that is better too.

          • Can’t really speak for the quality of Kirkman’s Walking Dead one way or another myself… I never really got into it, not because I thought it was bad or anything, but it just came out at a time when my interest in zombie-themed entertainment was at an all-time low.

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