The 15 Best Horror Comics of 2018

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The 15 Best Horror Comics of 2018

“Hey, wait a minute Paste—didn’t you already publish your big best-of list for 2018? And didn’t that list contain superhero comics, kids comics, horror comics and sci-fi/fantasy comics, all under one big umbrella? What gives?” Well, intrepid Paste reader, you’re not wrong. Paste prides itself on taking as broad a look at the medium of comics as our small team can possibly manage. Our year-end rankings don’t discriminate between capes-and-tights adventures, creepy manga, bonkers webcomics or navel-gazing “literary” graphic novels, but when compiling our master list, we realized that 2018 was a deceptively great year for sequential art, and 25 notable books just didn’t cut it. Before the holidays roll around, we’ll be honoring books that excelled in the specific categories mentioned above. Some will overlap with our main list, but many won’t—and the way rankings shift around may surprise you. A title that stood out when viewed holistically might rank lower when assessed through a specific lens, and books that didn’t make the cut for the master list can easily come out on top of these individual breakdowns. If nothing else, we hope our newly expanded categories send you into 2019 with plenty of reading material.

For this terrifying breakout list, we didn’t have a hard time defining the criteria (only one entry below could possibly stretch the definition of “horror”), but we did struggle to pick just 15 entries. We’re big fans of the spooky side of sequential art, so it bodes well that filling out this list was such a bloody breeze—and we’re hopeful that 2019 has even more frights in store.

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Infinite Dark Cover Art by Andrea Mutti

15. Infinite Dark
Writer: Ryan Cady
Artist: Andrea Mutti
Publisher: Top Cow/ Image Comics 
Somehow, crime and terror in space always seem amplified, that much more frightening than it would be on solid ground. Writer Ryan Cady is an Image veteran with titles like Warframe and Magdalena under his belt, but Infinite Dark feels new, the story of a security officer on a far-flung space station investigating the very first murder to happen on her watch. The stakes are high, as the 2,000 people trapped on the station together are all that’s left of humanity. Andrea Mutti has illustrated work for a slew of different publishers, including titles like Hellblazer and Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, proving he can do well with an atmosphere of fear and violence. Infinite Dark is still getting started, but it just may fill the Southern Cross-shaped sci-fi/horror hole in Image’s lineup and reader’s hearts. Caitlin Rosberg

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The House Cover Art by Drew Zucker

14. The House
Writer: Phillip Sevy
Artist: Drew Zucker
Publisher: Sucker Productions
For those looking for horror with a slightly historical bent, Phillip Sevy and Drew Zucker’s The House offers an unsettling World War II-era haunted-house horror tale that will leave your skin crawling and the hair on the back of your neck on end for hours afterwards. In the midst of a vicious winter storm, a squadron of United States soldiers stumble on an abandoned mansion in the middle of the woods. Instead of a safe haven, the team is forced to confront their own difficult pasts and an unspeakable evil that poses a far deadlier threat than the snow ever could. Zucker’s art delivers subtle and over-the-top scares in equal measure, with Jen Hickman’s colors creating an eerie ambience that lends a spooky timelessness to the titular house. C.K. Stewart

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Moonshine Cover Art by Eduardo Risso

13. Moonshine
Writer: Brian Azzarello
Artist: Eduardo Risso
Publisher: Image Comics 
Mixing lycanthropy with prohibition-era crime, Moonshine marks the first time the 100 Bullets duo of Brian Azzarello and Eduardo Risso have collaborated under the Image banner, which lets them off the leash with regard to fur-and-fangs violence rendered in Risso’s singularly masterful noir style. Werewolves, for all their long legacy in the horror genre, are notoriously difficult to do right—or to make scary, given how they’ve shifted over the years from nascent body horror to primal-power wish-fulfillment. Azzarello and Risso manage to straddle the line between their wolves being both bloody murder machines and a cursed existence for those afflicted, and have never once lost sight of the men and women beneath all the hirsuteness. Steve Foxe

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Speak: The Graphic Novel Cover Art by Emily Carroll

12. Speak: The Graphic Novel
Writer: Laurie Halse Anderson
Artist: Emily Carroll
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
It would be easy to underestimate the impact that Speak can have, write it off as simply an adaptation of an already popular prose novel. But Laurie Halse Anderson’s book was a powerful piece of writing about agency, grief and pain, and Emily Carroll’s incredible art only elevates the text. It’s a difficult read not because of any flaw in the work, but because it’s so sharp and true to the way real life often treats young women who have survived sexual assault. Based on Anderson’s own experiences as a teenager, the original book and the graphic novel adaptation both read like a diary, a bit unfocused and sometimes non-chronological but all the more powerful for allowing the main character’s conflicted and roiling emotions to sit front and center. Carroll has been responsible for some of the best horror comics of the past couple of years and her work here only heightens the sense of fear and anticipation that threads through every page of. Carroll uses raw expressions, faceless monsters and sharp white on black to convey just how frightening Melinda’s life has become. It’s not just that something horrific happened to her in the past, but that her terror continues as she’s forced to confront her own memories and her attacker daily at school. It’s masterfully written and beautifully drawn, a reminder to other survivors that they are not alone, and a primer for people who want to better understand the isolation and pain that can come with surviving. Caitlin Rosberg

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Harrow County Cover Art by Tyler Crook

11. Harrow County
Writer: Cullen Bunn
Artist: Tyler Crook
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
All good things must come to an end—even good things full of skinless boys, many-eyed minotaurs and feuding witches. Harrow County wrapped up this June, completing writer Cullen Bunn and artist Tyler Crook’s saga of Emmy, a powerful, conflicted young woman at the center of generations-old supernatural conflict. The “haint”-filled Southern horror story immediately established itself within Dark Horse’s grand tradition of terror, and while Bunn’s genre output is prolific and Crook launched a more fantasy-tinged original series this fall, nothing will replace Harrow County in our wicked little hearts. Steve Foxe

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PTSD Radio Cover Art by Masaaki Nakayama

10. PTSD Radio
Writer/Artist: Masaaki Nakayama
Publisher: Kodansha Comics
Without fail, whenever I put out a call for scary comics, Masaaki Nakayama’s name gets uttered like he’s an insider secret—an underground favorite only known by the cool kids. Kodansha has translated five volumes of his work into English so far, and the structure of PTSD Radio fits neatly with Nakayama’s vibe as the near-urban-legend of horror manga. While there are recurring themes and plots throughout the series, PTSD Radio is better thought of as a collection of micro-frights than as a cohesive story or collection of stories. Characters are nonexistent and chapter text is nonsensical, but Nakayama’s penchant for grotesquely morphed faces and bodies, inescapable horrors and…really creepy hair…add up to a surprisingly potent brew of unease. Nakayama also manages to build to jump scare after jump scare, especially if you’re reading digitally without any warning as to what the next page might bring. Jump scares may feel cheap on film, but they’re darn hard to pull off—and perhaps even more unsettling—in comics. Steve Foxe

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A Walk Through Hell Cover Art by Goran Sudžuka

9. A Walk Through Hell
Writer: Garth Ennis
Artist: Goran Sudžuka
Publisher: AfterShock
In the glib shorthand that pop-culture fans and aficionados use to convey tone and subject as quickly as possible, A Walk Through Hell reads like the lovechild of The X-Files and Twin Peaks with some Hannibal thrown in for color and viscera. There’s a weird mystery, some FBI agents and even six issues in it’s not really clear what’s going on—but it’s hard to look away. Garth Ennis isn’t exactly an unknown quantity as a comics writer, and the book comes with a level of gore and horror that’s right in line with his previous work. The terror that the main characters face is just as much internal as it is external, buried in secrets and monstrousness that’s only glimpsed in brutally quick moments. Goran Sudžuka’s clean, crisp artwork gives the violence on the page a frankness and brutality that might be lost with something a bit more stylized. It’s rated 17 and up for good reason, and though it’s not yet evident exactly how the tangled mess of law-enforcement failures relates to the weird warehouse that’s making everyone do unspeakable things, Ennis and Sudžuka have made it clear they’re taking readers on a horrific ride to get at the truth. Caitlin Rosberg

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Frankenstein Cover Art by Junji Ito

8. Frankenstein
Writer/Artist: Junji Ito
Publisher: VIZ Media
Famed manga master Junji Ito’s work frequently tops lists of the scariest comics ever created, but he’s never been shy about his classic references, citing Stephen King, H.P. Lovecraft and, one must assume, Mary Shelley. His adaptation of Shelley’s foundational text is surprisingly faithful, with even the oft-discarded framing sequences left intact, and only minor changes (a decapitation subs in for a hanging) here and there to highlight the more body-horror-ish elements of Shelley’s tale. Ito’s man-made monsters are giants among men, making them even more unsettling and uncanny compared to the ambitious doctor and the other human characters, and a simple grin in Ito’s hands can inspire more terror than buckets of gore from lesser creators. Also included are a number of shorts connected by a house with strange properties—fans of Netflix’s The Haunting of Hill House take note—and a brief piece about Ito’s mother’s dog. Aww. Steve Foxe

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Redlands Cover Art by Vanesa R. Del Rey & Jordie Bellaire

7. Redlands
Writers/Artists: Jordie Bellaire & Vanesa R. Del Rey
Publisher: Image Comics 
Southern horror has seen a revival in comics in recent years, including the similarly titled Redneck, also from Image Comics. Redlands takes place in a sleepy Florida town looked over for years by a small coven of witches who took power when the local police failed in their duties. Ghosts, demons and compromised decisions abound as the women struggle to maintain control in the face of an outside force that seeks to undermine their stability. Jordie Bellaire and Vanesa R. Del Rey make for an imposingly accomplished creative pairing, elevating what could have been a mediocre TV pitch into a compelling—and frequently frightening—tale of women under pressure. Steve Foxe

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Ice Cream Man Cover Art by Martin Morazzo

6. Ice Cream Man
Writer: W. Maxwell Prince
Artist: Martin Morazzo
Publisher: Image Comics 
Ice Cream Man billed itself as a Twilight Zone-inspired horror(ish) anthology out of the gate, and its first two issues, flush with lycanthropic frozen-goods peddlers, killer spiders and the ravages of drug abuse, reinforced that horror. The third issue marked a turning point when it tuned into a different frequency, relying more on melancholy than outright fear. That story’s protagonist is a washed-up one-hit-wonder who now spends his days at the local diner, reminding the waiter of his past glory and wondering if he only ever had that one song in him…until an extra-dimensional crew of musical heroes (styled after some very recognizable faces) shows up to recruit the sad sack into an epic war for all of creation. Each issue since has become more and more confident in its weirdness and resistance to tidy categorization. Writer W. Maxwell Prince pivots from corporate existentialism to crushing regret to Invisibles-esque mind-expanding action with ease, and artist Martin Morazzo displays a range in these issues that demonstrates how close he is to becoming a go-to name for the weird and wonderful. Mainstream monthly comics is bereft of a strong, strange short-story scene; Ice Cream Man is singlehandedly doing its best to fix that. Steve Foxe

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