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.


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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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Come Into Me Cover Art by Piotr Kowalski

5. Come Into Me
Writers: Zac Thompson & Lonnie Nadler
Artist: Piotr Kowalski
Publisher: Black Mask Studios
Co-written by The Dregs breakthrough team Zac Thompson and Lonnie Nadler and illustrated by the ever-busy Piotr Kowalski (who also spent 2018 drawing the solidly horrific Bloodborne comic), Come Into Me channels David Cronenberg and social media in this speculative jaunt about technology that allows two minds to share one body. As one might expect, the effects of constant contact are more than a little maddening, which provides fertile, bloody storytelling opportunities for Thompson, Nadler and Kowalski in this unsettling body-horror outing—especially when one body shuts down while its mind is visiting another vessel. Nothing anyone can possibly tweet will ever feel like too much after the skin-crawling over-sharing of Come Into Me. Steve Foxe


The Immortal Hulk Cover Art by Alex Ross

4. The Immortal Hulk
Writer: Al Ewing
Artists: Joe Bennett, Others
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Writer Greg Pak’s work on The Totally Awesome Hulk these past few years has been an awesome showcase for the character Amadeus Cho, but the Jade Giant portion of the book never quite clicked as well as it does with the classically cursed Bruce Banner. Following his bow-and-arrow demise in Civil War II (if anyone read that book), Banner came back—and he couldn’t die again even if he wanted to. In Al Ewing and Joe Bennett’s horror-ific The Immortal Hulk, killing Banner does nothing to kill the Hulk, who rises again each night like a green ghoul to wreak his emerald-tinted havoc. Bruce Jones, Brian Azzarello and Richard Corben have all explored the scarier potential of the Hulk before, but Ewing and Bennett unlocked a potent combination of body horror and psychological manipulation, culminating in a hellish surprise development in the most recent issue that sent emerald jaws dropping to the floor. It’s difficult enough to sustain horror across an ongoing series, let alone one fully immersed in a shared superhero series. Ewing and Bennett don’t just sustain the terror, though—they keep ratcheting it up. Marvel’s iconic heroes returned left and right this year: Tony Stark is a dashing iron-suited hero again, Dude Thor has a hammer once more and Captain America almost definitely isn’t a fake Nazi now. The Immortal Hulk isn’t just a return to form for the Banner/Hulk dynamic—it’s one of the scariest examinations of the body and mind in modern comics. Steve Foxe


Gideon Falls Cover Art by Andrea Sorrentino

3. Gideon Falls
Writer: Jeff Lemire
Artist: Andrea Sorrentino
Publisher: Image Comics
Gideon Falls is one of 2018’s most ghoulish delights: a dual narrative set between the city and the countryside that explores the urban legend of the Black Barn, a structure that appears throughout history to foretell death and madness. Co-creators Jeff Lemire and Andrea Sorrentino tap into the mounting dread and heard-it-from-a-friend-of-a-friend compulsion of creepypasta stories, with the much more careful hand of experienced storytellers bringing it all to shadow-drenched life. Gideon Falls #6 wrapped up the first arc by actually inviting readers into the Black Barn—an experience that has to be read to be believed. The following issue kicked off “Original Sins,” the current story arc, which delves deeper into the mysteries of the ominous structure and the characters drawn to it, including revelations that suggest one of the protagonists might actually be an antagonist. Steve Foxe


Infidel Cover Art by Aaron Campbell

2. Infidel
Writer: Pornshak Pichetshote
Artist: Aaron Campbell
Publisher: Image Comics
Former Vertigo editor Pornsak Pichetshote’s writing debut updates the haunted house for the MAGA era, as a young Muslim woman and her multiracial neighbors move into a building stalked by spirits that feed off of xenophobia and racism following an explosive attack that claimed the lives of several residents. Like a literary cousin to Get Out, Infidel pulls from the modern tumult to tell a thrilling genre story the way that only sequential art can, enhanced by Aaron Campbell’s shadowy style, which conjures some of the most genuinely unnerving spirits in sequential-art memory. Steve Foxe


I Am a Hero Cover Art by Kengo Hanazawa

1. I Am a Hero
Writer/Artist: Kengo Hanazawa
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Each double-sized collection of I Am a Hero peels away more unexpected layers to Kengo Hanazawa’s particular flesh-eating apocalypse, most recently including the revelation of not-quite-zombified humans with enhanced abilities. If that sounds goofy and too shonen, it’s not—these hybrids owe more to Junji Ito’s twisted fleshy abominations than to any action-packed horror-lite adventure. I Am a Hero began as a fairly straightforward infection story as Japan quickly succumbed to the “ZQN” plague, but 2018’s installments expanded the scope, showing Taiwan and Paris under siege, introducing new bands of survivors using…unusual methods and debuting monstrous new undead behemoths. The volumes released this year further explore the uniqueness of Hanazawa’s approach to the walking dead, as some of the infected begin to display seemingly supernatural abilities instead of merely becoming semi-sentient garbage disposals. If you’ve got a high tolerance for terror, I Am a Hero is one of the best horror stories in comics today—and our pick for the scariest of the year. Steve Foxe

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