The Bookstorian Recommends Creepy Comics, Graphic Novels and More!
From Coraline to Steven King, here are some of the best ghoulish reads (with outstanding visuals) this spooky season
I’m turning things over to my associate: the one, the only, the Bookstorian. They’re here with advice, too, but with a twist. Well, two twists: They’re only recommending spooky stuff, but also, instead of books, they’re discussing graphic novels and comic books. Visual awesomeness. -NPH
He turned the corner and there it was: the forbidden doorway. As he walked towards it, the floorboards creaked, the lights flickered, a shadowy creature scuttled into a gap in the molding. Through the dark mahogany door he went, and then past the velvet curtains, until he came to a bookcase. His hand quivered as he brushed away the cobwebs and reached for the second tome on the second shelf. Upon tipping the spine, a great rush of air swirled around him as the bookcase swung forth to reveal a lair full of…
More books, of course!
Hello, dear Wondercader, it is I, your faithful Bookstorian. If you thought you were reading a scary story perfect for October nights, I’m sorry to say that I was merely recounting Gideon’s trip to my humble abode here in Wondercade HQ. While I normally get my assignments from Neil, I was happy to oblige when his son stepped in with a request during this spooky season. He wasn’t interested in the classic ghost stories written on holidays with Lord Byron, nor the modern best-sellers from your Stines and Koontzes. Instead, he requested a list of spine-tingling comics and graphic novels to pair with the season of ghouls, ghosts and jack-o’-lanterns.
I must admit to you that graphic novels are not my normal fare. I am a creature of words, with a penchant for case binding; kaleidoscopic colors, hyperactive panels and glue-bound books aren’t the first things that come to mind when I discuss literature. But as the Bookstorian, I’ve always been committed to recommending reading material for people of all ages and proclivities, so I wasn’t about to turn down a heartfelt Halloween appeal from a newly teenaged Gideon…
Let us begin with something both hot off the press and sure to distress: A Guest in the House, which arrived just this past August, follows the new wife of a widowed dentist. As you may surmise, her predecessor won’t stay as silent as the grave (for this and one other very specific reason, I’m ever wary of the dentist). Those who frequent the graphic novel shelves in libraries and bookstores may recognize the author, Emily Carroll, whose Through the Woods collection has become something of a classic for adults and teens who don’t need a nightlight alike. Elsewhere in the world of fresh and wriggling horror stories for the adults in the room: Where Monsters Lie, which welcomes you into the gated community where movie monsters spend their downtime, and The Keeper, which finds a young Black girl attempting to contain a dark spirit from her family’s past.
In my normal rankings of macabre literature, I find myself using a rubric that starts with eyebrow-raising, continues on to hair-raising and builds up to blood-curdling. The titles so far fall somewhere in the middle. If you’re the sort who prefers a reading experience akin to a haunted house that makes you sign a waiver, I’d heartily suggest From Hell, written by Alan Moore and illustrated by Eddie Campbell. There, you’re dealing with one of the most fascinatingly gruesome subjects in history (the Whitechapel murders and Jack the Ripper), and two of the greatest artists ever to haunt the comics realm. For reliable frights you’ll turn to every October, the omnibus editions of the Harrow County comics and the masterfully illustrated version of Stephen King’s The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger are similarly second to none.
For the young-adult crowd, instead of melting their brains like caramel over an apple with the same old Hallowen TV specials and movies, may I humbly suggest introducing a new annual tradition: a night of ghost stories? After all, P. Craig Russell’s illustrated take on Neil Gaiman’s Coraline is just as much a feast for the eyes as the film. If they’ve already devoured that story, hand them Anya’s Ghost by Vera Brosgol, which Gaiman himself called “a masterpiece,” or A Gift for a Ghost by Borja González, where the worlds of an aristocrat in 1856 and three modern teens who want to start a punk band collide with bewitching results. And for the bookworms whose candy intake needs to be constantly monitored, The Okay Witch by Emma Steinkellner and Baba Yaga’s Assistant by Marika McCoola and Emily Carroll (there she is again!) offer a strong enough dose of seasonal spookiness without leading to any knocks on your bedroom door in the middle of the night. On second thought, no promises.
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