The 13 Greatest HORROR COMICS Ever

Ron Marz and Matthew Dow Smith are back…

Ron Marz, Matthew Dow Smith, Paul Harding and Neeraj Menon’s Beasts of the Black Hand Kickstarter is in its final stretch. To whet your appetite for what looks to be an outstanding project, Ron and Matt have put together another list for you — the 13 Greatest Horror Comics Ever. This follows their earlier list of the 13 Greatest Horror Artists Ever, which you can check out here.

Of course, you should check out the project — a dieselpunk tale of monsters and the occult — here. The book is funded, so it’s definitely happening. And there are all sorts of extras to be had, including contributions from Mike McKone, Marc Laming, Eric Powell, Meghan Hetrick and Mark A. Nelson, but time is running out to get it on it. So do take a look.

Now, on to the list — in no particular order:


1. Swamp Thing. What’s your flavor? The original Wein-Wrightson brilliance? The Alan Moore reinvention, aided and abetted by artists John Totleben, Steve Bissette, Rick Veitch, and others, that helped comics grow up and became the cornerstone of DC’s Vertigo imprint? Swamp Thing’s many iterations have attracted a wealth of great creators, and continues to do so today. Depending upon your personal predilections, you might pick a different horror comic as your favorite. But I don’t believe you can pick a more important horror comic than Swamp Thing in the history of the medium. (Ron)

2. Tomb of Dracula. Long before Night Force (see below), Marv Wolfman and Gene Colan set their marker in the horror-comic field with a little book called Tomb of Dracula. Modern fans might know it primarily for being the first appearance of the day-walking vampire hunter Blade, but it’s a masterpiece of mood and atmosphere, a modern (well, for the ’70s, at least) take on the fearless vampire hunters of Stoker’s novel and countless Hammer movies, only with bell bottoms. This book is worth it for Gene Colan’s energetic, shadowy artwork alone (and he drew every single page of its 70-issue run, which is almost unthinkable today), but when Wolfman took over as writer with Issue #7, the series really hit its stride and became a true masterpiece of pulp horror. (Matt)

3. Hellboy. A monster fighting monsters. Deceptively simple and simply brilliant, all from the mind of Mike Mignola. Obviously Mike is a brilliant artist, one of the giant talents in the history of comics. But this is where we got to know Mike as a fantastic writer, his stories filled with wonder and horror, humor and pathos. Hellboy has spawned an entire universe of titles, including B.P.R.D., Abe Sapien and many more. I’ve said before that the “Mignolaverse” is the most cohesive, consistent universe in comics, and it’s only getting better. (Ron)

4. Hellblazer. I still remember the first time John Constantine showed up in the pages of Swamp Thing. He was instantly interesting, a cocky enigma with an air of world-weary knowledge ready-made for teenage fans like me. Well, teenage at the time. It was no surprise that he’d get his own spinoff series, but I never would have expected it to run for so long and be so good. Seriously, just look at the creators who have led Constantine through the years. It’s a who’s who of comic book talent, all of them with a slightly different, but always engaging, take on the anti-hero. (For the record, my favorite run has to be Jenkins and Phillips’ crazy trip through Anglo mythology. Those stories are a big influence on my own work.) (Matt)

5. Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Film adaptation comics have a reputation for being afterthoughts in the comic world. Not this one. Mike Mignola’s adaptation of Coppola’s faithful Dracula (with script by Roy Thomas) is a glorious, shadow-drenched affair that translates the film’s grand production and costume design into comics. Not only one of my favorite horror comics, one of my favorite comics, period. (Ron)

6. Night Force. OK, I’m a little biased on this one. When DC brought back Night Force in the 1990s, I drew several issues of it. But if you’d seen the dance I did in my office when they offered it to me, you’d have some idea of how I felt about the original run of this series. A Gothic nightmare in the middle of the bright comics of the early 1980s, Night Force has long been a personal favorite of mine. Marv Wolfman and Gene Colan created something totally new and unusual and set the stage for the horror books to come. (Matt)

7. EC Library. You can’t make a horror list without EC’s seminal volumes. Tales from the Crypt, Vault of Horror and Haunt of Fear are, in so many ways, still the handbook for how to do horror in comics (not to mention having the best horror hosts in comics ever). EC pushed the limits of the genre, engaging readers in ways that hadn’t been seen in comics previously. These comics are so good, Congress wanted to ban them. (Ron)

8. Locke & Key. What can I say about Locke & Key? It’s beloved by horror fans in and out of comics, and for good reason. It’s the Lord of the Ringsof horror comics, a complex, sprawling story that serves up the expected chills but never forgets the characters at the heart of it all. I’d been a fan of Joe Hill since his debut short-story collection, 20th Century Ghosts, but Locke & Key introduced me to the fantastic art of Gabriel Rodriguez, and I’ve been a fan ever since. (Matt)

9. The Walking Dead. Such a simple concept — zombie outbreak — but so well executed. The comic that almost didn’t get approved by its publisher is now a worldwide phenomenon. But not because of the zombies, which are simply an ongoing factor, like the weather or the landscape. No, the brilliance of Kirkman and Adlard’s epic is the people. The characters are so well defined that we’re completely invested in them, and keep coming back month after month to learn their fates. (Ron)

10. Creature From the Black Lagoon. Sadly out of print now, this Dark Horse prestige-format book written by Steve Moncuse contains some of the most spectacularly beautiful Arthur Adams artwork ever. Maybe I’m a little biased, because the original Universal film is one of my favorites. But there’s no denying the book is an obvious labor of love for Adams. I remember seeing the original art boards at inker Terry Austin’s house when he was working on the book, and they were huge, actually bigger than Terry’s art table. (Ron)

11. Redlands. Full disclosure: Redlands writer Jordie Bellaire is a friend of mine and my longtime collaborator on more comics than I can list here. So when she announced she was going to write a horror comic with one of my favorite artists, Vanesa R. Del Rey, there’s no way I wasn’t going to read it. And I’m glad I did. It’s one of the most astonishing new comics of recent years. Angry, brutal and surprising, I would love it even if Jordie wasn’t one of my favorite people in the world. There are witches in it. Really nasty witches. (Matt)

12. Wytches. Scott Snyder and I did a panel together in Seattle earlier this year, and during it, he said that he writes about what scares him. Obviously, this is the stuff of Scott’s nightmares, and we are all the better for it. Scott’s script, Jock’s art and Matt Hollingsworth’s colors combine into something truly unsettling. This story and the disturbing creatures that populate it are not what you want to be thinking about the next time you go into the woods. But you will be anyway. (Ron)

13. Afterlife With Archie. This shouldn’t work. It’s an insane idea. A zombie story set in the squeaky clean Archieverse? No way. But here’s the thing … it does work. It works really well. In no small part to the creepy, pitch perfect art of Francesco Francavilla, with a lot of help from an intense, take-no-prisoners script by Archie Comics Chief Creative Officer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa. (Matt)


For info on Beasts of the Black Hand, click here.

For the 13 Greatest Horror Artists Ever, click here.

Author: Dan Greenfield

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  1. These lists are always impossible, but you have a nice one here. Now go check out Junji Ito’s UZUMAKI. Also, Otomo’s DOMU. Just sayin’.

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  2. This list is an amazing one. Night Force is one of my all time favorites. Yes, these lists are always difficult as people will always have something to differ with. Here is mine. While I love The Afterlife With Archie, I found the Chilling Adventures of Sabrina to be much more spine chilling. I even had a hard time reading it after the sun had set.

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  1. ‘BLACK’ FRIDAY: The 13 Greatest Horror Artists Ever | 13th Dimension, Comics, Creators, Culture - […] For the 13 Greatest Horror Comics Ever — also picked by Ron and Matt, click here. […]

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