5 spooky Halloween comics for horror fans
By George Gene Gustines
Halloween may come only once a year, but sinister and suspenseful stories can be found on a regular basis in the world of comics. Here is a selection of books — some scarier than others — to satisfy a thirst for horror. Among them: a collection of vintage science-fiction comics, a coming-of-age take on “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” and a series about the survivors of a cataclysm.
‘The Nice House on the Lake’
“How do you think the world will end?” is not a typical icebreaker, but it is the question that a man named Walter asks some of the people he encounters. In issue No. 1, he invites several of them to visit his lake house, which turns out to be a safe haven from an apocalyptic event that occurs shortly after their arrival, something which Walter knew was imminent. The rest of the series, written by James Tynion IV, drawn by Álvaro Martínez Bueno and colored by Jordie Bellaire, is devoted to the survivors recalling meeting Walter and adapting to their new circumstances. Walter can provide them with nearly anything they desire, which can be good and bad. The series is building to a conclusion in Issue No. 12 on Dec. 13.
‘Ice Cream Man’
There are supernatural elements in this series, but at its core are stories about human feelings and failings: frustration, longing, regret, pain and more. The throughline: a malevolent ice cream truck driver named Rick, who pulls strings in the background. Each new issue, written by W. Maxwell Prince, drawn by Martín Morazzo and colored by Chris O’Halloran, brings something unexpected: One story about a plane crash has both scary and comically absurd moments, while another less-dire issue is presented in tiers of red, yellow and orange, each color following a divergent life path of a character just after he has bought ice cream.
‘The Night Eaters: She Eats the Night’
Come for the haunted house, creepy dolls and human-devouring creatures, but stay for the family drama. This story, the first installment of a trilogy written by Marjorie Liu and drawn and colored by Sana Takeda, revolves around Milly and Billy, Chinese American twins, and their parents, Ipo and Keon, who immigrated from Hong Kong. The siblings are struggling through adulthood and the weight of parental expectations. The story mines a lot from mama Ipo, who has her reasons for being so stern, which leads to some arch humor. In one scene, Billy, impressed with Ipo’s toughness, remarks: “That’s third-world strength.” His sister quickly corrects him: “Global south. We don’t use third world anymore.”
If The CW network wanted to turn Washington Irving’s “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” into a teenage-friendly show, it would look something like this graphic novel, “Hollow,” which is more gently spooky than intensely macabre. Written by Shannon Watters and Branden Boyer-White and drawn by Berenice Nelle, the novel follows today’s residents of Sleepy Hollow, where everyone is fascinated by the legend of the Headless Horseman. There is a mystery afoot but also a coming-of-age story for Isabel Crane, a fresh face in town who needs to navigate life in a new school. Some of the characters at first seem like they are cast from teenage drama cookie-cutter molds, but they defy expectations. There are nice moments for the adults, too.
‘Home to Stay! The Complete Ray Bradbury EC Stories’
Drawn by a who’s who of talent, including Joe Orlando and Wallace Wood, this hardcover collection features adapted stories from celebrated science-fiction writer Ray Bradbury. The tales can be dense — voluminous captions and lengthy word balloons, often in the same panel — but potent. One of them, about a blind woman and her faithful dog, seems out of place until a sad and gruesome twist. Another surprise is how Bradbury got into comics, which is told in a back-page essay. In 1952, he was notified about an unauthorized adaptation of his short story “Mars Is Heaven!” in EC Comics. He did not have the $2,000 in legal fees needed to sue at the time, so he opted instead to write a letter to EC suggesting that it simply forgot to send him a check for the work. It promptly paid him, and a partnership was born.