On top of watching scary movies and playing horror games, one of our favorite October activities here at GIMMGP Headquarters is to curl up by a crackling fire and read some fantastic fiction. Lengthy novels about werewolves and dragons tend to be Laura’s cup of tea, while I prefer pouring over spooky sequential art. This Halloween season has yielded quite a harvest of creepy comics, so I decided to share the choice crop with you, boils and ghouls!
Through the Woods by Emily Carroll
When I was a young man, there was a series of books that every child seemed to have read, yet none of us dared to keep a single copy in our homes. Scary Stories to Tell in The Dark and it’s two sequels were immensely frightening collections of scary stories and prose. While the writing was enough to spook the average reader, it was the unsettling black and white illustrations that instilled a lingering unease with anyone who came into contact with these books.
Since my younger years, nothing has left such a haunting impression as these books…until I came across the work of Emily Carroll. Her comics are a wonderful combination of spooky prose and beautiful artwork that take full advantage of the webcomic format. Interesting paneling, extended backgrounds and settings that drag across the computer screen, a clever use of “next page” pauses; all of these elements combine to make some of the best horror work I have read in years.
Carroll’s website features a wonderful collection of horror and fantasy comics, and just earlier this year she released her first book called Through the Woods. This anthology of frightful tales features her webcomic, “His Face All Red,” in print for the first time, along with several fresh tales to leave readers entranced and enthralled. Be sure to pick up this fantastic book for those lonesome October nights where the shadows stretch and anything could be lurking about the corners of reality.
Hellboy: The Midnight Circus by Mike Mignola, Duncan Fegredo, and Dave Stewart
Like so many other folks during the Halloween season, Laura and I will load up on spooky shows and films during the month of October. Unlike so many other folks, we will generally shy away from slasher flicks and gore-fests, turning instead to watch haunting fantasy films and family-friendly frights. One pair of movies that we enjoy watching during the autumn is Hellboy and its sequel, The Golden Army. The impressive practical effects and engaging action-fantasy scripts make for a set of great monster movies that tell an emotional and sometimes bittersweet story.
As Hellboy’s bright-red mug has been showing up on store shelves since 1993, trying to pick a jumping-off point to begin reading the comics can be rather daunting. Fortunately, there are plenty of excellent one-shot comics featuring this loveable demon. So what better place to dive into this world of supernatural creatures than a haunted circus?
Appropriately released in October 2013, The Midnight Circus tells the story of a young Hellboy who decides to run away from his home at the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense. On that fateful night, the little devil encounters a circus of wonders that runs from the dangerous hour of midnight until the fearful crack of dawn. What follows is a tale of ghosts and demons, monsters and men, and a loving surrogate father, desperately searching for his lost little boy. If you are looking for a gorgeous comic in the vein of Pinocchio and Something Wicked This Way Comes, please check out The Midnight Circus.
Costume Quest: Invasion of the Candy Snatchers by Zac Gorman
My third choice for this list of great October comics might seem biased; I have certainly professed my adoration for Costume Quest and Zac Gorman in the past. But rest assured, you don’t need a history with Double Fine or Magical Game Time to enjoy Invasion of the Candy Snatchers.
Instead of following the exploits of children on Halloween, this comic’s protagonists are three adolescent Grubbins from the ghoulish world of Repugia. Pint-sized Klem has hatched a plan to bring sweets from the human world back to his candy-starved homeland in an effort to impress a girl and break the shackles of dorkiness. But Klem and his friends find that there are bullies at every turn, both human and Grubbin alike! A colorful adventure filled with candy, costumes, and a little bit of courage await Klem, Sellie, and Brolo on Halloween Night.
Invasion of the Candy Snatchers is filled with humorous and heartfelt moments that will resonate with trick-or-treaters current and retired. Neighborhood Halloween parties, the many tones of orange decorating the world, even the menace of older youths who want to take kids’ candy; all of these bits show up in Costume Quest. Zac Gorman’s cartoon-styled artwork suits the story quite well, with plenty of expressive faces and fun character designs. For this Halloween, there is no comic I would recommend more than Costume Quest: Invasion of the Candy Snatchers. Pick it up will ya!