All Hallow's Eve. Halloween. The Day Of The Dead. Samhain. No matter what name one uses to refer to it, October 31 is the craziest, spookiest, creepy-crawliest evening of the year – a night of costumes, trick-or-treating, ghosts, goblins, monster movie marathons, and of course, comic books!
Yes, the grim and ghoulish have long provided folder for the imaginations of comic creators, and endless varieties of frightening beasties have found themselves rendered in pen and ink, waiting for unsuspecting readers to turn the page and be joyfully terrified by the insanity that ensues.
EC's Crypt Of Terror, Vault Of Horror, Haunt Of Fear. Dell's adaptations of classic b-movies. Gold Key's '60s supernatural series. Warren's classic family of black and white magazines. Marvel's blitz of monster books in the '70s (Legion Of Monsters, Monsters Unleashed, Dracula Lives, Werewolf By Night). DC's long-lived House Of Mystery, House Of Secrets, The Witching Hour. Bernie Wrightson's Frankenstein. Hellboy. The Walking Dead. Afterlife With Archie. The list of great horror comics could go on for days, and we'd still only be scratching the surface.
So today, we've reached out to some of our favorite modern-day creators to ask for their takes on the scary comics that they found inspiring, and to get their riffs on the critters and characters that have influenced their work. Happy Halloween!
Ghost Rider by Isaac Orloff, visual development artist, creator of Sketch Dailies
Vampirella by Sarah Horrocks, creator of Bruise and Hecate Snake Diaries
Wednesday Addams by Lissy Marlin, freelance illustrator
Chtulhu Wizard by Eryk Donovan, artist of BOOM! Studios' Memetic
Vampirella by Dave McKenna, cartoonist, illustrator, creator of MonstaLand
tribute to Gene Colan and Tomb Of Dracula by Benton Jew, conceptual/storyboard illustrator, artist of Wolverine: Agent of Atlas and Bela Lugosi's Tale From The Grave
The Creature by Diana Leto, designer and illustrator, artist of Halloween Legion and My Little Pony
Vampirella by Sara Richard, illustrator and cover artist for IDW's My Little Pony, artist of Yen Press' Kitty & Dino
A commonplace of horror is “being watched,” and one of the terrors of real life is to only be the way that others see you. Strangely the one comic that ever scared the crap out of me was not a shadowy monster drama but a sleek superhero saga -- or maybe I’m using the wrong word, ’cuz you can get over being scared by something, but there’s stuff you can be horrified at all your life.
Grant Morrison’s Bulleteer from the Seven Soldiers cycle (2005-6), especially the first issue, had the brooding horror of someone under scrutiny -- and of observers not being able to look away. Alix Harrower’s husband is developing a superstrong substance to turn skin to a kind of steel; he’s obsessed with eternal youth and his vanity extends to being hypercritical of every wrinkle on his 27-year-old wife’s body. The ideal of smoothness becomes a nightmare in Morrison’s perceptive view, especially when the husband, Lance, injects himself with the “smartskin” prematurely and it gets on Alix and engulfs her too while trying to help him. The transition seems to be solidifying internal organs too, and Alix is saved by meds the ER can pump through the untouched skin under her wedding ring while Lance, who’s been going without his, dies.
Horror is also having what you thought you knew disappear, and Alix finds out that Lance was part of an online community of superpower fetishists. She wants no part of that world, but expectations on a silver-skinned superwoman are heavy. She has been remade in the image of a male’s gaze and her life is not her own. Even before her transformation, artist Yanick Paquette’s cheesecakey style is deployed ingenuously to display Alix in a way that conveys creepy surveillance rather than playful expression, and afterward, a trophy without a husband, a gleaming goddess whose armor is a cold shroud of attention she can’t shake off, her look becomes the most chilling of ideals.
In a decade of cosplay harassers and death-threatening misogynist gamers, Lance’s obsessions seem prescient and Morrison’s vision depressingly observant. But the implied battlecry of the Bulleteer herself, impervious at her core and reflective of the worst in others, is, Be unafraid, be very unafraid.
reflection on Grant Morrison's Bulleteer by Adam McGovern, writer of Image Comics’ Nightworld and comics essayist on HiLoBrow.com
Wednesday Addams by Courtney Godbey, illustrator/character designer
tribute to Plop! and Sergio Aragones by Justin Sane, creator of Bloody Dreadful, co-creator of The Woodland Welfare Manifesto
(All quotes and images in this post are exclusive to ComicsAlliance, and © their respective creators.)