“I am not a horror reader. These were the words I used to tell myself and others. When it came to comic books my tastes were varied but never horror. Or so I thought. It turns out I am a horror reader. It seems I enjoy reading it. Past me had not a clue what joys and delights lay on the dark side.”
“I am not a horror reader.” These were the words I used to tell myself and others. When it came to comic books my tastes were varied but never horror…or so I thought, it turns out I am a horror reader. It seems I enjoy reading it. Past me had not a clue what joys and delights lay on the dark side.
I never was much into horror in my youth. Or again so I thought. I was a sensitive kid who had nightmares for years after watching the animated version of The BFG and that’s not horror (except when the little boy gets eaten which caused many a sleepless night). However, this same kid was really into much of the kid horror of the late eighties and nineties. I was an avid watcher of Are you afraid of the dark? and Goosebumps. One of my favourite shows ever was the Australian series Round the Twist which had some clear horror elements in some episodes (though mostly it was whimsical fantasy). When it came to horror movies I was fine with those classic black and white monster movies. I read Dracula as a young teen. The thing is, I was unaware that most of this was horror.
The same goes for comic books. I thought horror always had to be, well, horrific. That is was always dark and twisted and that was it. I had no idea that horror itself covers a wide range of genres. Which is weird considering my viewing habits as a child. Horror can be tense, it can be funny, it can be about relationships, it can be about past trauma. Horror can be about magic curses or alien influence. It can have ghosts and ghouls, witches, mummies, werewolves or none of the above. The monsters can be fantastical or they can be human. Horror books can leave you reeling or wanting to cackle evilly. There is no one horror book and no one way horror in comics can be.
Take Britannia for example, a historically set book from Valiant. It is at its heart horror. There’s the supernatural, monsters, curses, death and gore. Yet I read it and loved it (the first two volumes at least) but I never thought of it as horror. I’m pretty sure my denial amused the people who know me as the self proclaimed “not a horror reader”. As it was historical I guess I could square it in my head, forgetting that horror can be historical. If you want to can check out my review from a couple of years ago you can find it Here.
Then there’s Home Sick Pilots. Featuring a literal haunted house and one of our favourite books here at Bigger than Capes. It is horror (some might argue that’s what the Ramones references are for) but it’s strong on plot and character work and the art is amazing. It’s absolutely horror though also shows how flexible horror can be. You care about the characters and enjoy the crazy. If you want any more reasons to love Home Sick Pilots check out the podcast Zach and I did. Available here.
One of my favourite ongoings is Shadow Service, which is really horrific horror at times. Yet there’s still humour, some really interesting mythology and some cool otherworldly designs. Sure there’s death and some really gory and graphic death at that, but it never gets too bogged down with that because it is so much more. The characters are fun, interesting and you end up getting attached (even though you perhaps shouldn’t) I think it as a supernatural mystery book. Still horror, but more than that. My most recent review is Here.
There’s as many types of horror as there are genres. You can get a good flavour of this by checking out an anthology book. The Silver Coin brings together some really strong comic talent to give us a variety of tales all focused around the same cursed object – The Silver Coin. Each issue has a different story jumping around through time and events as we learn more about the coin, and the misfortune it brings. Zach and I discussed it recently on the podcast which is available here.
At the of the day there’s so much horror out there. If one type isn’t your thing another might be. I didn’t think I was a horror reader but take a look at me now. I would recommend at least giving it a go. We’ve got loads of recommendations on the site. In 2020 we did an entire month! Take a walk on the horror side. Just perhaps not in a wood at night.