Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Top 5 graphic novels for horror readers

List by Danielle

'I love fantasy. I love horror. I love musicals. Whatever doesn't really happen in life is what I'm interested in. As a way of commenting on everything that does happen in life, because ultimately the only thing I'm really interested in is people.'
~ Joss Whedon

Sitting in that perfect (crawl)space between good horror fiction and a good horror movie; graphic novels (comics, manga, call them what you will), when done well, can give you an almost cinematic sense of movement and sound, as well as all the pleasures of the deftly-chosen written word. Or, y'know... a double-paged spread of exploding bugs and some new fodder for your next nightmare.

Locke & Key series / Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez
"Locke & Key" tells of Keyhouse, an unlikely New England mansion, with fantastic doors that transform all who dare to walk through them...and home to a hate-filled and relentless creature that will not rest until it forces open the most terrible door of them all...! Acclaimed suspense novelist and "New York Times" best-selling author Joe Hill ("Heart-Shaped Box") creates an all-new story of dark fantasy and wonder, with astounding artwork from Gabriel Rodriguez.

Likeable characters and a wonderful puzzle-box of a story with some genuinely scary moments! Fantastic and imaginative, if bloody. Read my review of volume 1: Welcome to Lovecraft.

Naoki Urasawa's Monster series / Naoki Urasawa
An ice-cold killer is on the loose, and brilliant Dr. Kenzo Tenma is the only one who can stop him. Amid conspiracies, serial merders and hospital politics, Tenma risks his promising medical career to save the life of a critically wounded young boy. Unbeknownst to him, this child is destined for a terrible fate. Who could have known that Tenma would create a monster?

Like a road movie that explores the best and worst of human nature, Monster is set in Germany, following the collapse of the Berlin Wall. Urasawa-sensei's highly skilful artistry captures a sense of place as well as a range of characters whose natures are very rarely what they first appear. Read my review of volume 1: Herr Dr Tenma.

The Sandman series / Neil Gaiman; various artists.
The Sandman is a comic book series written by Neil Gaiman and published by the DC Comics imprint Vertigo. It chronicles the adventures of Dream of The Endless, who rules over the world of dreams, in 75 issues from 1989 until 1996.

Smart, sinister, ever-inventive and entertaining. Like taking an uneasy but colourful walk back through the bad dreams of childhood. Personal faves: Vol 2, The Doll's House, and Vol 5, Game of You. Plus anything starring Dream's sweetheart gothy sister, Death.

The exterminators series / Oliver Simon; various artists
Henry James, the newest exterminator, sees the job as a means to cleanse the sins of his dark past. But standing between him and redemption are his careerist girlfriend, sociopathic partner, and dysfunctional freaks he calls coworkers and a weirdly ominous locked box that could hold the key to an ancient mystery.

Warning! Washington Post describes publishers Vertigo as the 'HBO of the comic book world' and you get the full gamut here - bad language, naughty behaviour, nudity and more gross bug (and human) splatter scenes than you can shake a syringe of Draxx at! It's also funny, weirdly humane and leaves me, after only 1 volume, curious as a cockroach to see where it's headed.

Collects tales of terror from the past sixty years of comic book publishing. This book encompasses various eras of the genre, from the 'weird menace' horror of the perennially popular 1950s pre-Code comics published by EC, to the dark modern gems of the 90s and 2000s.
It's interesting to see where horror comics started out, and the mini-essays on various points in horror comic history are fascinating snapshots of how the genre was viewed at various times (if a bit overwrought and exciteable!). Also: 'Hitler's Head', from 1952. Yes, you too can be terrorized by the floating ghostly head of Hitler. Aiiiieeeeee!!!

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