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Dark Horse Spooky Staff Picks 2021 :: Blog :: Dark Horse Comics

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Another spooky season is upon us, and we couldn’t be more excited to share it with you! Dark Horse has a rich history of publishing some of the best horror comics in the industry. And our staff work hard to ensure that every comic, graphic novel, and art book is crafted with the utmost quality and care. It’s true that the devil is in the details, especially when it comes to our incredible horror titles! If you’re on the hunt for some bone-chilling, hair-raising, skin-crawling horror this Halloween, we’ve got you covered! And as you’ll see, our pets also approved of our horror picks! So, settle in for another killer edition of the Dark Horse Comics Spooky Staff Picks…if you dare!

Don’t forget to check out this year’s new Halloween playlists on the Dark Horse Spotify! Turn terror up to 11 with the new Halloween Synthtrumentals playlist, a supremely creepy assortment of spooky moods, detuned synthesizers, trills, thrills and chills! Or check out the Dark Horse Halloween Haunts mix for something a little more toe-tapping! 

Beasts of Burden Volume 2: Neighborhood Watch

By Evan Dorkin, Sarah Dyer, Mike Mignola, Jill Thompson, Benjamin Dewey

Age Range 14+

Tucked away in an idyllic corner of the Hellboy universe is Burden Hill. Don’t let the rolling hills and friendly folks pull the wool over your eyes, something evil is a-brewin’. Luckily, there is a band of dogs (and a cat) working together like a paranormal detective dream team, the Beasts of Burden! Evan Dorkin expertly weaves together terrifying tales of horror, with a touch of humor and heart. Add Jill Thompson’s and Benjamin Dewey’s painted pages to the mix, and you have a concoction you can’t resist. Lucky for you, the book is printed in an oversized format, which is best for taking in all that great artwork. Just don’t try to pet the little furry dudes, you’re setting yourself up for failure. 

This isn’t the end though, this November their tale continues in Beasts of Burden: Occupied Territory! Flashing back to WWII, the gang recalls a tale of Japanese demons! Tanuki? Check. Evil Oni? Check. Frights and lots of good boys? H*ckin check!

Tucked away in an idyllic corner of the Hellboy universe is Burden Hill. Don’t let the rolling hills and friendly folks pull the wool over your eyes, something evil is a-brewin’. Luckily, there is a band of dogs (and a cat) working together like a paranormal detective dream team, the Beasts of Burden! Evan Dorkin expertly weaves together terrifying tales of horror, with a touch of humor and heart. Add Jill Thompson’s and Benjamin Dewey’s painted pages to the mix, and you have a concoction you can’t resist. Lucky for you, the book is printed in an oversized format, which is best for taking in all that great artwork. Just don’t try to pet the little furry dudes, you’re setting yourself up for failure. 

 

This isn’t the end though, this November their tale continues in Beasts of Burden: Occupied Territory! Flashing back to WWII, the gang recalls a tale of Japanese demons! Tanuki? Check. Evil Oni? Check. Frights and lots of good boys? H*ckin check! -Arc, Digital Sales Manager
 

By Gou Tanabe 

Age Range 14+

Gou Tanabe’s At the Mountains of Madness is not only the best comics adaptation of Lovecraft, it is THE best adaptation of Lovecraft done in any medium. This is not hyperbole; this is fact.

 

OK, maybe it’s a little hyperbole, but as a lifelong Lovecraft fan I absolutely believe this.  I’ve always felt Lovecraft to be unadaptable. His strength is in his words and psychology, and those are the most difficult thing to translate to another media. Comics especially have been unsuccessful. Most want to do “their” Lovecraft, either fixing flaws they see in the works or trying to put their unique twist or stamp on the stories. Tanabe is the first artist I have seen who does a straight adaptation of Lovecraft—and by doing so created something wholly unique and wholly his own.

 

The key to Tanabe’s adaptation is that he captures the psychology. He focuses less on the monsters and more on the humans, on their facial expressions and emotions. The monsters are the monsters, after all, and decades of “cute Cthulhu” have left us immune to freaking out from a tentacle or a gibbering glob of eyes. But Professor Lake’s slow descent into madness remains powerful. And Tanabe pulls more fear out of the angle of Lake’s eyes than he does from the dead bodies of the Elder Things. Tanabe also uses the environment to chilling effect. The oppressive continent of Antarctica is a constant character, and we feel the cold and claustrophobia brought on by such a vast expanse of death. – Zack, Translator

By Lauren Marx

Age Range 14+

Looking to add an atmospheric creepiness to your space this spooky season? Artist Lauren Marx has you covered! Her fine art book Sacred Decay: The Art of Lauren Marx showcases her hyperdetailed images of flora and fauna in fantastical displays of life and death. Themes of family, mental health, and spirituality give these gloriously strange images a real emotional depth, showcasing not only the plants and animals themselves in realistic detail but also their imbued sense of emotion and movement. Daisy’s favorite pieces are the ones that feature prominent bones and antlers, like Alces Alces and In My Bones. Jenny, her human, especially loves the pieces with detailed feathers and grass (like Offerings or Blue Cherub) as well as the sketchbook section in the back! Add this creepily gorgeous collection to your coffee table or bookshelf for a spooky vibe that you can display seasonally or leave out all year! –Jenny, Accociate Editor

By Cullen Bunn, Fran Galán, El Torres

Age Range 14+

The very first spread from the first issue of Lucky Devil now lives rent-free in my mind forever. The detail, the fantastic gore…it had been a minute since I had been so significantly impacted by a single scene in a comic. I even found myself laughing—you know, that shocked, borderline maniacal laugh, the one where your mind doesn’t really know how else to react—and eagerly devoured (and re-devoured) each issue after that.

Cullen Bunn is of course a true master at combining the horrifying with the relatable to create worlds that are terrifying both inside and out; coupled with the dynamic art of Fran Galán and bold coloring of El Torres, Lucky Devil has been unexpectedly witty, deliciously macabre, and just goes to show what can happen when mere mortals trifle with the realm of demons.

The first three issues are available now, and keep an eye out for issue #4 hitting the shelves at your local comic shop on 11/03! –Rikki, Prepress Coordinator

Age Range 14+ 

By Mike Mignola, Christopher Golden, Bridgit Connell, Michelle Madsen, covers by Abigail Larson

Lady Baltimore opens by putting readers right into the action, showing us that Sofia (Lady Baltimore herself) is a feisty, tough, and capable person—with a bit of an attitude. Sofia is very likable, especially paired with Imogen, who’s likewise extremely capable and brings more humor and humanity to their interactions in the midst of a dark and dangerous situation.

If you, like me, love the worlds and characters that Mike Mignola and Christopher Golden have created, including Joe Golem and the original Baltimore series, then you’ll enjoy Lady Baltimore and all the connected Tales from the Outerverse. These stories highlight characters who’ve appeared in past books, now bringing them to the forefront of their own stories. Sofia Valk, Imogen of the Wyrding Way, Cojacaru the Skinner, and Josef the Golem are all characters who exist in the same occult-and-monster-laden world, and now, at last, we are seeing them find their way to one another. 

I love that Lady Baltimore highlights strong, smart, capable women characters–and creators. The series features the fantastic artwork of Bridgit Connell, colors by Michelle Madsen, and gorgeous cover art by Abigail Larson. Issue #5 should be out just in time for Halloween on Oct. 27—and the series has been leading up to a major battle, so we’ll see what the conclusion brings! –Cara, Senior Manager Social Media & Marketing Communications

Age Range 16+

I grew up obsessed with classic horror films. Bela Lugosi, Vincent Price, and Boris Karloff were truly my monster squad. So, I was beyond excited when I read the premise for David Dastmalchian’s Count Crowley. I mean, the lead heroine is a late-night horror host battling addiction and real-life monsters! Need I say more? There’s a lot more at the heart of Count Crowley than just bloodthirsty ghouls and booze. It’s a powerful story about unearthing one’s inner superhero. We all have hidden strengths we never realized until we’re put to the test. And if the last year and a half has taught me anything, it’s that we’re all capable of surviving, adapting, and (hopefully) looking out for each other in profound and powerful ways. In scary, uncertain times we discover what we’re made of. That’s definitely the case in this superbly stylish story. It’s fun, it’s scary, often hilarious, and ultimately empowering! Couple this with the jaw-dropping art by Lukas Ketner, and breathtaking colors by Lauren Affe, this is a Halloween must-read! I cannot wait to read the new Count Crowley series that’s coming to Dark Horse in 2022! Stay tuned, ghouls! –Kelly, Senior Manager of Digital Marketing

Age Range 14+ 

By Cullen Bunn, Tyler Crook, Emily Schnall

In case you didn’t know, Harrow County is really good, folks. It’s been included in our October Spooky Staff Picks every year for the last five years. It’s been my pick before, in fact, because it’s one of my all-time favorite series. We on team Dark Horse actually sort of fight over who gets to pick it each year, along with some of our other perennial favorites like Beasts of Burden. (I win this year!)

The original series reached its conclusion a few years ago, but co-creators Cullen Bunn and Tyler Crook continue to spin yarns in this hauntingly beautiful Southern Gothic world they’ve created. They are joined by new artists—Naomi Franquiz on the first Tales from Harrow County series, Death’s Choir, and now, Emily Schnall on Fair Folk, which is a current miniseries available each month at comic shops. Issue #4 will arrive on Oct. 20, in time for Halloween!

If you’ve read and enjoyed Harrow County, then the Tales series are a must-read. They continue the story after the conclusion of the main series, now with Bernice as the central character. We see what’s become of Harrow following [spoiler alert!] Emmy’s departure, and what Bernice now faces as the protector of all that remains. In Fair Folk, we’re on the trail of what happened to Bernice’s friend Priscilla, which again will be extremely important to Harrow County fans! Emily Schnall’s artwork is a perfect fit for the theme and tone of this series, and we still have main series artist Tyler Crook providing variant covers for each issue.

If you’re new to Harrow County, you can pick up Tales and still fall in love with the characters and the lovely, but creepy, environment. However, I strongly recommend you pick up the main Harrow County series, too—it’s a masterpiece of supernatural horror writing with Southern charm from Cullen Bunn, and Tyler Crook’s masterful watercolor artwork that will immerse you in the haunting world of Emmy, Bernice, and all the haints and other critters. –Cara, Senior Manager Social Media & Marketing Communications

Age Range 14+

By Al Feldstein, Gardner Fox, Johnny Craig, Ivan Klapper, Bill Gaines, George Roussos, Wally Wood, Harvey Kurtzman, Graham Ingels, Jack Kamen

Like most kids coming of age in the 90’s, my introduction to Tales From the Crypt came from watching syndicated episodes of the television show on Fox. Of course, those were slightly edited versions of the original HBO series, but the gnarly beating heart of the show remained true. They were sourced from the original EC Comics series of the same name. Between the truly terrifying puppet design and voice of the Crypt Keeper, and Danny Elfman’s flawless, horn-heavy theme song, the show paid homage to its roots, while terrifying the living daylights out of teenage me. The series was so popular that it spawned spin-offs that included a movie, a children’s animated series, a hip-hop song (The Crypt Keeper ‎- The Crypt Jam), a game show, and even a 1-900 party line! 

But the raw meat of Tales From the Crypt can only be found in the classic EC Comics. Each tale is expertly crafted by comics icons including Al Feldstein, Bill Gaines, Johnny Craig, and many others. The artwork is perfectly noir, relentlessly unsettling and nuanced. In the days of the Comics Code Authority, these artists and writers had to walk a fine line of censoring their own content. But like a lot of great horror, it’s often more about what you don’t see, what’s hiding in the darkness, under the bed, or deep in our own psyche. What Tales lacks in gratuitousness, it more than makes up for with sharply woven, fast-paced stories that are both unsettling and genuinely scary. Long before the days of the M. Night Shyamalan twist, the folks at EC were holding the lantern high, blazing the spooky path for generations to come. It still hits a nerve to this day. And those horror puns are just…*chef’s kiss* –Kelly, Senior Manager of Digital Marketing

Age Range 14+

One of the perks of working at Dark Horse is reading books before they hit shelves and The Hellbound has been my favorite read of late. From the director of Train to Busan and artist Choi Gyu-Seok, in this menacing horror, individuals begin receiving texts letting them know that they’re going to hell, and soon. Despite the horrifying monsters, the building sense of panic of who will get the text, and why this is all happening, the real horrors still lay within humanity itself. This manhwa holds no punches and will certainly keep you up at night. The Hellbound arrives on Netflix this fall and I recommend checking out the source material as soon as you get the chance! –Kate, PR Coordinator

Age Range 18+

It’s been one of the top honors of my career to have edited the Dark Horse editions of Berserk. Though creator Kentaro Miura is no longer with us, his greatest creation is immortal. Horror has never been more horrifying . . . or more fun! –Chris, Senior Books Editor

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