Graphic novels and comic book are hotter than they’ve ever been. Back in 1995, when I was in high school, if someone saw you reading a comic book you were immediately cursed a hardcore nerd. Nowadays it seems you’re more prone to be forced that moniker if you’re not reading a comic. It’s weird the way the world has changed, but changes of this nature are for the better; guys like me no longer have to hide in the shadows, constantly fearing some strange stigma.
It is with this knowledge, and acknowledgment of the shift in trends that I happily share a list of the 10 greatest graphic novels to ever see release. Well, let me rewind for just a second: This is a list of the 10 greatest horror graphic novels to ever see release.
The majority of these books were initially released as single comic books and later compiled into single collections. A few were birthed as certified graphic novels, but the bulk eventually became trade paperbacks as a result of high fan demand. But, none of this matters – let’s just celebrate some great fiction!
10 Tomb of Dracula: Full disclosure: Tomb of Dracula reads as much like a soap opera as it does a horror story. That said, once the conflicts really begin to take life, the intensity shoots through the roof. What’s beautiful about this book is that it almost feels like you’re actually reading a throwback Hammer Film. Certainly not light on story, this is a great book that’s been released in 4 amazingly rewarding collections (each boasting roughly 500 glorious pages) that should be owned by any fan of old school horror, or even just Dracula himself. A sometimes slow, sometimes break-neck speed read, Tomb of Dracula is top notch.
9 Arkham Asylum: A Serious House on Serious Earth: Arguably the greatest Batman story ever written, Grant Morrison’s tale is equal parts magnetic, terrifying and stunning. The story pits Batman in the bowels of Arkham Asylum where he comes face to face with a myriad of his longtime foes. But the deeper Batman ventures, the darker things get. Secrets are revealed, personalities are outlined in ways we never could have foreseen, and Batman is tested on numerous levels. This is just an outstanding story that will go down in the history books as a true high point in the existence of the Batman universe. It’s creepy, and it’s gorgeous (thanks Dave McKean). It’s also the one single Batman books that you absolutely have to own.
8 Preacher: Possessed men of the cloth, vampires, a fleeing God… Preacher has it all. One of Garth Ennis’ most original and impacting works, Preacher veers from the norm in every way you could possibly imagine. And yet it all works like a charm. There are intimate, thought provoking moments to consider and there are hellacious and gruesome sequences to gaze at in complete shock. There aren’t many books that leave the impression of Preacher, which is exactly why you should hunt this down immediately. The entire series (75 issues, if memory serves me well) has been broken up into a number of graphic novels and each and every last one is worth owning… and reading… over and over again!
7 Hellboy: The good-hearted demon who battles the blasphemous of the universe, Hellboy is as polarizing a character as you’ll ever find. The stories and battles that this bad ass finds himself involved in are always a blast, loaded with dark horror, sublime humor and a surprisingly heavy dose of humanity. Hands down one of the finest books to see creation in the last half-century, Hellboy continues to thrill readers and viewers (a few live action as well as animated features have been released). There aren’t many books the rival the greatness gifted us by the awesome Mike Mignola.
6 Locke & Key: Spirits, demons, ghosts, some insane settings. Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez’s Locke & Key is a wildly addictive read. Each arc differs from the previous though the familiarity of the entire story is obviously unmistakable. It’s a haunting read that grabs the imagination and never loosens that death grip. Hill’s narrative is absolutely magnificent and Rodriguez’s artwork is the absolute perfect match to Hill’s own output. You must be leery, as this one is addictive in a wild way, so if you’ve got kids you’re supposed to be watching, do not turn the very first page of Welcome to Lovecraft. You’ll be lost to reality for hours on end, we promise!
5 Black Hole: Arguably the most original graphic novel on this list (fans of our number one pick would certainly argue this), Charles Burns’ Black Hole takes commentary in a direction that will leave your jaw on the floor and your head spinning quicker than Linda Blair on fast forward. This one is so unique we don’t want to spoil the satisfaction you’ll uncover when reading it, but we will say this: If you want your kid to really, really consider the hazards of unprotected sex, and the potential hell that a STD can present, let them read Black Hole. They’ll remain virgins until they’re 40.
4 Tales from the Crypt: The ultimate vintage book, Tales from the Crypt was loaded with a staggering assortment of chilling stories. It was quite simply put the anthology that kept on giving. A great number of stellar authors crafted tales for this legendary book (which you can pick up in all sorts of collections) and a whole lot of stories were based on epic classic works from masterminds like HP Lovecraft, Edgar Allan Poe, and Ray Bradbury. For a nice trek back in time where chills were relatively simple but insanely effective, go with Tales from the Crypt.
3 30 Days of Night: There is no better vampire graphic novel than the gorgeous piece Steve Niles and Ben Templesmith offered up in 2002. Despite the fact that this is a vampire story, it comes across as wildly original. Choosing to deposit the terror in Barrow, Alaska, where the sun falls for 30 days at a time, leaving an unsuspecting community at the mercy of traveling bloodsuckers just pays off in a crazy way. The characters are great, the artwork is horrendously creepy and Niles tells a tale that burrows under your skin, and in your mind. This is beauty redefined and you need to read it as soon as you possibly can.
2 Swamp Thing (Alan Moore): Alan Moore transformed the Swamp Thing from a man who ran into some life changing obstacles into a certified monster with a story to tell and a fight to engage in. It’s uncommon to read a monster tale that feels so in touch with the intricacies of the human heart and mind, but Alan Moore made it happen. He also single handedly revived a character that all but on his way out of our existence. Moore’s stretch makes for a complex but engaging and relatively action-packed read and if you love all things wilderness (especially trees), you’re going to love all things Swamp Thing!
1 Uzumaki: Junji Ito’s perplexingly original tale of a spiral obsession turned to outbreak is out of this world. There’s something a little cosmic about it, but I guarantee you’ve never read or seen anything like this. It’s a stunning and haunting tale. An accomplishment very few in this world will ever know, the book is the greatest on the market. It’s creepy as hell, it’s well-written and there are a few eye popping moments in which Ito lets us know there is absolutely zero problem with exiting the realm of decency. A legendary piece of fiction if ever there was one.