Four Must-Read Spooky Graphic Novels

Lately, all I want to read are comics. Especially spooky comics. Not gory, jump scare, will-haunt-you-for-the-rest-of-your-life spooky, but lightly spooky with a touch of the paranormal kind of comics! Here’s what I’ve been reading and loving for spooky season lately.

The Low, Low Woods by Carmen Maria Machado follows two teenage best friends, El and Vee, in small town USA called Shudder-to-Think. The story begins with El and Vee waking up in their local movie theater, with no memory of how they got there or what happened during the past few hours they had been there. This is a horror story with paranormal elements, but it touches on real sociopolitical issues like poverty, class, and gendered violence. I loved this one too in how the main characters were both queer youth of colour with complex romantic, platonic, and family relationships! Definitely a heads up for some disturbing imagery in this one, but I thought this was an incredibly feminist and unputdownable story with a town witch, a very cool and creepy deer lady, and overall, just a powerful exploration of trauma and memory.

I’ve also been revisiting Paper Girls – think Stranger Things if they were all teenage girls and newspaper delivery kids instead of D&D dungeon Masters. Paper Girls begins on Halloween night when four tween girls stumble across a very big news scoop: the existence of time travel, monsters, and multiple dimensions galore. Paper Girls is really just an astounding visual and sensory experience – the colours (specifically the pinks, purples, and blues) are so unbelievably vivid and rich. All of the visual dynamics add to the unreality of the storylines. I definitely recommend binging this series, as there are A LOT of alternate timelines/storylines happening all at once so it’s easy to get mixed up! Paper Girls is also a project of Brian K. Vaughan, author of Saga and Y: The Last Man, so, if you’re a fan of either of those series you’ll love Paper Girls too! 

Through the Woods by Emily Carrol (who is currently based in nearby Stratford, ON!), is a beautifully haunting book of original short stories in the vein of the greats like Shirley Jackson and Mary Shelley. These stories have a slow burn creepiness that feels Gothic and fairy-tale like. It’s in WPL’s Teen section, but I actually think this book is the scariest of the bunch! The art style uses empty space, shadows, and colour (or lack thereof with some black and white panels) in such a uniquely eerie way that I admittedly slept with my lamp on for quite a while after finishing it.

Claymore is an early 2000’s manga series by Norihiro Yagi that has absolutely captured my heart and soul, although it is a bit grisly. Claymore is set in a fantasy medieval world where Yoma (demons who can possess humans) terrorize villages and kill countless people. That is, until the Organization (colloquially dubbed “Claymore”) emerges and is made up of stoic “silver eyed slayers” who are armed with gigantic nominal swords (only women) and consume Yoma blood to be able to fight and rid the world of Yomas. Claymores (the slayers) are summoned by villages or communities as need be, but are nomadic outcasts and are generally feared by common folks. Becoming a Claymore comes with an inherent tragedy – Claymores will ultimately succumb to the demon blood they’ve consumed and become monsters themselves, and they inch closer to it each time they draw on their demon powers to save others. While this series relies on some classic fantasy/monster tropes, every volume (of which so far I’ve read the first four) just gets more and more surprising and chilling.