January 6, 2018

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Rob M's Favorite Horror Comics of 2017

I didn't read as many horror comics as I like to do, but the ones I read were fabulous. It was hard to come down to just these five, but here they are. It's also funny because "horror" is one of those categories that's sometimes hard to pin down. For example, one of my picks, "Kim Reaper" isn't exactly blood and gore, but it does feature a cute queer character who helps things go to the afterlife, so...here it is in horror. At least for me. On the other hand, while Jen's excellent Deadwater might have been in horror for most folks, I didn't necessarily think of it that way, though it does have some great horror elements.

If this were a comic and not prose, this is where a little bubble with Erica's face in it would show up to remind me that horror is an element, not necessarily a genre to itself. I'm still not ready to push that button, but I think I'm beginning to understand.

Also, why didn't I mix this list with Sci-Fi and Fantasy? Damned if I know. By the time it occurred to me, I'd already blocked everything out. So here's horror with its own category this year, and I've got five entries that I highly recommend if you missed out on them in 2017.

Without further ado, let's get creepy...

Black Magic by Greg Rucka and Nicola Scott, Published by Image Comics
After setting the stage in volume one, Rucka and Scott move forward with their story of a police officer who has ties to magick and is being targeted by sinister forces. It's not always easy to keep the quality up on a series after the first volume, but this team has things well in hand. I really like the fact that, relatively speaking, the magick used in this series feels like it has basis in real practice, just taken to fantastic levels. Meanwhile, Scott's art continues to do a great job of being realistic as well, even as the horror elements ramp up.

Hack/Slash vs Vampirella by Shawn Aldridge and Rapha Lobosco, Published by Dynamite
I'm a long-time fan of Shawn's work, and when I heard he was doing this one, I got really excited, and wasn't disappointed one bit. Aldridge gets the humor and absurdity of these characters and plays it to the hilt, along with the killings and the sexiness, doing each a bit over the top but not to the point of causing the reader to roll their eyes. Lobosco matches this well, making the characters sexy without it feeling like he's going for cheap poses. He just lets the characters be who they are, and in the end, we get a fun romp. Probably a comic most would overlook, to their own loss.

Kim Reaper by Sarah Graley, Published by Oni Press
What happens when you have a crush on a young woman who also happens to be a part-time Reaper? It's complicated. This incredibly cute series captured my attention as I wrote earlier this year, with a plot line that takes some of the usual tropes and twists them up by making the relationship queer and not shying away from the fact that maybe for once you should be scared when your potential partner has weird, mystical connections to death. Graley's style works well for this comic, which features things like a crazy cat man and more, emphasizing the cute but not sacrificing clarity. I can't wait to see what she works on next.

Made Men by Paul Tobin, Arjuna Susini, and Gonzalo Duarte, Published by Oni Press
I think every time I make a yearly favorites list, Paul Tobin ends up on it at least once, and this year is no exception. This was an easy call--the premise is right in my wheelhouse: What if a cop knew the secrets of Frankenstein and then lost their squad in a brutal set-up? Sewing body parks hijinks ensue, drawn ably by Susini and give some great bloodiness by Duarte. This book isn't trying to take itself too seriously, and I love the mashing up of ideas, just like how the good Doctor liked to mash up body parts.

My Pretty Vampire by Katie Skelly, Published by Fantagraphics
It's always a good year when we get a new comic from Katie Skelly, and this is one of my favorites yet. A young woman, who is also a vampire, is "protected" by her brother, whose intentions are not honorable in the slightest. She escapes, but finds being a vampire in the wider world isn't easy. Skelly does such a wonderful job with this one, making her main character somewhat naive but also absolutely deadly. I also love how she can keep her characters sexy without making them sexualized, a fine line that a lot of artists of all genders can't manage. There's multiple plotlines going on, but they all center around the young woman's desire to lead her own life--and the cost she'll bear for it. I hear a rumor this is already out of print? I'm happy it's being purchased, but wow, let's get this one back in people's hands ASAP, Fanta!

Some of you may be ready to tell me this is a horror-able list. So be it! I'd love to discuss it, talk about what great horror comics I missed out on (because I know there were a ton, I'm sure), and why my list is all wrong (or all right?). You can reply here or talk to me on Twitter at @rob_McMonigal