Sunday, January 12, 2014

Readers' Write (7): Horror in Comics and Novels

While Karen and Doug are on vacation in January, our readers have been entrusted with carrying on the daily conversations.  Today's Open Forum is a do-it-yourselfer.  As we've done in the past, the first commenter gets to pick today's topic of conversation.

Generally speaking, the Open Forum is for broader topics.  For example, in the past we've started conversations such as "The Role of Inkers" and "What's So Great About the Bronze Age?"  Start a conversation that is broad enough to elicit an ongoing conversation, and that even might lend itself to tangential musings.

Thanks for holding it down for us!

Horror comics and novels are on the docket today.

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

Lovecraftian horror in comics?
I have been reading this Laird Barron book I got for Christmas and having nightmares.
Thanks, Mom!
If somebody has a more cheerful topic, please feel free...M.P.

david_b said...

Never got much into horror and witchcraft in comics.. Perhaps others here can comment.

Not necessary a topic, but we could discuss four-color horror in general and how it's changed in comics over the last 50yrs...?

Anonymous said...

Another possible topic...Shia Labeouf: Should he be hung from a tall pine tree or merely soundly whipped and subsequently deported?

Redartz said...

One thing I always liked about the horror genre in comics was the frequent use of the anthology format. From the EC horror classics to DC's House of Mystery and House of Secrets, most often two or three stories were featured each issue. This allowed opportunities for a wide range of artists and writers to showcase their more macabre sides. Just looking through one issue of HoM right now I'm seeing artwork by Joe Orlando, Neal Adams, Alex Toth and Sergio Aragones. The Marvel books such as Tower of Shadows also used this format, and this continued when they went to all-reprints.

Has anyone read any of the horror comics currently being produced? I wonder if they are still continuing with the multi-story approach or have focused on longer, full-length tales.

Edo Bosnar said...

Like David, initially I avoided horror comics. However, and as Redartz notes, I later realized that there were a lot of good stories, and a lot of great art, hidden in the various horror books, especially DC's anthology titles (like the two Houses) and the Warren magazines - so I did play a little catch up, but not nearly enough.
And I think if we're going to talk about really great comics horror stories, we have to mention Berni Wrightson, who was one of the grandmasters of the sub-genre. His work on Swamp Thing is rightfully lauded, but he also did fantastic work in the b&w magazines.

As for Lovecraftian horror specifically, I'm wracking my brains, but unless I'm missing something really obvious, I really can't think of reading any comics that had this specific brand of horror. That is, unless Mignola's Hellboy stories are considered Lovecraftian (I don't really think so, but I suppose Mignola was at least partly influenced by Lovecraft).

Redartz, interesting question about modern horror comics. I'm also clueless in that regard, as I'm still not that big on horror comics, and what little I have in my current collection is mainly reprints of material from the '70s or the old EC books of the '50s.

Matt Celis said...

Horror comics/movies/books have never been my bag so I don't feel qualifies to comment. All I have is the Werewolf By Night stories involving Moon Knight.

William Preston said...

I did on rare occasions purchase horror comics, seeing in them something like The Night Gallery. But it's odd, in retrospect, given my love of horror movies (shown Saturday afternoons and late-nights in Philly on the tube), that I didn't really cotton to horror comics.

Garett said...

For horror in general, I like The Demon and Swamp Thing. I prefer a comic with a central hero rather than an anthology title. I did pick up the new Creepy book (2009) by Dark Horse for a few issues...nice combination of old and new artists, like Angelo Torres, Bernie Wrightson, and Eric Powell. Walking Dead is great--I didn't pick it up for a while as the art didn't draw me in, but once I started reading I was hooked.

Humanbelly said...

TOWER OF SHADOWS #1?
The cover by (probably) Romita? With the intensely creepy painting coming to life? That book sat on top of a random stack in my room for quite awhile, and the glow of moonlight through my window would fall right upon it and freak me out. It took me, like, two stupid weeks to figure out that I could actually just get up and flip the darned thing over (which I did, and then leaped back under the covers).

The Steranko story that it represented was truly a masterpiece of atypical (yet amazingly clear) storytelling and created that true sense of suspense and then horror that I am sure all writers in the genre strive for. The characterization, the minimal dialog, the mood. . . I haven't read it in years, but it stays distinctly with me.

HB

Matt Celis said...

Never thought of the Demon as "horror." Nothing horrifying about it...just rock 'em sock 'em Kirby action. But if it counts, I have the hardcover collecting every issue. Fun comic.

Matt Celis said...

Who?

Rip Jagger said...

So much of effective "horror" is about the unseen, or only partially seen and that's difficult for comics to pull off effectively. I've never been frightened by reading a comic book, though I've enjoyed many an entertaining "horror comic".

As mentioned, many are anthologies in the Twilight Zone tradition. But most are a blend of horror and adventure which gives some added structure and narrative elements to the affair.

Lovecraft consequently is almost impossible to do since it doesn't really deal with what you can see, but what you can imagine. Putting it on paper nullifies its intended effect. Lovecraft's monsters look stupid when they get actually drawn, but in my mind they are quite creepy indeed.

Rip Off

cerebus660 said...

I did enjoy DC's anthology comics, like Ghosts or House Of Mystery, when I was a kid but they were repetitive and you had to search to find any real gems. Charlton also put out some very atmospheric and creepy comics ( usually with great art from guys like Tom Sutton or Don Newton ) - as long as you could put up with the cheap paper and terrible printing...

I was more of a fan of Marvel's horror comics, especially the B&W range like Vampire Tales, Monsters Unleashed and Tales Of The Zombie. They were more character-based and, being exempt from the Comics Code, could actually be more horrific. Of course, the greatest "horror" comic of the Bronze Age ( although it was far more than that ) was Tomb Of Dracula by the perfect creative team of Marv Wolfman, Gene Colan and Tom Palmer... although I suspect that mag needs a post all to itself...

Garett said...

Hey Matt, yeah Demon is like Kirby taking horror elements and making an action comic from them. Maybe that's why I like it! I enjoy Twilight Zone type stories on TV, but somehow in comics it doesn't appeal. On TV I like the idea that the episode can go anywhere, our protagonist could die at the end...but in comics I want to see the hero return each month.

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