Happy Halloween! We round out our series of posts on what comics from the past or present left various creators shivering under the blanket until the sun came up. To see the previous posts, go here and here.
Fred Van Lente
I had the oversized MARVEL TREASURY EDITION of MARVEL TEAM-UP when I was a kid. The panel in the Spider-Man & Ghost Rider story in which the Orb removes his helmet and shows how hideously scarred he is scared me so bad I actually cut out a square of black construction paper big enough to tape over the panel to cover it so I could read the rest of the comic without looking at it. I couldn't have been much older than seven.
Fred Van Lente is the co-writer of Marvel's current event series Chaos War. He's also written Action Philosophers!, Iron Man: Legacy and Shadowland: Power Man, among other titles. If you're looking for something in the spirit of the season, check out his Marvel Zombies work.
Jesse Blaze Snider
I gotta say that 2005's Marvel Knight's GHOST RIDER mini series by Garth Ennis & Clayton Crain creeped me out so bad I couldn't finish it. It featured a character who had his head shoved up his own ass and his bend spine sticking out of his back. Now, as I type that, it sounds kind of funny. It sounds like the exact kind of thing that you would expect the mind of Garth Ennis to come up with and normally I would be right their with you enjoying the amusing sadomasochism...but NOT when it is drawn by CLAYTON CRAIN! Something about the way he illustrates gore makes it a bit too real for me and triggers my gag reflex. I think its because everything looks WET...and sticky. I contend that if Clayton drew CROSSED you would vomit every issue...sometimes more than once! There are a number of twisted demons and monsters in this series that drawn by ANY other artist would have been a simply been a clever novelty, but as serviced by Crain they are Cthulhu level horrors that will give you bad dreams for weeks.
I'm telling you, guy with his own head shoved up his ass still makes me wince, though I feel I should be laughing. That mini should have been published through the MAX imprint.Jesse Blazer Snider has written Toy Story and Muppet Snow White for BOOM! Kids, as well as Hulk: Let the Battle Begin for Marvel. On the creepy side, he also wrote DC's vampire series Dead Romeo and Fangoria's Strangeland: Seven Sins.
Years ago, breaking into the indie comix scene with my first minicomic, I attended a Baltimore Comic-Con to shill my one measley book, meet my colleagues, get some sketches. Quickly filled a sketchbook with as many cool cartoonists as possible, but pals kept urging me to approach this guy named Charles Burns. Charles was very nice, approachable and agreed to ink something up...and the end result was fairly eerie, fairly disturbing and honestly? Kind of phallic.
But the inks, the weight of his line, captured my attention and I wanted to check out some of his work so I picked up some BLACK HOLE.
And that's when comics broke my brain.
Don't think I can pick a single panel or part of the collected work that I can say "that scared the crap out of me"— but the overall loneliness, desperation and horrifying mutations throughout had me squirm and shiver. BLACK HOLE is so quiet. Like a meek, bespectacled serial killer waiting at the playground, luring you in with candy and then whisking you off to his private, darkened basement dungeon. The art, the acclaim and story dazzles you like light in a deer's eyes on a midnight highway moments before a horrifying Mack truck knocks you off your feet.
Disturbing. Hushed. Terrifying. Lonely. Phallic.
Charles Burns' BLACK HOLE: a graphic novel best read in daylight, brother.
Neil Kleid is the writer of The Big Kahn, Ursa Minors and Brownsville. He also contributed to Dark Horse's revived Creepy Comics and Papercutz's Tales from the Crypt.
"Almost idly, I wonder where her head is. And then I look at the doll house."
"And the doll house
Rick Remender is the guy who turned the Punisher into Frankenstein's Monster, and has written a lot of other comics that fit in with today's theme: XXXombies, Fear Agent, Strange Girl, Doctor Voodoo, Sea of Red and The Man with the Screaming Brain, just to name a few.
I'm not scared very easily. Horror movies lack suspense, and unfortunately, a lot of horror comics do as well. When you're dealing with page turns, it's easy to kind of...prepare yourself for the shock that's coming. And that makes it less shocking. The horror comics that work (30 Days of Night, Sandman, etc) have great premises and they execute well, but they're not that scary because you're still dealing with fantastic elements (monsters, the supernatural). The scariest things out there always have to do with something real. The Walking Dead is so effective because when you see a character like the Governor, you can imagine that if the $#!& hit the fan, that guy will exist somehow. But as compelling as Walking Dead is, and as real as it is at times, it's still not the comic that scared the crap out of me. That was Alan Moore's Swamp Thing.
Swamp Thing is a pretty fantastic concept (a swamp monster with the mind of a man) and as far as Moore took the concept, the scariest thing in it was the Aleister Arcane arc. Flies. Everywhere you looked, flies and bugs and larvae and...
I just shuddered writing that.
Hell exists, and it looks like THAT! I hate flies, and gnats especially, so when I read that...well, let's just say, I was in Tuscon, Arizona in the summer and it was very very hard to turn off the bzzt bzzt bzzt in my ears.