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Graphic Novel Friday: Comics with October Bite

As has become an annual tradition here on GNF, the month of October makes for a great pairing with horror comics. There is a plethora of anthologies and collections primed for release this month, when such stories are free to crawl out from under the bed and basement stairs and into the dark hearts of readers.

Once again there is a new Creepy Archive from Dark Horse to celebrate this month.  As regular collectors of both the Creepy and Eerie Archives will probably admit, the series grew a bit repetitive in the middle volumes, which is what makes the new Creepy Vol. 11 so noteworthy.  Here, the series enters the early 1970s under the editorial watch of Bill DuBay, and the book flourishes anew with a heavy influence from European artists--plus, early work from artist Richard Corben (more on him in a bit).  A standout story for me is "A Most Private Terror," where the stark panels and lack of backgrounds serve to draw further attention to artist Esteban Maroto's contributions (story by Doug Moench). "The cold thing walked as man by day and stalked by night a beast! Damned by the moon!"  The windswept struggles and open-mouthed anguish are rich in detail and realism.  It's gorgeous.

Dark Horse also recently released a comprehensive look at all of artist Bernie Wrightson's contributions to Creepy and Eerie Comics--it's full of ghoulish creatures, stooped-over henchmen, and lavish storytelling.  The twelve stories therein lend unnecessary (but welcome) proof as to why he is considered a master in horror illustration.

If horror anthologies are your treat, then you are certainly in for one this month.  Boom! Studios unleashes the Cthulhu Tales Omnibus: Delirium and Zombie Tales Omnibus: Outbreak, and they are stuffed with stories by Mark Waid, Keith Giffen, Steve Niles, and more (although the artists were mostly new to me).  The Lovecraftian theme of Cthulhu gave it the nod over Outbreak, in terms of which would be read first, and it served up a hefty Halloween offering.  Each book contains over 25 stories--perfect for the reader who wants a sharp-toothed nibble.

But maybe you prefer when stories revolve around a focal character. In this case, Hellboy Vol. 11: The Bride of Hell and Others should be in your treat bag. Mike Mignola teams with artists like Hellboy-partner-in-crime Richard Corben and Kevin Nowlan to deliver a collection of often goofy locales (Hellboy in Mexico!) for the titular character to demolish. It's the strongest Hellboy short story collection to date, with Mignola lending his own art to select tales. Plus, the aforementioned Mexico story leads directly into next month's all-new Hellboy: House of the Living Dead hardcover (also illustrated by Corben). 

Whew! There may no longer be enough days in the month to get through all these, but when the books are this fun every day can be Halloween.

--Alex

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