My older brother was always into scary comic books. He always delighted in showing me the covers (and the panels inside), especially when I’d get freaked out. When I got a little bit older, I stopped getting scared and started getting interested in them. Some of the stories are hokey and some of the interior artwork was flat, but I always loved those covers. So, in the spirit of Halloween, here’s a roundup of 10 awesome horror comic book covers from the past to the present!
Werewolf by night # 12 by Gil Kane
This cover was drawn by the famous Gil Kane. It’s a mix of the innovative, the dynamic and the classic Marvel Comics style. The werewolf in the rear view mirror is an amazing touch. When mirrors are used correctly they’re a great framing device, and this is no exception. The ferocity of the wolf and the sheer terror on the couple’s faces make this one a classic.
Eerie #36 by Enrich Torres
Eerie is one of the classic horror comics series. I remember my brother had a few of them (they were before our time by a little bit) and he coveted them. All of their covers were really well done—so much so, in fact, that they were a direct reason for the huge backlash toward comics that resulted in the Comics Code Authority. This one, by Enrich Torres, is great because it’s simple. From a design standpoint, the hand on the door looks great—and from an audience perspective, there’s nothing creepier than a ghoulish hand clawing at a bloody door!
Creepy #44 by Vincente Segrelles
You can’t have Eerie without Creepy, its partner in crime. This is another one that’s simple and astoundingly effective. The composition of the image is fantastic, and it uses negative space in a way that most comic books have never dreamed of. All of the darkness in the background brings your eye to that ghastly corpse in its wooden box, reaching out to grab its unsuspecting victim. Vincente Segrelles’ work inspired countless artists that came after him.
Captain America #405 by Rik Elvins and Danny Bulanadi
Okay, it wouldn’t be a Halloween time post if I didn’t throw something in that’s both a little spooky and a little silly at the same time. I’ve never read this comic, but I remember seeing the cover and being absolutely delighted. Captain America is a werewolf! And he looks pretty scary to boot. We’re left to wonder why and how the good Captain has contracted a case of lyncanthropy, but the cover speaks for itself. The blood red background and shadowy werewolf head look great with the traditional superhero costume.
Swamp Thing #56 by Rick Veitch
Swamp Thing is a pretty well-known muck monster at this point in pop culture. Most people don’t directly associate him with real horror, but these comics were pretty scary on a psychological level. To see that, you don’t need to look any further than Rick Veitch’s cover art. The gorgeous layout features the titular hero lying dead on his back, floating in the eye socket of a beautifully rendered skull. The amount of detail, darkness, despair and horror here is insane.
Tomb of Dracula #1 by Neal Adams and Marie Severin
Does it get more classic than this? I need to take a moment to geek out about that logo, too. The bat/cape shape and the spooky letters look great in their shifting color scheme. The red border looks great too, and it makes all of the lettering readable—comics were more verbose then, after all. If the logo and framing alone don’t sell you on ol’ Drac, then the misty swamp, full moon and unconscious woman in his arms should more than do the job. This is archetypical Dracula right here, and I’ve never seen a comic book that captures it this well.
Aliens #1 by Denis Beauvais
The creatures from the Alien movies always creep me out, and Denis Beauvais’ rendition is stunning. His use of perspective is excellent, and the alien is in the perfect position in the space elevator/tube to create the right feeling of balance. There’s also some remarkable backlighting going on here, which further implies that this creature is going to be in your face in a matter of seconds. The detail is amazing, but the fact that the design converys such a sense of action is what makes it awesome.
Marvel Zombies #3 by Arthur Suydam
I’ve never read this series, but I know it was penned by Robert Kirkman, the creator of The Walking Dead. Keeping that in mind, its zombie credentials are firmly in order. This rendering of Marvel fan-favorite Wolverine is absolutely horrifying, mouthful of eyeballs and all. Even the Hulk reflected in his claws is eating eyeballs. It’s grotesque and gory, but it’s also a marvel (pun fully intended) of design. The gloomy blue sky is a perfect contrast to Wolverine’s ghoulish visage and shiny claws. This is one that stands out on the shelves.
Hellboy Seed of Destruction 3 by Mike Mignola and Art Adams
As a designer, I’ve never seen a piece by Mike Mignola that I didn’t love. His super-stylized characters, bold lines and simple colors are stunning. There’s enough darkness here to keep the vibrant reds, greens, yellows and blues from looking the least bit gaudy. The image itself is quite suspenseful and frightening, with those tentacles dominating almost the entire background. Great composition, great design and great horror.
Ghostly Haunts 49 – Tom F. Sutton
Wow. This one is both gruesome and otherworldly at the same time. The way the background fades from red to black is amazing, as are the tendrils of mist floating upward. They all serve to frame the guillotine and the executioner, who are both larger than life and part of the background. The colors here are classic horror, as is the subject matter. There’s a real sense of depth here—and a real sense of sheer terror.