I love a good monster story. Strange beasts lurking in the darkness, and sometimes also the people who hunt them? Sign me up! So here are a few of my favorite graphic novels about monsters for you to peruse.
The way my life is organized these days, it’s tough for me to write reviews. Some of the books below have them, some do not, but I love them all. Hope you find something good to read!
Before we jump in:
- All comics here can be bought as graphic novels/collections, not only as single issues. Your library may own many of these!
- Amazon links are affiliate links.
- Any questions, corrections, recommendations? Let me know via my contact form.
I fell in love with this book in about seven pages. The premise: all the angels, demons, spirits, and magical creatures humans believe in are actually otherworldy beings interfering with humanity. They gain strength from humans’ faith and wreak havoc in our world. So a team of atheists is on a mission to destroy these creatures before they try to end the world. We join the action as Infidel, the newest member, discovers the truth about their battle when “jinns” attack the mosque where he’s trying to re-kindle his faith.
The S.H.O.O.T. team won my heart in two ways. First, the team members include both men and women, and they’re from a variety of national and ethnic backgrounds. Second, they wisecrack properly during fight scenes. Always a bonus. Definitely recommend if you’re in the mood for an action comic.
Diversity note: Selma is Argentinian.
The Beast of Wolfe’s Bay is the nerd monster-hunting comic I never knew I needed. Our hero is Brian Wegman, an anthropology post-grad whose dissertation may never get approved. He’s called home by his sheriff dad to consult on a murder case in his hometown… alongside cute lady Freddie Roth, a long-ago school friend whose academic career has gone much more smoothly. The case? Bigfoot is killing people. You know, like happens all the time in small rural towns.
Can Brian redeem his academic failures by cracking the case? Will he ever figure out that Freddie is just as much of a nerd as he is and she’d kiss him if given half the chance? And just how many Bigfoots are rampaging through the forest outside of town? Plenty of geek pop culture jokes here, and characters you can’t help but like.
A moody, dark supernatural cop drama centered around Dr. Randal Horne, a physician who killed one of his patients by using a drug his colleagues knew was unsafe. A murder case where the dead body has an invisible head brings him into contact with Detective Joely Huffman and two CDC agents. Together they must track down a rogue researcher whose experiments with a retrovirus now have a body count. The second case for this unlikely team brings them to a small town, looking for an explanation for an animal attack… that looks suspiciously like werewolves.
I loved the diversity of the team, not just in terms of gender and race, but also in personality, and the X-Files vibe was right up my alley. It says it’s Volume 1, but lucky for us it doesn’t end on a cliffhanger, since there was never a second installment. (I’d buy it, though, if it turned up now. Just sayin’.)
Sure, go ahead and steal a collection of rare silver from the estate of Mina and Jonathan Harker during an auction. What could go wrong? And when you screw it up and then decide to steal even more silver from a castle full of vampires… well, let’s hope anyone makes it out alive. I enjoyed this pulp 1930s heist well enough to back the second volume on Kickstarter as well, and it didn’t disappoint. The black and white newsprint-looking art, the surly gal with a sword, and serious vampire mayhem is an irresistible combination. Bonus: a kid who can see any future except his own. What’s up with that?
[Update June 19th, 2018: the third volume rocks! Can’t wait for the fourth to see how all this ends!]
Sadly under-recognized desert-based fantasy about monster-hunter Irro and his assistant Hari facing off against a cult that wants to destroy all monsters – with no regard for the drastic side effects on the people in their town. It’s very much a tale of “man versus organized religion run amok,” but grounded in Irro and Hari’s personal experience and relationship as things around them get worse and they’re forced to fight back. The art is cartoonish in style, but never silly, and always just exactly enough to get the job done, nothing extra or wasted. C-Man and I both had a great time reading it, and it stands up perfectly on re-reading.
(This is also known in our house as “that book about poor Monkey Girl” and if you read it, you’ll see what we mean.)
Publisher Archaia put out parts 1 and 2 of three, but never the third, so you really have to get the self-published complete edition.
“1863: during the American Civil War, the inhabitants of New Fraternity, Indiana, find themselves far from the front lines of the conflict embroiling the United States but still constantly under threat from it; food is scarce, deserters come to seek asylum, and a mysterious feral beast that walks on two legs prowls the forest around the town. The beast seems to have some connection to Emile, a feral child found a few years earlier who had been taken in by the townsfolk during simpler times. As their fear and paranoia grows, the townsfolk start to hunt the beast and turn on each other, with tragic results that threaten to undo all that they have been working toward.”
“Antisocial, dorky boy seeks fun-loving, sexy vampire for blood-sucking and transforming into her minion.
One night, sleepless Yamori slips out of his home to walk the streets of his town. Life after dark is a revelation! Especially when he meets flirtatious Nanakusa… She’s a lot more fun to share the night with than old drunks on park benches. When she invites him to spend the night at her place in an abandoned building, he’s stoked! But then he awakens to kisses on his neck with a little too much bite to them…
Now that Yamori knows Nanakusa is a vampire, the question remains—is it just the delicious taste of his blood that makes her meet him night after night for late-night adventures, conversation and…naps? Or something else? Then, when a cute girl from Yamori’s past shows up and competes for his attention, his budding relationship with the undead is truly put to the test!”
Who watches over vampires during the day? David Reid knows, because he’s one of them. Trained, trusted, and ultimately disposable. A servant of scary, scary masters, right when all kinds of hell are about to break loose.
Nelson wrote Hexed, one of my favorite comics (see my magic comics post), so I knew he could tell a good creepy story. His team-up with Gagnon has created a multi-layered story with just as much dread and human pain as in Hexed, with the delicious addition of more conspiracy and suspicion. Stelfreeze and Moore are a great pair as well. I especially love the facial expressions, and the coloring of the clothing and backgrounds. Oh, and the fire. The fire is really pretty.
If this duology doesn’t end up with a movie deal, there is no justice in this world. It’s already plotted perfectly for the big screen, like reading a movie, and I love that about it.
“In 2020, a large creature rampages through Tokyo, destroying everything in its path.
In 1959, Asa Asada, a spunky young girl from a huge family in Nagoya, is kidnapped for ransom—and not a soul notices. When a typhoon hits Nagoya, Asa and her kidnapper must work together to survive. But there’s more to her kidnapper and this storm than meets the eye.
When Asa’s mother goes into labor yet again, Asa runs off to find a doctor. But no one bats an eye when she doesn’t return—not even as a storm approaches Nagoya. Forgotten yet again, Asa runs into a burglar and tries to stop him on her own, a decision that leads to an unlikely alliance.”
“The year is 1954 and Lieutenant Ota Murakami is on hand when Godzilla makes first lanfall in Japan. Along with his pal, Kentaro, Ota makes a desperate gamble to save lives…and in the process begins an obsession with the King of the Monsters that lasts 50 years!”
LOVE this creepy family of monster-hunters. The first volume begins with a young man taking revenge on a former classmate who bullied him for possibly being gay (non-spoiler: he is). The young man’s revenge is to trap the bully in hallucinations and nightmares. He comes by such dark magic honestly, as his father has retired from his famed monster-hunting career to be a college professor. Unfortunately for Dad, he’s the only one in the family who wants the quiet life! His kids are practicing in secret to follow in his footsteps, and his wife would rather be on ghoul patrol. The poor guy is dragged back into the fray anyway when an old colleague visits with a warning, and from there it’s all double-dealing, old secrets, and running around in dark woods with monsters chasing people.
The second volume of this series was weak in the plot area, IMHO, but it came back strong with the third volume and I enjoyed the fourth as well. I love the big spooky mansion, the brother-sister team-ups, and the general mayhem. The art style is like old photographs, all black and sepia tones, and the monster and other beastie designs don’t disappoint.
October Faction is an ongoing series.
I love this book because Šejić writes and draws real characters instead of 2D cutouts that move through a plot. Specifically in this book, a beautiful and somewhat diverse “found family” of monster-fighting undead folks. I want to hang out with them. Or at least work at their HQ. Maybe they have some spreadsheets that need wrangling? I also love this book because the female characters are so strong, and some of them are conventionally sexy, but none of them are objectified. They’re not just on the page so men can ogle them! They’re people! And they kick ass when needed.
The action is great, the comedy is great (even the terrible puns, augh!), the monsters are creepy horrible, and I cherish of all the little touches like Bernadette’s MP3 player and the dorky teenagers raiding on side-by-side computers and they just love hanging out together so much even though their parents hate each other eeee so cute! And because the big romance we find out about near the end (with another pair of characters) is so adorable, I have many FEELINGS about it, and I want another book so I can see more of this please and thank you.
Also, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the wondrousness of the Vikings. Yep, Vikings.
B.P.R.D. 1946-1948 (Amazon/Comixology / Goodreads) Mike Mignola is the creator and author, joined by by a changing team across the series. Writers Joshua Dysart, John Arcudi, and Gabriel Bá and Fábio Moon. Art by Paul Azaceta, Gabriel Bá and Fábio Moon, and Max Fuimara. Colors by Nick Filardi and Dave Stewart. Letters by Clem Robins.
Hellboy fans will know instantly that B.P.R.D. stands for the Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defense. The B.P.R.D. 1940s series focuses on Professor Broom, Hellboy’s adoptive father. 1946 begins in post-war Germany, with the investigation of a Nazi Occult Bureau project called Vampir Sturm. Unfortunately, this investigation requires cooperation from the Russians, including an actual demon who leads the Soviet arcane studies division. Varvara, the demon, appears as a young, beautiful doll almost, or an extremely creepy Shirley Temple. And she’s a little too interested in Hellboy. In 1947 Broom leads a new team into Eastern Europe to confront a vampire serial killer. 1948 takes place at Broom’s desert headquarters where possibly atomic-bred monsters are killing people.
All very creeptastic in a lovely way, with this flat color palette that sets this dimly lit vintage mood and unifies the volumes across different art styles. If you’re not already familiar with Hellboy but this all sounds intriguing, it’s fine, you can jump right in.
And if you like these, a good followup is B.P.R.D.: Vampire (Amazon / Comixology / Goodreads). It follows Anders, a team member who carries a burden from events of 1947, on his journey for vengeance. I liked 1946 and Vampire best, C-Man liked 1947 more.
This dark fantasy series follows a young girl, Shiva, and her monster guardian, whom she calls Teacher, living in an abandoned village. Nearby humans have retreated to safety to avoid the plague that turns people into monsters, which is transmitted by touch. Four volumes in, I’m still trying to figure out exactly what the flip is going on, but it’s clear that (1) there’s something special about the girl, (2) Teacher’s cohabitation with her isn’t popular with either the humans or the other monsters, and (3) creepy manga is going to keep being creepy. I love the slow pace, the oppressive atmosphere, and the tenderness Teacher displays in adoptive-parenting Shiva even though they can’t have physical contact.
The Girl from the Other Side is an ongoing series.
That concludes today’s roundup of monster comics that I love and recommend! If you have any suggestions for me, please get in touch via my contact form – and thanks for sharing this post on social media or with friends.