Sunday, October 31, 2010

Oh, The Horror! #55: Let's Ask #3: What's Your Horror? Part 1: Books

On my recent Face To Greg, I ask various comic creators what their favorite horror books are.

Hector Casanova (Image Comics' Screamland): IT by Stephen King. At over 1000 pages, it's a fatty, but it's totally worth it. Pure King at the top of his game. It's got everything: mysterious deaths, ineffable monsters, killer clowns, alien invasions, domestic violence, even kids having sex... but most convincing, and scariest of all, is how well King can capture what it's like to be a 12 yr old misfit, terrified and terrorized by your peers and the world around you.

Jimmie Robinson (Shadowland Comics' Bomb Queen): Stephen King's NIGHT SHIFT. I like short stories and King did well with this book back in the day. It's also one of the most movie-optioned books in history. So many films were based out of this book that I think he set a record. In particular, Children of the Corn was especially well done. Granted the film version(s) is akin to a made-for-Syfy-Channel-movie, but the original story was solid. King is good at conflict creation. The ultimate "what if...?" writer. His high-concept stories (which Hollywood loves) have always held a place in my reader's heart. He also has a large body of work to dwell on and often you can find some connective tissue between books, and I appreciate that. However, he's not the only star in the horror sky, but since the question aims at a single work then I'll let it stand where it is.

Nathan Edmundson (Image Comics' The Light and Who Is Jake Ellis?): My favorite horror book is THE OATH by Frank Peretti. That, or IT [by Stephen King]. THE OATH is hardly a "horror" book, but I read it when I was about 5 and it scared me pretty good. IT seeps into you, and few other books have had me looking out the window like that one--and reaching for the book in the dark, too. For more shock horror, I think I could qualify BLOOD MERIDIAN.

Erik Larsen (Image Comics' Savage Dragon): Seriously--the closest I come is THE WALKING DEAD and it's more of a survival story than a horror one.

Mahmud Asrar (Marvel Comics' Shadowland: Powerman): This is a difficult one but when it comes to novels I lean towards the classics. Stuff with a Gothic setting and an ominous atmosphere really grab me. I'll have to go for BRAM STOKER'S DRACULA.

Harold Sipe (Image Comics' Screamland and IDW's Garter and Ghouls): My favorite horror book of recent memory has been Joe Hill's HEART-SHAPED BOX. There is a really chilling scene pretty early on in which the main character has to walk past a ghost sitting in his hallway. No gore. No screaming and carrying on. The horror came from all the description and subtlety of the scene, this seems to me where Hill really excels. I am really enjoying 20TH CENTURY GHOSTS by Hill as well.

David Hine (DC Comics' Azrael and The Spirit, Image Comics' Bulletproof Coffin, and Radical Comics' Ryder on the Storm): JAPANESE TALES OF MYSTERY AND IMAGINATION by Edogawa Rampo. The Japanese author took his name from the Japanese pronunciation of Edgar Allan Poe and he set out to outdo the master. Three of the stories in this volume would be in my all-time top ten: "The Human Chair", "The Hell of Mirrors" and "The Caterpillar." Here's the basic plot of "The Human Chair": A guy falls in love with an unattainable woman, so he constructs a chair that he can crawl into and stay there in a seated position. His arms are in the arms of the chair, his upper torso in the back of the chair and so on. Then he has the chair (and himself) delivered to her. Whenever she sits on the chair, she's sitting on him. He basically lives in there, only sneaking out at night to eat. Now that is scary...

Reginald Hudlin (Marvel Comics' Captain America/Black Panther: Flags of Our Fathers): I've never read a true horror novel. In comics, CROSSED is the scariest thing ever. WALKING DEAD is brilliantly written and drawn. Alan Moore's NECROMINCON is pretty damn good so far.

Tomm Coker (Marvel Comics' Daredevil Noir and Image Comics' Undying Love): DRACULA is where it all began. Horror in an extended novel form with all the mood, scares and beast we've come to expect from monsters and ghouls. Stoker invented the structure and created a great love story that scared my socks off as a kid.

Alex Grecian (Image Comics' Proof): The most disturbing novels I've ever read are probably LORD OF THE FLIES and THE ROAD, but they probably don't qualify as horror, so I'm gonna nominate Stephen King's THE SHINING as scariest ever. It's the only thing I've ever read that scared me so badly I had to stop reading and actually hide the book. I threw it as far back under my bed as it would go and never finished reading it. If you're curious, the chapter that did it for me was the one with the ghost lady in the bathtub. Yikes!

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