Welcome, scare-addicts. Grab your flashlights and steel your nerves, because today, we’re delving into a topic that’s as compelling as it is unsettling—serial killers as protagonists in comics! Now, you might be asking, “Has the Longbox of Darkness finally gone too far? Why would anyone want to read about that?” Oh, come on, deep down you know the answer! It’s the same reason we can’t turn away from a car crash, or why we watch true crime documentaries in the dead of night. There’s something inherently captivating about peering into the abyss, about trying to understand the minds of individuals who operate on a whole different moral plane—or perhaps lack one altogether.
But let’s get one thing straight: this isn’t just about the shock value or the gore, though there’s plenty of that to go around. What’s truly mesmerizing about these stories is how they make us confront uncomfortable truths about society, justice, and human nature. They challenge us to examine our own moral compasses and question the fine line between right and wrong, sanity and madness.
Today, we’ll explore six comics that do just that. These aren’t just your run-of-the-mill, blood-and-guts affairs. Each title on this list has been carefully selected based on several criteria, including the depth of its storytelling, the intricacy of its artwork, and the complexity of its characters. These comics aren’t merely sensational; they’re sensational and meaningful. They force us to look beyond the surface-level horror and ask deeper questions about what makes these characters tick—and what that says about us as readers and as human beings.
So, whether you’re a longtime fan of horror comics or a newcomer eager to discover what all the fuss is about, you’re in for a treat. And hey, if you find yourself so captivated that you just have to read these masterpieces for yourself, you’re in luck! I’ll be providing links for each title, so you can dive right into these mind-bending narratives without missing a beat.
Sit back, turn down the lights, and let’s get started. But be warned: after exploring these dark corridors of the human psyche, you may never see the world—or yourself—the same way again.
Criteria for Selection
Now that we’re all on the same spine-chilling page, let’s talk about how the comics on this list were chosen. You might think it’s all about the body count or the gallons of ink used to depict blood, but that’s just scraping the surface. Sure, a high gore quotient can be titillating, but it’s far from the only factor that turns a good horror comic into an unforgettable one.
First up, we’ve got storytelling. I looked for comics that go beyond the simple ‘whodunit’ or ‘whydunit’ and explore the psychological and societal nuances of their characters. These aren’t comics that just show you the horror; they make you think about its implications. Are the killers the product of society, or are they anomalies? What does justice look like in these warped worlds? These are stories that are as thought-provoking as they are terrifying.
Next, let’s talk art. Horror comics have a long tradition of innovative, often unsettling artwork. The comics on this list don’t shy away from that. From the stark black-and-white inking in “From Hell” to the atmospheric tones in “Severed,” the art isn’t just complementary; it’s integral to the narrative. The visual storytelling adds a layer of complexity and engagement that you simply can’t get from words alone.
Lastly, character complexity. The protagonists in these comics are anything but one-dimensional. They have motivations, regrets, twisted moral codes, and sometimes, a glimmer of humanity. They’re characters you might find yourself, dare I say it, empathizing with, which makes their dark deeds all the more haunting.
And, of course, each comic has that indescribable ‘X-factor’—an element so unique that it sets it apart from its gory peers. Whether it’s a jaw-dropping plot twist, an innovative storytelling technique, or a memorable villain, each of these comics offers something that you won’t find anywhere else.
So, ready to dive into the twisted minds behind some of the most captivating killers in comics? Don’t say I didn’t warn you!
Comic #1: Nailbiter
Ah, let’s kick things off with “Nailbiter,” a comic that is as much an ode to the horror genre as it is a riveting story in its own right. Set in the fictional town of Buckaroo, Oregon, this series plunges us into a place that has inexplicably given birth to 16 of the world’s most notorious serial killers. I mean, what is in the water there, right?
The story follows Nicholas Finch, an investigator on a quest to find his missing friend, all while unraveling the unsettling mystery behind Buckaroo’s deadly lineage. At the center of it all is Edward Charles Warren, the infamous Nailbiter, a killer with a penchant for, you guessed it, chewing his victims’ nails down to the bone before dispatching them. As creepy as it is intriguing!
Now, what sets “Nailbiter” apart? For starters, the art style, helmed by Mike Henderson, is an atmospheric marvel. The color palette oozes dread and foreboding, filling each frame with a sense of impending doom. Yet, it’s not just about creating a dark aesthetic; the visuals are a character in their own right, elevating the narrative to a whole new level.
Then there’s the storytelling. Joshua Williamson crafts a tale that is as much a psychological thriller as it is a horror story. It’s packed with twists and turns that challenge your expectations and keep you on the edge of your seat. And let’s not forget the character depth. Edward Warren is not your garden-variety maniac; he’s a killer with layers, a man as enigmatic as he is horrifying.
Why It’s a Must-Read
Simply put, “Nailbiter” is a rollercoaster ride through a dark landscape of human depravity, but one that also raises compelling questions about nature versus nurture, about what drives someone to kill. It’s a visceral yet intellectually stimulating experience you won’t want to miss.
Comic #2: From Hell
If “Nailbiter” gave you the creeps, hold onto your hat because “From Hell” is a plunge into historical horror like no other. Based on the infamous Jack the Ripper murders in Victorian London, this one combines the allure of true crime with masterful storytelling.
Written by Alan Moore and illustrated by Eddie Campbell, “From Hell” offers an intricate look at the world surrounding Jack the Ripper. Moore weaves a dark tapestry that involves everyone from the working-class women of Whitechapel to the echelons of British society.
Let’s talk about the artwork first. Presented in stark black and white, the visual narrative holds no punches. The gritty illustrations serve as a time machine, transporting us to the grimy streets of 19th-century London with an unsettling realism.
Storywise, Moore doesn’t merely recount the Ripper murders. He presents a multifaceted narrative that explores the social and sexual politics of the era, scrutinizing the very fabric of Victorian society. It’s an intricate plot that demands—and rewards—your full attention.
Why It’s a Must-Read
“From Hell” is more than a comic; it’s a historical and sociological study wrapped up in a captivating narrative. It confronts you with the very roots of modern horror, challenging you to think while you quake in your boots.
Comic #3: Severed
Switching gears a bit, let’s delve into “Severed,” a masterpiece that plays out like a macabre American fairy tale.
Set in 1916, this tale follows Jack Garron, a 12-year-old runaway in search of his biological father. His journey, however, takes a horrifying detour when he crosses paths with a sinister, sharp-toothed salesman. The result? A descent into a nightmare from which there may be no waking.
Artistically, “Severed” is as atmospheric as comics get. The dark, muted color palette creates a sense of dread that’s both palpable and suffocating. The artwork, courtesy of Attila Futaki, turns every page into a haunting tableau.
On the storytelling front, Scott Snyder and Scott Tuft deliver a narrative that excels in suspense. The pacing is slow-burning, like a fuse leading to an inevitable explosion. It lures you in with the promise of Americana and then hits you with the full weight of its horror.
Why It’s a Must-Read
“Severed” stands out for its mood and setting. It’s a quintessentially American horror story, touching on themes of lost innocence and the dark underbelly of the American Dream. This is Americana viewed through a cracked, bloody lens.
Comic #4: My Friend Dahmer
When you think of Jeffrey Dahmer, ‘friend’ is probably not the first word that comes to mind. However, “My Friend Dahmer” offers an unprecedented look at one of America’s most notorious serial killers before he became the monster the world knows.
Written and illustrated by Derf Backderf, this comic is a memoir that recounts Backderf’s high-school friendship with Jeffrey Dahmer. It’s a haunting, yet deeply humane look at Dahmer’s adolescent years, a period filled with troubling signs and ignored cries for help.
The art style is unique—a blend of caricature and realism that draws you into the setting of a 1970s suburban high school, a supposed haven that harbors a growing darkness. The illustrations are as unsettling as they are engrossing.
In terms of storytelling, the comic’s power lies in its restraint. It doesn’t sensationalize Dahmer’s heinous acts but focuses on the environment that failed to see the warning signs. It’s a nuanced portrayal that sparks empathy, making it all the more chilling.
Why It’s a Must-Read
“My Friend Dahmer” challenges us to confront our own preconceptions and societal failings. It’s a horror story with no monsters—only humans, and that’s what makes it truly horrifying.
Comic #5: The Green River Killer
Taking the idea of a true crime comic to the next level, “The Green River Killer” delivers an unflinching look at one of the longest-running serial killer investigations in U.S. history.
Based on the actual case files and penned by Jeff Jensen, whose own father was a detective on the case, this comic follows the relentless quest to catch Gary Ridgway, the infamous Green River Killer. It’s a story of both procedural grind and psychological depth.
The artwork by Jonathan Case is subdued, leaning towards the realistic, which aligns perfectly with the comic’s aim for authenticity. It’s a visual style that says, “This is real; pay attention.”
As for the narrative, it’s meticulous. It delves into the laborious, frustrating process of catching a killer who eluded capture for two decades. Yet amid the procedural details, it never loses sight of the emotional toll on those involved.
Why It’s a Must-Read
“The Green River Killer” is a sobering reminder of the dedication and grit it takes to bring justice for victims. It’s a harrowing journey that does justice to its grim subject matter.
Comic #6: Torso
Last but definitely not least, we have “Torso,” a comic that merges historical fact and graphic storytelling in a truly electrifying way.
Brian Michael Bendis and Marc Andreyko take us back to the post-Capone era in Chicago, where Eliot Ness—yes, the Untouchables guy—is now tackling one of the first recognized American serial killers, a mystery man who leaves only torsos as clues.
One of the standout elements here is the artwork. Utilizing a mix of black and white drawings and actual period photographs, the visuals bring an eerie sense of realism to the narrative. It’s a constant reminder that these terrifying events actually happened.
The story itself is an intricate dance between historical events and dramatic reinterpretation, keeping readers riveted from beginning to end. Bendis and Andreyko don’t just present a murder mystery; they delve into the psyche of Eliot Ness, showing a man grappling with the weight of his own legend.
Why It’s a Must-Read
“Torso” isn’t just a true-crime comic; it’s an exploration of obsession, responsibility, and the boundaries of justice. It’s a must-read for anyone who loves their comics steeped in both history and horror.
Let’s not forget some other titles that are absolutely worth your time:
Bedlam: Dive into the mind of a reformed supervillain turned would-be superhero in this twisted tale.
Hack/Slash: A unique twist on the slasher genre, this comic follows a “slasher slayer” out to rid the world of serial killers.
Fell: A gritty police procedural meets horror in a city that’s as much a character as any of its residents.
Criminal Macabre: Think of it as supernatural noir, where a detective takes on cases too weird or horrifying for anyone else.
All of these titles bring something unique to the table, whether it’s a new perspective on the horror genre or innovative storytelling that defies expectations. Trust me, you’ll want to check them out.
Whew. What a journey through the dark and twisted alleys of serial killer comics. From the historical hauntings of “From Hell” and “Torso” to the psychologically intense “My Friend Dahmer” and “The Green River Killer,” we’ve opened doors to rooms you probably didn’t even know existed. Each comic in this list challenges us, not just to confront our fears, but to question the very social and psychological constructs that form them.
Why are we so captivated by stories of serial killers? Is it the thrill of the chase, the puzzle yet to be solved, or perhaps a darker, more primal attraction to the abyss of human behavior? It’s a blend of all these elements, explored through different lenses in these six remarkable comics. They’re not just about the boogeyman waiting in the dark; they’re about the monsters we could become, the systems that fail us, and the insatiable human curiosity to understand the worst among us.
It’s the meeting of art and narrative in these serial killer comics that elevates them beyond mere tales of terror. They’re essential reads for anyone who loves complex characters, intricate storytelling, and that spine-tingling sensation that only the best horror can provide. So, whether you’re a seasoned horror aficionado or a newcomer looking to explore, these titles are your passport to a realm where nightmares roam free but can be contained within the pages of a book.
If this post has your horror-loving heart pounding, I want to hear from you! Which of these serial killer comics have you read and what did you think? Are there any others that should be on this list? Comment below and let’s get the discussion rolling.
And if you’re as hooked on horror as I am, don’t miss out on more spine-chilling content. Hit that subscribe button to ensure you catch all the latest posts from The Longbox of Darkness, right in your inbox. Trust me, you won’t want to miss what’s coming next 💀.
All images are owned by their respective copyright owners unless stated and are used for promotional and review purposes only.
Disclosure: The Longbox of Darkness is reader supported. Clicking on the links we provide may help us earn an affiliate commission at zero cost to you if you click through the link and finalize a purchase. Read our affiliate disclaimer to learn more.
To all you fellow fear fans out there, thank you for supporting LOD. You rock!