I’ve been on the hunt for great YA horror comics lately. Part of it is my desire to read comics — I’m still having some trouble immersing myself in prose alone, postpartum — and part of it is my desire to seek out some potential contenders for future Summer Scares titles. I was quite bummed to read one I’d remembered liking in 2011 and discovering how fatphobic it was now, 10 years later, and it hit me how few YA horror comics I’d read. As I made my way down the list of options at my local library, I realized rather than just put holds on everything, it’d be worth making a book list for others. We know spooky season is upon us, so for those who work in libraries or schools (or other places where you provide book recommendations), having these handy will be so helpful.
I’ve included manga, comics series, and stand alone titles here. Some are from well-known publishers, while others are from smaller presses. A few of these began their lives as webcomics and have either companion or compilation volumes in print. I did not include franchise titles (think Archie or Stranger Things) nor did I include adaptations of classics (like Frankenstein).
All descriptions come from Goodreads, as I’m still working my way through these titles. I’d love any other recent-ish title recommendations you may have, from, say, the last five years or so. This list is sticking to titles published 2016 and forward. Some of these titles might veer more middle grade than YA, but I wanted to include them anyway.
As always, a reminder horror is a mood, not a genre, so these comics are across a wide range of genres. All that’s required for a title to be horror is that it brings about dis-ease, disgust, or fear for the reader.
YA Horror Comics for All Types of Thrills and Chills
Three teenagers discover an unearthly creature with incredible powers who needs prey to survive – but as they try to use his powers for good, it may be these humans who pose the greatest threat to the world.
THREE KIDS CALLED SAM.
ONE ALIEN BIOWEAPON.
Three teenagers, each an outcast in their own ways, stumble upon an unearthly entity as it’s born. As they bond over this shared secret and the incredible abilities of their new discovery, the trio soon realizes the truth: this creature is dangerous…and in need of prey.
But as each of them tries to decide how they can use this newfound power to do some real good in a broken world, they’ll find that the greatest threat to humanity may not come from the stars – but from the truth behind their seemingly good intentions.
After sneaking out against her mother’s wishes, Artie Irvin spots a massive wolf–then watches it don a bathrobe and transform into her mom. Thrilled to discover she comes from a line of werewolves, Artie asks her mom to share everything–including the story of Artie’s late father. Her mom reluctantly agrees. And to help Artie figure out her own wolflike abilities, her mom recruits some old family friends.
Artie thrives in her new community and even develops a crush on her new friend Maya. But as she learns the history of werewolves and her own parents’ past, she’ll find that wolves aren’t the scariest thing in the woods–vampires are.
By Night by John Allison, illustrated by Christine Larsen, colored by Sarah Stern, and lettered by Jim Campbell
After discovering a mysterious device, Jane and Heather decide try their hand at documentary filmmaking… in another dimension!
There’s something strange going on in Spectrum, South Dakota.
Home to high school best friends Jane Langstaff and Heather Meadows, Spectrum is a boomtown that’s long since stopped booming, with nothing to show for its former glory but the abandoned Charleswood Estate, its dwindling sprocket millions, and the story of the disappeared industrialist who founded the place… But deep within Charleswood, unbeknownst to anyone, there is a device called the Eidolon, which can open up a doorway to an otherworldly dimension. And Heather and Jane are about to go knocking.
Flora has just moved into an old house with a gothic flare and a hint of mystery. She soon realizes that she’s not alone in this place: a weird cat already lives there, and it’s not leaving. It behaves like no cat she’s ever seen, phasing through solid objects and attempting to eat a police officer. As Flora cozies up to her new creepy yet adorable roommate, she learns there are more spooky surprises in store!
Trev, Kent, and Brian are allegedly friends, but are best known as the backbiting hosts of the popular ghost hunting show, Ghost Bros. With ratings falling and competition rising, they gamble it all on the Chernobyl of haunted locations: Edgeway Penitentiary.
Armed only with a bag of cameras, some sick tattoos and absolutely zero scientific knowledge, the Ghostbros find conclusive proof of the afterlife at Edgeway… After they die and come back as ghosts themselves, trapped there with the angry ghosts who killed them!
A year later, as film crews arrive for an anniversary memorial special hosted by their most hated rivals, the Ghostbros have to be the best DEAD DUDES they can be, in order to prove to the world that ghosts exist (Oh yeah—and to save the living from a ghostly armageddon, but whatever).
Prepare to be Bewitched!
Makoto Kowata, a novice witch, packs up her belongings (including a black cat familiar) and moves in with her distant cousins in rural Aomori to complete her training and become a full-fledged witch.
Things That Go Bump
With her father off overseas, Yachiho is left to move into a new house all by herself…and it’s a genuine haunted mansion, full of ghosts and spirits! But Yachiho is determined to tough it out. To learn her family’s secrets, can she brave all that lurks in the dark of night?
The Shining meets Sophia Coppola’s Marie Antoinette in this gripping debut from an award-winning talent.
The Gift opens on the snow-blanketed grounds of the Alexander Palace in Western Russia where a moth has come to attend the birth of the fourth Romanov princess, Anastasia. She and her siblings grow up in a gilded world, isolated from the society beyond the palace walls despite their dominion over it. After mysteriously receiving a camera on her fifteenth birthday, she begins to document her world, but the gift carries with it a weight she can’t yet see. A creature moves on the edge of her vision and stalks her dreams. As the revolution unfolds, the confines of Anastasia’s world keep closing in. Something is following her, and it might not be human.
In Borja González’s stunning graphic novel, two parallel stories reflect and intertwine in a tale of youthful dreams and desires. In 1856, Teresa, a young aristocrat, is more interested in writing avant garde horror poetry than making a suitable marriage. In 2016, three teenage girls, Gloria, Laura, and Cristina, want to start a punk band called the Black Holes. They have everything they need: attitude, looks, instinct . . . and an alarming lack of musical talent. They’ve barely started rehearsing when strange things begin to happen. As their world and Teresa’s intersect, they’re haunted by the echo of something that happened 160 years ago.
There are those among us, all of whom have had near death experiences, who now have an ability called a Soul-Skill which allows them access to the skill-sets of the dead; fighter, mechanic, sniper. Anything. This ability connects them in this realm to the soul, and its skill, in the next. Pilot. Hacker. Assassin. Anything. While not everyone who touches death is able to retain this ability those who do have formed two warring guilds: Caretakers and Dark Hearts. The Caretaker’s mission? To use the power of the dead to protect the living. Welcome to Graveyard Wars.
All his life Ethan Noble felt he was different; unstable, crazy. How else to explain his ability to master so many different skills only to have them vanish time after time. All her life Carter Noble has tried in vain to help her brother. Raise him, shield him, understand him. An impossible task, even for a twin, because no matter how hard Ethan tried to explain his behavior Carter was never able to understand and any attempt to enlist help from Sebastian, their father, was met with an icy stare and stony silence.
What all three Nobles will soon learn is that in a world where the secrets someone takes to their grave are no longer safe you need family more than ever. The problem? When Ethan and Carter uncover a web of lies that led to their mother’s death they’re lead straight to their father.
Bucky Orson is a bit gloomy, but who isn’t at fifteen?
His best friend left him to hang out with way cooler friends, his dad is the town sheriff, and wait for it―he lives in Blackwell, a town where all the girls are witches. But when his little sister is kidnapped because of her extraordinary power, Bucky has to get out of his own head and go on a strange journey to investigate the small town that gives him so much grief. And in the process he uncovers the town’s painful history and a conspiracy that will change it forever.
Like most university students, Kim works a part-time job to make ends meet. Unlike most university students, Kim’s job is pretty cool: she’s a grim reaper, tasked with guiding souls into the afterlife.
Like most university students, Becka has a super intense crush. Unlike most university students, Becka’s crush is on a beautiful gothic angel that frequents the underworld. Of course, she doesn’t know that.
Unaware of the ghoulish drama she’s about to step into, Becka finally gathers up the courage to ask Kim on a date! But when she falls into a ghostly portal and interrupts Kim at her job, she sets off a chain of events that will pit the two of them against angry cat-dads, vengeful zombies, and perhaps even the underworld itself. But if they work together, they just might make it… and maybe even get a smooch in the bargain.
Mary: The Adventures of Mary Shelley’s Great-great-great-great-great-granddaughter by Brea Grant, illustrated by Yishan Li , lettered by Tom Orzechowski
Angsty teenager Mary Shelley is not interested in carrying on her family’s celebrated legacy of being a great writer, but she soon discovers that she has the not-so-celebrated (and super-secret) Shelley power to heal monsters, just like her famous ancestor, and those monsters are not going to let her ignore her true calling anytime soon.
The Shelley family history is filled with great writers: the original Mary Shelley, author of Frankenstein, the acclaimed mystery writer Tawny Shelley, cookbook maven Phyllis Shelley…the list goes on and on. But this Mary Shelley, named after her great-great-great-great-great grandmother, doesn’t want anything to do with that legacy. Then a strangely pale (and really cute) boy named Adam shows up and asks her to heal a wound he got under mysterious circumstances, and Mary learns something new about her family: the first Mary Shelley had the power to heal monsters, and Mary has it, too. Now the monsters won’t stop showing up, Mary can’t get her mother Tawny to leave her alone about writing something (anything!), she can’t tell her best friend Rhonda any of this, and all Mary wants is to pass biology.
Pete and Alastair Montague are just a couple of mystery-solving twins, living an ordinary life. Or so they thought. After a strange storm erupts on a visit to the beach, they discover there is more to their detective skills than they had thought. Their guardian, David Faber, a once prominent professor, has been keeping secrets about their parents and what the boys are truly capable of.
At the same time, three girls go missing after casting a mysterious spell, which sets in motion a chain of events that takes their small town down an unexpected path. With the help of David’s daughter, Charlie, they discover there are forces at work that they never could have imagined, which will impact their lives forever.
An exciting new graphic novel from innovative creators Nathan Page and Drew Shannon that is at once timely and thrilling.
A story of love and demons, family and witchcraft.
Nova Huang knows more about magic than your average teen witch. She works at her grandmothers’ bookshop, where she helps them loan out spell books and investigate any supernatural occurrences in their New England town.
One fateful night, she follows reports of a white wolf into the woods, and she comes across the unexpected: her childhood crush, Tam Lang, battling a horse demon in the woods. As a werewolf, Tam has been wandering from place to place for years, unable to call any town home.
Pursued by dark forces eager to claim the magic of wolves and out of options, Tam turns to Nova for help. Their latent feelings are rekindled against the backdrop of witchcraft, untested magic, occult rituals, and family ties both new and old in this enchanting tale of self-discovery.
Alexa moves to Savannah to get away from her past. Too bad her past is a Google search away and her parent’s criminal acts quickly make her an outcast. Good thing Fae, Chloe, & Skye aren’t high on the social ladder and give Alexa a group to feel comfortable in. But after a long night of debauchery they transform into the town’s worst nightmare; Fairies.
Part fantasy, part travelogue, Diary Of A Yokai Ghost Hunter follows the adventures of two foreign visitors as they tour Japan. When they buy an antique camera along the way, they discover they can capture images of Japan’s invisible spirit world. The forgotten spirits they meet can be kindly, mischievous, and some, downright dangerous.
Isabel and Jane are the Extraordinary Peabody Sisters, conjoined twins in a traveling carnival freak show—until an ambitious surgeon tries to separate them and fails, causing Jane’s death.
Isabel has lost an arm and a leg but gained a ghostly companion: Her dead twin is now her phantom limb. Haunted, altered, and alone for the first time, can Isabel build a new life that’s truly her own?
After the world comes to an end, a pair of sisters play a certain infamous video tape-but Sadako appears, they’re just happy to meet another girl in this post-apocalyptic world.
When the children of Archer’s Peak—a sleepy town in the heart of America—begin to go missing, everything seems hopeless. Most children never return, but the ones that do have terrible stories—impossible details of terrifying creatures that live in the shadows. Their only hope of finding and eliminating the threat is the arrival of a mysterious stranger, one who believes the children and claims to be the only one who sees what they can see.
Her name is Erica Slaughter. She kills monsters. That is all she does, and she bears the cost because it must be done.
When Becca transfers to a high school in an elite San Francisco suburb, she’s worried she’s not going to fit in. To her surprise, she’s immediately adopted by the most popular girls in school. At first glance, Marley, Arianna, and Mandy are perfect. But at a party under a full moon, Becca learns that they also have a big secret.
Becca’s new friends are werewolves. Their prey? Slimy boys who take advantage of unsuspecting girls. Eager to be accepted, Becca allows her friends to turn her into a werewolf, and finally, for the first time in her life, she feels like she truly belongs.
But things get complicated when Arianna’s predatory boyfriend is killed, and the cops begin searching for a serial killer. As their pack begins to buckle under the pressure—and their moral high ground gets muddier and muddier—Becca realizes that she might have feelings for one of her new best friends.
Being a teenager is hard enough without finding out your new best friend is a 60 year old ghost…
Louise spends every summer at her grandmother’s house with her older sister and their cousins. But this summer, Louise realises her relatives are fast growing up, without her. While they’re concerned with boy drama, Louise is suddenly left alone. But then one day she meets Lisa, who will never, ever become a teenager.
Parallel plotlines, one told in text and one in art, inform each other as a young girl unravels the mystery of a ghost next door.
Mary is an orphan at the Thornhill Institute for Children at the very moment that it’s closing down for good. But when a bully goes too far, Mary’s revenge will have a lasting effect on the bully, on Mary, and on Thornhill itself.
Years later, Ella moves to a new town where she has a perfect view of the dilapidated, abandoned Thornhill Institute. Determined to befriend the mysterious, evasive girl she sees there, Ella resolves to unravel Thornhill’s history and uncover its secrets.
Ella’s story is told through striking, bold art; Mary’s is told through diary entries. Each informs the other until the two eventually intersect to reveal the truth behind Thornhill’s shadowy past, once and for all. Strikingly told and masterfully illustrated, Pam Smy bends genres and expectations alike.
Mila is a solitary teenager ready to put another boring summer vacation behind her until she meets Agnes, an adventurous girl who turns out to be a ghost. And not just a regular ghost, but one carrying the essence of an ancient fallen king and a mouth full of teeth that used to be his guardian warriors. Three-time Eisner Award–nominated writer/artist Tony Sandoval presents a wondrous world of secret places and dreamlike magic hidden in the everyday corners of our sleeping imagination.
Jessi Zabarsky’s lushly illustrated shoujo-adventure comic that introduces Lelek the witch as she blows through town one day, kidnapping the peasant girl Sanja. The unlikely pair grow more entangled as they travel together, looking for the missing half of Lelek’s soul – the source of her true magical abilities. Both women are seeking to learn, in their own ways, how to be whole again. This book collects the serialized story all into a single volume, including the heart-gripping conclusion and other all-new material.
In the witch kingdom Hyalin, the strength of your magic is determined by the length of your hair. Those that are strong enough are conscripted by the Witch Guard, who enforce the law in peacetime and protect the land during war. However, those with hair judged too long are pronounced enemies of the kingdom, and annihilated. This is called a witch burning.
Witchy is a comic about the young witch Nyneve, who is haunted by the death of her father and the threat the Witch Guard poses to her own life. When conscription rolls around, Nyneve has a choice to make; join the institution complicit in her father’s death, or stand up for her ideals?