Comics to Thrill, Chill, and Scare You!

By Jason Larsen

Covers of comics mentioned in this blog post

The University Library comic collection offers an impressive array of comics between the holdings in the Main Stacks as well as those available in the ComicsPlus application! To celebrate the arrival of Fall, and the creeping approach of Halloween, we wanted to share some comic recommendations that we thought might offer up skin-crawling goose bumps, bone-chilling thrills, or dare we say… mind-numbing fear?!

6 Comics Available on the Shelf

BTTM FDRS (Ezra Clayton Daniels and Ben Passmore)

An aspiring fashion designer and her vain friend move to a warehouse in a blighted Chicago neighborhood because the rent is so cheap. They soon find there is something dark and dangerous in the walls of their new home. Using the backdrops of gentrification and urban blight this book is an Afrofuturist-centered tale of horror and cultural appropriation.

The Crossroads at Midnight (Abby Howard)

 An anthology of five stories that each explore what happens when the lonely are willing (or desperate) enough to seek out connections with the things that go bump in the night. Will these creatures be the comfort or true friends they are seeking? Or are they pretending to be a friend to those lonely souls while waiting for the perfect moment to reveal their true natures?

Friend of the Devil: A Reckless Book (Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips)

In the mid-1980s a former 60s radical, who happened to be a federal agent, has a career as a privately contracted problem solver. When a friend asks him to help find her missing sister, he finds himself thrown deep into the dark underbelly of Hollywood’s 70s occult movement. Will he find the truth behind the missing women or are some things best left buried?

Cover of Friend of the Devil comic

I Breathed a Body (Zac Thompson and Andy MacDonald)

A book that takes social media and influencer culture and mashes it up with body and science fiction horror! The story centers on the world’s largest influencer committing a horrific act online and follows what his social media manager is willing to do to make it a viral sensation… what could possibly go wrong?

Something is Killing the Children (James Tynion IV and Werther Dell’Edera)

In a small middle American town, local children are going missing in a disturbing number yet the town seems largely unmoved by these events. The children who do make it home tell tales of monstrous creatures in the shadows around the town. All hope seems lost until a mysterious woman arrives whose mission is simple, kill all the monsters no matter what the cost.

Stray Dogs (Tony Fleecs and Trish Forstner)

Find out what happens when Silence of the Lambs meets the artistic style of All Dogs Go to Heaven. Sophie awakens to find herself in a strange place with fragmented memories of something horrific. As she starts to figure out where she is and what happened, she also realizes she must find a way to survive. Oh, did we forget to mention that Sophie is a dog?

6 Comics Available in ComicsPlus

Abbott (Saladin Ahmed and Sami Kivelä)

Meet Elena Abbott. She is the toughest tabloid reporter in the city and is recovering from a deep loss. She is on a mission to investigate a series of gruesome crimes the police are ignoring. Not only does she plan to expose the crimes, but also to destroy the dark forces behind them in search for the truth.

Ghost Tree (Bobby Curnow and Simon Gane)

The story of a man seeking shelter from the storms of life in his ancestral home. He discovers a tree on the property that seems to draw in the souls of the dead. Can he find some solace for his troubles by helping the souls of the tree resolve their own traumatic pasts? Or will he find that the unliving can be just as cold as those who remain behind?

Cover of Ghost Tree Comic

Murder Book: A Graphic Memoir of a True Crime Obsession (Hilary Fitzgerald Campbell)

New Yorker cartoonist Hilary Fitzgerald Campbell explores why as a society we are so into enjoying true crime stories. In this memoir, she explores several facets of the genre like armchair sleuthing and high-profile murders cases. And while she does focus on the thrilling aspects, she also takes time to examine the cultural criticism of the genre and the most often forgotten part of these stories, the victims and their families.

The Neil Gaiman Library Volume 1 (Neil Gaiman and Various)

While many readers may be familiar with Neil Gaiman’s seminal comic work The Sandman, many may not know of his other horror/thriller works that he has created outside of his prose novels. This library edition collects four of these smaller graphic novel works into one collection. This volume contains stories ranging from Sherlock Holmes imagined in Lovecraftian terms to an unheard-of murder in heaven and the consequences it brings.

Trese Vol #1: Murder on Balete Drive (Budjette Tan and Kajo Baldisimo)

The debut series from Filipino comic creators Budjette Tan and Kajo Baldisimo focuses on the creatures in the dark and other things that go bump in the night in Manila’s streets. When crimes involving these occur, the police turn to Alexandra Trese for help. Follow Alexandra as she battles these and other terrors of the night in the quest for justice.

Your Turn to Die: Majority Vote Death Game, Vol. 1 (Nankidai and Tatsuya Ikegami)

Life ling friends Sara and Joe are kidnapped and awaken locked to strange tables. As this nightmare world unfolds it becomes clear death is coming. Sara has always known Joe to be selfless and would be willing to take a bullet for her. However, as the disturbing game unfolds, it becomes clear that Joe has the means to save only one of them. Is their wit, trust, and friendship strong enough to save them both?

Cover of Your Turn to Die

6 Comics of Honorable Mention

The below comics, while amazing, just didn’t quite make the…cut. Check them out if you dare!

While the above are our favorite picks, there are many more to choose from between both the catalog and the ComicsPlus application. Some wonderful features about the ComicsPlus Application are it can be viewed on any computer or mobile device and the content is free to all university faculty, staff, and students. We encourage you to not only try out our picks but to explore and find your next new favorite comic.

If you are unfamiliar with the ComicsPlus application, the service provides our students, staff, and patrons with access to over 20,000 comics from 86 different publishers in a digital format. Check out the video links below as they provide additional details on the application.

Welcome to ComicsPlus

How to Locate and Access ComicsPlus

Share this post:
Facebook Twitter Tumblr

Ten Great Comics to Celebrate Black History Month

By Jason Larsen 

A screen capture of the Comics Plus app featuring their Black History Month selections.

The Comics Plus app is a great way to read comics online. This month they are also featuring comics by Black creators in honor of Black History month.

The University of Illinois Library maintains a diverse offering of comics not only in our main stacks but also through our Comics Plus application. A couple of the wonderful features about the Comics Plus Application is that you can view it on any computer or mobile device and the content is free to all university faculty, staff, and students.

In celebration of Black History Month, we wanted to share some of our comic recommendations that we feel highlight Black creators or history in comics. We encourage you to check on the works below in the application and/or explore to find your own new favorites.

Anthology – Black Comix Returns (Damien Duffy, John Jennings, Various)

This offering is the second in the series and not only highlights work from various independent Black creators in different genres but also has a direct connection to the University of Illinois. The series is in part compiled by our own alumnus, Dr. Damien Duffy. If you are looking to get a sampling of the types of comic materials out there then look no further than this series.

Biography – Fame: Lil Nas X (Darren G. Davis and Victor Moura)

Lil Nas X is an award-winning rapper whose rise to fame in the last several years has earned the notice of national magazines like Time and Forbes who note he has become an influential force in today’s music scene. This recent release is the story of Lil Nas X’s early years in Atlanta to his breakout hit “Old Town Road”.

Comic Strips – The Boondocks: Because I Know You Don’t Read the Newspaper (Aaron McGruder)

This groundbreaking strip took newspapers by storm with its unique art style and no holds barred take on social topics we are still struggling with today. It also spawned a successful, if not equally controversial, animated cartoon that ran for four seasons on Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim. While there has been no new Boondocks material for some time, you can still enjoy it from the beginning with this first collected volume of the newspaper strips.

Comic Studies – Invisible Men: The Trailblazing Black Artists of Comic Books (Ken Quattro, Alvin Hollingsworth, E.C. Stoner, and Matt Baker)

The tapestry of American comic books is composed of stories created by a multitude of creators. However, much like other fields, the early contributions of Black creators were omitted from the narrative in favor of names we are all familiar with today. This book is the culmination of 20 years of research that explores the Black pioneers of early American comics that should not be missed.

The cover of "Invisible Men: The Trailblazing Black Artists of Comic Books" by Ken Quattro, Alvin Hollingsworth, E.C. Stoner, and Matt Baker

Fantasy – Djeliya (Juni Ba)

A fantasy graphic novel set in a world inspired by West African folklore and cultural stories going back centuries. Creator Juni Ba takes us on a wild and winding quest that not only touches on trying to save a dying world but also learning the deeper secrets to myths and traditions that make up a culture along the way.

Historical Fiction/Mystery – Incognegro: A Graphic Mystery (Mat Johnson)

A unique and chilling suspense mystery set in the early 20th Century American South era of public lynching. African American men who could “pass” as white and attempt to expose these atrocities were known as going “incognegro”. A New York reporter goes to the South to investigate the arrest of a black man for the murder of white woman before they become the next victim of a lynch mob. Can this reporter successfully expose the truth about the murder and the secrets he uncovers while “incognegro” when the accused is his own brother?

History/Biography – Billie Holliday (Carlos Sampayo and Jose Muñoz)

Billie Holliday’s song “Strange Fruit” brought the lynchings in the South to the forefront of US culture in 1939. Yet despite her career being tied to this powerful protest song, her life was marred by controversy and addiction. This biography explores her life and seeks the truth in an attempt to correct the record about the singer’s life and legacy.

LGBTQ +/Romance – The Sacrifice of Darkness (Roxane Gay, Tracy Lynne Oliver, James Fenner, and Rebecca Kirby)

Bestselling author Roxane Gay takes her short story and expands it into a full-length graphic novel. Set in a dystopian world forever covered by darkness there is little light to be found. Follow one woman’s journey that explores the boundaries of family, identity, love, and survival while discovering if light can exist when the world is nothing but darkness.

Cover of "The Sacrifice of Darkness" by Roxane Gay, Tracy Lynne Oliver, James Fenner, and Rebecca Kirby.

Nonfiction/Comic Reference – The Access Guide to the Black Comic Book Community (2020-2021) (Dimitrios Fragiskatos, George Carmona 3rd, Joseph Illidge, and Various)

A guide that will serve all readers and fans who are new to comics, those who are experienced comic readers, and everyone in between. The guide is a collection of publishers, stores, and other similar resources that provide the reader with a plethora of information to help them navigate and further explore of the Black comic book community.

Cover of "The Access Guide to the Black Comic Book Community (2020-2021)" by Dimitrios Fragiskatos, George Carmona 3rd, Joseph Illidge, and Various.

Science Fiction – LaGuardia (Nnedi Okorafor and Tana Ford)

Set on an Earth that has become a destination hub for aliens this story explores themes of immigration, refugees, and equal rights through the lens of science fiction. Follow Nigerian-American doctor Future Nwafor Chukwuebuka and her illegal plant alien as they flee to New York. They will not only find themselves navigating the worlds of activism but also of impending parenthood in a country that is historically anything but welcoming to those who are different.

While the above are our favorite picks, there are many more to choose from on the Comics Plus application. We encourage you to not only try out our selections but also to explore the application and find your next new favorite comic. If you are unfamiliar with the Comics Plus application, the service provides our patrons with access to over 20,000 comics from 86 different publishers in a digital format. Check out the video links below as they provide additional details on the application.

Welcome to Comics Plus

How to Locate and Access Comics Plus

Share this post:

Facebook Twitter Tumblr