The Gothic Horror Momentum In Graphic Novels

Connie Marchal
Connie Marchal

The emergence of the graphic novel has given way to a revolution. There is now a genre of books that even the most reluctant reader is interested in. The graphic novel works for everyone. It attracts boys as well as girls, English as a second language students, and visual learners, and is increasingly popular amongst young adults.

The subgenre of horror has been gaining momentum and popularity in recent years amongst young adult readers, largely due to the popularity of vampires, but mostly because teens enjoy horror and like being scared. Horror novels enable readers to delve into the forbidden, and experience shock and terror. According to the article ‘A New Era in Gothic Literature,’ although once believed to inspire juvenile delinquency, illiteracy, and disrespect for authority, horror is one of the oldest genres in modern literature and is comprised of terror, Gothic, the weird, ghost stories, the macabre, and the supernatural.

For those educators who are hesitant to include graphic novels as a classroom material, there is increasing proof as to the numerous benefits of them. Graphic novels are no longer viewed as simple books with pictures, lacking quality and having too few words. For true enjoyment of graphic novels, one must view them as you would a film — the visual images and text elements must be considered together.

Horror novels can generally be segregated into five motifs, and it can be said that graphic novels are no different: a castle or haunted house setting; a young innocent hero(ine); a villain or monster; a dark and oppressive setting; and the inclusion of social taboos.

Graphic novels have an extensive viewership, and, as such, have a diverse range of subject matter. Horror is just one of the subgenres within graphic novels that have found popularity. Some of this popularity can be attributed to author Joss Whedon, famously known as the creator of both television shows (and graphic novels) ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ and its spinoff ‘Angel,’ and who has also published a variety of horror graphic novels and has a very large following.

There are a variety of other authors who have since gained notoriety through their publishing of horror graphic novels, and graphic novels that have been turned into movies, bring notoriety to their authors. The newest emerging trend is that of classic authors having their works being reproduced as graphic novels. Abridging novels for a younger audience is nothing new, but by introducing classics as graphic novels, classic literature has become more accessible for readers of all ages and interests. It is worth noting that the classics that are presented as graphic novels are not always abridged, sometimes they feature the full-text.

If you are looking for a good and scary graphic novel, some notable horror works that should not be missed include:

‘Anya’s Ghost’ by Vera Brosgol (2011): Anya is lonely and could use a friend; she was just not expecting to find a friend that had been dead for a century and lives at the bottom of a well. Recipient of both the Eisner Award for “Best Original Graphic Publication for Young Readers” and the Harvey Award for “Best Publication for Young Adults (ages 12-17).”

‘Dracula’ by Gary Reed and Abraham Stoker (2006): A full-text adaptation of Abraham Stoker’s famous work, Gary Reed tells the tale of John Harker, real estate agent, who has travelled to Transylvania in order to sell a Count land in England. A summarized version of the original, readers would not even realize they are reading a classic.

‘Pride, Prejudice and Zombies’ by Jane Austen, Seth Grahame-Smith and Tony Lee (2010). The graphic novel adaptation of a New York Times Bestseller, Tony Lee adapts Seth Grahame-Smith’s novel which sees Jane Austin’s classic turned into a zombie horror story. The dead are rising, and even the women of Britain’s most affluent families must be taught how to kill zombies. Complete with ninja and a love story.

Finally, ‘The Nightmare Factory’ by Thomas Ligotti, Joe Harris and Stuart Moore (2007). Horror master Thomas Ligotti presents a compilation of some of his creepiest tales. In this graphic novel, this tale of sophisticated horror is visually brought to life and takes readers to an unimaginable world.

That is it for today, thank you for reading GothBleak, and if I may ask, what are your favourite graphic novels and writers, and where do you buy your reading material?

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