10 More Spooky Comics That Won't Traumatize Your Kids

Comics Galleries Raina Telgemeier
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10 More Spooky Comics That Won't Traumatize Your Kids

Though the comic stands overflow with all kinds of treats for adult readers looking for some horror reading, kids have historically been more likely to walk home with a pair of wax lips or raisins after searching for any all-ages scary books. The last few years have thankfully changed that trend, with gorgeous reprints and new cartoonists stepping up to brew sequential art that won’t leave younger readers fearfully tugging on their parents bedsheets at 3 a.m. So if you know any little ones looking for an alternative to king-size bars this Halloween, may we humbly suggest these comics and graphic novels as a spooky (but not too spooky) delight.

Camp Midnight

Writer: Steven T. Seagle
Artist: Jason Adam Katzenstein
Publisher: Image Comics

Preteen Skye hates spending the summer with her "stepmonster," the woman who married her divorced father. So it's both a blessing and a curse when her parents collectively decide to send her to camp for the warmer months of the year. Not that Skye is going to enjoy the shining rays of the sun—Camp Midnight kicks into gear when night falls, and its residents can reveal their true selves: eight-legged mean girls, surprisingly kind witches and a hunky, skinny-dipping werewolf. Skye is coy about her "true form," but so is her new best friend, a girl the rest of the camp seems keen on ignoring. Ben 10 co-creator and comics veteran Steven T. Seagle and New Yorker cartoonist Jason Adam Katzenstein craft a spookily fun twist on summer-camp coming-of-age tales, aided by Katzenstein's expressive cartooning and inspired color choices. Steve Foxe

The Creeps Series

Writer/Artist: Chris Schweizer
Publisher: Abrams

Like some gleeful hybrid of The Breakfast Club, Scooby-Doo and the work of alt-animation icon Craig McCracken, The Creeps series snares readers into its panels with swift storytelling and loving eccentricity. Now in its third volume (The Attack of the Jack-O-Lanterns), the comics star misfits Carol, Mitchell, Jarvis and Rosario as they combat Frankenfrogs, trolls and other baddies from infringing on their home of Pumpkins County. Schweizer injects the same breathless tempo found in his Crogan historical adventures, while also reinforcing themes of identity and acceptance for young folks at their most vulnerable. Sean Edgar

The Creepy Casefiles of Margo Maloo

Writer/Artist: Drew Weing
Publisher: First Second

Drew Weing's Creepy Casefiles, with its quirky kids, sympathetic beasties and hand-rendered coloring, reads like a classic children's title from decades past…if not for the astute, subtle observations on cultural dynamics within cities and the ripple effects of gentrification. Charles has just moved to Echo City (an original locale that blends details of major cities into a brochure-ready whole) and soon discovers that the apartment building his father is renovating contains residents of the non-human variety (specifically a troll who pilfers Charles' stuffed collectibles). On the recommendation of his record-setting-obsessed neighbor, Charles seeks out the services of "monster mediator" Margo Maloo, a young girl with a knack for navigating the cultural middle ground between the human and inhuman worlds. Weing never forgets: monsters are people, too. Steve Foxe


Writer/Artist: Raina Telgemeier
Publisher: Scholastic Graphix

Raina Telgemeier is our generation's comics ambassador, producing touching, funny graphic novels that not only reach a ton of readers, but engage folks who lie outside the male adult demo most associated with the medium. Released last month, Ghosts adds an intoxicating dose of magic to the cartoonist's masterful grip on character and relationship. Catarina's family forces her to move to a shady NorCal town to facilitate her sister, who's diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis. Not only does Catarina accept the presence of the dancing, playful undead, she also faces issues of mortality. Big issues for a kids comic, right? Leave it to Telgemeier to articulate daunting concepts with kindness and clarity, while packing her panels with a dizzying array of dancing skeletons and smiling ghouls. Sean Edgar

The Hilda Series

Writer/Arist: Luke Pearson
Publisher: Flying Eye Books

Luke Pearson's series of comics about a blue-haired little adventurer aren't traditionally spooky in the ghosts-and-werewolves sense, but they take place in a land full of trolls, giants and other supernatural critters. Pearson's large pages, carefully crafted color palette and gorgeous panel arrangement (lots of variety and overlap) are fun to look at, even if you can't read yet. If you can, you'll be swept up in its spunky protagonist's adventures. Read the comic now before it becomes an animated series on Netflix in the near future. Hillary Brown

The Kitaro Series

Writer/Arist: Shigeru Mizuki
Publisher: Drawn & Quarterly

Drawn & Quarterly has been reissuing small compilations of Shigeru Mizuki's comics about Kitaro, a yokai (monster) boy who helps humans deal with the supernatural world. Provided your kids can handle something a little gross, tempered with plenty of humor, Kitaro is kind of the original Margo Maloo, a mediator between the human and spooky worlds. These small comics are not only a fun way to give your kids some gentle chills, but they're a fine introduction to manga. Hillary Brown

Little Vampire

Writer/Arist: Joann Sfar
Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Joann Sfar is one of the most wide-ranging comics artists working today, his oeuvre stretching from his very adult material in Pascin to his goofy long-running Dungeon series (a collaboration with Lewis Trondheim) to Little Vampire, a series of books for children about a juvenile bloodsucker and his interactions with the human world. Like much of Sfar's work, it mixes tones to charming effect. It can be dark, but there's also plenty of humor, and a realistic yet romantic approach to the subject, a kind of light-hearted pessimism that's rare in the world of kids comics. Hillary Brown

Plants Vs. Zombies

Writer: Paul Tobin
Artists: Ron Chan, Jacob Chabot, Andie Tong, Others
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics

Comics licensed from videogames don't always have the most creative wiggle room, but a tower defense game about the undead fighting militarized fauna holds a cornucopia of storytelling potential. Credit Paul Tobin, who's woven far more insidious yarns in Colder, for planting some wildly fun plots in the Plants Vs. Zombies universe created by PopCap Games. Giant zombie mechs, time travel and monster trucks all collide in a battle arena that pits vine against brain-eating villain. Tobin and an array of artists consistently keep the glee and cherry bombs coming, and these comics offer the perfect alternative for kids who may be zombified by their iPhones. Sean Edgar

Spook House

Writers/Artists: Eric Powell, Steve Mannion, Others
Publisher: Albatross Funnybooks

The Goon and Hillbilly mastermind Eric Powell wouldn't be the first cartoonist you'd expect to join the kids comics movement, lest we forget what we'll humbly call SSB (Google it). But his new macabre jam anthology, Spook House, offered its first kooky issue this week to deliver 23 pages of PG-13 frights. Within three stories, Powell and guest artist Steve Mannion write a goofy, kitschy love letter to the horror publishers of the '50s and '60s, mainly Warren and EC. This is the closest we'll get to another Tales From the Crypt, rendered in inky, retro adoration by a master of the form. And whether you're in your teens or well past them, Baby Hambone and Mangley Joe's Chili Pot will still make a cameo in your nightmares. Sean Edgar

Waiting for the Great Pumpkin

Writer/Arist: Charles Schultz
Publisher: Fantagraphics

In addition to its comprehensive Complete Peanuts volumes, Fantagraphics has been issuing a series of small (in page count and dimensions), seasonally focused books. This 64-pager collects many of the Great Pumpkin strips, which are more about wishing and faith than about candy and goblins. They're not as syrupy as you might remember, though, which makes them suitable for a wide range of ages. Hillary Brown