Twenty-plus years ago, the prospect of reading a comic right to left with a “backwards” binding was foreign to a lot of American readers. Now, manga is one of the most consumed comics forms in the world! However, manga can be sometimes stereotyped like Western comics and even stigmatized because of the format and source material. Haven’t read manga before, but you love horror? Here’s a list of four spooky manga that will get you not only into manga but Japanese horror as a whole. Where applicable, I’ve listed how many volumes are currently available to purchase because unlike some comics, manga can be long runners – and I do mean long!
Tomie: Complete Deluxe Edition, Junji Ito
Tomie is so beautiful. Her beauty enchants men and draws the ire of women. She is beautiful, malicious, playful, and seductive. A man’s dream come true, if you will. Sometimes, her beauty causes men to lose their mind and sometimes kill other admirers – and Tomie herself. However, Tomie always seems to come back. From one of the modern masters of Japanese horror, Tomie: Complete Deluxe Edition is a collection of stories about a bewitching living dead girl with a mole under her eye, and the men who love her.
JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, Hirohiko Araki
Split up into standalone but connected arcs, JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure is the saga of the Joestar family and their generational struggle to defeat supernatural beings closely related to an old foe of the family, DIO. While JoJo is considered a traditional battle manga, known for its dramatic posing and surreal battles, it is a horror manga at its core, with our heroes encountering opponents with powers that range from silly to truly terrifying, with a healthy dose of unsettling body horror or goblins being passed off as dogs (seriously, Google Iggy from Stardust Crusaders).
23 volumes available
Dorohedoro, Q Hayashida
A man with the head of a lizard! Sorcerers! Ultraviolence! Gyoza! The power of friendship! Yes, I’m being completely serious. Dorohedoro is a strange tale of a world where the mundane and the magical clash in a symbolic power struggle while Caiman, a man who is not half lizard, and Nikaido, his friend and part-time restaurant owner, try to learn Caiman’s true identity while beating AND eating some sorcerers along the way.
23 volumes available
Helter Skelter: Fashion Unfriendly, Kyoko Okazaki
In Japan, it’s almost impossible to go anywhere and not see Lilico’s face on billboards, TV commercials, and magazine covers. Beautiful, strange and offputting, Lilico presents an eccentric face in front of the cameras, but is an absolute terror behind the scenes. Suddenly, Lilico’s perfect face and body start to decay right in front of her eyes, but not only that: the industry has found her replacement.
And don’t miss part I: must-read western horror comics!