Best Horror Comics of 2023 List by Ricardo Serrano Denis and Zack Quaintance

Year in and year out, comics are the place horror goes to really indulge itself. No other medium has the breath, scope, variety, or willingness to experiment with different forms of terror than comics, in all its forms. 

The year of our (dark) lord 2023 proved to be another great example of this, of horror at its most inventive and exciting. Publishers like AWA Studios and IDW expanded genre offerings with new series and continued support to established lines. The IDW Originals imprint, for instance, has put more stock on their “Dark Spaces” line (presented by Scott Snyder), building up a respectable series of comics that follow an anthology structure, keeping new books accessible without fear of tangled continuities. 

AWA Studios, on the other hand, seems set on becoming one of the important voices in horror comics with a dedicated effort to put out ‘best of year’ quality books such Rumpus Room, Black Tape, and The Ribbon Queen. In doing so it has joined Vault Comics as a go-to destination for horror. Rodney BarnesZombie Love Studios also threw its hat into the ring this year with the amazing Blacula: Return of the King and Florence & Normandie, two books that signal a bright future for the “sophisticated horror” graphic novel production studio.

All of this is to say that horror comics are going through one of the most creatively vibrant phases in recent history. In fact, it’s been on it for a few years now, and 2023 did a lot to make the genre continue being the statement it usually is whenever the world is at its darkest (a line that’s been consistently redrawn for a while now) and in need of fresh horrors to make sense of it.

Without further ado, here are The Beat’s best horror comics of 2023. If you haven’t been frightened by these books yet, then get those screams ready.

Best Horror Comics of 2023

Best Horror Comics of 2023A Guest In The House
By Emily Carroll
Published By FirstSecond

A Guest In The House has earned accolades both inside and outside of comics, landing on Best Of lists from The New York Times and NPR. And it’s a book that lives at times a bit between genres, incorporating fantasy visuals and the trappings of an oppressive relationship. The core of this one, however, is very much a horror story. It’s centered on isolated young wife, Abby, who has married a recently-widowed dentist and is piecing together details about his family’s past.

What Abby finds is a horror story unto itself: lies, abuse, and potentially some of the worst things one could imagine. This book so expertly captures how it feels for Abby to slowly realize her new marriage is built upon a foundation of not only deceit, but potentially something much darker as well. Making it all the more desperate are the limited options available to her, the threats she can’t escape, and a second young life caught with her in the balance. All of these ideas are just so expertly conveyed through a mix of subtle characterization and chilling imagery. If you somehow missed this book, get ready to be shaken and haunted for a good while.

Best Horror Comics of 2023Betwixt
Stories by Ryo Hanada, Aki Shimizu, Shima Shinya, Michael W. Conrad & Becky Cloonan, Sloane Leong & Leslie Hung, and Huahua Zhu
Published by VIZ

What’s a ‘best of horror’ list without an anthology? VIZ settled on a clever concept for their stab at it with Betwixt, a collection of stories that sees one half of the book represented by Japanese creators and the other by American creators. The Japanese side reads from right-to-left like a manga, while the American side reads from left-to-right like an American comic. A simple flip of the physical book is all it takes to jump cultures.

Both sides bring great stories to the table in their attempt to unsettle readers, but what surprises is the sheer variety of tones and perspectives in them. One standout tale, titled “The Window” by Shima Shinya, unravels like a kind of urban legend that very quickly turns into a deeper commentary on the things people consciously ignore so as not to disturb their fragile status quos. In the story, people moving into a new place are told not to look out a particular window for fear a neighboring ghost stares back. It’s subtle, but it creeps up on the reader as it reaches a tense high that more than earns its final reveal. The other stories follow suit. This is one anthology I hope we see more of in the future.

Blacula: Return of the King
Written by Rodney Barnes
Drawn by Jason Shawn Alexander
Lettered by Marshall Dillon
Published by Zombie Love Studios

An aptly subtitled book, Blacula: Return of the King marks the glorious resurrection of one of Blaxploitation cinema’s most beloved icons: Blacula (played by William Marshall in the 1972 original). Rodney Barnes and Jason Shawn Alexander bring Prince Mamuwalde into present day Los Angeles, a darker and even more morally bankrupt version of the city than featured in the first movie. This LA looks like it’s reached the point of collapse, as if it can’t take more corruption and is about to give. In comes Blacula to rain down cruel justice upon the elements that keep the city at its lowest.

Barnes and Alexander give Blacula the Killadelphia treatment by turning the horror into social commentary. Vampire violence is unleashed in service of developing metaphors for failed public institutions and broken social policy. Blacula fights cops that are all too eager to lead guns at the ready one moment only to then face a more ancient vampire that embodies a legacy of racism the next. Return of the King was one of the most important books on the stands in 2023, and it served as a great reminder of the good work horror can do.

Dark Ride
Written by Joshua Williamson
Drawn by Andrei Bressan
Colored by Adriano Lucas
Lettered by Pat Brosseu
Published by Image Comics – Skybound

What’s scarier than the drama that arises from generations of family baggage? How about a deeply haunted, murderous, and possibly satanic amusement park. Those two horror elements are at the heart of one of my favorite comics of the year, Dark Ride. Calling the setting of this book a haunted amusement park doesn’t quite do it justice. It’s a horror-themed amusement park. So instead of hamming it up with Bugs Bunny at Six Flags, or Mickey at Disney, you’re eating giant pretzels next to foam-headed devils and axe murderers and whatever else scares you in the night.

It’s great stuff, and as in both Ghosted and Nailbiter before it, in Dark Ride writer Joshua Williamson once again takes his personal love of horror and mines it for something interesting to add to the genre. The team of artist Andrei Bressan and colorist Adriano Lucas, with letters by Pat Brosseu, are also versatile and excellent. They nail the setting, and they also excel at giving the loaded family interactions in this book as much drama as the big horror set pieces. It adds up to a great comic and a must-read for horror junkies.

DRCL: Midnight Children, Vol. 1
Written and illustrated by Shin’Ichi Sakamoto
Published by VIZ Media

There is not a single adaptation of Bram Stoker’s Dracula that even comes close in sheer imagination to Shin’Ichi Sakamoto’s DRCL: Midnight Children. It’s a book that defies any expectations set by adaptations of classic works. It actually comes across as an affront to the process of adaptation itself. Sakamoto takes the building blocks of Stoker’s original and keeps them just recognizable enough to create an entirely new interpretation of the story.

DRCL follows many of the main beats of its source, complete with the same cast of characters, but it opens it all up to fit an alternate 19th century England where science, gender, history, and magic are allowed to take root in less conventional spaces. The character of Mina, for instance, uses wrestling techniques to defend herself and her group of friends while attending a school that still looks down upon women interested in politics and academia. She’s accompanied by a gender shifting Lucy, a cowardly Arthur Holmwood, and a mysterious photographer that lives with a nun that’s actually this version’s Renfield. And then there’s Dracula, a being of intense magic that is a universe of horror and dark magic unto himself. His final shape is only hinted at, but the glimpses we get of his power points to a being that is terrifying enough to put reality itself in check. DRCL has to be read to be believed. It was one of the biggest surprises of the year and a supreme example of manga storytelling.

Best Horror Comics of 2023Ribbon Queen
Written by Garth Ennis
Drawn by Jacen Burrows
Inked by Guillermo Ortego
Colored by Dan Brown
Lettered by Rob Steen
Published by AWA Studios

Sometimes the best horror storytellers seem to decide, you know what let’s just go hard with the gruesome. And that’s certainly what the team behind Ribbon Queen did with one of the best horror comic books of the year. This one is gruesome in an almost subtle way you maybe haven’t seen before. I don’t want to spoil too much, but since it was on the second issue’s cover — have you ever imagined the skin slowly peeling off your hands and fingers and arms? I don’t think I ever had before reading this book, but I’m thinking about it now and it’s making me cold.

But gruesome isn’t the only thing for sale here. It’s definitely the flashiest horror component, but what’s underneath Ribbon Queen’s visuals is almost even scarier than the body horror. This is a book about the corruption and abuse of power, one that involves policing in America. There’s a lot to unravel here (sorry!), and I really feel like the full scope of it all isn’t even clear yet, with three issues still to be published as of this typing. But Garth Ennis is a smart and subversive writer with an underrated knack for making you think harder about what’s bothering you in the modern world. Whatever’s coming in the finale, I expect it to rattle me, deeply, and I can’t wait.

Rumpus Room
Written by Mark Russell
Drawn by Ramón Rosanas
Colored by Ive Svorcina
Lettered by AndWorld Design
Published by AWA Studios

Mark Russell has had his sights firmly trained on the obscenely rich for some time. From his take on The Flintstones to Billionaire Island, his books are brilliant takedowns of these types of over-privileged people that take to satire to amplify the ridiculousness of their existence. With Rumpus Room, though, Russell and illustrator Ramón Rosanas fall back on horror to make their satirical take on the rich terrify just as much as elicit laughs at their expense.

As people start disappearing, a detective decides to follow a lead that takes her to billionaire Bob Schrunk, a guy that outbids parents for their children’s art and dodges incriminating questions like a seasoned tech bro before congress. Schrunk has a secret room where he keeps kidnapped employees for his private entertainment. The book features strange men in theme park-mascot costumes roughing up prisoners, a creepy Jeffrey Epstein vibe about its villainous rich guy, and a whole lot of gruesome violence that points to the dangers of letting people with too much cash get away with anything they want. It’s one of Russell’s sharpest examples of social satire and one of Rosanas’ most visually nuanced works. You’ll laugh, but you’ll also develop an even more visceral negative reaction to wealthy people in the process. I mean, you can never really know which ones kidnap unsuspecting employees for their own amusement. Better to not trust a single one of them.

Best Horror Comics of 2023The Seasons Have Teeth
Written by Dan Watters
Drawn by Sebastian Cabrol
Colored by Dan Jackson
Lettered by Nate Piekos
Published by BOOM! Studios

Who knew that photojournalism could be a jumping off point for one of the most poignant takes on the horror of time passing and the inherent terrifying impermanence of life. But here we are. This four-issue limited series has such an interesting concept: the seasons are actual monsters, causing globally destructive events, wiping out regions and countries. And nobody has really seen them, or at least nobody has seen them and lived to tell about — not until the main character of the book manages to start photographing them and survive.

This really compelling framework for the story is great and all, but really made Seasons Have Teeth one of my favorite horror comics of the year is the mournful tone that the creative team strikes. This is a book about living and dying. And not living and dying in any sensational way, but living and dying by our choices, our obsessions, our loves, our losses, and our regrets. It’s definitely scary, but it’s equal parts thoughtful and understated, and I love it for that.

The Summer Hikaru Died
Written and illustrated by Mokumokuren
Published by Yen Press

Your best friend goes to the mountains and disappears. He dies, comes back, and only you know that this thing that’s standing in front you might look and sound and laugh like him but it really isn’t. The unease that comes with that knowledge, that nagging sensation you’re spending your time with someone that’s not who they say they are is what lies at the heart of Mokumokuren’s The Summer Hikaru Died.

The story gets uncomfortably intimate. The titular Hikaru is a mystery that his friend Yokishi is trying to solve at very turn. It’s quite invasive in that sense. Yoshiki insists on not accepting Hikaru as the real one so intently that the reading process becomes an exercise in enduring existential doubt. There’s a metaphor here involving a friend revealing a deeper love for the other and how that changes the relationship when the sentiment isn’t reciprocated. It might be heavy handed at times, but it never fails to be enticing. It relishes in unsettling the reader with hard questions that terrify on different registers. It makes for a compulsive read.

Written by James Tynion IV
Drawn by Fernando Blanco
Colored by Jordie Bellaire
Lettered by Aditya Bidikar
Published by Image Comics – Tiny Onion Studios

What if the scariest thing in all our lives is the place we spend most of our time — The Internet? This is a simplistic way of describing what’s at work in w0rldtr33, a sort of modern cyberpunk-horror mash-up that’s both a thrill ride and one of the darkest comics of the year. It makes such great use of proto-Internet culture. This is a book that creates recognizable terror from real problems like online radicalization. It’s a book that looks great doing it, and, on top of all that, it’s a book that feels like it’s barely scratched the surface of what it’s trying to say.

I could heap praise upon this book for several more paragraphs, but I’ll restrain myself and just say: no matter how hard you expect w0rldtr33 to go, it goes harder. Every character might be compromised, nobody is having much luck saving anyone (or anything), and at any given moment a naked woman from the Dark Web might show up and destroy you. That’s what we’re dealing with in this very very good comic.

Honorable Mentions: All Eight Eyes, American Psycho, Beneath the Trees Where Nobody Sees, Black Tape, Blue Book, Dark Spaces – Dungeon, Ghostlore, Harrower, Ice Cream Man, Innocent, Killadelphia, Kill More, Mimi’s Tales of Terror, The Nasty, Neighbors, Phantom Road, and Universal Monster: Dracula

Read more Best of 2023 lists in The Beat’s review section!


  1. No Tenement? Even as an honorable mention where you have a title like Killadelphia which the quality has taken a nose-dive in the last 12 issues or so.

  2. I discovered Lonesome Hunters thanks to the Beat! A little bummed it didn’t make this list. Such a wonderful little book with amazing water color art. I enjoyed the first issue of the new series so much, I found and devoured the first series. I eventually found Harrow County and devoured all that as well. So thank you for introducing me to Tyler Crook! ❤️

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