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10 Must-Read Indie Psychological Horror Comics | CBR – CBR – Comic Book Resources

These are stories where the characters, and sometimes the reader, are forced to question what is real and what isn’t.
Independent comics often provide a lot more wiggle room for comic book creators than the superhero-centric publishing houses of Marvel and DC. The Big Two have pretty strict limitations on what they are willing to put to print (outside of Vertigo, Young Animals, and Black Label from DC), but Image, IDW, Dark Horse, Oni Press, Boom! Studios, Titan, Dynamite, and others are more willing to allow creators to explore with their stories.
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Among the genres that creators get to dive into is the ever-chilling realm of psychological horror. These are stories where the characters, and sometimes the reader, are forced to question what is real and what isn’t. Characters slip into madness as their mental health deteriorates in the face of unimaginable terror.
Declan Thomas awakens from a coma with a dropping body temperature and a new superpower: he can explore the madness of others. In doing so, he can sometimes treat a person’s mental illness. Unfortunately, a man called Nimble Jack feeds on madness and needs people to stay quite insane, and he doesn’t want Declan to cut off his food source.
A compelling premise and absolutely gut-wrenching artwork come together with Colder by Paul Tobin and Juan Ferreyra. It is an unforgettable read with artwork that will leave readers viscerally unsettled.
Outcast is a comic series by The Walking Dead‘s Robert Kirkman and Paul Azaceta. It follows Kyle Barnes as he attempts to help people possessed by demons while he struggles with the memories of his own possessed mother. Kyle is not a well man, but he hopes to find answers and work through his own issues by helping others. Unfortunately for Kyle, the exorcism process is often violent and bloody, and people begin to believe that Kyle’s goals are not as noble as he claims.
Parasyte is a manga by Hitoshi Iwaaki that takes place in a world being invaded by aliens that burrow into the brain. Shinichi Izumi is almost possessed by one such alien, but he interferes with the process–forcing the alien to implant itself in his right arm instead.
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Shinichi and his new alien friend have to survive a world being invaded without knowing who might have a Parasite. This Invasion of the Body Snatchers-like premise deepens as Shinichi has to start pondering difficult questions about the nature of identity.
Aftershock’s Black Eyed Kids by Joe Pruett and Szymon Kudranski is an unsettling horror comic about a small town that is invaded by the “Black Eyed Kids,” which originates from an urban legend with the same name. These children begin performing acts of spectacular violence with no rhyme or reason, taking advantage of the natural tendency to care for children.
The town’s survivors have to decide what to do about this string of murders and how to address it while fear and unrest being to deteriorate their mental wellbeing.
A woman named Daisy loses an eye in a mugging and receives a prosthetic replacement. She begins to see things with the eye that shouldn’t be there. Among them is the Red Mother. Daisy isn’t sure how much of it is real and how much of it is a result of her trauma.
Red Mother by Jeremy Haun and Danny Luckert is primarily a story about recovery and how that is not a straight and narrow road. One can think they’re getting better when something pushes them back a step or two. In this case, that something is the Red Mother.
Uzumaki is the much-celebrated horror manga from creator Junji Ito. A town develops a fixation on spirals, and it begins to take over their very being–including but not limited to their very body.
Junji Ito is a master of graphic novel horror, with Gyo, The Thing That Drifted Ashore, and Layers of Fear. Many comic creators can craft an unsettling atmosphere and setup. Junji Ito can as well, but he can also send a chill to the very soul with just a single image.
Cullen Bunn and Vanesa R. Del Rey’s The Empty Man is a Boom! Studios miniseries that has received two volumes and a movie adaptation so far. It tells of a world afflicted with “The Empty Man Virus,” a psychological contagion that causes people to commit horrific violence upon themselves and those around them.
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With the second volume, it becomes apparent that there is something behind the Empty Man. It’s more than an urban legend. It’s more than mass hysteria. It’s more than just a disease. The Empty Man may very well be a god made manifest through belief.
A Muslim American woman moves into an apartment building filled with suspicious and prejudiced neighbors. This isn’t anything new, but the fact that it’s not new is a problem. The apartment is haunted by something old and hateful, and a history of horrific hate crimes that happened in the building may lead to new suffering. Pornsak Pichetshote and Aaron Campbell craft the unforgettable horror that is Infidel. Hate is a disease, and it can infect a place if it’s not excised.
Gideon Falls by Jeff Lemire and Andrea Sorrentino is a story that starts in two places. In the city, there is Norton, a man with obsessive tendencies and a fixation on collecting scraps. He goes to a therapist to help him cope with a haunted past, but she can only do so much to help Norton.
Then there is Father Fred, a priest in a small town who is less than firm in his belief. Things worsen when a string of murders strikes the small town of Gideon Falls. Things spiral further from there, and a nice dash of Twin Peaks spices things up.
Garth Ennis and Goran Sudzuka invite the reader to a mystery into a warehouse. FBI Agents McGregor and Shaw investigate the disappearance of two other agents that went missing in that very same warehouse. Impossible things begin taking place in that warehouse, and Shaw and MacGregor begin questioning their grip on reality.
As things get more and more grotesque, the two begin to ponder a horrible thought: they have just walked through a portal into damnation. As they try to come to grips with that, the two also reminisce on a horrid case of missing children that the two investigated not too long before this terrible night.
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Josh Davison is a list writer for CBR, The Gamer, and Game Rant. He is well-versed in all things Marvel, DC, Pokemon, and Star Wars and has a deep passion for horror. He has a terminal obsession with the Thunderbolts, the Winter Soldier, Luke Cage, and Hawkman. He is currently trying to make it as a comic book writer and is a part of two upcoming anthologies: Turning Roads by Limit Break Comics and Producing the End of the World by publisher Soda & Telepaths. Find him sharing cool comic art and cute animals on Twitter, @joshdavisonbolt


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