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Top Scary Graphic Novels for Kids

Written by James Powell

I started writing comics for kids because I wanted to create stories my son could enjoy. Stories that would get him engaged with reading.

My reason for writing scary comics for kids is a little more self-serving. See, like you, I enjoy watching horror movies. I like it so much that I have this romantic notion that my son, Daxton, will one day sit in a darkened theater with me, preparing to watch the latest horror movie together.

To get there, I want to slowly introduce him to scarier and scarier stories, leading up to the time when he’s ready to watch something truly terrifying.

Obviously, I’m a comic fan, too, so I buy my son graphic novels as often as I can. The boy has a voracious appetite for books, and I’ll feed him more any chance I can get.

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For me, though, comics aren’t scary. They lack the movement and sound that enhances the fear in horror movies, and with still images, comics also remove the fear you generate with the creativity of your mind when reading a novel.

With that said, I think it’s those very reasons that make comics a fantastic way to introduce horror to kids. Comics can present a scary story in a fun, exciting way that’s safe from jump scares and a creative mind that might get carried away imagining something horrific.

So when I find another graphic novel for kids with an element of horror, I’ll give it a chance. Which is why he’s got more books clogging his shelves than I do.

Daxton has read enough now that I decided to ask him which ones he liked most. When I did, he presented me with a stack of his favorite scary comics.

You can find his list below. I won’t bore you with a synopsis of the story, you can find those elsewhere. Instead, I’ll try to provide a little insight into why a 9-year-old would add each one to a list of favorite scary graphic novels for kids.

Anyas GhostBuy Amazon Us

Anya’s Ghost by Vera Brosgol

I’ve seen Daxton read this one three times in the last week, which means it’s one of his favorite comics, not just his favorite scary comic. Well, okay, the book isn’t exactly scary in the sense you horror veterans might expect, but there are some frightening scenes.

Daxton said the scene in which Anya first encounters the ghost was pretty spooky. He also admitted that key scenes over the last 1/3 of the book were scary, too, but in a fun way. But what he seemed to enjoy most is simply experiencing Anya overcoming her difficulties with her mom, her friends, and the ghost.

For me, I think Anya’s Ghost is a surprisingly engaging coming-of-age story. Brosgol uses the trappings of a ghost story to tell a wonderful tale of an outsider trying to fit in at school. It definitely belongs on the shelf of any young reader who enjoys graphic novels.

 

GhostsBuy Amazon Us

Ghosts by Raina Telgemeier

Okay, so there’s nothing particularly scary about Ghosts, but it deserves to be on the list because of the subject matter. Well, that and the fact that my son loved it. When he finished the first time, he said, “That was great, Dad. Thanks!” And then, without getting up, he read it through a second time.

Ghosts isn’t frightening in the typical sense, but the idea of moving to a new town that turns out to be a focal point for spirits? Yeah, that’s an unnerving way to set up a story. And the book provides a great introduction to ghosts as spirits of the dead, especially for those who haven’t experienced that type of story too often before.

There are a lot of little life lessons packed in this one, too, which makes it highly recommended for young readers.

 

Calla CthulhuBuy Amazon Us

Calla Cthulhu by Evan Dorkin, Sarah Dyer, and Erin Humiston

“It’s all action,” Daxton said with a smile after reading Calla Cthulhu. “All the girl with the green hair does is fight monsters.”

And he’s not wrong. The first 30+ pages are nothing but one long monster fight scene. And let’s face it, those Lovecraftian monsters look cool, too.

Daxton is a little young to fully grasp the family drama in this one, and he doesn’t know the first thing about Cthulhu or the other Great Old Ones. But it’s a great primer for all things Lovecraft, and I’ll use it in the future when he transitions to some of those darker tales.

The fact that Calla Cthulhu isn’t 100% standalone, as is evidenced by the 1 on the spine, turned off my son a little. He likes to read the entire story instead of waiting around for the next volume. But rest assured, we will be reading volume 2 when it comes along.

 

Margo MalooBuy Amazon Us

The Creepy Case Files of Margo Maloo by Drew Weing

There are monsters all over the place in The Creepy Case Files of Margo Maloo, which is a big selling point for my son. But what he enjoyed most was the mystery. Or more importantly, the detective work that goes into solving that mystery.

Personally, I enjoyed the dark basements and the monsters that dwell there. While the story might be considered cute, Weing does a great job with light, shadow, and design to make some rather creepy images.

 

AnimusBuy Amazon Us

Animus by Antoine Revoy

“No way I’d go to that playground,” Daxton said when he finished Animus. “That masked kid is scary.”

I agree with him on this one: the kid with the mask is pretty creepy. Actually, the whole book is fairly eerie. And there’s definitely a more sinister, somber tone haunting the entire book.

The mystery surrounding the supernatural playground and the missing children is unnerving in spots, too. It all comes together in a way that’s rather engaging and, yes, even scary. I think there was a level of fear that Daxton wasn’t expecting, but he thoroughly enjoyed. But that fear might be what’s keeping him from reading it a second time.

Just a quick side note: I let Daxton read Through the Woods by Emily Carroll, but he couldn’t quite get into it because it didn’t have the typical panel-by-panel sequential flow, which held his enjoyment at bay. That makes sense because the book is clearly written for slightly older kids. Personally, I think its creepy tone is just about perfect. I’ll definitely reintroduce it to him when he’s a little older.

James Powell is the writer behind House of Fear, a collection of scary comics intended for middle grade readers. You can preorder the book at the links below.

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About The Author
Spez Bio 2
Lord of the Funny Books
James has a 2nd grade reading level and, as a result, only reads books with pictures. Horror is his 5th favorite genre right after romantic comedy and just before silent films. No one knows why he's here, but he won't leave.
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