“Untitled”: The Horror Comics Column by Mark L. Miller
Hi there. I’m Mark. Some of you might know me as Ambush Bug at Ain’t It Cool News, acting editor of AICN COMICS and AICN HORROR’s various posts, reviews, interviews, and podcasts. Others might know me as the writer of comic books such as Black Mask’s Pirouette, Zenescope’s Jungle Book, and various other projects. Still others might know me from my day job as a licensed counselor at a residential home for boy and girls in Chicago, the town where I hang my various hats. Whether you know me from these places or are meeting me here for the first time, the only thing you need to know is that I love horror in all forms and when Cemetery Dance approached me to write a monthly piece on horror comic books, you better bet I jumped at the chance.
Now, writing comic books is a difficult thing. There are all kinds of rules that apply to graphic storytelling that don’t really apply to other forms of entertainment. While horror films have jump scares, camera movement, and mood music to convey a sense of suspense and terror, comics don’t have that option. But that doesn’t mean that comics can’t be scary. Hell, the reason why I get into reading comics in the first place are those old DC House of Mystery and House of Secrets comics I used to buy from the spinner rack at my neighborhood bodega, so I’ve been witness to the complex art of frightening folk in comics for quite a while.
And this is a fantastic time for horror comics. While there will always be stuff for those who envision capes and cowls when they think of comics, now more than ever, there is a diverse selection of comics available online and in your local comic shops that span tons of other genres. Some shops I’ve been to have entire horror sections for their comic books. So while horror comics might not be capable of causing that jolt you often feel from a keyboard-slamming jump scare, there are some true masters of terror telling four color horrors and those are the types of books I’ll be checking out and talking about in this space every month.
Now this being the first installment, I need to take care of some nuts and bolts before we dive into the comics themselves. First off; I’m going to need a name for this column, and while I was asked to come up with one, I figured it would be fun to toss it out to the readers to come up with a clever title for this space. So email me at firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject header: CEMETERY DANCE COMIC BOOK TITLE and next time around, I’ll announce who came up with my favorite title.
Second, let me know what kind of horror comics you’re interested in having me covering. I read a lot of horror comics, and in the next installment I’ll go over a few of my personal favorites. If there’s one you are not seeing in this space, let me know and I’ll try to accommodate.
As I said above, I’m a comic book writer myself and will occasionally go into some core fundamentals I use in order to convey some of my more tense and scary moments through my own writing. This is going to be the place to stop if you like the convergence of comic book and horror and I can’t wait to start the conversation now that this mission statement is over and done with.
So until next time, mind those comic book pages; as a paper cut can smart just as much as the edge of an axe.
Though by day, Mark L. Miller works as a licensed therapist with at risk youth in a residential home in Chicago, when the sun goes down, he works his fingers to nubs as Ambush Bug, acting editor for Ain’t It Cool News’ AICN COMICS and AICN HORROR since 2001 and writing his own comics such as Pirouette, the Jungle Book Trilogy, Occupy Comics, and various others through the years. Follow Mark on Twitter @Mark_L_Miller.