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News Article

Best of 2011: Books and Comics

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This year saw the usual parade of macabre work in books and graphic novels, from reliable creators like Stepen King (11/22/63), Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez (Locke & Key Volume 4: Keys to the Kingdom), Robert Kirkman (The Walking Dead Volume 7), and the host of horror writers (and small press publishers) whose novels and collections we've been covering here through our new book critic staff. Terrific comic reprint collections also continued this year, like DC's hardcover Saga of the Swamp Thing and Dark Horse's Creepy and Eerie Archives. But, after the jump, you can check out my picks for the very best books and comics of 2011.

The Hidden by Richard Sala

Sala's unique brand of creepy quirk combines Edward Gorey, Chester Gould, and Charles Adams with his own unclassifiable magic. The Hidden, from Fantagraphics Books, is his most ambitious work -- an intimate apocalypse.

The Complete Drive-In by Joe R. Lansdale

Arguably Lansdale's finest novel collected with its two sequels and never-before-published artwork for the Don Coscarelli adaptation that never happened? Essential. The more I read of Lansdale the more I'm convinced he's horror's Kurt Vonnegut.

The Painter, the Creature, and the Father of Lies by Clive Barker (edited by Phil and Sarah Stokes)

I love Barker's essays almost as much as I do his best fiction, so this long overdue clothbound collection (from Earthling Publications) of his writings on film, literature, art, and all the other media he's come to be associated with came as one of 2011's best surprises.

Aloha from Hell by Richard Kadrey

Kadrey really is the anti-Twilight. Raw, real, funny, furious, all full of piss and hemoglobin. His third Sandman Slim novel, in which the supernatural anti-hero must go back to Hell to stop a war with Heaven, may be his finest.

The Lives of Sacco and Vanzetti by Rick Geary

The latest volume in Geary's A Treasury of Victorian Murder proves the master of drolly impish cartooning hasn't lost his touch, as it presents a pair of protagonists (anarchists, no less) strangely sympathetic in their relevancy to today's world.

The Alien Vault by Ian Nathan

Most of these so-called "vaults" are ninety-percent air, but when the subject's as perfect as the first Alien film, well, then you've got the first one of these scrapbook/mini-museums that deserves the attention of all horror fans.

The Hammer Vault by Marcus Hearn

Weirdly, 2011 gave us the second such vault. Face it, even Hammer's worst films are fun to read about. But the studio's classic posters and juicy publicity material make this volume especially fun. Of course there's no shortage of eye candy with Hammer glamour girls like Veronica Carlson and Caroline Munro represented in a plethora of pictures. Great, great stuff.

Creepy Presents Bernie Wrightson

Bernie Wrightson is the most celebrated American horror comics artist since EC's "Ghastly" Graham Ingels. Yet much of his best work -- for Warren's Creepy and Eerie -- has been out of print for decades. Dark Horse's Creepy Presents Bernie Wrightson rectifies the situation, and serves as the perfect introduction to the master's work.

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