Monstress' Marjorie Liu Recommends Graphic Horror Novels

Posted by Cybil on September 30, 2019
Celebrating Horror 2019

Marjorie Liu is the author of more than 19 novels and the co-creator and writer of the award-winning horror fantasy graphic novel series Monstress. The series—whose honors include an Eisner, a Hugo, a Harvey, and a British Fantasy award—is set in an alternate, matriarchal 1920s Asia and follows a girl’s struggle to survive the trauma of war.

Liu's comic book work also includes the Dark Wolverine series, NYX: No Way Home, X-23, Black Widow: The Name of the Rose, and Astonishing X-Men. In addition, Liu is an attorney and teaches comic book writing at MIT.

Here she recommends some of her favorite graphic horror novels, which are all "stories of women and girls confronted with monsters—without and within."

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I used to hate reading horror. I was that kid with an overactive imagination—an imagination that had absolutely no restraint whatsoever—which meant that even the merest, blandest suggestion of horror in any pop culture medium was enough to make me spiral down all sorts of nightmarish rabbit holes, particularly around the geography of the domestic. Home wasn’t safe. Home was where monsters knew exactly how to find you.

Monsters lived in closets, basements, attics, even phones (this was before caller ID—you never knew who would be on the other end). Monsters lived behind the walls. Monsters were in every shifting creak in the middle of the night, and in the shadows beneath my bed. Monsters were right behind me every time I tiptoed down the hall at night to use the bathroom.

For real, I was never more creeped out or terrified than when I was at home. Especially at night.

So, all these years later, I find myself more than a little surprised to have developed a taste for horror. I enjoy it now. Though, really, I shouldn’t be shocked—because during all those years I was terrified of monsters in my home, I was writing about monsters: girls fighting monsters, girls making friends with monsters. My unconscious, trying to rescue me from my fear.

My unconscious did a good job. I’ve made peace with the monsters. And I’m still writing about them, still telling stories about girls and the monsters who surround them, who live inside them: girls who are the monsters. I suppose it’s a way of empowering my imagination to resist the fears of childhood and embrace the joy and adventure of agency.

Or maybe now as an adult, I just like the thrill of a little scare. Maybe I’ve come to appreciate what horror reveals.

With that in mind, I wanted to share a handful of graphic novels that deal in horror, supernatural and otherwise. Stories of women and girls confronted with monsters—without and within.

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"The delicate alchemy of lyrical language and delirious art powers this hypnotic and horrific retelling of Snow White. This ain’t the Disney version, folks. It’s so much better."

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"Though not supernatural, this is the dystopian horror that haunted me and so many of my women friends—a not-so-distant America in which women are enslaved as breeding machines. Even if you’ve read the novel or seen the television show, this chilling adaptation should not be missed."

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"If you need a dose of World War II spycraft with your Nazi occult madness, then check out this magnificently illustrated and cold-blooded doozy about a little girl who is a vampire—and the Nazis who want to control her."

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"A Lovecraftian noir about an immortal femme fatale who is pursued across time by an eldritch cult. This one is terrifying and unstoppable."

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"The classic Lord of the Flies manga about an entire school that is transported to an apocalyptic wasteland beset by hideous monsters—both human and otherworldly. Literally one of the best."

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"A brief and eerie webcomic about a woman who one day finds a hole in the forest filled with the bodies of dead women. This one continues to stay with me."

Discover the Monstress Series:
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Let's talk classic horror! What are some of your favorite old-school scares? Let's talk in the comments!

Check out complete coverage of Horror Week:
Victor LaValle Examines Lovecraft's Long-Lasting Influence
50 Most Popular Horror Novels on Goodreads
22 New and Upcoming Horror Books to Keep You Up at Night

Comments Showing 1-14 of 14 (14 new)

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message 1: by Tanya (new)

Tanya Snow, Glass, Apples is one of my favorite Neil stories. I bought the graphic adaptation when it came out, but it still sits on my shelf unread. Maybe now that spooky season is upon us...

message 2: by Cathy (new)

Cathy Fatale, Vol. 1: Death Chases Me sounds tempting and is on kindle unlimited... added!

message 3: by Tiag⊗ (last edited Sep 30, 2019 11:31AM) (new)

Tiag⊗ the Mutant Here's my suggestion for this October:
Ice Cream Man, The Magic Order, House of Penance & Baltimore

message 4: by Vicki (new)

Vicki I want to read Monstress, Vol. 1 Awakening by Marjorie M. Liu
and the Volume 2 and Volume 3

message 5: by Alissa (new)

Alissa Tanya wrote: "Snow, Glass, Apples is one of my favorite Neil stories. I bought the graphic adaptation when it came out, but it still sits on my shelf unread. Maybe now that spooky season is upon us..."

Loved this one (and the graphic version is gorgeous)! Not nearly as creepy as Coraline, though. That one.... *shudder*

message 6: by MFCOMMAND (last edited Oct 01, 2019 11:51AM) (new)

MFCOMMAND Reading The Drifting Classroom years ago. It's wild. I liked it a lot.
Read The Woods, Vol. 1: The Arrow series not too long ago & it reminded me a lot of that manga.

message 7: by Jennifer (new)

Jennifer Zeman For those of you that know me know the type of comics I read is not the normal fare of superheroes and caped crusaders, but of horror. Of the things that go bump in the night, that are hiding behind blind corners and right under the dark side of the moon. This short article from Marjorie Liu explains perfectly why I am scared of yet drawn to the dark. Also check out her work on Monstress. Her stories are amazing and perfectly complimented by the insanely detailed artwork by Sana Takeda. In honor of October first I bring you the Delights of the Night.

message 8: by Jennifer (new)

Jennifer Freitag Love Monstress - the art is a s beautiful & intense as the story. The Magic Order is AMAZING. I recommend Sacred Creatures as well. I absolutely luv it

message 9: by Mandy (new)

Mandy Klehr As much as I love Kazuo Umezu's Drifting Classroom, this list is really lacking the master of Japanese horror manga, Junji Ito. Uzumaki and Tomie specifically, but some of the collected stories collections are also great.

message 10: by Claer (new)

Claer Barber I recommend the Hopeless Maine series - starting with
The Gathering (Hopeless, Maine #1) by Tom Brown

message 11: by Pam (last edited Oct 04, 2019 03:12PM) (new)

Pam I Am Legend
I Am Legend by Steve Niles


message 12: by TMR (new)

TMR Sigh, they sound good, but not really keen on picking these up.

message 13: by Keena (new)

Keena I've been enjoying Nailbiter, just picked up vol. 5

message 14: by Zee (new)

Zee I've read the first Monstress! Brilliant. Absolutely brilliant. I have the next 7 downloaded and spread out somewhere. Need to find them...

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