10 of the best goth comics for your dark, broody, and fun TBR
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One day, when I was a full time goth, I looked around and realized we were all nerds. Maybe it was while I was watching a Red Bull and vodka (never drink that) at the Das Bunker at Catch One in Los Angeles. Maybe it was while I was selling at Bat day in the amusement park. Maybe it was during my millionth forced rewatch to The crow or the millionth time someone has referred to Neil Gaiman Sand seller comics. As with any other subculture, all kinds of individuals exist inside, but I can assure you from personal experience that a lot of these people love comics. Many of us have taken our aesthetic from comics like The crow (and its adaptation) and Sand seller. Many of us have taken our jargon from the comics by Jhonen vasquez. But guess what, old man? There is a whole new world of gothic comics.
It was an interesting practice figuring out which books should be on that gothy comic book list. Depending on who you talk to, there is a certain mystique attributed to the Gothic subculture, and I remember the time of dusk when a group of fans looking for that vampy life flooded the clubs, didn’t quite find what they were looking for and spread, leaving a handful of converts (probably people who had never felt like fitting in anywhere, and that hadn’t been particularly popular in high school) behind. Some people will forever match the subculture with the soft hair South Park sad children.
It’s hard to sum up what makes something or someone gothic. If you looked at me today you probably wouldn’t think Goth. But I still listen to music and relate to the subculture. Before the pandemic, I even managed to drag my squeaky bones to the clubs once in a red moon. In the end, I picked ten of the comics that spoke to the goth in me.
But first! If there’s one thing I would love to see more of, it’s the black people depicted in gothic comics. Much of Gothic culture is at the center of whiteness. When I was in the thick of it, you couldn’t escape the ideal of white / porcelain lily skin / (any other poetic metaphor of white), for example – an ideal that I’m sure is persists today. White supremacy exists in all kinds of places; it certainly exists in goth culture, and that sometimes made a black goth uncomfortable and unpleasant.
My first recommendation goes to the comics of Bianca Xunise, which you can find on Instagram and the web. Bianca is a black gothic who creates comics about being goth, being black, living with a mental illness and more. These comics speak to this goth on many levels.
Another great artist that I wanna shout out is Jettila lewis. I used to see Jetti at the goth clubz before we both moved from LA to our respective new homes. Jetti is an exceptional artist and occasionally posts comics on Instagram.
Browse by Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki
I can not with the talent of the Tamaki team. I loved This summer and snatched Browse the minute I heard about the graphic novel. Kimberly Keiko Cameron aka Skim is a mature Wiccan Goth (I was a Wiccan Goth!). This comic is so beautiful and so heartbreaking. It’s a powerful slice of high school life with student suicide at its center, and it covers everything from queer exploration to changing friendships. Art took me into the alternative life of Skim and into the 90s.
Destructive by Victor LaValle and Dietrich Smith
Goth and Gothic lit meet! Destructive is a new take on the classic Mary Shelley Frankenstein, and is written by none other than horror master Victor LaValle. The story takes on heavy topics, including police violence and racial violence following a scientist who loses her son to police violence and then turns to her skills in an attempt to bring justice. The story takes a critical look at the struggle to be black in America and offers something both current and familiar.
Giant days by John Allison, Max Sarin and Lissa Treiman
I will not lie. I picked up the first volume of this comic with nothing more than the cover. Esther is my favorite thing about Giant days, which follows the misadventures of three friends entering adulthood and attending the same university. I went goth in college, but Esther is so much more extra and cool living this life. I can relive those years (they’re a lot more fun in the comics than they were IRL), but with an extra dose of gothic alongside those awkward personal explorations.
House of Whispers Vol. 1: Power divided by Nalo Hopkinson and Neil Gaiman
Good then Sand seller was extremely popular when I was goth. I imagine that is still the case. And while I was exhausted from this universe some time ago, I was newly excited about the announcement of a series expanding the universe because Nalo Hopkinson, one of my favorite authors (go read Sister Mine), is involved! I couldn’t be more thrilled. Hopkinson enters the world of Sand seller with this comic book where Erzulie in the bayou learns that a group of girls could trigger a pandemic (eesh), which would then free a dangerous loa lord.
Adventure Time: Marceline and The Scream Queens by Meredith Gran and Pendleton Ward
I light up when I see gothy characters on the screen. Triana Orpheus of The Venture Brothers, Jane Lane of Daria, Wednesday Addams of The Addams Family (I mean, the whole family, really), and Marceline from Adventure Time. And guess what? Marceline followed her own comic, Princess Bubblegum, and their paranormal rock band on tour. I’m guilty of fantasizing about being in a goth / punk band, but I think I’ll live vicariously through Marceline instead.
Nimona by Noelle Stevenson
This one brought me back to Renaissance Faire and my camping days with SCA. What about goths and this medieval life? I don’t know, but it’s me. Nimona puts the icing on the cake by wanting to be a bad guy; we are looking for the anti-heroes. And she’s an antihero because villainy might not be what you assume in this hilarious, touching graphic novel about a chaotic young shapeshifter who accompanies her for Lord Ballister Blackheart.
Zatanna: The Jewel of Gravesend by Alys Arden and Jacquelin De Leon
I am sorry. It looks like this one is out of stock as of this writing, but I’m including it anyway because I like the aesthetic. I was definitely in the occult as a goth (always!), And Zatanna embodies that more modern occult sensibility. This New York comic follows Zatanna, caught in a magical rivalry and unraveling the truth about a family heirloom. The girl’s first kiss occurs in a merry-go-round called Haunted Hell Gate, and she walks her bunny on a leash. Find me where fantasy, magic and goth vibes meet. You can check out some of the pages here.
Death threat by Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata
Manga and Japanese culture were a big part of the scene, and I had a major Gothic Lolita phase, so I had to include this manga featuring gothy Misa Amane. Misa is one of a cast of characters in this mysterious horror manga following Light Yagami, a student who finds a notebook dropped by a rogue death god. It doesn’t get much more gothic than that.