Best dark graphic novels

I like my beer dark and bitter, and my coffee black and strong. Same goes for comics. Here 10 Best Chilling Dark Graphic Novels for Adults To Read in 2023

I’m a huge fan of mind-bending stories, twisted plots, unsettling psychological dramas, and dark graphic novels have always been my best bet to quench that peculiar lust for weirdness.

If you know what I’m talking about, and came here to scratch that funny itch, find your treat on my list.

Disclosure: Some of our articles contain affiliate links (as an Amazon affiliate I earn from qualifying purchases).

The Sandman

by Neil Gaiman

Pluri-awarded and groundbreaking, Neil Gaiman’s masterpiece conjure up an otherworldly universe of epic breadth and mystical profoundness around the mythical yet deeply flawed hero Dream.

The first arc Preludes & Nocturnes features a 50s-comics-looking art style that can be off-putting for new readers.

It nevertheless contains the most gruesome episode of the entire saga, John Dee “24 Hours” issue at the diner, and the heartbreaking “The Sound of Her Wings”, where we make the acquaintance of Dream’s big sister Death, unconventionally portrayed as an irreverent Goth girl.

If you can’t wait to know what all the fuss is about, skip directly to the fourth arc Season of Mists, arguably the best of the sprawling lot.

Similarly powerful in evoking a world of epical complexity is the dark fantasy manga series Berserk by Kentaro Miura, a staggering masterwork chocked with action and violence.

Like a Velvet Glove Cast in Iron

by David Clowes

An uncompromisingly upsetting graphic novel from the most widely acclaimed American alternative comic book author.

In his quest to unveil the origin of a snuff movie, Clay Loudermilk tumbles across a psychedelic universe of eccentric characters and jaw-dropping situations.

The hallucinating trip, intensely narrated through Lynchian raw black and white imagery, definitely hits a nerve, swallowing up readers into an overpowering spiral of obsession and sadism.


by Grant Morrison and Frazer Irving

In this cryptic sci-fi space meta-horror story, a burnt-out screenwriter meets his character, an intergalactic criminal equally messed-up, and the two of them team up to save their twisted chaotic universe.

Morrison’s well-known metaphysical ravings reach the apex of weirdness, opening up an astonishingly bizarre whirlwind mindscape resoundingly illustrated by Irving’s gothic large panels.


by Alan Moore and Jacen Burrows

Epoch-making writer Alan Moore’s original take on Lovecraftian myths is a terribly disturbing descend into madness.

Investigating a series of ghastly ritual murders, two FBI agents follow the dismal path taken by their sociopathic colleague Aldo Sax in the prequel “The Courtyard” (included in this edition).

Racism, misanthropy, and sexual phobia – the most repulsive elements implicit in Lovecraft narrative – are approached in full vision by Jacen Burrows expanded panels of detailed, crude, and realistically colored artwork.

The long, brutal rape scene at the core of the volume is not for the faint-hearted. If you can’t get enough of Moore’s Lovecraftian raving, check out the sequel Providence.

Underwater Welder

by Jeff Lemire

Talented artist Jeff Lemire is best known for the hit Essex County, a contemplative, intimate portrait of his hometown community in southwestern Ontario, Canada.

In this psychologically nuanced ghost story, a soon-to-be-dad oil rig welder is compelled to confront deep-seated issues (pun intended) concerning the relationship with his own father.

A lingering tone of pensive uneasiness is pervasively conveyed through inventive splash-out layouts and distinctively sketchy black and white art, at times shaded with gray undertones.

Alternatively, the uncanny horror series Gideon Falls delightfully combines Lemire’s emotive storytelling, Andrea Sorrentino’s disorienting and frame-shattering panels, and the impeccable touch of Dave Stewart, the best colorist out there.

Oyasumi Punpun

by Inio Asano

Quirky coming-of-age tale hinged on the rambling inner world of a growing-up pigeon boy.

Gut-wrenching reality and surreal daydream collide to capture with unrestrained accuracy and lyrical depth the multidimensional experience of becoming an adult, magnifically drawn to the crudest detail.

The expressive power of Inio Asano’s trademark photograph-like illustrations is best conveyed in the enigmatic and much darker existential horror Nijigahara Holograph, dealing with the unspeakable trauma of violence and abuse.


by Warren Ellis and Darick Robertson

Meet Spider Jerusalem, a post-cyberpunk deranged journalist forced to come back to the futuristic degraded civilization he despises.

Ellis’ vibrant and biting writing, coupled with Robertson’s magnificently details-crammed style, crafts a subversively pungent satire of politics and media that has gained Transmet the status of a cult classic for underground comics fans.

No Longer Human

by Junji Ito

Adaptation of the Japanese modern literature classic from Osamu Dazai, that allegedly wrote his autobiography as a suicidal note before taking his life.

The narration follows a young boy in his tragic descend into depression, depicting a grim story of sex abuse, addiction, and mental illness that traps protagonist Yozo Oba in a spiral of insulation, fear, and self-loathing until the devasting end.

Legendary horror mangaka Junji Ito unleashes his vivid nightmare visuals to give a bleak, unforgiving picture of Japanese society’s emotional faults.

Black is the color

by Julia Gfrörer

A haunting novella of love and death. Delicate erotism, dark humor, and a melancholic sense of insulation and despair are evocatively depicted in elegant and essential ink lines.

A similar darkly charming atmosphere of gothic romanticism is found in the stunning artwork of Emily Carroll, especially the sadly out-of-print When I Arrived at the Castle. Check out her poignant webtoons/webcomics online.

100 Bullets

by Brian Azzarello and Eduardo Risso

What would people do if given the chance of retaliation with the bonus of full immunity? Best-selling noir crime story debating the questionable morality of revenge and self-perpetuated justice.

Azzarello’s gritty and visceral tone is skillfully accentuated by Risso’s angular and richly shaded pictures.

Equally disturbing, Kill or Be Killed is another original take on the vigilante genre, created by noir superstars team Ed Brubaker and Sean Philips, and exquisitely completed by Elizabeth Breitweiser’s suggestive strokes of muddy colors.

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