Halloween ComicFest 2015 falls on October 31 this year, giving comic book lovers an even bigger treat his Halloween.
Now in its fourth year, the event is often seen as fall’s answer to May’s Free Comic Book Day. However, it stands on its own as a celebration of the spirit of make believe and imagination, which surround the festivities of both the Halloween season and the comic book genre.
This year’s event includes 21 free comics from which readers can choose–13 full-sized, and 8 mini comics–from various publishers, ranging from household names like Marvel, DC, and Dark Horse, to some impressive smaller press or independent publishers like Action Labs and Magnetic Press.
According to Diamond Comics Distributors, more than 1.75 million comics will be given out for free from more than 1,900 comic shops participating and hosting special activities this year.
Unfortunately, this many choices can sometimes mean having to make a decision, especially since the response from comic fans is so huge. Plus, there are some pretty good options this year for readers of every age. For those who may have trouble deciding what to get, here are six of my recommendations, based on this year’s titles:
For All Ages
As a parent, I am often frustrated with the increasingly “adult take” on Halloween events, but Halloween ComicFest has done a great job of making sure young readers are well-represented. More than half the comics offered this year are suitable for kids and tweens, as well as older readers. My picks:
The Garlicks (Action Lab): I’ve been impressed with Action Lab’s titles ever since I read the Kickstarter-funded Molly Danger. The Garlicks, written and illustrated by Lea Hernandez, is a cute choice for the season. Olive, a bored young butcher weary of watching the family business, makes what she thinks is a harmless deal with a little being she soon learns is a mischievous pooka.
Also from Action Labs this year is an Actionverse sample featuring preview stories for The Savage Maxim and the adorably fun Action Lab: Dog of War, as well as an Actionverse Handbook with a guide to favorite characters like Molly Danger and Virtue.
Action Lab’s Mature Readers “Danger Zone” line also offers title for older readers featuring Zombie Tramp and the origin story of Vampblade.
Boom! Studios Halloween Haunt 2015. Everyone in our family enjoyed last year’s Boom! Studios collection. This year’s should also be well-received, with Adventure Time, and Steven Universe stories, but the main reason to pick this up this year is the Lumberjanes’ campfire tale, Taily Po, a great little spooky story readers will want to add to their own storytelling sessions.
Bitten (Magnetic Press). Cornelia Funke’s young readers novels and picture books (Inkheart, Pirate Girl) are always imaginative. In Bitten, writer Raul Garcia and illustrator Francisco Herrera introduce readers to the comic interpretation of Funke’s young adult novel, Young Werewolf, coming up in 2016. The quick glimpse at teenager Matt’s origin makes for a fun little tween-friendly adventure, but it’s Herrera’s illustrations that make it particularly appealing.
Other recommended all ages and young adult reads include Chakra The Invincible, Skylanders, and Grimmiss Island.
For Teens and Adults
There is a definite silver age horror vibe to some of this year’s more mature reader and teen choices, harkening back to a time, before the typical slasher movie, when “scary stories” relied on real suspense and story-driven horrors.
The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina (Archie Horror). The grimmer side to Archie Comics takes Sabrina The Teenage Witch by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa out of goofy world of Archie, and into the classic horror storytelling. This Halloween ComicFest edition of the first chapter of the story “The Crucible” reads like pulp horror. Artist Robert Hack’s black and white illustrations give it a disturbing, yet nostalgic feel. This origin story of Sabrina’s macabre coming of age will make it hard to ever look at Sabrina the same way again.
For those who still love the classic Archie style suitable for everyone, this is a World of Archie mini comic available this year.
Doctor Strange: The Oath (Marvel). Thanks to Marvel’s growing universe on the big screen (not to mention the presence of certain fan-favorite British actor), Doctor Stephen Strange is about to come out of the Marvel sidelines and become very, very popular. This first issue of a story by Brian K. Vaughn with art by Marcos Martin is a good way to get to know him, getting brief glimpse of his origin, his powers, his genius, and his arrogance. For example, try operating a patient whose astral projection is looking over your shoulder making snarky comments the whole time. This one is actually suitable for younger teens as well.
Spook-A-Rama (American Gothic Press). I’ve never been a huge reader of this publisher, so I almost passed this up, but this Famous Monsters of Filmdom story is a fun shout-out to the creature makers of cinema, like Ray Harryhausen and San Winston. Teenage Cory loves scary movies like his father before him, and wants to be part of making them come to life one day. He’s about to find out a little more than he would like. A fun read for anyone who enjoys the good old days of pre-CGI filmmaking. This one is suitable for ‘tweens as well, but teens and adults might enjoy this story more.
In addition to these recommendations, there will also be titles featuring familiar and favorite characters including Batman, Harley Quinn, Spider-Man, and The Avengers, as well as an always-popular Donald Duck Comics in a Halloween special, Manga-style comics, and more.
Like last year, Halloween ComicFest offers packs of its all-age mini comic titles in bundles of 25 for $4.99 a pack, perfect for sharing the wealth with trick-or-treaters. There will be eight titles to choose from this year, and packs will be available throughout the month of October at participating comic book shops. As an extra incentive, Halloween ComicFest is partnering with the Food Allergy Research and Education’s Teal Pumpkin Project, helping more children enjoy a safe and inclusive trick or treating experience this Halloween.
Also again this year is the popular online “The Greatest Halloween Costume Contest Ever” giving both kids and adults a chance to enter their favorite costumes for a chance to win $500 and $100 shopping sprees at their favorite comic book shop. Voting begins Nov. 3.
Many local shops will be hosting their own events, including costume contests, guest artists, giveaways, and others way to get into the Halloween spirit as only comic book fans can.
And, this event intends to make a comic fan out of everyone.