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The Scariest Comic Books of All-Time! – The Upturned Stone

A reader named Chris S. suggested that I devote October to the scariest comic books of all-time, as suggested by you readers out there! Sounds like a plan to me! So all October-long, I’ll be featuring 31 comic book tales of terror, based on YOUR suggestions! So start e-mailing me at bcronin@comicbookresources.com your scary suggestions! Chris used Scott Hampton’s brilliant “The Upturned Stone” as an example, so I will open with that! Here is an archive of all the comics featured so far!

Enjoy (unless it is too spooky for you!)!

This story originally appeared in the September 1993 edition of Heavy Metal magazine, but it has since been reprinted on its own a few times (although I actually don’t know offhand if any of the various reprints are currently in print – you can get a copy easy off of Amazon, though).

Anyhow, the story is a coming of age story about four ten-year-old boys in…hmmm…I was going to guess 1970 but then I realized the story actually identifies it as 1969. Well, I was close!!

So that’s the basic set-up…the pumpkin turns into a fairly dour jack o’ lantern, and then later, Pete’s mom serves the boys pumpkin pie made from the pumpkin!!!

But sure enough, Pete begins to get spooky dreams that appear to be the memories of the murdered boy.

When he mentions this to his two friends while the trio are camping, it turns out he is not the ONLY one to be having these dreams!

Only, as it turns out, they each are just getting one quarter of the tale…the part they’re missing is the END! As you may recall, the fourth boy from that fateful night did not live in their neighborhood. So they go to seek him out and see what HE’S been dreaming about!

And when they find out, they must then figure out what they’re going to do about it all.

Hampton has such a brilliantly spooky way of delivering the dream sequences that it just sends a chill down your spine. Definitely not something that you want to be reading late at night (which is, of course, right when I read it).

I won’t spoil any of the spooky dreams, but instead, I’ll show this quick unrelated ghost story from the comic…

Spooky, right? And that’s just a QUICK bit – I bet you can imagine how scary he can make it if he has time to set the scene.

What really stands out about this tale (besides Hampton’s awesome painted artwork) is how good of a job Hampton does in developing these kids’ personalities and setting them up as just your average, everyday kids. There’s a funny bit where Pete and his friend Mark give their other friend, George, a hard time about the time they convinced him that the f-word was just another way to say “eat” – and that’s followed by a rough scene where George almost counters Mark’s teasing about the “f-word means eat” incident by making light of the fact that Mark’s parents both abandoned him, leaving him to be raised now by his older brother.

But really, the highlight of the comic is the way Hampton depicts the ghost story aspect of the comic, especially the climax of the tale, which is mostly silent…eerily silent.

This is one of the best Halloween comic book story I’ve ever read, so I heartily recommend you seeking it out (and then not reading it late at night in a darkened room).

Now go suggest MORE scary comics for the rest of the month, folks!

22 Comments

I would love to know how this story ends. Is there a website with scans or a place to see spoilers?

I read this when it was originally run in Heavy Metal. It has always stuck with me and I still have a copy of the hardcover printing of it. It is an excellent and truly creepy story.

Dude!!! The Sandman issue where Dr. Destiny tortures the patrons of the Diner he’s in.

How about Batman “Gothic.” That freaked me out as a kid.

I enjoyed your book, Brian. Reading it left me wanting more, which led me to this blog.

As a 5 year old I was really scared by the monster in Steve Ditko’s “The Thing Behind the Wall!” (Journey into Mystery 66, March 1960). I remember being afraid and at the same time eager to turn the page that would reveal the splash panel of this story. The appearance of the monster itself was very creepy to me, but I think the story became truly scary by introducing the concept that the monster could live behind a wall and reach out of it to grab me, not needing a closet or anything else to emerge from.

nice pick for now i have to track down the heavy metal issue and find out how this story ends.

Oh hell yeah. Got Mr. Hampton to autograph this baby!

And also Mr. Hampton’s adaptation of Pigeons from Hell!

That was great. Who is this Scott Hampton? I had the impression that Heavy Metal had gone down the toilet by the 90s but this is really A stuff.

The UK title ‘Scream’ had a couple of stories that have stayed with me. Brrrr …

You may have seen Scott’s work recently in Simon Dark with Steve Niles!

Suggestions, in no particular order:

From Hell — the psychogeography chapter in particular. (Moore/Campbell)
C**kbone (Simmons)
House (Simmons again)
Drifting Classroom (Umezu)
Uzumaki (Ito)
Dragon Head (Mochizuki)
Panorama of Hell (Hino)
Pim and Francie (Columbia)
Sloth (Beto)
Chance in Hell (also Beto)
The Squirrel Machine (Rickheit)
Flies on the Ceiling (Xaime)
Mining Colony x7170 (Johnny R.)
The Miracle (Johnny R.)
The Blot (Neely)
Black Hole (Burns)
Abstraction (Kago)
Miracleman #15 (Moore/Totleben)
His Face All Red (Carroll)
Any number of Woodring’s Frank stories

…why yes, yes I do really like horror comics. How could you tell? Some of these are nsfw…

^ These are great suggestions. Maybe some Thomas Ott too? Uno Moralez?

Holy crap! Brian I have been trying to find this story for almost 20 years! I read my dad’s copy of heavy metal in 93, and this story gave me horrible nightmares! I’ve tried googling Heavy Metal, pumpkin, Halloween, etc to no avail.

I came into this thread planning to ask about it in the comments, and lo and behold, this is it!

You made my day! Scariest comic I’ve ever read. Definitely ordering a copy. Oh man, so awesome.

Thanks for shining a spotlight on this comic! It’s been a favorite of mine for ages. I’ve read it many times and while it’s no longer as scary as the first time, it’s always an enjoyable read. And man, that first read-through really gives you chills!

Matthew Johnson

October 3, 2011 at 10:10 am

I doubt it scared anyone else, but this issue of Wonder Woman gave six-year-old me the willies so badly I had to hide it: http://www.comicvine.com/wonder-woman-the-crypt-of-the-dark-commander/37-109647/

Hey, where did Jones of the Jones Boy’s suggestions disppear?

I mentioned e-mailing suggestions specifically so that they would not be visible. So I made his suggestions similarly invisible for now.

This story is collected in the all-Hampton ghost anthology SPOOKHOUSE (IDW); some Hampton originals and some adaptations, almost all of it executed to perfection, it’s that good. Simply, one of the all-time top North American haunted story graphic anthologies, as is its sequel, SPOOKHOUSE 2 (IDW), which contains jaw-dropping adaptations of Howard and Butler.

I was the comic-book columnist for a noted horror magazine for an entire decade. People still often ask me what artists are most effective in communicating dread and unease. I always mention Hampton.

Scott and his brother Bo are awesome!

Fialkov’s ECHOES is an instant HORROR classic

Just thought I’d mention that ‘Heavy Metal Magazine’ does sell back issues off of its site (including this issue):
http://www.heavymetal.com/shm/product_info.php?cPath=16_49&products_id=3123

Awesome. Thanks for the head’s up!

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