Abby Howard’s The Last Halloween: The Only Halloween-Themed Reading You Need This Season

Article By Sophie Wiener

Last week, I talked about Abby Howard’s hilarious, semi-autobiographical comic, Junior Scientist Power Hour, and its amazing use of dark humor. This week, I’ll be writing about her other webcomic: the absolutely gorgeous The Last Halloween. Because if you need something to get you into the holiday mood, look no further.

The comic is about a snarky little girl, Mona, who’s spending Halloween alone because her parent decided to go to a Halloween party rather than take her trick-or-treating. Needless to say, she’s not too happy about it, and she decides to spend the night watching violent movies while aggressively eating the candy they left out for trick-or-treaters.

Too bad the apocalypse just started!

Suddenly, the world is swarming with all kinds of monsters. Mona is chased out of her house by an enormous beast, and from there, she somehow gets involved in a harrowing, incredibly traumatizing and plot-twist filled journey to stop the apocalypse.

First, I just need to talk about the art. Because GOD it is gorgeous. I’m always impressed by people who can make black-and-white art not just a time-saver, but an actual stylistic choice to the degree that I can’t imagine the comic drawn any other way.. As I mentioned previously, Howard is an expert at making her art go from cartoonishly simple to beautifully detailed through just the use of shading and cross-hatching. This comes out in full force in this webcomic, where the monsters and more serious pages are drawn with a breathtaking amount of love and care.

The art starts out kind of simple in the beginning of the comic, but as time progresses and Howard becomes a better artist, it makes huge jumps in quality. Also, the website that The Last Halloween is housed on has a black background, so the panels look like they’re emerging from the darkness. It gives the comic an appropriately dreary air.

And once again, this art pairs well with the tone of the story.  It's an incredibly dark story- there is a lot of fairly graphic gore (though it's not as graphic as it could be because the story isn’t in full color), characters die gruesomely, people are permanently injured, and Mona is definitely going to have a serious case of PTSD if she survives the comic- but it's also an incredibly funny one.  Howard loves to use dark humor to lighten things up. The comic relief character, an absolutely insane child vampire named Ringley, also sees a fair amount of use. It doesn’t matter how grim the current situation is, he’s never afraid to jump in with an absurd, incredibly stupid idea.

The rest of the characters are enjoyable and well developed. There’s the unquestionably jerky Dr. Fugue, who is entirely too interested in creating zombies, the social-media obsessed ghoul, Shirley, and Robert, a cursed living doll and the only character other than Mona who is anywhere near sane. It says a lot about a story when a doll brought to life by Haitian voodoo is one of the only useful characters in a story.

And we’ve got some strong female protagonists here as well: aside from our stellar protagonist, who is really as snarky, panicky and reasonable as you can expect from a three-dimensional ten-year-old, there’s the mysterious J.D., an extremely awesome lady who is on her own important journey through this monster apocalypse. I especially like her, because I have a feeling in most stories she’d be cast as a handsome, grizzled and muscular guy in his early thirties. Not so in The Last Halloween, where she’s a pudgy lady in a ballet skirt. And there’s some really nice diversity in the form of Mona’s parent, who is genderqueer, something absolutely no one in the story has made any kind of fuss over.

What more could you ask for? The Last Halloween is dark, funny, thrilling and visiually beautiful.