Stranger Things is the latest weekend-obliterating Netflix binge sensation: a mélange of ‘80s-era Steven Spielberg, “family-friendly” horror movies like Poltergeist and vintage Stephen King (who noticed, by the way). Starring a frazzled, fascinating Winona Ryder, a sinister Matthew Modine and a breakout cast of child actors, Stranger Things wears its influences proudly, from the mass paperback intro sequence fonts to the John Carpenter-inspired score. If Twitter is any indication, most of your favorite comic pros spent their weekend blazing through the first season (if they weren’t busy swooning over Kate McKinnon), and more than a few noticed the show’s similarities to some of the best books on the stands. In the spirit of soothing your post-binge comedown, Paste compiled recommendations for six comics that tap the same well of influences and will help hold you over until season two drops.
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Writer: Brian K. Vaughan
Artist: Cliff Chiang
Publisher: Image Comics
The Paybacks co-writer Donny Cates joked on Twitter that Stranger Things is an "almost all male reboot of Paper Girls," a tongue-in-cheek dig that'll ring true to fans of the show who check out Brian K. Vaughan and Cliff Chiang's '80s-set sci-fi thriller. This Image breakout doles out its surprising, reality-bending twists so deftly that we don't really want to give away any of the plot—it's better to learn each new development at the pace the creators intended. Suffice to say, it's a good thing comics offers the creative team an unlimited budget for "special effects," as the plot quickly escalates beyond anything Netflix is capable of funding. Of all the entries on this list, Paper Girls is the closest to sharing Stranger Things' designation as the best thing Amblin Entertainment never made.
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Writer: Jeff Lemire
Artist: Emi Lenox
Publisher: Image Comics
There's something perennially intriguing about kids getting in over their heads in the absence of adults, and that's a premise Plutona and Stranger Things share. Written by the ever-productive Jeff Lemire and talented newcomer Emi Lenox, who also handles art duties, Plutona wears its heart on its sleeve. The book revolves around a ragtag crop of kids who stumble on the corpse of a superhero in the woods. Like Stranger Things, Plutona has Stephen King in its blood (in this case, The Body, known better by its film adaptation title: Stand By Me). If you loved Stranger Things and aren't averse to capes and cowls, this recently optioned mini-series is a must.
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Writer: Tim Seeley
Artist: Mike Norton
Publisher: Image Comics
With pale, gaunt beings traipsing through the woods and an officer of the law struggling to figure out what's happening in a beleaguered small town, Revival should scratch many a Stranger Things itch—and the long-running Image series has multiple deluxe collections in print, making it an ideal binge-reading experience. In Tim Seeley and Mike Norton's rural horror book, the dead are coming back to life, but there's much more to the story than a simple resurrection. Slowly uncovering Revival's many mysteries should keep you busy until the Duffer Brothers get season two fast-tracked.
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Writers: Lauren Beukes & Dale Halvorsen
Artists: Ryan Kelly & Inaki Miranda
Publisher: Vertigo/ DC Comics
If you're looking for a comic that homages horror tropes à la Stranger Things' substantial Poltergeist and Stephen King fixations, recently concluded Vertigo series Survivors' Club does just that, with the dial turned up to 11. Co-writers Lauren Beukes and Dale Halvorsen and artists Ryan Kelly and Inaki Miranda mash up adult survivors of classic horror set-ups—vampire next door, haunted house, evil doll, gateway to hell—in an unraveling cult conspiracy. The denouement is unfortunately a bit rushed (perhaps due to low sales), but the creators' horrific hearts were in the right place and the nine extant issues should make for a breezily engrossing read.
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Writers: James Tynion IV & Noah J. Yuenkel
Artist: Matt Fox
Publisher: BOOM! Studios
With comparisons to Super 8, E.T. and The X-Files, it's clear that UFOlogy shares plenty of source material with Stranger Things. The book's protagonist is a Midwestern girl who just wants a normal life—until an alien visitation kicks off a massive conspiracy and sends her on the run alongside her bumbling classmate. Co-writer James Tynion IV's longer-running BOOM! book about kids in dangerous situations, The Woods, may also appeal to Stranger Things fans, if alternate realities and fantasy tropes aren't turn-offs.
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We Can Never Go Home
Writers: Matthew Rosenberg & Patrick Kindlon
Artist: Josh Hood
Publisher: Black Mask Comics
This book, which put both co-writer Matthew Rosenberg and upstart publisher Black Mask on the map in a major way, will appeal more to fans of Charlie Heaton's sullen older teen Jonathan Byers than those of the precocious preteen stars. Protagonist Duncan grabs a gun and goes on the run with a young woman who possesses unexplained superpowers, clashing with...just about everyone along the way. Set in roughly the same time period as Stranger Things, WCNGH owes more to Badlands than any Amblin movie, but similarly nails the young-people-against-shady-authority vibe that permeates the Duffer Brothers' Netflix hit.