November 28, 2008
Black Friday Holiday Shopping Guide '08
Today is Black Friday 2008, the traditional first day of the hectic holiday shopping season.
Following are several suggestions for comics related gift-shopping to help spur you along if you've decided that sequential narrative presents and things related to sequential narratives are to be on Santa's list this year. I'll be adding to them from now until Noon ET.
As I have little chance of actually selecting something for your friend or loved one, please use this as a starting point. Perhaps it will give you an idea as to what's out there, or spark some brainstorming that leads to an idea of your own. I'm also quite certain I'm forgetting a list equally as long, filled with quality works and books, for which I apologize profusely. Last year we opened it up for people to recommend their own books as gifts; that turned out to be a disaster, so we won't be repeating that initiative. So please look around.
Have fun today and the weeks ahead, and please remember a few simple rules about comics gift-giving:
1. When it comes to gifts, comics are best for people that already like them
as opposed to people that may like them someday
2. The bigger the comics fan, the more likely that person is to be very specific
about what it is they want. Be careful!
3. Comics don't have the saturation of DVDs, and some of the best things are carried by specific vendors or involve an element of handcraft, so make sure you have enough time to receive the thing it is you want to buy.
All that said, gifts are gifts, and it's hard to do anything wrong when giving someone a gift. Happy shopping, and here's to a happy and safe holiday season.
THE COMICS REPORTER BLACK FRIDAY HOLIDAY SHOPPING GUIDE 2008
183 (OR SO) REASONS TO SPEND YOUR SHOPPING MONEY ON COMICS THIS YEAR
TWELVE GIFTS FOR THE TWELVE DAYS OF CHRISTMAS
1. Cul-De-Sac: This Exit, Richard Thompson
One of the best comic strips to come along in years has a collection. First collections are great not only because they're probably the most user-friendly of all the books to come, but because in many cases you probably haven't read the majority of the strips. Since this collection includes material from previous Richard Thompson efforts related
, that's almost certainly true here.
2. What It Is, Lynda Barry
A clear book of the year candidate, What It Is
offers something for those that want to do comics, those that are creative in any way, shape or form, and those that simply want to luxuriate in Lynda Barry's cartooning.
3. Merchandise From Scott Saavedra
The cartoonist, designer and pop culture historian Scott Saavedra announced in November
that he's suffering from a kidney disease. He has insurance and he's not destitute, but he certainly could use a swelling in the coffers to help his family through these tough times. Luckily, he has a lot of fun stuff for sale.
4. Patrick Moberg's Presidential Print
I don't know the artist, but I thought Moberg's illustration was the
cartoon of the recently-passed election. If that's something you or someone you know wants to celebrate, it's being sold as a print.
5. Original Art From Comic Art Collective
Year after year, Comic Art Collective remains one of my favorite places to shop on-line. It's a service through which certain cartoonists can sell their original artwork and pocket 100 percent of the proceeds. One thing I personally like about it is that there's a lot of super-affordable art of the pen-and-ink illustration variety. That's Colleen Coover's work above.
6. Gary Panter, Gary Panter
A ridiculously affordable overview of the art-making portion of the great cartoonist's career. Classy and intimate.
7. Most Outrageous, Bob Levin
In The Pirates and the Mouse
(2003) and Outlaws, Rebels, Freethinkers & Pirates
, my friend Bob Levin dug deep into comics both modern and underground with a sympathetic eye and a gift for astute cultural observation. In his latest from Fantagraphics, Most Outrageous
(2008), Levin paints his most alarming and heartbreaking portrait yet. Not for everyone, but an excellent, excellent book.
8. Kramers Ergot Vol. 7, Edited By Sammy Harkham
The buzz book of the fall and a massive, show-stopper comic to place under any tree (or, in the case of my house, a stuffed bear). Not only can I recommend this anthology of broadsheet-sized comics, I'm
getting one for Christmas.
9. The Wonder, Tony Fitzpatrick
The Chicago-based painter/printer doesn't think they're comics, either, but I assure you they are -- powerful ones, driven by poetry and organized by memory. This is a three-book set, slip-cased.
10. Willie & Joe: The WWII Years, Bill Mauldin and Todd DePastino
A staggering archival achievement, a lot of great cartooning and an important history lesson.
11. Swallow Me Whole, Nate Powell
Despite an Ignatz win, Swallow Me Whole
was probably the least publicized in a group of really solid book-length debuts by newer cartoonists in 2008, and my favorite of Top Shelf's releases this calendar year.
12. Scorchy Smith and the Art of Noel Sickles, Noel Sickles (Edited by Dean Mullaney)
One of those wished-for books for years finally comes true. It manages to be better than I dreamed, with a full accounting of Sickles' commercial art career and a look at both his predecessor and successor on Scorchy Smith
that allows readers to see how his talent developed. A stunning monster of a book.
FIVE BARGAIN GIFT IDEAS FOR WHAT MAY BE A TOUGH YEAR
1. Something via AbeBooks
This is the interface that I use to access used bookstores. One thing that such stores tend to have that comic shops usually don't is classic "cartoon books" from artists like Peter Arno, Charles Addams, Pat Oliphant, B. Kliban and so on. But you can frequently find all sorts of comics and comics-related books for cheaper than the standard, going price. It's worth checking.
Like most men around 40 years old, I like to make coasters out of old comic book pages. You can use just about any old coaster project description that comes up when you search on Google. I prefer the take old coasters and fasten laminated comics imagery onto the top of them technique, but I've also used old CDs and cork to assemble some pancake-style. The important thing is to get good lamination and to be careful as you attach the art. Comics art offers a lot of opportunities for such handmade gifts if you're inclined to go that way. Be creative.
3. Various Calvin and Hobbes Books -- or Something Similar -- at Barnes & Noble
Barnes & Noble carries a lot of the classic Calvin & Hobbes
collections at a reduced rate. That's a tricky buy for someone right now as many older fans will certainly have this material while a lot of younger fans may not know Calvin from
Hobbes. But if you have someone for whom it's appropriate, those are good deals. I have to imagine a lot of work from recent years gets processed into the discount sections of such stores, so it might pay to look around in the discount sections.
4. Amazon.com's Used Books Options
Most comics in trade collections or in original graphic novel form come with an ISBN. In most of those
cases, that means used copies can be sold on Amazon. I don't believe in selling review copies, but from the number of used books that pop up in the listings every single time there's a new comics release, I'm guessing most folks disagree with me. Not only can you find slightly older books on Amazon.com at a highly reduced rate, you should be able to find all-but-new ones at a discount as well.
5. Non-Mint, Not Super-Popular, Older Comic Books From A Shop Or On-Line Store
Most comic book stores sell discounted comics in some fashion. Ebay has given price-point noogies to many a store owner who once upon a time held onto comic books no one wanted for 15 years or more because they were certain that a dollar's worth of desire out there would someday and somehow compound itself up to $7.50. With a little effort, you can snag readable runs of unpretentious adventure comics ranging from Master of Kung Fu
to Power Man and Iron Fist
to Camelot 3000
to The Intimates
for less than $1.50 an issue. Try reliable on-line retailers like Mile High
(especially during their sales); try eBay for things like Chicago Comics' manga sales
; try Google Maps or the Comic Shop Locator
service to find a store near you.
SIX WAYS TO FACILITATE THEIR DOING THE SHOPPING
1. Gift Certificate From Amazon.com
Here's one way to let people buy comics for themselves, a gift certificate to the bookstore Amazon.com, which of course by virtue of comics' journey into the world of book sales is a prominent comics retailer just about any way you measure it.
2. Gift Card From Barnes and Noble
And here's another. Added advantage that you can use it in the brick and mortar locations of the chain.
3. Gift Certificate From Mile High Comics
I've purchased these before and had no complaints.
4. Gift Certificate From Your Local Comic Book Shop
Your shop may not do this, but it never hurts to ask. I imagine there are several that would take money from you and apply it to store credit even if there's not an official certificate in the offing.
5. Something From Someone's Amazon.com Wish List
I have an Amazon.com Wish List devoted to Marvel's Essentials and DC's Showcase reprint series, but most people just have a few comics on their regular Wish Lists waiting for you to purchase them.
6. Something From A Want List Someone Made At Their Local Shop
Many comic shops will let their customers leave a list of comics they want their friends and family members to buy them. If your store doesn't have a program like this, they might be convinced to do it for someone that asks nicely.
TWENTY-FIVE APPEALING NEWER COMICS OFFERINGS IN THE POPULAR BOOK FORMAT, REPRESENTING A SMALL AND COMPLETELY INADEQUATE SAMPLING OF SUCH VOLUMES OUT THERE RIGHT NOW SO SHUT UP I TRIED
1. Little Nothings, Lewis Trondheim
The first English-language volume of Lewis Trondheim's remarkable diary comics in print form. Should be fun for both hardcore comics fans that can catch some of the side jokes and appreciate the context for a few of the situations, and for the non-comics fan that can relate to getting older and developing a wry and wary attitude towards life. I have to imagine the second volume is as good.
2. Too Cool To Be Forgotten, Alex Robinson
A sure audience-pleaser about a man who goes back to high school in 1980s after being diverted by a form of hypnosis designed to cure his smoking habit. I hate it when that happens.
3. The Bottomless Belly-Button, Dash Shaw
So much like a proper novel in shape and intent and texture that you want to apologize to it for describing other comics that way. I read it all the way through on my first try, which is worth noting only in that it's big enough I had to cancel a lot of appointments to get there uninterrupted.
4. Three Shadows, Cyril Pedrosa
A haunting fable about the lengths to which parents will go to to protect their children, it's one of the few comics I read this year that if I had to stop at any point and take a quiz, I would have no guess as to where it was going.
5. The Amazing Remarkable Monsieur Leotard, Eddie Campbell
The latest from one of comics' greatest, and, I suspect, the last one we may say from Campbell for a while after a ruthlessly productive period.
6. Skyscrapers Of The Midwest, Josh Cotter
Another of this year's stellar book-length debuts, Cotter draws the holy hell out of this story touching on the scary intimacies of family life through inventive visual metaphor and ruthless observation.
7. French Milk, Lucy Knisley
A surprise debut from a big-time prose publisher that pleases for the author's apparent lack of a desire to tell a Great Big Story and instead concentrate on the quotidian details of life around her during an extended stay in Paris.
8. Comic Book Tattoo, Various (Edited By Rantz Hoseley)
A massive -- I mean hurt your legs to have it on your lap massive -- tome of stories taken from the lyrics of the much beloved singer-songwriter Tori Amos. Just came out in a slip-cased collectors' edition.
9. Haunted, Philippe Dupuy
Pore over the release lists from your favorite comics publishers and you'll more than likely find each one was responsible for a gem or two, such as D&Q's publication of Philippe Dupuy's intimate and introspective portrait of life as an artist.
10. The Mammoth Book of Best Crime Comics, Various (Edited By Paul Gravett)
Drawing on what I suspect is Paul Gravett's broad knowledge of comic book and their best craftsmen, this is by far the best of the Mammoth Book series and a more than satisfactory survey of approaches to an intermittently popular comics genre.
11. The Nearly Complete Essential Hembeck Archives Omnibus, Fred Hembeck
This is a massive chunk of one of the strangest career outputs in comics history from the superhero parodist and humor comics specialist Fred Hembeck for whom many fans of the last 30 years have a quiver-to-the-touch soft spot. Just the sight of a giant tome of Hembeck's comics makes me laugh.
12. My Brain Is Hanging Upside-Down, David Heatley
The like it/lump it art comics book of the Fall, Heatley's confessional autobiography breaking his personal history down into general subjects rather than telling it in one long narrative, is one of those books I bet a lot of cartoonists emerging five to ten years from now will cite as an influence.
13. Breakdowns, Art Spiegelman
A serious book of the year candidate, Spiegelman has re-released his groundbreaking one-man anthology with new material about his life growing up, material that I believe was serialized in the University of Virginia's literary review.
14. Trains Are Mint, Oliver East
Yet another compulsively readable comics-with-a-spine debut, a collection of the first three lauded Oliver East handmade comics. There's a second volume I haven't seen yet out for Christmas.
15. The Education Of Hopey Glass, Jaime Hernandez
This is a stunning-looking book, as is most everything Jaime Hernandez does these days, and one of the most subtly harrowing works in any medium about getting your act together a few years after you probably should have paid attention to doing so.
16. Alan's War, Emmanuel Guibert
A potential book of the year candidate, a long and affecting and visually sumptuous portrait of an American life distinguished but certainly not defined by service during World War II. It's one of the few books I've read this year where -- although both impressions were positive -- I had a completely different opinion of it by book's end than I had two-thirds of the way through.
17. Skim, Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki
A recent bit of awards-program controversy surrounding co-author credit for artist Jillian Tamaki shouldn't detract from the fact that this was a solid and compelling book aimed at slightly younger readers yet suitable for older ones. It was one of those books that made you reconsider the efforts done in the entire category.
18. Speak Of The Devil, Gilbert Hernandez
One of the best, impossible to categorize comic series of 2007 becomes one of the must-have hardcovers of 2008. The latest work in a long run of fascinating comics from a future Best Living Cartoonist.
19. The Alcoholic, Jonathan Ames and Dean Haspiel
The two best things about this work is the unsparing character arc of its lead, when the temptation for this kind of thing tends to go the other direction, and Dean Haspiel's art, some of the best of his career.
20. Thoreau at Walden, John Porcellino
This book just kind of slipped out there quietly, which I guess is appropriate. John Porcellino's elegant take on Thoreau's meditative masterpiece and its making provides plenty of opportunity to reflect on the various issues involved and
formal comics approaches.
21. Journey, Vol. 1, William Messner-Loebs
IDW's reprinting of the one-time, famously financially troubled creator's odd, affecting, signature work has an almost heroic aspect to it -- there wasn't really a market for frontier comics in the 1980s, and there probably isn't one now, either. The comics are quite interesting, though, with a unique tone, both resolutely serious and significantly tongue-in-cheek I'm not sure has ever been matched.
22. Omega The Unknown, Jonathan Lethem and Farel Dalrymple and Karl Rusnack and Paul Hornschemeier
One of the best superhero comics of the last 10 years gets the special hardcover treatment. As attested to by a brother who came and threw the last issue of the series in my lap with a sarcastic "thanks for that," it's a book that really needs to be read all the way through in one sitting.
23. We Can Still Be Friends, Mawil
There were books I liked a bit more than this one, but I enjoyed Mawil's take on romantic failure enough that I wish for it a much bigger audience than its quiet release mid-year seemed to garner for it. The cartooning is lovely.
24. An Anthology of Graphic Fiction, Cartoons and True Stories Vol. 2, Various (Edited By Ivan Brunetti)
The second of Ivan Brunetti's University of Yale press efforts is the best of a lot of decent, recent books to make a summary statement out of worthy alt-comics. If you had to pick one single volume to read for a satisfying, thoughtful engagement with art comics over the last 20 years, this is the one.
25. The Picture Of Dorian Gray Roy Thomas and Sebastian Fiumara
One of the quieter efforts in Marvel's broad move onto bookstore shelves; the collection of a six-issue mini-series begun late last year.
ELEVEN SUBSCRIPTIONS, THE GIFT THAT KEEPS ON GIVING
1. Subscription to an Archie Publication
It's like having a little piece of supermarket checkout right there in your home.
2. Subscription to Comics-Friendly Nickelodeon
No successful magazine has a better array of kids' comics and features as many likable cartoonists than Nickelodeon
3. Subscription to a DC Comic Book
This could make a nice nostalgia gift for a one-time weekly comic shop visitor. I'm not as familiar with these titles as I used to be, but I always like whatever Grant Morrison is working on. I'm told Geoff Johns is currently gaining in popularity after a long time as a mainstream comics critical punching bag, and they're certainly depending on his efforts, so his various series might be good, too.
4. Subscription to a Marvel Comic Book
It's old school, but where once this was maybe the best way to guarantee getting a comic book, it's now an equally nice way to have a recurring gift that the reader might not otherwise pick up. I'd suggest whatever books Ed Brubaker and Matt Fraction are working on.
5. Subscription to a TwoMorrows Magazines
There are certainly enough of the TwoMorrows magazines that one of them at least should be worthy of your attention. You can't go on buying them at conventions forever, you know.
6. Subscription to Shojo Beat
This may be a more popular gift than a similar subscription to Shonen Jump
as Shojo Beat
seems to be on slightly fewer newsstands.
7. Subscription to Shonen Jump
I had a gift subscription this past year and it was great to see that fat little sucker peeking out at me from the mailbox once a month.
8. Subscription to The Comics Journal
The category-leading comics news and criticism magazine has not only offered subscriptions since the late 1970s, it's traditionally one of the better deals out there. It also affords you the ability to access magazine content on-line that's not generally available.
9. Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited Subscription
Marvel unveiled its first serious step into the world of digital comics right before Christmas last year. I'm thinking about asking for this from a loved one this year. I don't have much of a desire to read even the best Marvel Comics, although I enjoy them, but the way I figure it I might be convinced to read a few thousand if it were cost-effective for me to do so.
10. DailyInk.com Subscription
It may eventually go the way of the Dodo as more and more syndicates choose the strategy of "free," but for the conceivable future there's DailyInk.com from King Features, a site that features old and new material at a size that actually rewards your reading it on a computer screen. A solid gift for your friend that knows which strips run on the Houston Chronicle
web site as opposed to which run on the Seattle P-I
11. A Subscription to Modern Tales
is one of webcomics' premier sites when it comes to gathering quality material under one virtual roof; it's also one of the few with a lot of pay-for added features, which I would imagine might make a nice gift for a dabbler or someone who's expressed interest in a couple of the offerings.
FIFTEEN SUGGESTIONS NOT ALREADY OFFERED FOR YOUNG PERSON-FRIENDLY GNS AND/OR KIDS BOOKS WITH CARTOONIST HOOKS
1. A Kids Book From Toon Books
The new line spearheaded by Francoise Mouly employs a staggering number of talents familiar to older comics readers, from Frank Cammuso to Eleanor Davis to Art Spiegelman to Dean Haspiel.
2. Chiggers, Hope Larson
I picked up a copy of this sweetly-told summer camp story for the 12-year-old daughter of a friend and she was thrilled by it.
3. One of the Kids-Focused Books From First Second
A number of the graphic novels in the First Second line are aimed at kids at a range of ages, including the successful Sardine
series (up to six volumes I think) for very young kids and the award-winning Laika
for slightly older ones.
4. The Invention of Hugo Cabret, Brian Selznick, Scholastic Press, 2007
Although a couple of years old, it's a book I'm asked still asked about by friends. Noted illustrator Selznick's solo effort has lovely comics sections that strengthen the work's focus on silent film.
5. Bow-Wow Books
Formalist comics master Mark Newgarden co-authors this line of children's books that count on subtle visual effects and bright, funny plotlines. I've given these to a couple of families with really little kids and they've liked them enough to keep them in the heavy rotation for the several months since then.
6. Something From Shaun Tan
The success of The Arrival
may open up all of the Shaun Tan-illustrated books for reading by comics fan interested in how he employs imagery.
7. One of Richard McGuire's Children's Books
Richard McGuire's children's books -- What Goes Around Comes Around
, Night Becomes Day
, What's Wrong With This Book?
and Orange Book
-- are full of the sharp visuals and formal play that distinguishes comics like "Here."
8. One of Lorenzo Mattotti's Children's Books
Mattotti provided book illustration as idiosyncratically colorful as any of his more famous comics albums on works like Eugenio
. If they're not still on the shelves where you are, they're pretty easy to find on-line.
9. The Usagi Yojimbo Series, Stan Sakai
Oh, to be ten years old right now and have all of these solidly-crafted, cartoony violent and engrossing comics ahead of me to read.
10. All-Ages Superhero Comics Efforts
and DC Comics
have comics they publish aimed at younger readers, and many of them are quite a bit more fun to read by readers of all ages than a lot of today's continuity-obsessive, clenched-sphincter, standard comic books and collections.
11. The Johnny Boo Series, James Kochalka
James is practically a kid himself, and his expressly-for-kids books have an undeniable power to them. The first volume
is out and the second volume
12. The Amphigorey Series, Edward Gorey
Although I've focused mostly on current books for kids, I can't let the comics-related books I loved most as a child go without mention. Although I could be wrong I believe there are four books in this series now -- Amphigorey
, Amphigorey Again
, Amphigorey Too
and Amphigorey Also
-- all collecting various morbid and ookey stand-alone by the late cartoonist. I can't find a dedicated site, but they are not hard to track down.
13. The Diary Of A Wimpy Kid Series, Jeff Kinney
This list wouldn't be complete without this publishing phenomenon on the list.
14. Tintin, Herge
Any comics list for kids also need this classic series, just waiting out there for kids to discover. There may be a smaller window for kids to enjoy these comics the way kids have for a few generation now, but it's still there. Also not hard to find at all through a variety of standard methods. According to Amazon.com, they seem to be selling these in really cheap omnibus-style hardcovers.
15. Various Manga Series Out There For Kids
A ton of manga out there is certainly suitable for kids, just as a ton of it may not be depending on the household rules that apply. There's material that's hilarious and I think totally harmless in some translated kids manga I read that would have nonetheless gotten my butt spanked had I taken it over to Murray Bartholome's house, and manga that's aimed at adults that I would have no problem giving to a child of someone that employed me. Of series out there that I would have liked as a kid, Naruto
, Dr. Slump
, Slam Dunk
and Hikaru No Go
all spring to mind as stuff I might have obsessed over in one way or another. The other thing is that manga is an area where people are really, really into what they're into and not into what they're not, so you need to be careful and might opt for a gift certificate or shopping spree or something like that.
EIGHT BOOKS MY 66-YEAR-OLD MOTHER LIKED
1. Bone (One-Volume), Jeff Smith
My mom's a longtime prose fantasy fiction fiend, and she took great pleasure in this lengthy blending of the Carl Barks and JRR Tolkien traditions. The ongoing color volumes from Scholastic have been a hit, too, to the point that she read a color book recently and wondered if she had a whole new book.
2. Persepolis: One Volume Edition, Marjane Satrapi
My mom enjoyed this peek into another culture through the eyes of Marjane Satrapi, first as a child and then a teen, in the cartoonist's award-winning and reputation-making work. For Mom, the relative simplicity of Satrapi's drawing was a bonus rather than a hindrance: it made the book much easier for her to read, and she could impress upon it a vision of revolution-era Iran that might have been impossible for any artist to do justice.
3. Jack Cole and Plastic Man: Forms Stretched to Their Limits, Art Spiegelman and Chip Kidd
Mom is old enough to have fond memories of buying Police Comics
on the stands. You'd be surprised how many older people, if you have some on your list, can speak to some sort of memory of Cole in the comics pages or in Playboy
. (Or if not Cole, someone like that.) This is an at-times melancholy book cut heavily with the energy of Cole's work in a way that comments on the text in a fashion missing from the prose when it appeared as an essay in the New Yorker
. My mom was unfamiliar with the lives of of some of the poorly treated cartoonists out there, so this helped her see the field in a new light, as well.
4-5. Gemma Bovery and Tamara Drewe, Posy Simmonds
My mother really, really, really enjoyed both of these books, Posy Simmonds' breezy adaptations that offer readers an attractive prose-comics combination as opposed to a straight-up American comic book approach to the form. Mom appreciated how the comics provided a range of effects not available to prose, like the background events that crop up from time to time while something happens in the foreground simultaneously or how the atmosphere of a room can change as a number of people fill it. The link above is to the UK listing, but they're both available from American publishers now.
6. Little Orphan Annie Vol. 1, Harold Gray
My mom is extremely fond of Little Orphan Annie
, and has fond memories of following her adventures as a young girl in the late 1940s. While this book of early material doesn't feature the absolute best of what Gray would go on to do a bit later, it was surprising how quickly and in how many ways the cartoonist was up to speed from day one. I love the strip, too. No one carved space from a strip better than Gray.
7-8. Aya and Aya of Yop City, Marguerite Abouet and Clement Oubrerie
The big attraction here for Mom was the sweetness of the stories and their insight into a little-discussed area of the world (the Ivory Coast) during an even less-discussed period of time for that area of the world (the late 1970s). I think Mom probably also had a positive reaction to the visual sumptuousness of these books. They can be lovely.
A DOZEN IDEAS THAT ARE NOT EXACTLY COMICS BUT AREN'T A PERSONAL ELECTRONIC DEVICE, EITHER
1. Jimbo, The Doll
The only vinyl figure people who don't really "get" vinyl figures will ever need. Yes, it's anatomically correct. No, you don't get to learn how I know this.
2. Marshall Law: Origins, Pat Mills and Kevin O'Neill
This is a heavily-illustrated prose book featuring the Marshall Law character who was such a big favorite among my friends when it was coming out. I gave these to a pair of people on their birthday, and each person was delighted and had no idea the thing existed.
3. Postcards From Jordan Crane
These are lovely, and in high rotation in my office as postcards. Others may even just want them as a little art book.
4. Hellboy Christmas Ornament
It's not Christmas without the Hellboy Christmas Ornament.
5. Postcards from Tom Gauld
One of my favorite comics-related items of the last five years, these get a lot of kudos from people outside of comics that receive and enjoy them.
6. Manga-related Toys
I'm not a toy person, but anyone with rudimentary googling skills should be able to find toys related to their favorite big-name series if they are out there to be purchased.
7. Toys From Jim Woodring
Everything you can find in Jim Woodring's store is fantastic.
8. A T-Shirt From PictureBox, Inc.
I bought one of these Gary Panter shirts for someone recently, and they love
9. A CD or DVD From PictureBox, Inc.
Many of PictureBox's artists do things outside of comics, and PictureBox is happy to sell you that stuff, too.
10. A Moleskine Journal
I haven't spent any time talking about art supplies, and I'm not really qualified to do so, but one thing writers and
artists all seem to like are the legendary notebooks made by Moleskine.
11. Marvel Heroes Collection DVD Set
I know, I know. I mostly disliked the films of these I've seen and didn't even bother seeing some of them, but this seems like a decent price point
for a bunch of movies that along with a few folks like Frodo and Jason Bourne kind of define this era of pop film-making, and you can probably find it half as expensive if you look around. I'm sure there's 18 billion versions of Iron Man
movies, too. I still like this superhero movie best
12. Prose Works By Your Favorite Comics People
, Mike Carey
, Alan Moore
and Warren Ellis
are among those well-known comic book writers with prose works out there to track down and devour. Don't forget Neil Gaiman
. Check the used books sites, too: I'm likely devouring great writer-about-comics Bob Levin's late-'70s novel The Best Ride To New York
as you read this.
ELEVEN RECENT OR SORT-OF RECENT ART BOOKS NOT ALREADY DISCUSSED
1. Bat-Manga!, Chip Kidd
Chip Kidd's latest exploration into an arena of oddball storytelling choices and onslaughts of visual candy, this time Japan's version of the 1960s craze over all things Batman. Includes a generous sampling of the comics by Jiro Kuwata.
2. The Art of Bone, Jeff Smith
This turned out a lot smarter-looking than I thought it would be, and I was a fan going on. There's more attention than usual to design issues and how certain pieces of art are made. There's not a lot of new Bone
stuff, either, when you think about it, at least not that we have yet to see, so the book might appeal to a fan of the series on that level.
3. The Beasts! Series, Variouis( Edited and Designed by Jacob Covey
These are old-fashioned look and wonder books: mysteries and legends drawn from real-life (someone out there think or has thought these creatures are or have been around), a lovely image from an artist and a short, smart description. There's a time in my life I would have looked at these books for hours, and although I don't have that kind of time for that kind of activity these days, I'm still happy to own them.
4. The ACME Novelty Datebook Series, Chris Ware
I love these books, and I think they're just as important an entry into the visual diary comic as Ware's formally-conscious comics stories are in the realm of art comics.
5. Watching the Watchmen, Dave Gibbons
One of the fun things about a film version of Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons' fine superhero work is that the transfer from book to screen has underlined how magnificently weird, lurid and potent Gibbons' art was. This book is an exhaustive visit back to the creation of that work from an artistic/execution standpoint, and I would imagine might make a decent gift for any young artist interested in what they've seen of the trailers and such from the March 2009 film.
6. Unfiltered, Jon Gibson and Chris McDonnell
A film by film professional biography of the animator featuring a metric ton of development and background art. The biggest art book surprise of the year, to my mind, and although it really is a book about an animator, as a comics gift I think it fits better here.
7. Retroactive, Darwyn Cooke
One of those books you hear whispered about at a con and then suddenly someone shows up with a copy and everyone walks over to take a look and then returns to work, plotting to get one of their own.
8. Painting, Yokoyama Yuichi
I haven't seen it, but it should be interesting, right? Yokoyama Yuichi has made a strong impression with his last two comics works.
9. The Art Of Nausicaa Of The Valley Of The Wind Watercolor Impressions, Hayao Miyazaki
I think this came out in 2007, but almost no one talks about Viz's extensive line of art books or its Studio Ghibli library, so I wanted to slip in a mention of them here.
10. Pulphope, Paul Pope
Another 2007 art book to which I keep returning, this time from Chris Pitzer and AdHouse.
11. An Illustrated Life, Danny Gregory
A book about life as lived through sketching and sketchbooks, including contributions from R. Crumb and Chris Ware.
SIX WAYS TO ENGAGE GIFT-BUYING POSSIBILITIES IN MANGA
1. One of Vertical's Osamu Tezuka Omnibuses
I believe 2006's Ode to Kirihito
to be a fevered masterpiece of craft on a level with films like The Wild Bunch
or White Dog
; there is also much of interest craft-wise and story-wise and because it's Tezuka history-wise in 2007's MW
and Apollo's Song
2. One of Vertical's Osamu Tezuka Series
Vertical's also done a terrific job with the Dororo
, Black Jack
is an all-time classic, Black Jack
is a big hit book, and Dororo
is the rare gift of something not obviously one of those first two things getting the deluxe treatment.
3. Various Volumes From Ongoing Series
Manga can be a difficult buy as a present because the bulk of it comes in long series of individual books and many of its readers have highly refined tastes. Chances are a manga fan is already following the series they like best, and they may not be convinced to buy into another series where they didn't scope things out and initiate the purchase themselves. It's a good crowd for whom to buy gift certificates and the like aimed at allowing them to continue on the path they're on. That being said, the link takes you to Shaenon Garrity's great list over overlooked manga.
4. Volumes From a Classic Manga Series
A lot here depends on how you define "classic." I think a strict definition would yield the two high-end, well-regarded Osamu Tezuka series out there, Phoenix
and the aforementioned Buddha
, as well as the Hiroshima saga Barefoot Gen
. But you could also open the word up to include genre classics or books that have had a specific impact in the USA, like the samurai epic Lone Wolf and Cub
, or Tezuka's Astro Boy
or even influential soap operas like Swan
. These are all good comics. The link takes you to one writer's even looser definition of classic.
5. One of the Yoshihiro Tatsumi Books
Excellent short stories for adults on a variety of adult concerns, exquisitely presented.
6. One of the Yuichi Yokoyama Books
The belle of the ball right now when it comes to manga that's unlike anything else out there; what all the comics cool kids are reading.
FIVE WAYS TO GIVE BY GIVING BACK
1. A Donation in Someone's Name to The Cartoon Art Museum
Of all comics' sources for donations this may be the least appreciated and also, as it turns out, one of the stronger performers in terms of routinely fulfilling their mandate.
2. A Donation in Someone's Name to the scholarship fund at The Center For Cartoon Studies
Help keep tuition low at James Sturm's institute of higher comics learning.
3. A Donation in Someone's Name to the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund (CBLDF)
The CBLDF continues its advocacy work on behalf of free speech issues in comics, and is a popular source for donations.
4. A Donation in Someone's Name to the Hero Initiative
The charity formerly known as ACTOR (don't ask) has slowly grown in stature over the last few years, working behind the scenes to aid cartoonists in need and families of late cartoonists in dire straits.
5. A Donation in Someone's Name to the Museum of Comics and Cartoon Art (MoCCA)
You've maybe gone to their art festival, and you can certainly see the advantages of having such a group in New York City. Why not give in someone's name?
SEVEN WAYS TO GET YOUR HANDS ON HANDMADE BOOKS
1. Mini-Comics From Bodega Distribution
Randy Chang's business carries some of the best minis of the last 10 years, and only very rarely adds new titles.
2. Mini-Comics from Global Hobo
A number of talented artists work for this classic comics collective.
3. Mini-Comics From Little House Comics
No pair of artists has put out more quality mini-comics of a wide variety the last five years than Eleanor Davis and Drew Weing.
4. Mini-Comics From Short Pants Press
Some of the better makers of mini-comics out there right now.
5. Mini-Comics From Partyka
6. Homemade Books From PictureBox, Inc.
PictureBox carries some higher-end homemade comics from the artists with which it works.
7. Mini-Comics From Poopsheet Foundation
This is the best source for a wide variety of mini-comics out there right now, and maybe the only one in terms of being able to track down historically important mini-comics. Rick Bradford is a swell guy, and I'm sure he'd be willing to work with anyone intimidated by the number of titles and artists represented if you were to contact him directly.
FIFTEEN WAYS TO GIVE THE GIFT OF ART
1. Custom Art From Gary Panter
The great Gary Panter continues to offer up custom art, drawn according to words that you provide him. Forget friends and any and all members of your family, this is what you should get me
2. Custom Art From Johnny Ryan
I have purchased two pieces of custom art from Johnny over the last few years. The results in each case, one being Judge Dredd here, were phenomenal.
3. Original Art From Albert Moy
I've never purchased art through this site, but the number of artists represented seems pretty staggering to me, and they're certainly a first-rate looking outfit in terms of their web presence.
4. Original Art From Comicartfans.com
I'm not familiar with this site, and can't vouch for it, but it seems to be a place where comics fans and a few professionals put up galleries of original art they own, including a large "classifieds" section of art for sale. I would imagine that many of the ads on the site might be helpful as well.
5. Original Art From Denis Kitchen Art Agency
Denis doesn't have as many clients as some people, but they're all heavy hitters like Frank Stack.
6. Original Art From Fanfare Sports and Entertainment
I don't know a thing about this company except that they strip their name into their jpegs. Looks like a fine line-up of comics talent, though, and it looks like they may more aggressively price to sell.
7. Original Art From Mike Burkey
Again, I have no personal experience beyond knowing they've been around for a while.
8. Original Art From The Artist's Choice
Over 60 artists represented at the site, including many of the finer practitioners of mainstream superhero comics art.
9. Original Art From The Beguiling's Art Store
Retailer Peter Birkemoe is a classy guy who runs a classy comics business, and I hear he does very well by his client artists. Just a staggering line-up of cartoonists with work available here, including Paul Pope.
10. Poster From Allposters.com
There are a surprising number of comics-related posters here, including a lot of stuff that's a few years old that another company might have liquidated by now. Be careful, though -- they ship through something called DHL Global Mail, where packages are delivered through DHL to your local post office and then sorted and delivered from there, meaning it takes more time and there's greater opportunity for shipping error.
11. Posters And Prints From PictureBox, Inc.
I haven't seen any of these up close, but PictureBox has been a first-class outfit so far in terms of its comics publications, so I would imagine their prints and posters are of similarly high quality.
12. Prints From Brusel
I have a beautiful Dupuy & Berberian print from these guys. I'm not sure what it's like to order from them, but I bet they have a different suite of artists than most American companies working this part of the market.
13. Prints From Buenaventura Press
Alvin started out from the printmaking end of things, and what he's had for sale in this department has always been first class. You'll groan when you see what's no longer available, which should spur you to get something that still is.
14. Prints From Dynamic Forces
I have no idea what their prints are like, but I know they certainly take a different, maybe more aggressive approach than most of the companies here in terms of who they're putting out there.
15. A Print From Todd Klein
The above -- obscured to the image can't be knocked off for piracy purposes, I'm guessing -- is "Comic Book Dreams," the third of three reasonably recent prints done by letterer Todd Klein. This time the collaborator is Alex Ross; previous collaborators on prints that will have new editions available were Neil Gaiman and Alan Moore.
SIX NEWSPAPER STRIP IDEAS FOR THOSE COMICS READERS IN YOUR LIFE, IF NOT ALREADY MENTIONED
1. Something From Patrick McDonnell
Patrick McDonnell books are a recent gift-giving tradition in my family. He had a Mutts treasury
out this Summer, a kids' book
out in the Fall, and a lot of his work becomes available for Amazon.com's Kindle e-reader this month. A very prolific and consistently excellent comics author.
2. A Volume From a Classic Comic Strip Series
It's a new golden age for comic strip archival-type series, all of which would make a great present for the right fan: D&Q has Walt and Skeezix
, Fantagraphics has Dennis the Menace
, IDW has Terry and the Pirates
and Dick Tracy
; NBM has stand-alone volumes featuring work by Opper
; that's just scratching the surface. I love them all, and certainly someone on your list might. Except for Peanuts
, each of the series is fairly early on in its progression, with only a few volumes available, if that many.
3. The Moomin Series, Tove Jannson
This one-of-a-kind comics series has definite crossover appeal into fans of childrens' literature. I love them a little irrationally.
4. Garfield Minus Garfield, Jim Davis and Dan Walsh
The Internet sensation turned licensed book by the Jim Davis folks -- being either generous or savvy (or knowing Davis, both). Some objected to the gig going to someone that popularized but did not start the trend of eliminating the Garfield character from the strip bearing his name and posting what's left. Some thought that Davis approving ruined the fun. Most people will simply like the book.
5. Da Crockydile Book O'Friendship, Stephan Pastis
Stephan Pastis is one of the bright lights of modern comics newspaper strip. I found this collection of strip from Pearls Before Swine
to be a fine introduction to his work due to the easy to understand, stand-alone nature of the very funny, very stupid, and I believe perhaps largely interchangeable characters.
6. Something From The Dark Horse Webcomics Line
Dark Horse has been working wonders with print versions of super-popular webcomics, and I liked all three volumes seen above, collecting work from Perry Bible Fellowship
and Slow Wave
1. Old Comic Books From Ebay
Ebay is the
great marketplace of old comics just like it is with most entertainment objects anymore; if you've bought a comic book for cheap recently, you likely have on-line auction sites to thank. All the usual warnings apply, but I've purchased some great books this way.
2. Old Comic Books From Mile High Comics
A lot of people bag on Mile High Comics, but I order a couple hundred dollars of stuff from them a year and as long as you avoid some of their more peculiarly priced items -- double-check every price you're given -- I've found them to be quite serviceable. I usually buy lower-grade reading copies from them during sales when you can get extra money off.
3. Old Comic Books From MyComicShop.com
Buddy Saunders' on-line shop is probably the comic shop in North America where year in and year out I drop the most money. A wide selection, half-way reasonably priced -- or so it seems to me.
4. Old Comic Books From Your Local Comic Book Shop
Most comic shops have an array of back issues ranging from stuff under glass to a quarter box or two of bargains. All sorts of comics and combinations of books can make fine gifts. Plus you just shopped local.
5. An Old Cartoon Book via Stuart Ng Books
I try to visit Stuart Ng Books every time I'm in southern California. They have a big of high-end art, and cartoon books that kind of run the gamut, price-wise.
EIGHT RECENT WORKS ABOUT COMICS
1. The DC Vault, Paul Levitz and Marty Pasko
As this review explains
, this compendium of copies of documents and facsimiles of various sorts that taken together describe the development of DC Comics is basically like walking around the office and staring at the stuff on people's walls. It is the very definition of a not-necessary item, so in that way it might make a great gift for someone who is a total DC nerd that in terms of their own purchasing habits not want to take their eyes off the prize of buying as much DC product as possible to pick up something like this.
2. Schulz and Peanuts: A Biography, David Michaelis, Harper, $34.95
The most talked-about comics biography ever and one of the signature books related to comics of the last couple of years. Out now in paperback for your stocking-stuffing pleasure.
3. The Rough Guide to Graphic Novels, Danny Fingeroth
This is the comics-related entry in a popular series. I don't agree with Danny Fingeroth's choices in terms of what's valuable in the art form, but I like the format and the organization of the book quite a bit.
4. 500 Essential Graphic Novels: The Ultimate Guide, Gene Kannenberg Jr.
I like Gene Kannenberg Jr., enjoy his writing, and this stab at a comics guide using the popular graphic novel format as an organizing principle sounds like something I'd like to read. I have to admit" I've never seen it. In fact, I never heard about it when it came out, and hearing about these things is sort of my job. I don't blame Gene, though, and neither should you.
5. Holy Sh*t!: The World's Weirdest Comic Books, Paul Gravett and Peter Stanbury
A brand-new work: a novelty book, but a very well-presented and entertaining one. Gravett's Graphic Novels
is an enjoyable work of popular criticism with a fun format, if you don't mind something a few years old.
6. Harvey Pekar: Conversations, Michael G. Rhode
This is the latest in the University Press of Mississippi's conversation series, which are great if you want a bunch of that subject's published interviews in one place. Pekar's one of the all-time great talkers, and I look forward to reading this one myself.
7. Drawing Words & Writing Pictures, Jessica Abel and Matt Madden
The first real shot at an all-in-one making comics textbook, but also designed to be used by someone who wants to pursue study within a peer group or by themselves.
8. Man of Rock: A Biography of Joe Kubert, Bill Schelly
A fine, straight-ahead biography about a fine, straight-ahead comics industry icon.
TWENTY-SIX PERENNIALS, THE HARD TO CATEGORIZE AND MISCELLANEA
1. RASL Volume One: The Drift, Jeff Smith
Jeff Smith's return to comics post-Bone
has its first collection, an oversized book collecting the first three issues. It's a fun story, skewing much older than Bone
, and the big book in particular shows off elements of Smith's art that just never got a workout in his more traditional fantasy. I'm giving one of these this year to a friend of mine that really likes Bone
and doesn't read a lot of comics.
2. Books From The Ignatz Series
It's a sign of comics' great wealth right now that a series of volumes that would have crushed our hearts with their awesomeness back in the 1990s is merely another great vein of riches today. One great thing about the series is that some of the initially-launched titles are wrapping up, so you can basically get a graphic novel's worth of over-sized, lushly-printed comics for pretty darn cheap.
3. I Shall Destroy All The Civilized Planets, Fletcher Hanks, Fantagraphics Books, 2007
For many folks, this look back at the powerful and deranged comics from a drifter that dabbled briefly in comics was the book of the year. It's certainly unforgettable.
4. Zot!: The Complete Black and White Comics, 1987-1991, Scott McCloud
I like these comics more than the author does, and I think it's one of the medium's really good stories for young people. The black and white issues of Zot!
basically flipped the story on the full-color issues, by bringing the Peter Pan-like title character into the "real world" inhabited by Jenny Weaver and her friends. McCloud really nails the loneliness and restlessness of growing up in late 20th Century suburbia.
5. Goddess Of War Vol. 1, Lauren Weinstein
A fun, over-sized, hard to categorize work that reminds me of 25 years ago when comics you couldn't describe to people used to come out all the time.
6. A Book (or More) From DC's Absolute Series
DC offers several of its more successful recent titles in deluxe, oversized editions that are generally quite nice-looking and gift-worthy. Some, like Absolute DC: The New Frontier
above, are the really only suitable gift collection of that material.
7. Image's New Deluxe Hardcovers
Image Comics has been testing the waters on a few high-end hardcover collections of material, for titles like Invincible
, Walking Dead
, Silver Star
. Godland: Celestial Edition
features a written piece by me.
8. A Book (or More) From DC's Showcase Series
A cheaper, black and white series collecting lots and lots of material in progressive, issue-to-issue form, these books are generally a lot of fun.
9. A Book (or More) From Marvel's Essential Series
Marvel's huge series of giant books collected old material in cheap, black and white editions, there are more than enough books of this type to please any fan who remembers these titles and to launch a lot of jokes out of the meaning of the word "essential."
10. James Sturm's America: God, Greed, and Golems, James Sturm, Drawn and Quarterly, 2007
Before he became a comics educator, James Sturm did a series of historical comics that were among the best received works of the last decade. This beautiful volume presents them anew, and I think it has yet to find all of the audience it deserves.
11. Art out of Time: Unknown Comics Visionaries, 1900-1969, Dan Nadel
One of the best anthologies of this decade, Dan Nadel's look at how outsider art was folded into comics' mainstream before there were other outlets feels like it was built to last.
12. Alec: The King Canute Crowd, Eddie Campbell, Eddie Campbell Comics, 2000
Along with Jaime Hernandez's Death of Speedy
, this material of Eddie Campbell's was the work I read the most in the 1990s.
13. Hicksville, Dylan Horrocks, Black Eye, 1998.
There's a newer edition out from Drawn and Quarterly that's still in print, and that's where the link takes you, but I wanted to point out we're on the 10th anniversary of what may be the most important book of the post-alternative generation of cartoonists. It's really good, too, an extended meditation on the value of making art and where we want that value to come from. If you don't have this book, you need this book.
14. Love and Rockets: The Latest Reprinting
There's one volume to go, but the good news is that you can now get the bulk of the greatest comics series of the last 25 years, Love & Rockets
Vol. 1, for about $60 total
if you look around a bit. That's an amazing thing. These books are so good I not only got a set for a friend but I dumped my much-beloved albums in their favor. I would have lost $10,000 if someone had bet me on what I was going to think about these books, but they're really perfect little things. I adore them.
15. One (or both) of those giant Andrews McMeel comic strip collections.
Although an extended series of such books seems like a no-go at this point, Andrews McMeel's giant collections of The Far Side (Gary Larson, 2003)
and Calvin and Hobbes (Bill Watterson, 2005)
are still in print at deeper than ever discounts if you look around a bit.
16. Tales of the Bizarro World, Jerry Siegel and various, DC Comics, 2000
I've given this book as a gift more than any other comic book. A perfect collection of stupendously idiotic reprints in a trade that people may have forgotten about by now. If, like me, you laugh every time you see that stupid square planet hanging in the sky, this book is for you or your similarly-inclined friend.
17. Late Bloomer, Carol Tyler, Fantagraphics, 2005
This is one of my favorite books from the last five years, so I'll take any chance to recommend. To say that Tyler provides a different perspective in terms of sex and class and generation from the majority of comics may be some of what makes her work different, but what makes it great is that she has a very funny, humane way of looking at the world, she's funny, and her comics pages are frequently beautiful.
18. King-Cat Classix, John Porcellino, Drawn and Quarterly, 2007.
With his spare line and a keen eye often turned on autobiographical events John Porcellino remains one of the most influential cartoonists of the last 25 years. This book collects a lot of early mini-comics work.
19. Curses, Kevin Huizenga, Drawn and Quarterly, 2006
Kevin Huizenga may be the most important cartoonist to emerge this decade. This is the best collection-to-date featuring his thoughtful, soulful and frequently playful work. Just a really excellent book.
20. Abe: Wrong For All The Right Reasons, Glenn Dakin, Top Shelf, 2002
I've given this book about a half-dozen times as a Christmas gift: it's a nice, sturdy read.
21. Berlin Vol. 2, Jason Lutes
Jason Lutes has returned with a passion to his long-time project, and the second collected volume is much more formally daring and presents a much more fracture narrative than I would have ever bet on having read the first.
22. Supernormal, Marko Turunen
A thick but tiny book that can fit into a stocking, if your family still does stockings. An at-times beautifully-drawn and frequently compelling suite of short stories by the Finnish creator.
23. Shortcomings, Adrian Tomine
Another one of those books I'm frequently asked about long after its initial publication, and one I think will stand the test of time.
24. Burma Chronicles, Guy Delisle
The latest I think maybe the finest of Guy Delisle's travel stories, which touch on broad but very affecting issues of human rights and the obligation that we owe others in countries not our own.
25. Ditko, Etc., Steve Ditko
The great mainstream comics artist's first new book in years. I didn't even know this was out yet.
26. Ghost World Special Edition, Dan Clowes
A nice book to end on in this era of cross-platforms, because it not only present the excellent comic, but it's also a book about that comic and details the making of the film about the comic. An absorbing reader in all of its facets.
I'll take suggestions , until Monday for sure, because I'm certain I forgot something and will feel like an idiot as soon as you bring it to my attention and I would love to get it back out there. Although I probably didn't forget a complete list of books you worked on, so you don't need to send something like that. You know what I mean.
posted 8:30 am PST
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