Tom Spurgeon's Web site of comics news, reviews, interviews and commentary
















November 26, 2010


Black Friday Holiday Shopping Guide '10

image

Today is Black Friday 2010. Black Friday is the traditional first day of the hectic holiday shopping season.

Following are several suggestions for comics-related gift shopping. They are intended to help 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.

As I have little chance of actually selecting something for your friend or loved one, please use this as a starting point only. It's unlikely I'll have discovered just the thing. More likely what follows will give you an idea as to what's out there, or spark some brainstorming that leads to an idea for something specifically suited to your loved one.

I'm also quite certain I'm forgetting a list of items and ideas equally as long as the one that follows. That list is almost certainly filled with quality works and books. I apologize profusely for their absence here. This is not meant to be a comprehensive list, and anyone that thinks such a list is even possible these days may be a fool.

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 retail saturation of, say, 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. It's difficult to do anything wrong when giving someone a gift. Happy shopping, and here's to a fulfilling and safe holiday season.

****
****

THE COMICS REPORTER BLACK FRIDAY HOLIDAY SHOPPING GUIDE 2010
or
230 REASONS TO SPEND YOUR SHOPPING MONEY ON COMICS THIS YEAR

****
****

***
***
***
***
***
***
***

****
"GIFTY"-SEEMING COMICS GIFTS FOR THE TWELVE DAYS OF CHRISTMAS
****


image
1. 40: A Doonesbury Retrospective, Garry Trudeau (Andrews McMeel)
I think this is the gift-type comics work of the year, a massive chunk of Garry Trudeau's great strip and a bunch of solid supporting material. It's nice to see people coming around to a greater recognition of Trudeau's achievements, and I'm glad Trudeau participated through events like the release of this book.

image
2. Scott Pilgrim's Precious Little Box Set, Bryan Lee O'Malley (Oni Press)
One of the iconic comics series of the new century, now all in one place.

image
3. Picture This!, Lynda Barry (Drawn & Quarterly)
Lynda Barry's follow-up to her blazing return to comics' consciousness What It Is looks squarely at the questions of why we draw and why we stop drawing. I can't imagine a person with even the tiniest creative spark within them not learning at least a little something from Barry's insights.

image
4. Lynd Ward: Six Novels In Woodcuts Lynd Ward (Library of America)
Art Spiegelman helped curate this collection of woodcut novels but one of the handful of great talents to work in that arena of storytelling. The moment I saw the collection it seemed obvious to me how nicely this would look under someone's Christmas tree.

image
5. 75 Years Of DC Comics, Paul Levitz (Taschen)
There's a big want-to-see element with this gigantic, handsome book, but I can't imagine it not being of interest to a wide swathe of people even beyond the already-considerable, built-in, fan-of-DC audience.

image
6. Superman Vs. Muhammad Ali Deluxe Edition, Denny O'Neil And Neal Adams (DC Comics)
I've been by a couple of friends in comics shops over that this is one of a handful of books given an extra nudge by DC for the holiday season. I may be skeptical about the gift qualities of this deluxe edition -- that's for the individual buyer to decide -- but I quite like the fun, funny, energetic superhero story inside. If this had come out from Marvel in the 1990s, breakout character Ali would have been appearing all over everyone else's comics like Ghost Rider, Punisher and Wolverine did.

image
7. Vampire Knight Box Set, Matsuri Hino (Viz)
I'm also been told by a few members of that same small group of retailers that Viz is pushing versions of this popular series' box set as a holiday pick-up. I'm not familiar with the content at all, but I'm sort of attracted despite myself to the thought of these specially-cased entire-series purchases.

image
8. Archie Firsts, Various (Dark Horse)
This collection of first-appearances by iconic members of the Archie gang screams "wrap me," and in fact could be a gift that extends far beyond the parameters of the devoted comics fan.

image
9. Genius, Isolated, Dean Mullaney and Bruce Canwell (IDW)
Dean Mullaney has been consistently slugging it hard up to plate with his massive series of comic book collections; he and Bruce Canwell's latest covers the life and career of Alex Toth, one of the few cartoonists of the 20th Century that continues to fascinate on both the public and private level. Update: I'm told this one might be delayed; if that's true, maybe consider their fine reprinting of another comics master's work: the first part Al Williamson's run with Archie Goodwin on Secret Agent X-9.

image
10. Shazam! The Golden Age Of The World's Mightiest Mortal, Chip Kidd and Geoff Spear (Abrams)
Nearly every one of Chip Kidd's explorations of comics and comics-related material has been the kind of thing that makes a fantastic and fun holiday gift, and I am greatly looking forward to seeing this effort focusing on the Captain Marvel milieu.

image
11. MAD's Greatest Artists: Sergio Aragones Sergio Aragones and Patrick McDonnell (Running Press)
I mean, come on: it's Sergio. If comics had Q ratings, they'd be measured in percentages of how Sergio Aragones scored.

image
image
12. Something special from Usagi Yojimbo: the stand-alone Usagi Yojimbo: Yokai, or the new Usagi Yojimbo: The Special Edition.
One of the great joys in comics the last three decades are has been those works featuring characters that are the brainchild of a single cartoonist or small team of creators, creative people that work on that one character for an extended period of time. Nothing better exemplifies that corner of the comics world than Stan Sakai and his Usagi Yojimbo, the comic book I most want to travel back to being 10 years old so that I can read it with those eyes. While the ongoing series and trades are a perennial on this list, it's worth noting there are two deluxe works out right now: a stand-alone color work featuring bunches of demons from current publisher Dark Horse; a repackaging of early material from original publisher Fantagraphics.

***
***
***
***
***
***
***

*****
SEASONAL GIFTS
*****


image
13. The Great Treasury Of Christmas Comic Book Stories, Edited By Craig Yoe (IDW)
Craig Yoe's latest is an honest-to-goodness timely release of some fine, classic Christmas stories, made back when hitting the widest possible audience with things they might actually like was the comic book mandate.

image
image
image
14-16. HarperCollins' X-Mas Short-Story Adaptations
It doesn't get more Christmas-y than this triptych of stand-alone works from HC: The Gift Of The Magi, The Fir-Tree, A Kidnapped Santa Claus. I liked the Alex Robinson one best.

image
17. Hellboy Ornament
Which one of your frightened, crying children will get to hang this lovely piece of comics-related merchandise? A Spurgeon family tradition for more than a half-decade now.

image
18. Classic Christmas-Related Comics
These are great novelty gifts for people that collect Christmas items of for someone that like X-property but didn't know they did a Christmas comic. Or you can just buy them the above issue of Justice League Of America, which scared the crap out of little kid me.

image
19. The Economist Year-Ahead Calendar, From KAL
This is mostly a premium for Economist subscribers, but I have one on my desk and I just got the new one in the mail. It's old-school in the best way, page after page stuffed with date-related jokes drawn with KAL's classic line. If I were a kid and my dad had one in his office, every time I'd visit I'd run over and look at it, if you know what I mean.

image
20. Joseph Lambert's 2011 AdHouse Books Calendar
I have this up on my refrigerator. If we had any kids in the family young enough that as a result we'd all do stockings, this would be one nice stocking-stuffer for a fellow comics-loving adult. Joseph Lambert talks about making this here.

image
21. Jim Flora Woodcut Calendar
Not exactly comics, but something this attractive, it's hard to care.

***
***
***
***
***
***
***

*****
BARGAIN GIFT IDEAS FOR ANOTHER YEAR OF RECESSION
*****


image
22. Something via AbeBooks
This is the interface I use to access used bookstores. One thing that such stores tend to have that comic shops 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.

image
23. Crafts
Like most men in their early forties, I like to make coasters out of old comic book pages. 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 a set or two 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.

image
24. 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 -- I've seen a few Peanuts books there, and some MAD material -- so it might pay to look around in those areas.

image
25. 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.

image
26. 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 Thriller to Camelot 3000 to The Intimates for less than $1.50 an issue. Try reliable on-line retailers like Mile High and MyComicShop.com (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.

***
***
***
***
***
***
***

*****
WAYS TO FACILITATE THEIR DOING THE SHOPPING FOR YOU
*****


image
27. Gift Certificate From Amazon.com
Here's one way to let people buy comics for themselves, a gift certificate/gift card to the bookstore Amazon.com, which of course by virtue of comics' journey into the world of book sales is a prominent -- maybe the prominent -- comics retailer.

image
28. Gift Card From Barnes and Noble
There's an advantage with a Barnes and Noble gift card that you don't get with one from Amazon: you can use it in the brick and mortar locations of the chain.

image
29. Gift Certificate From Mile High Comics
I've purchased these before and had no complaints.

image
30. 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 or they have to make one with a backing board and a sharpie.

image
31. Something From Someone's Amazon.com Wish List
I used to have an Amazon.com Wish List solely devoted to Marvel's Essentials and DC's Showcase reprint series, but I'm a nerd. Most comics fans have a few comics on their regular Wish Lists waiting for you to purchase them.

image
32. 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. This has the advantage of keeping your comics fan's local store in the purchasing loop. Many comics readers are devoted to their local shop.

***
***
***
***
***
***
***

*****
SUBSCRIPTIONS, THE GIFT THAT KEEPS ON GIVING
*****


image
33. Subscription to an Archie Publication
It's like having a little piece of supermarket checkout right there in your home.

image
34. 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've liked what little Paul Cornell I've read, and Geoff Johns is fairly burrowed in at the publisher.

image
35. Subscription to a Marvel Comic Book
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 can recommend whatever books Ed Brubaker and Matt Fraction are working on, but really Marvel has a shortbus full of writers that are fun to read, from Paul Tobin to Jeff Parker to Jonathan Hickman and so on.

image
36. 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.

image
37. Subscription to Shonen Jump
I've had a gift subscription a few times, and always enjoyed getting the publication in the mail -- they're undergoing a revamp with next year's volume, so it might be time to give it some extra consideration.

image
38. Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited Subscription
Marvel's first serious step into the world of digital comics may not last forever as the iPad-related stuff ramps up, but I have a fondness for this program as a way to facilitate reading a bunch of Marvel stuff I'd never see otherwise.

image
image
image
39. DailyInk.com Subscription
Still going strong is 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 nice gift for that friend of yours who knows which strips run on the Houston Chronicle web site as opposed to which run on the Seattle P-I's.

image
40. Subscription To John Porcellino's King-Cat Comics And Other Stories
The greatest of all mini-comics and a national treasure, King-Cat can be purchased in subscription form which the cartoonist will faithfully service over the next few years. A recent move to Florida has re-energized cartoonist John Porcellino.

image
41. Subscription To The New Yorker
A number of first-rate cartoonists like Ivan Brunetti and Chris Ware appear on the covers, and growing number of young cartoonists from the webcomics and small-press worlds have work on the insides, too. I'm told the articles are pretty good.

***
***
***
***
***
***
***

*****
SUGGESTIONS FOCUSED ON YOUNG PERSON-FRIENDLY GNS, COMICS AND/OR KIDS BOOKS WITH CARTOONIST HOOKS
*****


image
42. A Kids Book From Toon Books
The comics-for-kids line spearheaded by Francoise Mouly employs a staggering number of talents generally familiar to longtime comics readers, from Frank Cammuso to Eleanor Davis to Art Spiegelman to Dean Haspiel to great friend of CR Jeff Smith. They've settled in now with a new distribution partner.

image
43. The Smurf Series From Papercutz, Peyo (Papercutz)
Peyo's Smurf books are effective, enjoyable comics and an obvious long-time kids favorite. This series of books may strain a few parents' eyeballs, but having this material out there on the stands right now is a definite blessing.

image
44. 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 Tiny Tyrant successful Sardine series (up to six volumes for the latter, I think) for very young kids and the award-winning Laika for slightly older ones. They've actually made doing comics for kids and teens a greater focus for the company recently, I think, so there's a lot of material here to look over.

image
image
image
45. A Kids Book From A Favorite Cartoonist
There's a lot to choose from here, such as the Bow-Wow books Mark Newgarden works on, the classic little kids books of Richard McGuire and the gorgeous painted books Lorenzo Mattotti did once upon a time. If you have a favorite comics artist, look up their sites or check out abebooks.com for their kids book work.

image
image
46. All-Ages Superhero Comics Efforts
Both Marvel 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. Marvel's actually between lines here, as I recall, but they seem a little bit more aggressive than DC is right now in terms of kids books that tie into their movies.

image
47. Various Kids Comics, James Kochalka
James does a lot of comics for kids, all of which have an undeniable power similar to his work intended for adults.

image
48. The John Stanley Library, John Stanley et al (D&Q)
D&Q has begun a super nice-looking series of Seth-designed reprints of comics from the great John Stanley. They'll probably be among those books of your kids you'd rather they not color in, but I know parents whose kids have taken to these in a big way.

image
49. Various Books, 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. There are stand-alone Edward Gorey books that are perfect for slipping into a stocking, and there are four fine anthologies -- Amphigorey, Amphigorey Again, Amphigorey Too and Amphigorey Also -- that are easy to track down.

image
image
image
50. Hybrids And Picture Books
There are a lot of books in the bookstores that function as hybrids -- offering comics/cartoons and prose -- or as straight-up picture books. The Wimpy Kid series is one of a few super-successful kids series in the hybrid corner of the market. Two of my favorites in this category that some may not think of for their comics properties are The Invention Of Hugo Cabret, which breaks up its prose with lovely silent comics sequences, and the books of Shaun Tan, particularly The Arrival.

image
51. 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. These should be making a market comeback in anticipation of the Jackson/Spielberg film adaptation.

image
52. 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. Of series out there that I would have liked as a kid, Naruto, Yotsuba&!, Dr. Slump, Slam Dunk and Hikaru No Go all spring to mind as stuff I might have obsessed over in one way or another. For older kids and teenagers, this list becomes something 200 titles long.

image
53. Kids-Oriented Comics From Boom! (Boom!)
It seems to me that kids does a lot of book that may be good for kids -- some obviously so, some with maybe a flip-through by the responsible adult in the equation. There's a point in my life I would have given up burning ants with a magnifying class for two solid years if I could have had a Muppet Show comic book series.

image
54. Little Lulu Digest Series, John Stanley (Dark Horse)
I don't have tactile familiarity with this series, but these are some of the best comics in the world and color is usually a very nice thing.

image
image
image
55-57. Hope Larson's Books
I like all of Hope Larson's books; more to the point, I know people that can't drive yet that like Hope Larson's books.

image
image
image
58. The Amulet Series, Kazu Kibuishi (Graphix)

While this series has taken up space either outside or under the radar of traditional comic book talking poins, it has sold scads of copies in the book market.

image
image
59-60. Two Picture Books From Tove Jansson: The Book About Moomin, Mymble and Little My and Who Will Comfort Toffle? (D&Q Enfant)
These books are beautiful-looking efforts from Drawn and Quarterly's still-burgeoning kids' book line, and are gorgeous. Can be paired with the other Jansson efforts at the company such as the strip reprints or enjoyed on their own.

image
image
image
image
image
61-65. Andy Runton's Owly Books, Andy Runton (Top Shelf)
One of the few outright indy-comics debut hits of the past decade. A nice thing about it is that Runton has stuck around to do several books rather than just one and done. Kids love their series.

image
66. The TOON Treasury of Classic Children's Comics, Art Spiegelman and Francoise Mouly and Jon Scieszka (Abrams)
The nasty thing people always say about children's anthologies is that they feel like a bunch of kids' comics that adults would like to read. That doesn't seem to be the case with this amazing compendium, if multiple reviews from my friends with kids are any indication -- adults surely loving this material is the dessert here, not the main course.

image
67. The Secret Science Alliance Vol. 1, Eleanor Davis (Bloomsbury USA)
Another very promising cartoonist, working in full-color and really going to town. I thought this book was really, really cute -- in a good way, I swear.

image
68. Smile, Raina Telgemeier (Scholastic/Graphix)
This was a very popular book this year for its target audience, a story of adolescence told through the prism of teeth trouble that many kids experience. Actually, pretty much all kids experience the adolescence stuff.

image
69. The Unsinkable Walker Bean, Aaron Renier, First Second
I wanted to give this one a special shout-out: Aaron Renier's tale of sea monsters and soldier ships is like the best 1970s Wide World Of Disney live-action episode provided with 2015 cgi. As opposed to a run of books for kids and early teens that seem to embrace formula as if making a comic where you can always tell what's going to happen ten pages later will add years to your life, Renier's work retains its indy-comics funk, hitting all the traditional high points in slightly left-field but still very logical fashion. It's also stuffed with detail, a key to a later re-read.

***
***
***
***
***
***
***

*****
BOOKS MY 68-YEAR-OLD MOTHER LIKES
*****


image
70. 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. Granted, she does that a lot, but she really enjoyed both.

image
71. Persepolis: One Volume Edition, Marjane Satrapi
My mom had fun with 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. She liked the movie, too, but not as much.

image
72. Jack Cole and Plastic Man: Forms Stretched to Their Limits, Art Spiegelman and Chip Kidd
Mom has fond memories of buying Police Comics on the stands. 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 she liked that aspect of it as well.

image
image
73-74. Gemma Bovery and Tamara Drewe, Posy Simmonds
My mother really, really, really enjoyed both of Posy Simmonds' breezy, sort-of adaptations of literary classics put in modern dress.

image
image
image
75. Little Orphan Annie, Harold Gray
My mom's fond of Little Orphan Annie, and followed her adventures as a young girl in the late 1940s. I'm crazy for Annie myself. This is a great reprint series.

image
image
image
76-78. Aya, Aya of Yop City and Aya: The Secrets Come Out, Marguerite Abouet and Clement Oubrerie
Mom enjoyed the visual sumptuousness of the stories and the consistent insight into life as lived in a little-known part of the world (the Ivory Coast) at a little-discussed time (about 30 years ago).

image
image
79-80. Mouse Guard: Fall 1152 and Mouse Guard: Winter 1152, David Petersen (Archaia Studios Press)
These are nice-looking books in a kind of classic all-ages vein. My mom took to them very quickly. They have a very stately pace. There's a new book of stories set in the universe told by other cartoonists called Mouse Guard Legends Of The Guard, but Mom hasn't read it yet.

image
image
image
81. The Color Trilogy, Kim Dong Hwa (First Second)
I didn't care for these as much as Mom seemed to. She enjoyed the laconic pacing and the curious intimacy between mother and daughter on display throughout.

***
***
***
***
***
***
***

*****
WAYS TO GIVE BY GIVING BACK
*****


image
82. A Donation in Someone's Name to The Cartoon Art Museum
Of all comics' donation destination, CAM may be the least appreciated and also, as it turns out, one of the stronger performers in terms of routinely fulfilling their mandate.

image
83. 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.

image
84. 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, having expanded its mandate in the past few years .

image
85. A Donation in Someone's Name to the Hero Initiative
These good folks focus their attention on older comics creators in need.

image
86. A Donation To Child's Play
This charity started by the team of folks behind Penny Arcade, they focus on fulfilling wish lists from kids at their networks of hospitals.

image
87. 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.

image
88. Buying Items Or Services Related To One Of These Charities
Each one of the above charities at times may offer premiums or items as an inducement for you to donate, or as a flat-out sales mechanism in order to generate cash. The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund site has a very elaborate store set-up, such as the print depicted above.

***
***
***
***
***
***
***

*****
NOT-COMICS IDEAS THAT AREN'T A PERSONAL ELECTRONIC DEVICE OR BAKED GOODS
*****


image
image
89. Jimbo, The Doll; Herbie, The Doll
A pair of vinyl figures for people who don't really "get" vinyl figures.

image
90. 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. Sometimes they are listed as "anime toys" in deference to the more popular of the two media here in the US. Every Death Note toy I've ever seen has been adorable.

image
91. Toys From Jim Woodring
Everything you can find in Jim Woodring's store is fantastic.

image
92. Merchandise From PictureBox, Inc.
Dan Nadel has really fine taste in t-shirts, CDs and DVDs from the artists he supports.

image
93. 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. By the way, a place to get really cheap notebooks -- not moleskine -- is at those big box bookstores; I've been picking up notebooks for $3-$4 a pop there for most of this calendar year.

image
94. Prose Works By Your Favorite Comics People
Peter David, 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.

image
95. Something From Debbie Drechsler's Store
The on-line store from the cartoonist Debbie Drechsler is almost entirely made up of card offerings. They look snazzy.

image
96. Something From Souther Salazar's Etsy Store
Souther Salazar hasn't made a new comic in a while, but he still offers some of those he has made along with other items at his Etsy store.

image
97. A Comic Wallet From The Comic Wallet Guy
I can't remember the first person that sent me a link to a page where a guy makes wallets out of comics material like Green Lantern: Emerald Warriors #1 there, but I'm grateful. I keep all of my money stuffed into live fruit I hang around my neck, but this wallet idea sounds interesting.

image
98. A Place To Put The Change That Won't Go In Your Comic Wallet
Seriously, there's about 18 billion pieces of comics-related merchandise out there if you just plug in a publisher or character's name and the item you're looking to buy.

image
99. T-Shirts And Other Stuff From Your Favorite Artists
Make sure to check around the various artists sites for either merchandise listings or links to merchandise listings. Here's four I was able to come up with in 45 seconds of google, all of which look promising to awesome: Richard Thompson's Uh-Oh Baby clothing, rotating Warren Ellis-related t-shirt and merchandise designs, a new Tony Millionaire t-shirt, a new Usagi Yojimbo t-shirt.

image
100. Something From A Syndicate Store
I know two of the syndicates have stores where you can go buy mugs and t-shirts from the business partners of some of your favorite cartoonists, as opposed to a cartoonist themselves: Universal and King Features.

image
101. Webcartoonists With Merchandise Options
Your favorite probably offers something. I've purchased stuff for other folks from Achewood's dedicated store and from the portions of this company's site devoted to Ryan North and Kate Beaton. I've been staring at this page featuring Goats-related material far too frequently to be healthy. R Stevens has a first-class set-up. Just look around.

image
102. Dame Darcy's Store
I usually catch wind of what the alt-comics veteran has for sale by seeing updates on her blog. The "Palm Reading" option is a stone-cold classic.

image
103. Paul Hornschmeier's T-Shirt Store
I'm way too lumpen to wear any of them, but I admire the consistency of Paul's t-shirt offerings.

image
104. Mutts: 30 Postcards
I haven't seen this particular set, but this is on my Christmas list for this year -- McDonnell is a fine designer and works with them when he's not doing the actual designing, so these should look nice.

image
105. The Cutest Sneeze In The World
This is a postcard set from the cat portion of Jeffrey Brown's cartooning career; I sure do love me postcard sets.

image
106. Postcard Sets From Fantagraphics
Fantagraphics quietly offers a bunch of handsome-looking postcard sets from their sites: Vintage Devil Postcards, Eightball, Frankenstein, Hate, The Devil In Design and Wolvertoons.

image
107. 12 Postcards, Tom Gauld
Tom Gauld's one-page comics are perfect at postcard size. I've received dozens of compliments over the years for using Gauld's work in the course of business, and I'm sure that will continue wit the new set. Also, you can just buy them and keep them as a set of twelve funny comics on super-fancy paper.

***
***
***
***
***
***
***

*****
WAYS TO ENGAGE GIFT-BUYING POSSIBILITIES IN MANGA
*****


image
108. Something From Osaumu Tezuka
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. Vertical's also done a terrific job with the Dororo, Black Jack and Buddha series. Buddha 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.

image
109. Non-Tezuka Manga From Vertical
Vertical has always offered more than just Tezuka; with series like Twin Spica, Chi's Sweet Home and 7 Billion Needles, those offerings taken as a group seem like a stronger part of their catalog than ever before.

image
110. Various Volumes From Ongoing Series At A Major Publisher
I realize this is advice that covers a ridiculous amount of material. Like saying "Buy Food From A Grocery Store." Please remember: manga can be a difficult buy as a present because a) a bunch of it comes in long series of individual books and b) many of its readers have highly idiosyncratic taste. A manga fan is probably already following the series they like best, in some form or another. It's a good crowd for whom to buy gift certificates and the like, purchases 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 covering "overlooked" manga. Among the many, many series I could argue are openly appealing and addictive are Fumi Yoshinaga's Antique Bakery, Takeshi Obata and Tsugumi Ohba's Death Note, Ai Yazawa's Nana, Kazuo Koike's Lone Wolf And Cub, Naoki Urasawa's Monster, Takehiko Inoue's Slam Dunk and Kiyohiko Azuma's Yotsuba&!.

image
111. Manga From Drawn And Quarterly
Manga cartoonists publishing English language editions of powerful manga through D&Q include: Yoshihiro Tatsumi, Imiri Sakabashira, Susumu Katsumata and Seiichi Hayashi. That's quickly shaping up to be a significant imprint within the imprint.

image
112. PictureBox Inc. Manga
PictureBox offers work from artists like Takashi Nemeto, Yuichi Yokoyama, Ken Kagami and Hanakuma. Not a stinker in the bunch.

image
113. Fantagraphics Manga
Fantagraphics is just now gearing up its manga offerings, but you couldn't do much better than a collection from Moto Hagio as a first book out of the gate, and a smaller work by Tori Miki as a preview of what's to come.

image
114. Last Gasp Manga
Last Gasp published Yusaku Hankuma's Tokyo Zombie in Fall 2008, and we're all waiting for their edition of The Strange Tale Of Panorama Island by Suehiro Maruo, a much-anticipated book for sophisticated manga fans across the board. They also carry a ton of work in their role as a distributor. Don't forget they're around.

image
115. Ax: A Collection Of Alternative Manga Vol. 1, Edited By Sean Michael Wilson (Top Shelf)
There's a certain kind of person for whom you can purchase comics slightly off the beaten path from the comics they'd usually desire, but if you have one in your family and they're a manga fan, this anthology of alt-manga works might engender a voyage of discovery.

*****
WAYS TO GET YOUR HANDS ON HANDMADE BOOKS
*****


image
116. Mini-Comics from Global Hobo
A number of talented artists work through this classic comics collective.

image
117. 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. This entry reminds us that it's worth tracking down artists' sites directly for the latest minis they might be offering. I know that's why I check out John P.'s site, for instance.

image
118. Mini-Comics From Partyka
Always well-crafted.

image
119. Homemade Books From PictureBox, Inc.
PictureBox carries some higher-end homemade comics from the artists with which it works.

image
120. 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.

image
121. Comics From Bird In The Hand 'Zine Shop
I don't know anything about Australia's mini-comics scene, but I'd sure like to find out.

image
122. Comics From Quimby's
Chicago's longtime home for handmade comics work may offer a wider selection of work than ever before, but comics is still a strength.

image
123. Comics From Profanity Hill
It's hard to imagine a better guide to today's NW mini-comics scene than cartoonist and comics editor Jason T. Miles.

image
124. Comics From The Secret Acres Store
Everything in their store is at least good if not great work of its kind; plus they seem like swell guys.

***
***
***
***
***
***
***

*****
COMICS-RELATED ART BOOKS I LIKE AND OWN, AND ARE WITHIN FIVE FEET OF MY DESK AS I TYPE THIS
*****


image
125. The Art Of Jaime Hernandez: The Secrets Of Life And Death
My favorite new art book, and one that I look at at least three times a week. Jaime Hernandez is magic.

image
126. Gary Panter, Gary Panter (PictureBox)
I keep going back to this ambitious and exquisitely-priced PictureBox effort from a couple of years back, which is a huge positive for art books of this type. Plus it looks intimidating on my shelf.

image
127. The Art Of S. Clay Wilson (Random House)
The living, breathing id of American comics and far more important than that for which he's frequently given credit.

image
128. The Wonder, Tony Fitzapatrick (Last Gasp/La Luz De Jesus)
Fitzpatrick and those who read his work as comics may disagree on whether or not this boxed set qualifies as a kind of sprawling graphic novel about memory and cityscapes, but we can all agree it's an art book with a lot of arresting visuals in it.

image
129. Bat-Manga!, Chip Kidd (Pantheon)
This is from a couple of years back, but I think remains a strong, appealing and very gift-like book for the right person.

image
130. The Art of Bone, Jeff Smith
I thought this was a super-solid book that fairly came and went on its first appearance. Also, there simply aren't as many major Bone-related books left to buy at this point as there used to be.

image
131. The Art Of Nausicaa Of The Valley Of The Wind Watercolor Impressions, Hayao Miyazaki
There's a whole world of manga-related art books, mostly I think related to series in the way this one is.

image
132. The Art Of Tony Millionaire (Dark Horse)
I'm cheating a bit here: I haven't seen this one yet, but I'm dying to. I can't imagine this not being gorgeous.

image
133. The ACME Novelty Datebook Series, Chris Ware
I love these books, and I think they're just as important a presence in terms of the visual diary comic form as Ware's formally-conscious comics stories are in the realm of art comics.

image
134. Postcards From Brussels, Dave McKean (Allen Spiegel Fine Arts)
There are more than one of these, I think, and I very much like McKean's work in vein. This is actually not near me when I write this, but I wanted to list it because this is the kind of book that can be purchased through Stuart Ng Books, along with a lot of limited edition sketchbooks and projects from various artists you love. I have Stuart Ng listed as a place to get old cartoon books somewhere below, but they're probably more valuable to me as a place to pick up art books.

image
135. Driven By Lemons, Josh Cotter (Adhouse)
Josh Cotter's sketchbook comic and a virtuoso arts performance generally.

***
***
***
***
***
***
***

*****
WAYS TO GIVE THE GIFT OF ART
*****


image
136. A Drew Friedman Print
This may be the only entry were I don't have to say anything.

image
137. 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.

image
138. A Piece Of Art From The Comic Art Collective
This is a great site/service, where a lot of alt-comics talent has been allowed to upload art offerings for free. They don't have an agent selling for them, but they do get to keep more of what they sell that way. I've bought maybe ten pieces through this site over the years. One thing it's quite good for is the illustration work that a lot of these folks do that never gets seen but is sometimes more frameable and hangable than straight-up comics art.

image
139. Custom Art From Johnny Ryan
I have purchased two pieces of custom art from Johnny. The results in each case, one being Judge Dredd here, were phenomenal.

image
140. Original Art From Albert Moy
I've never purchased art through this site, so I can't endorse them, 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.

image
141. Original Art From Comicartfans.com
I'm not familiar with this site, and can't vouch for it, either, 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.

image
142. 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. Kitchen has a long enough track record in the industry I can certainly endorse him, too.

image
143. 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.

image
144. Original Art From Mike Burkey
Again, I have no personal experience beyond knowing they've been around for a while.

image
145. 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.

image
146. 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 Farel Dalrymple.

image
147. A Poster Or Print From The Beguiling's New Store Section
This is a new section for their store, so I wanted to give it some extra-emphasis this year. The selection is small but everything is super-attractive and affordable.

image
148. 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.

image
149. 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.

image
150. 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.

image
151. 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," one of a series of reasonably recent prints done by letterer Todd Klein.

image
152. A Print From Mike Bertino
I think Mike's been killing it lately; I'm particularly fond of the assault of colors his work in single images tends to bring.

image
153. Art From Jim Blanchard
And all-time favorite print and portrait maker, and ink-slinger for the ages. Blanchard's print of Redd Foxx should go into whatever museum you'd put things like prints of Redd Foxx.

image
154. Tom Gauld's Epic Tales Print
Tom Gauld is one of my favorites and his work lends itself extremely well to prints and cards and other items.

image
155. A Print From Jordan Crane
Always gorgeous-looking; usually slightly disturbing.

image
156. Theo Ellsworth Limited Edition Print From Secret Acres
I think Theo Ellsworth is one of the more compelling image-maker to hit comics in quite some time. I'm not sure if this is the only work of this type he has out there, but it's a good one, at a great price.

image
157. Print Of A King Features Comic Strip
When we were doing Wildwood, we'd give friends inkjet-made "prints" of good strips. This looks much more legal.

***
***
***
***
***
***
***

*****
OLD STUFF
*****


image
158. 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.

image
159. 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.

image
160. 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.

image
161. 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.

image
162. 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.

***
***
***
***
***
***
***

*****
GENERAL PUBLISHING INITIATIVES FROM WHICH A TREMENDOUS NUMBER OF COMICS-RELATED PURCHASES CAN BE MADE

*****

image
163. 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. Others, like the line's take on the Promethea series, may change the way you look at the original comics.

image
164. 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 and Casanova.

image
165. 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.

image
166. 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."

image
167. Archival Comics From Fantagraphics
Fantagraphics offers a ton of one-shots, modern-masters and obscurities in addition to its murderer's row of Charles Schulz, George Herriman, EC Segar, Hal Foster, Hank Ketcham, Roy Crane and Bill Griffith.

image
168. Archival Comics From Drawn & Quarterly
Drawn and Quarterly's collection-series big guns are fewer, but bow to no one: Tove Jansson, Frank King and Doug Wright.

image
169. The Library Of American Comics, IDW

IDW's mighty publishing arm of gigantic gorgeous strip collection lists their publications by property -- they sometimes choose runs that aren't by the original creators -- so we will, too: Archie, Blondie, Bloom County, Bringing Up Father, Dick Tracy, Family Circus, King Aroo, Li'l Abner, Little Orphan Annie, Polly And Her Pals, Rip Kirby, Scorchy Smith, Terry And The Pirates and X-9: Secret Agent Corrigan. That first Polly And Her Pals book is stunning-looking.

image
170. The Yoe Books Line, Currently At IDW
Craig Yoe's books are criticized by some for the design choices involved and the selective nature of some of the projects, but in terms of gift-giving I can't see that being all that much of problem. I like the Barney Google book best, as I'm awfully fond of Barney Google.

image
171. Dark Horse's Webcomics Line
Dark Horse has carved out maybe the best mini-line of print collections featuring material from prominent webcomics cartoonists. Features involved include Achewood, Wondermark, Perry Bible Fellowship, Sinfest, and the alt-weekly/webcomic Smell Of Steve. In fact, Dark Horse has a bunch of archival lines, including efforts on behalf of Little Lulu, various Warren publications, various Harvey publications, and Conan.

image
172. NBM's Forever Nuts Line
This line from NBM focuses on selective collections from older features as opposed to extensive archival work from strips with a greater modern audience: when you're offering work from Opper, McManus and Fisher, you can do whatever you want.

***
***
***
***
***
***
***

*****
SINGLE VOLUMES AND SLIPCASED COLLECTIONS OF RECENT AND/OR ENDURING INTEREST
*****


image
173. The Book Of Genesis Illustrated By R. Crumb, Robert Crumb (WW Norton)
A drawing showcase for the underground comix master and certainly a vital lion-in-winter offering for one of the greatest cartoonists ever.

image
174. Alec: The Years Have Pants, Eddie Campbell
Eddie Campbell's long run of autobiographically informed comics are about as dear and necessary as any comics made over the last 30 years. Last year's book of the year.

image
175. Gahan Wilson: Fifty Years Of Playboy Cartoons, Gahan Wilson (Fantagraphics)
This career retrospective is massive and beautiful and I think a lot of people are going to be so happy to have all this work in one place.

image
176. Footnotes In Gaza: Joe Sacco (Metropolitan)
My likely choice for book of the year, it's cartoonist/journalist Joe Sacco at the absolute height of comics-making powers walking us through an elaborate investigation into a pair of past atrocities and then, in a heartbreaking coda, gently questioning the entire enterprise in a way that pulls a second, just-as-compelling narrative out of the book like a spine and rib bones being lifted from whitefish.

image
177. Zot!: The Complete Black and White Comics, 1987-1991, Scott McCloud
I think this is one of the medium's really good stories for young people, and a nostalgic look back for those of raised in slightly boring neighborhoods with nuclear holocaust hanging over our heads who thought we could imagine ourselves away from both.

image
178. 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, and an even newer edition than that due I believe sometime next year. If you don't have this book, you need this book.

image
image
179-180. 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.

image
181. 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. 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.

image
182. Curses, Kevin Huizenga, Drawn and Quarterly, 2006
Kevin Huizenga may be the most important cartoonist to emerge this decade. This is his best collection-to-date. 'Nuff said.

image
183. 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.

image
184. Most Outrageous, Bob Levin (Fantagraphics)
The best book about comics and cartooning written to date: an almost impossibly sad and bewildering look at the life and eventual fate of Hustler cartoonist Dwaine Tinsley. So few people have read this -- and I understand the subject material is ruthless -- that it makes my soul hurt. It's the only prose work about comics where the next con I attended it spilled out of us as a topic of conversation, so good and so raw we couldn't help ourselves.

image
185. What It Is, Lynda Barry (D&Q)
Lynda Barry's celebration of the creative process and inquiry as to its effect on her life would be a welcome gift any year.

image
186. Asterios Polyp, David Mazzucchelli (Pantheon)
I can't imagine too many more enjoyable journeys in comics than to follow a fine cartoonist to the places he wants to take you.

image
187. Pim & Francie: The Golden Bear Days, Al Columbia (Fantagraphics)
Al Columbia's haunting set of almost-complete drawings invoke a world where the very act of creativity summons evil. Haunting, and burned into my memory.

***
***
***
***
***
***
***

*****
BOOK SERIES COMPLETED OR LIKELY COMPLETED
*****


image
image

188. Dan Nadel's Comics Anthologies: Art Out Of Time: Unknown Comics Visionaries, 1900-1969, and Art in Time: Unknown Comic Book Adventures, 1940-1980.
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.

image
image
189. One Of The Fletcher Hanks Books, Fletcher Hanks (Fantagraphics)
An unforgettable look back at one of Golden Age Comics' greatest and most unlikely talents.

image
image
190. The Beasts! Series, Various, Edited and Designed by Jacob Covey (Fantagraphics)
These are old-fashioned look and wonder books featuring many of the best artists of the current, still-emerging generation. I'm very happy to own them.

***
***
***
***
***
***
***

*****
BOOK SERIES IN PROGRESS
*****


image
191. RASL, Jeff Smith
Jeff Smith's return to comics post-Bone put out its first collection late last year, a lovely, oversized volume collecting the first three issues. I think RASL has been a blast, skewing much older than Bone while featuring the same kind of genre mash-up at the heart of Smith's more well-known fantasy. Available in multiple formats including -- god bless Smith -- the serial comic book.

image
image
192. The Hunter, Darwyn Cooke (IDW)
Darwyn Cooke's career-changing adaptation of the first Richard Stark Parker book just looks like something I'd give my dad, were he still with us. It would look great under the tree between a bar of soap-on-a-rope and a tie with little Santa heads.

image
image
image
image
193-194. Cul De Sac Book Series, Richard Thompson (Andrews McMeel)
My favorite strip cartoonist right now. The above covers actually represent two-tracks right now: while I buy both, I don't expect everyone to.

image
195. West Coast Blues, Jacques Tardi (Fantagraphics)
The second-best thing about this new Tardi initiative at Fantagraphics has been reading and listening to Kim Thompson enthuse about the great cartoonist. The first-best thing is that we get books like this lean thriller.

image
image
image
196-198. The Little Nothings Series, Lewis Trondheim (NBM)
Nothing brings me more outright pleasure than this series of funny, wry autobiographical works from the great Lewis Trondheim. I'll be giving the three of them as a gift this year.

image
image
199-200. Johnny Ryan's Prison Pit Series
These books are great, and despite their frequently violent, foul content -- or maybe because of it -- I can see them being a gift for a wide swathe of comics fans, from those who like superhero smash-'em ups to devotees of alt-manga.

image
201. 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.

image
202. The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen Volume 3 Books From Top Shelf
One out now, one on the way, and a third after that -- these are a lot of fun, plus you sort of get to stick it to the man by buying them from new publisher Top Shelf.

image
203. Love and Rockets: The Latest Reprinting
These books are so good and so perfectly priced that a couple of years ago I not only got a set for a friend but I dumped my much-beloved albums in their favor.

image
204. The Dungeon Books, Lewis Trondheim And Joann Sfar And A Cast Of Dozens (NBM)
An interlocking, time-lost series of fantasy adventures centered on a classic monster-filled dungeon and its characters, I'm frequently a little bit lost as to where in the saga any individual book I might read is, but I'm almost always having too much fun to care.

***
***
***
***
***
***
***

*****
TO WRAP THINGS UP HERE ARE SEVERAL APPEALING NEWER COMICS OFFERINGS IN THE POPULAR BOOK FORMAT AND RANDOM BOOKS/ITEMS/OFFERINGS THAT MIGHT HAVE GONE IN A CATEGORY UP ABOVE, REPRESENTING A SMALL AND COMPLETELY INADEQUATE SAMPLING OF SUCH VOLUMES OUT THERE RIGHT NOW SO SHUT UP I TRIED
*****


image
205. Copper, Kazu Kibuishi, Scholastic
In an alternate universe, newspaper all over America bumped Blondie in favor of Kazu Kibuishi's ode to the simplest of comics joys: watching expressive characters march through attractively-depicted landscapes. In this universe, it's a fun webcomic and a book that slipped out to little fanfare.

image
206. Wilson, Dan Clowes (Drawn And Quarterly)
A strong book of the year candidate and one of the outright funniest comics in recent memory. For some reason, in my mind's eye, Wilson is being played by a young Walter Matthau.

image
207. Duncan The Wonder Dog, Adam Hines, AdHouse Books
The debut book of Fall 2010, a massive -- and, page-to-page, complex -- treatment of the old saw about animals developing intelligence and how that might change (might change) everything. Promised as one book of many. Where Adam Hines came from I have no idea, but I hope there are more. Actually, I don't, that would be greedy.

image
208. The Best Of FoxTrot, Bill Amend, (Andrew McMeel)
FoxTrot remains sneaky-popular even in its current Sunday-only iteration, and it's difficult not to have some admiration for maybe the only cartoonist of the last 20 years able to regularly comment on elements of popular and not sound completely out of the loop while doing so.

image
209. This American Life Marvel Poster
Are there 2000 fans of This American Life and X-Men comic books out there? NPR hopes so. That's a cute image, though, and the price ($22) isn't deadly.

image
210. Crumb: The Criterion Collection
The best movie about comics or cartooning ever made now has a definitive edition, where both the quality of the transfer and the completeness of the extras beg you to own it. I've only ever seen it once, in Seattle, at the screening all the broke cartoonists attended.

image
211. God's Cartoonist
If Robert Crumb swings a little too mainstream and safe for you, maybe try this enjoyable documentary film about the reclusive minister-through-comics. Lots of Dan Raeburn.

image
212. Drinking At The Movies, Julia Wertz (Three Rivers Press)
This is (I believe) a slight re-purposing of Wertz's on-line comics work to encompass/engage the broader issue of how one lives in New York as a young person. As that was never my experience, I found the documentary-style details fascinating. Plus Wertz is consistently funny.

image
213. Denys Wortman's New York, Denys Wortman (The Center For Cartoon Studies/Drawn And Quarterly)
A very different view of New York, this is a stuffed collection of the long-since-passed artist's series of drawings of New York life. I've stared at this book for hours, and I'm not even from New York. One of the recent miracles of comics' archival revolution.

image
214. The Adventures Of Unemployed Man, Erich Origen and Gan Golan and a Cast Of Dozens (Little, Brown)
I haven't read the book to know how it works as comics, and I'm a little wary of blunt, broad satire, but the idea of it certainly works and there are some sublime comics veterans involved in its execution. I'm not sure how you get this for an unemployed person and not get punched in the face, though.

image
215. Whirlwind Wonderland, Rina Ayuyang (Sparkplug/Tugboat)
This collection of Rina Ayuyang's work from her own Namby Pamby and a bunch of different anthologies does something that alt-comics used to do more frequently: provide a look into someone's personal universe. Extremely charming.

image
216. H Day, Renee French (PictureBox, Inc.)
Renee French is one of the great cartoonists of her generation. This book not only acts like an art book, the connecting elements and the way French assemble the work make it a fascinating read. I can't imagine not having every one of her books.

image
217. You'll Never Know Book Two: Collateral Damage, Carol Tyler (Fantagraphics)
The collected version of this book will be all we talk about when it finally comes out, but don't deny yourself the pleasure of the serialized volumes of Carol Tyler's exploration of her father's harrowing World War II experience and how it echoes down the generations. She places one of the five great comics short-stories of the 20th Century into her narrative and somehow makes it more resonant for the new context.

image
218. If-n-Oof, Brian Chippendale (PictureBox, Inc.)
Chippendale is one of the great cartoonists of right now, and I think you'd want to see everything he produces right now. This would be true ten times over of any massive, entertaining books he manages to release -- this is such a book.

image
219. ACME Novelty Library #20, Chris Ware (Drawn And Quarterly)
A stand-alone work by the great Chris Ware, his first in a couple of years. What are you waiting for?

image
220. Temperance, Cathy Malkasian (Fantagraphics)
I'm terrified that this is going to be this year's big, really admirable work that slips into obscurity. I never saw one, but I admire Malkasian's first book (Percy Gloom) so much if Temperance is 1/3 as good it's worth owning. And I've heard this one may be better.

image
221. Berlin And That, Oliver East (Blank Slate)
This is the third and I believe potential the final volume in East's trilogy of oblique travelogues along rail line and into abandoned places on either side. A very unique voice in comics and something that I wish I could have shown my trains-in-all-forms loving father.

image
222. A Painting From Farel Dalrymple's Etsy Store
I know that I talked about Etsy stores in general in one of the graphs above, but I ran across the super-stylish artist Farel Dalrymple's store and liked the number of works on sale there at a reasonable price.

image
223. The Playwright, Daren White And Eddie Campbell (Top Shelf)
I hope White and Campbell won't hate me for saying this, but reading this reminded me of how we occasionally hear from various mid-20th Century authors and how they almost made comics. If those kinds of writers made the best comics they could, it might read an awful lot like The Playwright.

image
224. The Secret History Omnibus Vol. 1, Jean-Pierre Pécau and Igor Kordey and Leo Pilipovic and Goran Sudzuka and Carole Beau and Manchu and Olivier Vatine (Archaia)
This is a collection of my favorite mainstream comics series, the extremely well-drawn yet appealingly super-loopy adventures of four unpleasant immortals and how they've manipulated every important historical era since weapons became metal rather than stone.

image
225. Elmer, Gerry Alanguilan (SLG)
I'm a long-time fan of Gerry Alanguilan's unsettling story of chickens come to consciousness, now in North American published form from SLG.

image
226. The Wrong Place, Brecht Evens (Drawn And Quarterly)
My current obsession, and a very singular book, best described here.

image
227. Set To Sea, Drew Weing (Fantagraphics)
What is it about ocean-faring stories and the current generation of under-40 cartoonists? Not that I'm complaining when the results are this pretty and involving.

image
228. The Kim Deitch Files From La Mano Press
Pencil work from the sketchbook of one of the greatest living cartoonists hand assembled by Zak Sally's super-admirable boutique publishing effort. I can't imagine any Kim Deitch fan not wanting this.

image
229. Artichoke Tales, Megan Kelso (Fantagraphics)
A searing exploration of relationships, generational politics and environmental determinism from one of the best cartoonists going.

image
230. How To Understand Israel In Sixty Days Or Less, Sarah Glidden (DC/Vertigo)
One of the best book-length debuts in a year of such releases, this is a smart and warmly drawn book about the author's birthright trip through Israel and how travel and experiences and keeping our minds open challenge our preconceptions, no matter how closely they're held. A super-classy release.

***
***
***
***
***
***
***

*****

Okay, I think that's it. My goodness, there's a lot of material out there.

*****

If I didn't list your book, item, art or project, it's likely because you've been bad this year. Actually, I probably just forgot. I'm sorry. Please don't be upset. I am definitely going to add a few books and ideas to the final grouping as it pleases me to do so, by which I mean whenever I wake up in the middle of the night soaked with guilt over excluding something obvious. Please don't send me an e-mail lecture about how I should have included your book; I find that kind of thing super-distasteful. If you send me news of a broken link so I can fix it, I'll be happy! Happy Holidays to one and all.

*****
*****
 
posted 2:00 pm PST | Permalink
 

 
Daily Blog Archives
December 2014
November 2014
October 2014
September 2014
August 2014
 
Full Archives