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The CR Holiday Shopping Guide 2007
posted November 25, 2007
 

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Today is Black Friday 2007, the traditional first day of the hectic holiday shopping season.

Following are 171 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.

As I have little chance of actually selecting something for your friend or loved one, please use this as a starting point, something to give you an idea of what's out there, or as a way to start brainstorming on an idea of your own. Also, I'm sure I'm forgetting a list equally as long, filled with quality works and books, for which I apologize profusely.

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 often 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, so 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.

Happy Shopping!

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THE COMICS REPORTER BLACK FRIDAY HOLIDAY SHOPPING GUIDE 2007
or
171 REASONS TO SPEND YOUR SHOPPING MONEY ON COMICS THIS YEAR

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2007 TOP TEN GIFTS

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There's no such thing as a top 10 gift; the best gift is the gift that pleases the recipient, and that means there's a million top gifts out there. These are simply the gifts I'm giving someone this year or with which I've had some success in the past, or which look good or particularly interesting this time around.

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1. Jimbo, The Doll
The only vinyl figure people who don't really "get" vinyl figures will ever need. It's a fun toy, likely a collectible with which to be reckoned in years to come, and it features some nice presentation work -- all with Gary Panter's full cooperation. Next year may see almost 800 pages of Panter published, so you might as well prepare yourself now.

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2. Shortcomings, Adrian Tomine, Drawn & Quarterly, 2007
The nice thing about Adrian Tomine's latest work -- and this is true of Adrian's work in general -- as a gift is that it functions exactly like a short novel. I can't imagine anyone receiving it as a gift and being baffled by the intrusion of some comics-culture element that a lot of us take for granted.

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3. The Thing Mug
My friend got me this last year at Super Heros in Paris, and for the life of me I haven't been able to find out who sells them. I'm guessing it's an out-of-stock Sherwood Brands items. Anyway: best coffee mug ever, and I promise to replace the above scan (don't ask) with a proper photo sometime this weekend. It gives me great pleasure to drink from the hollowed-out skull of Benjamin J. Grimm.

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4. Palestine: The Special Edition, Joe Sacco, Fantagraphics, 2007
It always deserved to be in hard cover and now it is. The story of Joe Sacco's journey into the Middle East to talk to people whose stories he felt weren't represented in Western media hasn't aged a day. In fact, I think it's become sharper. The supplementary material is as good as I've ever seen.

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5. Persepolis: One Volume Edition, Marjane Satrapi, Knopf, 2007.
Finally, an alternative comic book for Mom. The movie opens Christmas Day, so you can take her to that, too.

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6. 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.

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7. Original Art From Comic Art Collective
Comic Art Collective is a free service by which cartoonists can sell their original artwork. One thing I like about it is that there's a lot of super-affordable art of the pen-and-ink illustration variety from artists who work in those areas.

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8. DailyInk.com Subscription
For $60 you can buy into Marvel's DCU, but why not start out with the much-cheaper DailyInk.com from King Features, featuring old and new material at a size that actually rewards your reading it on a computer screen? A solid gift for you friend that knows which strips run on the Houston Chronicle web site as opposed to which run on the Seattle P-I's. It also seems like a good gift to me in that I think this is something someone might grow to appreciate if it's given to them, but it's not something a lot of people would want to spend the money on for themselves.

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9. The Complete Dream of the Rarebit Fiend, Ulrich Merkl, 2007
There are a lot of excellent high-end comic strip gifts this year, but this one was the most surprising: a coffee table-ready complete edition of Winsor McCay's early classic.

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10. 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.

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ABOUT COMICS

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11. 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 this year.

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12. Blondie: The Bumstead Family History, Dean Young and Melena Ryzik, Thomas Nelson, $29.99
I haven't caught up to this one yet, but Blondie is one of the most popular strips in the world and there's practically nothing ever written about it and the collected material to date has been quite spotty.

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13. Comic Art Vol. 9, Todd Hignite, Buenaventura Press, $19.95
The best ongoing magazine about comics released its latest issue in 2007, and is always worth picking up.

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14. Reading Comics, Douglas Wolk, Da Capo, $22.95
Judging by the 11,432 people who walked up to me during last summer's convention season and asked if I'd read it yet, many of you already have a copy. For the rest of you fine folks, Doug Wolk's look at comics and why they're read was this year's most discussed book about comics not starring Charles Schulz.

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15. The Ganzfeld Vol. 5, Edited By Dan Nadel, PictureBox Inc., $29.95
This kind of slipped out onto the market quietly, and is way too good to let go without recommending it here.

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16. Making Comics, Scott McCloud, Harper, $22.95
Scott McCloud spent a year on tour with his family promoting this book; you should be able to find 30 seconds to consider buying it. A worthy sequel to his Understanding Comics and Reinventing Comics.

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17. Manga: The Complete Guide, Jason Thompson, Del Rey, $19.95
Approximately 1200 reviews stuffed into an over-sized soft cover explaining the appeal of the American versions of one of the world's great comics traditions. I own one and have used it about once a week.

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18. Meanwhile...: Milton Caniff, Terry and the Pirates, and Steve Canyon, RC Harvey, Fantagraphics, $34.95
The critic RC Harvey's grand achievement and certainly the most detailed biography of a cartoonist I've ever seen. A beautiful presentation, too.

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19. Men of Tomorrow, Gerard Jones, Basic Books, 2005
Still the go-to book in terms of modern comics histories three years after its initial publication.

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20. It's Superman, Tom De Haven, Chronicle Books, 2005
Tom De Haven does for the Superman mythos what he did for comic strips in general with the Dugan Trilogy. This is both a compelling piece of fiction and an exploration of the hold the last son of Krypton has over the popular imagination.

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ART

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21. Custom Art From Gary Panter
The great Gary Panter is still offering 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.

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22. Custom Art From Johnny Ryan
I have purchased two pieces of custom art from Johnny over the last few years. The results, like Judge Dredd above, were phenomenal.

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23. Custom Art From Sam Hiti
The samples I've seen look like they'd be nice.

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24. Custom Art From Bill Mudron
I'm not all that familiar with Mudron's work -- okay, I'm completely unfamiliar with it -- but he came up several times when I asked around for artists that do commissioned drawings.

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25. Limited Edition Prints From Jonathan Levine Gallery
These look lovely as well, although I'm not personally familiar with them except to stare at on a computer screen.

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26. 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.

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27. 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.

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28. 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.

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29. 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.

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

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31. 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, such as David Mazzuchelli (above).

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32. 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, from big-title alt-comics pages to more rarely seen work like the above from Genevieve Castree.

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33. Original Paintings From Tony Fitzpatrick
Tony Fitzpatrick is a painter, printmaker and poet. I used to work for Tony 10,000 years ago; his originals and prints are beautiful. As I recall, they're very popular with rich people in the performing arts. If you have the money to be giving these out as Christmas gifts, please contact this site immediately.

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34. 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.

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35. 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.

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36. 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.

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37. 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.

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38. 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.

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39. Prints From Johnny Ryan
All of Johnny's stuff is generally great, and I'm sure the prints are, too.

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40. Art From Jim Rugg
Independent comics artist Jim Rugg offers pages from his groundbreaking Street Angel series on his site, and also has a link to contact him for quotes on custom art.

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41. A Dan Zettwoch Print
I love Dan Zettwoch's Lou Thesz print -- he still has a few -- and enjoy the cartoonist's work in general.

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ART BOOKS

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42. The Art of Bone, Jeff Smith, Dark Horse Comics, $39.95
This turned out a lot smarter-looking than I thought it would be, and I'm a fan. 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, that we have yet to see, so the book might appeal to a fan of the series on that level.

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43. The Art of Fullmetal Alchemist Vol. 2, Hiromu Arakawa, Viz, $19.99
If there's a second volume, that's usually a sign the first one pleased its fans.

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44. Free Radicals, PictureBox Inc., $10
I haven't seen this yet, but the stuff from PictureBox has generally been of a very high quality. I think they have a humongous Gary Panter art book coming out just before or just after Christmas, so you might want to save up for that, too.

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45. The Art of Naruto: Uzumaki, Masashi Kishimoto, Viz, $19
I would imagine this has to be pretty well done considering the avalanche of material out there with the Naruto name on it competing for the fan dollar.

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46. The Art of Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind: Watercolor Impressions, Hayao Miyazaki, Viz, $34.99
I can't imagine this not being pretty. The Studio Ghibili-related art books I've seen have been quite nice.

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47. PulpHope, Paul Pope, AdHouse Books, $29.95
Chris Pitzer has done such a good job with high-end art books you'd think that he spends his time publishing nothing but. This is a nice and necessary addition to the well-stocked comics library.

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48. Scrap Mettle, Scott Morse, Image, $39.99
There are a lot of Morse fans out there, and even those who aren't will probably be impressed by the image making in this massive volume.

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49. Art of Matt Wagner's Grendel, Matt Wagner and Diana Schutz, Dark Horse, 2007
There aren't a lot of full-on art books featuring comic book characters and artists from the Direct Market generation, so this is a welcome publishing surprise.

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50. Uno Tarino: Art by Ashley Wood, Ashley Wood, IDW, 2007
I haven't seen this, but Wood has a ton of fans.

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51. The Agony and Ecstasy, Basil Wolverton, Pure Imagination, 2007
I'm dying to see this book of Bible drawings from one of the great cartoonists of the 20th Century.

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52. Beastly Feasts!, Robert Forbes and Ronald Searle, Overlook, 2007
Ronald Searle is the attraction here; this looks like old-fashioned fun.

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53. Excess, Michael Golden, Vanguard, 2007
I have no idea if this is any good, but Golden's one of the more important and influential comic book artists of the last 35 years and an art book could show him off to fine effect.

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54. Chicken Fat, Will Elder, Fantagraphics, 2006
I was surprised by how effective this little art book was. It's cute, too.

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55. Postcard From Barcelona, Dave McKean, Hourglass, 2007
This looks really interesting, although I haven't held it in my own hands.

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56. Arf! Forum, Craig Yoe, Fantagraphics, 2007
Craig Yoe's compendiums of the intersection between comics and art have a lot of gift appeal, touching as they do on so many different artists' take on the subject at hand.

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57. The Uncanny Dave Cockrum Tribute, Cliff Meth, Aardwolf, 2007
Artists pay tribute to the X-Men re-visualizer, who died in 2006. Proceeds to the Cockrum family.

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58. My Hunger For Venison, Gary Baseman, Baby Tattoo Books, 2007
I've seen this is in a bookstore, the latest from one-time cartoonist, illustrator and toy designer Gary Baseman; it looks quite cool.

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CHARITY

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59. 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.

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60. 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.

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61. 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.

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62. 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.

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63. 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?

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HANDMADE COMICS

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64. 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.

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65. Mini-Comics from Global Hobo
A number of talented artists work for this classic comics collective.

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66. 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.

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67. Mini-Comics From Short Pants Press
Some of the newer, better, and fiercely devoted makers of mini-comics out there right now.

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68. Mini-Comics From Partyka
I don't know if the above image is in any of the mini-comics emanating from the collective Partyka, but many boast art just as captivating.

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

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70. 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.

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KIDS BOOKS WITH CARTOONIST HOOKS

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71. Henry, the Dog with No Tail, Kate Feiffer and Jules Feiffer, Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing, 2007
The legendary cartoonist Jules Feiffer has illustrated or written and illustrated a number of classy children's books. This latest is a collaboration with his daughter.

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72. The Invention of Hugo Cabret, Brian Selznick, Scholastic Press, 2007
Noted illustrator Selznick's solo effort has lovely comics sections that strengthen the work's overall attention to silent film.

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73. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian; Sherman Alexie and Ellen Forney; Little, Brown
Ellen Forney's illustrations are all over this book from noted author Sherman Alexie, and the book is all over the end of year best-of lists by category.

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74. Strong Stuff: Herakles and His Labors, John Harris and Gary Baseman, Getty Publications, 2005
I just like the way this one looks.

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75. 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.

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76. 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."

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77. 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.

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MANGA

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78. 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 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.

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79. Tekkonkinkreet: Black & White, Taiyo Matsumoto, Viz
Taiyo Matsumoto's visually electric book, once serialized here as Black and White, is re-packaged the same year as a well-reviewed film version is brought to North America.

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80. Azumanga Daioh Omnibus, ADV, 2007
Collects volumes 1-4 of Kiyohiko Asuma's popular teen comedy strip, which runs mostly as a series of four-panel gag strip running top to bottom of page (I think the term yonkoma describes vertical strips like this and strips placed two by two). Not as seamlessly executed as the author's Yotsuba&! series, but still a lot of fun and it's a big chunk of material at that price.

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81. 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.

However, it's just gifts, so you may be able to transfer your enthusiasm to other people. I've started people on Drifting Classroom, Cromartie High School and the widely-appealing and under-read Yotsuba&! and as only a few of those people hate me now those are the three popular multi-volume series I'd recommend if my arm were bent back. There are enough offerings you can also make gag gifts or offhand gifts out of them, like a couple of Harlem Beat books to your buddy that likes basketball. (The link takes you to the latest in an ongoing series of articles about overlooked manga by Shaenon Garrity.)

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82. 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 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.

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83. Anywhere But Here, Tori Miki, Fantagraphics, 2005
There was a point at which I was hoping for a lot of obscure one-shots slipping out along with the rush of series manga publishing, but this book of odd, sometimes formalist gags has been about it thus far. Still, it's a good one.

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84. One of the Yoshihiro Tatsumi books.
Excellent short stories for adults on a variety of adult concerns, exquisitely presented.

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Newspaper Strips and Editorialists

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85. Various Calvin and Hobbes Books at Barnes & Noble, Bill Waterson, various datesI've been seeing a lot of cartoon books at Barnes & Noble this year, cut down to about $10 a pop. I can't imagine there are too many people left looking for these books, but they seem to be priced to sell.

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86. Leadership: Political Cartoons -- The Bush Years, Pat Oliphant, Andrews McMeel, 2007
Pat Oliphant is the dean of editorial cartoonists, and at a time in his career when many artists begin to coast or leave the field altogether, he may draw better and be meaner and get to the point more frequently than he ever has before.

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87. The Best of Mutts, Patrick McDonnell, Andrews McMeel, 2007
Instead of putting this year's Mutts collection on the list, I can actually point to this new book which seems a lot more present-like. Like other famous cartoonists' 10-year volumes, notably Walt Kelly's and Bill Watterston's, McDonnell's will feature the cartoonist's commentary.

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88. The Perry Bible Fellowship: The Trial of Colonel Sweeto and Other Stories
The most ready for primetime online humor strip and one of webcomics' best, The Perry Bible Fellowship finally gets the print collection that should expose his work to a much wider audience. It may be difficult to find as demand has been very high.

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89. Big Top 2: Sawdust and Greasepoint, Rob Harrell, Self-Published, $11.95
This collection of Rob Harrell's under-appreciated strip has the added benefit present-wise of not being widely available. It's more of a self-published effort from its artist.

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90. The Early Years of Mutt and Jeff: Forever Nuts, Bud Fisher, NBM, 2007
A surprisingly fun and certainly influential strip that until now had been relegated to anthology appearances.

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91. Just When You Thought Things Couldn't Get Worse, Edward Sorel, Fantagraphics, 2007
A great book that went almost completely under the radar, featuring a highly-skilled artist working in different techniques the way that some artists change shirts.

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92. 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 Moomin and Walt and Skeezix, Fantagraphics has Popeye and Peanuts, IDW has Terry and the Pirates and Dick Tracy; that's just scratching the surface.

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93. Sundays With Walt and Skeezix Vol. 1, Frank King, Sunday Press Books, 2007
A high-end, printed at original size collection of classic Frank King Gasoline Alley Sundays.

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NEWER BOOKS

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94. All-Star Superman Vol. 1, Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely, DC Comics, 2007
The first collection of the best ongoing superhero title right now, a series of smoothly told adventure stories about Superman meeting the only enemies worth Superman's time: reflections of himself.

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95. Aya, Marguerite Abouet and Clement Oubrerie, Drawn & Quarterly, 2007
A beautiful stand-alone book that should satisfy most readers, about a golden age for the Ivory Coast and the soap opera silliness that this grace period allowed into that region's culture as a result.

****

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96. I Killed Adolf Hitler, Jason, Fantagraphics, 2007
Jason's latest exercise in straight-faced but frequently hilarious re-imaginations of classic genres.

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97. Laika, Nick Abadzis, First Second, 2007
The story of earth's first space traveler and the people that grew to know her in an odyssey strange and soaked with world history before she stepped into the capsule.

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98. A Treasury of Victorian Murder: Saga of the Bloody Benders, Rick Geary, NBM, 2007
Serial killers in Kansas a number of decades before Dick Hickock and Perry Smith, unpacked in chilling detail by comics veteran Geary. Perfect for fans of Midwestern history and/or true crime.

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99. Criminal Volume One: Coward, Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips, Marvel, 2007
Two of mainstream comics finest modern craftsmen working at the top of their game in a crime thriller.

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100. 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.

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101. League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: The Black Dossier, Alan Moore and Kevin O'Neill, DC/Wildstorm, 2007
A mix of prose presentation styles and comics that ends in several pages of 3-D, Moore and O'Neill go after some mid-20th Century adventure pulp icons and provide an outline of what happened in the 45 years since the last book and all the centuries before that.

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102. Alice in Sunderland, Bryan Talbot, Dark Horse, 2007
The surprise publishing hit of the year from one of comics perpetually ahead of the curve creators.

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103. The Salon, Nick Bertozzi, St. Martin's, 2007
A look at the modernists and an explanation as to how art movements intertwined with a wild murder-mystery fantasy, and certainly one of the unique books of the last two years.

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104. Cat Getting Out of a Bag and Other Observations, Jeffrey Brown, Chronicle Books, 2007
This is a classic novelty book, meaning that it's something that's for cat fans and intended to be for cat fans, but it's very pleasurable.

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105. Super-Spy, Matt Kindt, Top Shelf, 2007
Collecting a number of Matt Kindt strips about spies at the end of World War II that maybe only Kindt knew would eventually become an inter-related, epic sprawl; a formidable book.

****

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106. Casanova Vol. 1, Matt Fraction and Gabriel Ba, Image, $24.99
A nice-looking edition of the first story-arc in Matt Fraction's homage-soaked super-spy series.

****

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107. Shazam: Monster Society of Evil, Jeff Smith, DC Comics, 2007
The wrap-around poster packaging of the hardcover is a nice, added touch to a solid, all-ages superhero story that shows off Smith's range with character design.

****

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108. Never As Bad As You Think, Kathryn and Stuart Immonen, $5.95
I liked this short book, kind of a pleasurable exercise in wordplay, and I don't think a lot of people have seen it. Certainly is a stocking stuffer-sized thing, if you do that for any appropriately aged people out there.

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109. 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. Godland: Celestial Edition features a written piece by me.

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110. Maggots, Brian Chippendale, PictureBox, Inc., $21.95
The long-awaited Fort Thunder era study in movement and secret tribes is finally released, still years ahead of its time.

****

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111. Powr Mastrs, CF, PictureBox Inc., $18
The first in a series of promising adventure comics set in a world of appealingly delineated checks and balances.

****

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112. The Professor's Daughter, Emmanuel Guibert and Joann Sfar, First Second Books, $16.95
Just a funny, beautiful-looking comedy-adventure, a near-perfect single-volume comics experience.

****

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113. Storeyville, Frank Santoro, PictureBox Inc., $24.95
The surprise reprint of the year, Frank Santoro's mid-'90s tabloid makes an impressive, oversized book, full of evocative imagery.

****

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114. Army@Love Volume One: The Hot Zone Club, Rick Veitch and Gary Erskine, Vertigo, $9.99
Rick Veitch returns to one of his great strengths: super-heated, earnest, slickly satirical long-form narrative, this time about the corporation creep into the spreading Middle East war.

****

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115. The Spirit Vol. 1, Darwyn Cooke and J. Bone, DC Comics, 2007
A pretty collection of smart, super-attractive stand-alone stories that should work well as a gift.

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116. House, Josh Simmons, Fantagraphics, 2007
Josh Simmons' stocking stuffer of scary, lung-crushing evil and one of the year's most impressive OGN debuts.

****

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117. Elvis Road, Helge Reumann & Xavier Robel, Buenaventura Press, 2007
I can't stop staring at this 24 foot drawing/narrative, stuffed to the gills with visual information. Has to be seen to be believed.

****

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118. New Tales of Old Palomar, Gilbert Hernandez, Fantagraphics/Coconino, 2006-2007
All three volumes should be out by Christmas; Hernandez's return to the setting of his most famous comics stories has resulted in some of the loveliest art of his career, in a format that appreciates it.

****

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119. Percy Gloom Cathy Malkasian, Fantagraphics, 2007
A stand-alone graphic novel and a minor miracle for taking what in most artists' hands would be treacle and making a moving, funny and wonderfully paced story out of it. A first book and hopefully not the last.

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NOT COMICS

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120. Eric Shanower Oz Lunchbox
I don't have anything to add to this other than I like it. Just look at it!

****

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121. 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.

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122. Hellboy Christmas Ornament
It's not Christmas without the Hellboy Christmas Ornament.

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123. Loady and Sinus Dolls From Johnny Ryan
These look like nice stocking stuffers, plus you get to say, "Loady."

****

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124. Independents: A Guide for the Creative Spirit, Chris Brandt, $14.99
A fun movie that serves as both a snapshot of modern, non-mainstream, comic-book cartooning and a tribute to the spirit of creativity that's fueled comics' counter-revolution.

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125. Postcards From Stuart Immonen
These are really beautiful in the hand; I added them to this list after receiving one from Stuart Immonen. The second quality stocking-stuffer from the mainstream artist.

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126. 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.

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127. 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.

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128. Stuff Related to Archie
I like the idea of having Archie-related material maybe more than I actually desire Archie-related material, but I like the looks of this watch. If people can wear Mickey Mouse, they can wear Ms. Lodge, Mr. Andrews and Ms. Cooper.

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

****

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130. A T-Shirt From PictureBox, Inc.
I bought one of these Gary Panter shirts for someone recently, and they love it.

****

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131. Asterix Chess Set
I have nothing whatsoever to say about this other than I like it.

****

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132. 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.

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OLD STUFF

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133. An Old Cartoon Book via AbeBooks
I'm not exactly sure where Abebooks.com fits into the Abebooks/Bookfinder/Alibris ownership spectrum, but it's the interface that I tend to use to access North American used bookstores. One thing that those stores tend to have that others don't is classic "cartoon books" from artists like Peter Arno, Charles Addams, Pat Oliphant, B. Kliban and so on. These are wonderful cartoon efforts, and a wonderful thing to collect.

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134. 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.

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135. 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.

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136. 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.

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137. 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.

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138. 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.

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PERENNIALS AND MISCELLANEA

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139. Lat's autobiographical books from First Second
Now translated into English are two classics of world comics: the thinly disguised autobiographical comics from Lat. Kampung Boy deals with early childhood and is more intimate and specific to Malaysian culture; Town Boy deals with the later childhood and teen years and I think most people feel it has more of a universal appeal.

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140. 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.

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141. One of the Harvey Comics Classics Books
A lot of us read a lot more Harvey Comics than we're willing to admit; this collection seems a nice way to add a few well-selected ones back into the library.

****

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142. Sick Sick Sick, Jules Feiffer, McGraw Hill, 1958
This is a excellent and groundbreaking book in a nice, fun to carry around format that's easily attainable at used book stores or through whatever on-line service they may happen to use. I don't really like the Complete Feiffer format all that much, and considering how lovely Fantagraphics' Passionella was, one hopes they may one day return to this format.

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143. 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.

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144. 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.

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145. 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."

****

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146. Lost Girls, Alan Moore and Melinda Gebbie, Top Shelf, 2006
A considerable, beautiful piece of porno that should grace just about every serious comics collection.

****

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147. Amazing Spider-Man Omnibus, Stan Lee and Steve Ditko, Marvel, 2007
Some of the best comics ever and one of the five best superhero runs, primarily for Ditko's highly personal approach to art and the sincerity in terms of presenting a morally developing hero that soaks every panel.

****

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148. MAD's Greatest Artists: The Completely MAD Don Martin, Don Martin, Running Press, 2007
I never thought we'd live in a world where a book featuring this much Don Martin work in classy, high-end book would hit the market, let alone merit its own standee.

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149. Epileptic, David B., Pantheon, 2005
David B.'s masterpiece offers up a level of visual sophistication rarely seen in comics anywhere; I gave to one person who felt it was the only graphic novel he'd ever read that stood on par with great prose literature, take that for what you will.

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150. Bone (One-Volume), Jeff Smith, Cartoon Books, 2004.
The ongoing color volumes from Scholastic have been great, too.

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OBSCURITIES AND PREMIUMS

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151. European Comics From Fichtre
Fichtre is the place where I send people when they can't find stuff from Bart Beaty's euro-comics columns, and they have yet to disappoint.

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152. Hard to Find Comic Books and Books From The Beguiling
The Beguiling has helped me in the past in finding books I couldn't put my hands on otherwise, and is quite amenable to providing that kind of one-on-one service if they're able.

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153. Hard to Find Comics and Related Items From Comic Relief
I always phone Comic Relief when there's a strange book 15-20 years old that's out of print and I can't find.

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154. Premium Items From the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund
The charitable organization carries a number of signed and otherwise made-premium material, all for a great cause.

****

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155. Brodo Di Niente, Andrea Bruno, Canicola, 2007
This is the best European comic I've read in quite some time, with fascinating-looking art. Granted, I don't read a ton of European work, but this is an impressive book.

****

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156. Premium Items From DreamHaven's NeilGaiman.net
Neil Gaiman has a relationship with DreamHaven to host his various signed, rare and other made-premium offerings.

****

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157. Premium Items From Lynn Johnston
Lynn Johnston was the only cartoonist I ran into while compiling this that overtly offered premium-type items.

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SUBSCRIPTIONS

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

****

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159. Subscription to Comics-Friendly Nickelodeon
No successful magazine has a better array of kids' comics and features as many likable cartoonists than Nickelodeon.

****

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160. 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.

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161. 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 Captain America, Iron Fist and Daredevil.

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162. Subscription to a TwoMorrows Magazines
There are certainly enough of the TwoMorrows Magazine that one of them at least should be worthy of your attention. You can't go on buying them at conventions forever.

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163. Subscription to Shojo Beat
This may be a more popular gift than a similar subscription toe Shonen Jump as it seems to be on slightly fewer newsstands.

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164. 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.

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165. Subscription to The Comics Journal
The dean of comics news and criticism magazines has not only offered subscriptions since the late 1970s, it's traditionally one of the better deals out there.

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WISH LISTS AND GIFT CERTIFICATES

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166. 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.

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167. 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.

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

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169. 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.

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170. 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.


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171. Something From A Want List Someone Made At Their Local Shop
Many local comic shops will let someone leave a list of comics they want at the shop for their friends and family members to shop from. If your store doesn't have a program like this, they might be convinced to do it for someone that asks nicely.

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SO LET'S SEE IF WE CAN GET TO 200 GIFT IDEAS. WE'LL HAVE TO DO IT REGARDLESS OF CATEGORY, THOUGH. I HOPE THAT'S OKAY.

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172. The ACME Novelty Library #18.5
A small and sure to be awesomely executed print portfolio mostly but not solely derived from illustrations done for the Thanksgiving 2006 edition of The New Yorker.

****

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173. Process Recess 2: Portfolio, James Jean, Adhouse Books, 2007
The first one was lovely, and I have to imagine this art book featuring the award-winning illustrator and comic book cover artist is, too.

****

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174. ACME Novelty Datebook Vol. 1, Chris Ware, Drawn and Quarterly, 2003.
A second book in this series taken from Chris Ware's jaw-dropping sketchbooks is due in 2008; this volume is currently on sale from its publisher.

****

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175. 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.

****

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176. Marvel DCU Subscription
Marvel has unveiled its first serious step into the world of digital comics. It's too new to offer up an informed opinion, but it's something that a lot of people are going to consider in the next several weeks, myself included.

****

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177. Krazy & Ignatz: The Kat Who Walked in Beauty, George Herriman, Fantagraphics, 2007
A lovely collection of rare dailies from the best comic of all time.

****

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178. Beasts!, Edited by Jacob Covey, Fantagraphics, 2007
A really kick-ass, fun and well-done art book featuring various artists' take on creatures that someone at some time believed existed out there.

****

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179. Art out of Time: Unknown Comics Visionaries, 1900-1969, Dan Nadel, Harry N Abrams, 2006
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.

****

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180. One of Bob Levin's Books About Comics
In The Pirates and the Mouse (Fantagraphics, 2003) the writer Bob Levin digs into the underground cartooning collective the Air Pirates and the litigation from Disney that made them a counter-cultural legend. In Outlaws, Rebels, Freethinkers & Pirates (Fantagraphics, 2005) Levin's short essays from The Comics Journal are collected, including lovely and sympathetic portrayals of cartoonists like S. Clay Wilson and Jack Katz. I worked on both of these books, and I've not prouder of my association to anyone else's work, including my own.

****

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181. The Smithsonian Collection of Newspaper Comics, Bill Blackbeard and Martin Williams, Smithsonian, 1977
If you were to poll a number of people making comics or working in comics between the ages of 25 and 50 and wanted to know what one book each of them owned to a greater degree than any other, it would be this over-sized volume of well-selected comic strip reprints. One of the most influential collections of all time. Accept no substitutes.

****

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182. 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.

****

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183. 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.

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184. Renee French's Edison Steelhead Books
The Top Shelf-published The Ticking was the great surprise of 2006, and one of that year's best books, a heartbreaking look on parents and children and art featuring French's evocative art. This year's Edison Steelhead's Lost Portfolio from Sparkplug lets you in on that book's main character's way of viewing the world.

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185. 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.

****

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186. 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.

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187. Fall 2007 Naruto Box Set
Naruto is the most popular manga series in North America and most other places in the world it's sold -- it may be the most popular comic of any kind, although I'm not sure how that kind of thing gets counted. I'm having a hard time imagining someone without any of the books about a ninja-in-training wanting all 27 at once, but if there is a kid out there like that, this would certainly be an awesome present.

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188. That Novel Fantagraphics Published
December's Laura Warholic by Alexander Theroux marks pioneering alt-comix publisher Fantagraphics' first foray into literary prose publishing. This might be a good one for someone who's a fan of that company and/or the tastes of Editor Gary Groth.

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189. That Novel Warren Ellis Wrote
The William Morrow-published Crooked Little Vein is the first novel from comics writer Warren Ellis. It's kind of hard for me to imagine that a big fan of Ellis hasn't picked this up yet, but you never know. It looks like it's available in various editions and formats, one of which might have special appeal for the person you have in mind.

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190. The Blot, Tom Neely, 2007
Perhaps the best self-published comics work to come out this year, an extended narrative that draws the vast majority of its power from Neely's application of certain painterly techniques.

****

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191. Orchid, Edited by Ben Catmull and Dylan Williams, Sparkplug, 2002
A book of adaptations of Victorian horror stories, this is beginning to look like a touchstone book for artists of a certain age.

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192. 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 like are the legendary notebooks made by Moleskine.

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193. A Subscription to Modern Tales
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.

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194. 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.

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195. One (or both) of those giant Andrews McMeel comic strip collections.
Although a series of such books never materialized, 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).

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196. The Arrival, Shaun Tan, Arthur A. Levine Books, 2007
A wordless comic book with amazing-looking preview visuals over which opinion from comics taste-makers is extremely divided. Now that it's made it to North American bookstore shelves, you can decide for yourself.

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197. Pretending You Care: The Retail Employee Handbook, Norm Feuti, Hyperion, 2007
Instead of a standard collection, the cartoonist behind the syndicated Retail has come out with a book about the retail experience that uses the comic strips in support of a prose presentation of the feature's humorous view of shopping and the industry that supports it. This is a pretty typical gift-oriented type book, but I thought it really solidly done and found the strip better-looking in general than I'd thought it was.

****

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198. Old Jewish Comedians and The Fun Never Stops, Drew Friedman, Fantagraphics, 2006 and 2007.
Two books from a the great Drew Friedman from the last two years: the former a wonderful picture book of drawings of exactly what it promises; the second a more challenging collection of cartoon and comics illustration from Friedman's high-profile commercial art career. I'm not sure how much attention was paid to these books when they came out, but Friedman is a huge talent, and his books are greatly appealing.

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199. Service Industry, T Edward Bak, Bodega Distribution, 2007
Certainly off the beaten path and a surprising book, besides, Service Industry should speak to any restless, inquisitive souls out there working and operating and functioning along the same wavelength as its author. The reason I didn't list it earlier was because I imagine you'd have to read it to know the person for whom it'd be just right as a gift.

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200. Guido Crepax Furniture
I wanted to end on something cool and bizarre, and I haven't seen anything that fits that description more perfectly that this designer furniture featuring the art of the late cartoonist best known for his erotic work.

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There is a ton more stuff out there to buy, any of which will likely someone out there a great gift. If I've forgotten it here, it wasn't intentional, and I hope you'll give me a holiday pass. Good luck and good shopping!

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