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CR Holiday Shopping Guide 2006
posted November 25, 2006
 

Today is Black Friday 2006, the traditional first day of the hectic Christmas shopping season. Following are 21 suggestions for comics related gift-shopping to help spur you along if you've decided that sequential narrative presents are to be on Santa's list this year.

The following are just what come to mind -- I'm sure I'm forgetting a ton of great books and related items. These are just suggestions to get you thinking. That being said, I'd love to add smart reader suggestions under any and all of the following categories, and will be happy to receive any tips or suggestions you'd like to send along. The usual, rarely applied in comics, ladies and gentleman rules of advocacy apply: not your pals, not your company, not your own stuff, not the person sharing your bed. That being said,

I hope you have fun with the following, and please remember CR's First Rule of Holiday Comics Shopping: When it comes to gifts, comics are best for people that already like them, not for people who may like them someday.

Happy shopping, and I hope all of you enjoy a safe, joyous, stress-free holiday season.

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1. Custom Art
* Johnny Ryan
* Scott Mills
* Bill Mudron
* Dylan Meconis
* Sam Hiti

Pictured: Judge Dredd by Johnny Ryan, custom art, 2006.

Notes: I've purchased multiple pieces of Johnny Ryan custom art pieces as gifts for friends, including the above portrait of Judge Dredd, and they were a big hit every time. I have a Scott Mills portrait of The Incredible Hulk framed and on my desk. The other artists were recommended to me by posters on The Engine. If you're going to do a custom drawing, I'd do it soon, or maybe work out a gift certificate situation for someone to get something of their choice. If you're attending conventions, this is the kind of thing you may be able to purchases from an artists face to face.

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2. Original Art
* Albert Moy
* ComicArtCollective.com
* The Beguiling's Art Store
* Denis Kitchen Art Agency
* Fanfare Sports and Entertainment

Pictured: Friendly Pig by Jim Blanchard, 2002.

Notes: Many of these same sources sell illustration art from their clients, which I find is a way to get 1) more affordable art and 2) art that makes more sense to a non-comics reader when it's framed and put on the wall.

Readers Say: www.romitaman.com, run by Mike Burkey (aka 'The Romita Man'), has a pretty good selection of superhero stuff. Shaenon has bought me a couple of pages from him in the past at pretty decent rates" -- Andrew Farago...


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3. Prints and Lithographs
* Alvin Buenaventura
* Brusel
* Dynamic Forces
* Comic Gallery

Pictured: Spore Spredder, Marc Bell, Buenventura Press.

Notes: Alvin's stuff is beautiful. Brusel is one of many European stores that specializes in prints; I have a Dupuy and Berberian from there that is quite lovely.

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4. Stocking Stuffers
* Fallen Angel, Nicolas Robel
* R. Crumb's Heroes of Blues, Jazz and Country, R. Crumb
* The Last Lonely Saturday, Jordan Crane
* The Mourning Star Kazimir Strzepek
* Wide Awake 666, Various

Pictured: Cover image sans pop-out CD from R. Crumb's Heroes of Blues, Jazz and Country, R. Crumb

Notes: These are all smaller-than-usual books that could be stuffed into a stocking -- if you know an adult out there that's still doing a stocking.

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5. Graphic Novels of the Kind All The Newspapers Are Writing About
* Castle Waiting, Linda Medley
* Fun Home Alison Bechdel
* Lost Girls, Alan Moore and Melinda Gebbie
* Ode to Kirihito, Osamu Tezuka
* The Sloth, Gilbert Hernandez
* The Ticking, Renee French

Pictured: Cover for The Ticking, Renee French

Notes: The Ticking is probably the work I read the most times this year, but these are all good, stand-alone books. You should really, really, really know your giftee's tastes before buying them Lost Girls.

Readers Say: "On the 'adult' side, The Bloody Streets of Paris by Jacques Tardi (kind of tougher to find now, since I don't think it sold well and it was published by now-defunct iBooks)." -- Brian Moore... "One Thing I wish were available for the holidays: the new Heavy Metal edition of Ballad of the Salt Sea." -- Brian Moore...

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6. Short Story Collections
* Get A Life, Philippe Dupuy and Charles Berberian
* Ninja, Brian Chippendale
* Passionella, Jules Feiffer
* The Squirrel Mother Stories, Megan Kelso
* Vampire Loves, Joann Sfar

Pictured: Vampire Loves, Joann Sfar's book from the first First Second assault.

Notes: Vampire Loves is probably the book I've heard mentioned by other cartoonists as sleeper of the year.

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7. About Comics and Cartooning
* 99 Ways To Tell A Story, Matt Madden
* Making Comics, Scott McCloud
* In The Studio: Visits With Contemporary Cartoonists, Todd Hignite
* Wunderground, Providence: 1995 To Present, Dan Nadel
* You Call This Art?! A Greg Irons Retrospective, Patrick Rosenkranz

Pictured: the last of Scott McCloud's three books on comics, Making Comics.

Notes: No one else know this, but Scott McCloud and his family are contractually obligated to stay on the road until certain sales levels are met on Making Comics. Okay, just kidding. That Rosenkranz book is a real hidden gem; I can't imagine another word needs to be written about Irons ever again, if you know what I mean.

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8. Fancy Books I Can't Afford
* Absolute Sandman, Neil Gaiman and Various
* Absolute DC: New Frontier, Darwyn Cooke
* Lost Girls, Alan Moore and Melinda Gebbie
* Jimbo's Inferno, Gary Panter
* Ninja, Brian Chippendale
* The Complete New Yorker

Pictured: I believe this is the art that will appear on the front cover inside the slipcover on Darwyn Cooke's Absolute DC: The New Frontier.

Notes: There's a lot of quality genre material available in this format, including the long awaited Sandman material, which DC has been knocking themselves out to do right; and the New Frontier superhero stuff, which I might buy just because it's pretty.

Readers Say: "The art you posted is on the slipcover of Absolute New Frontier. The front cover inside the slip cover is the cover to the first trade paperback. I also thought that Absolute NF was too expensive but I ended up buying it anyway. I don't regret a thing and I'm a starving college student." -- Ian Brill... "The Complete New Yorker's now available in paperback for $35, updated through at least part of 2006" -- Andrew Farago... Stephen Leach provides a way to cut costs through clever shopping...

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9. Manga Series I Currently Follow
* Anne Freaks, Yua Kotegawa
* Cromartie High School, Eiji Nonaka
* Dragon Head
* Drawn and Quarterly's Three-Part Yoshihiro Tatsumi Series
* Dr. Slump, Akira Toriyama
* Hikaru No Go, Yumi Hotta and Takeshi Obata

Pictured: A volume of Eiji Nonaka's Cromartie High School

Notes: I have potentially the lamest taste in manga in the entire world, but I do like all of these series. One thing that's great about manga in a gift-giving sense is that they're one of the few comics-related thing that make pretty good gifts to casual comics readers. This is because the array of geners is wide enough you can usually find a manga series about something in which your target is interested. Harlem Beat and Slam Dunk to basketball fans, for instance, or Initial D and Battle Royale to friends of yours that are into popular Asian cinema.

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10. Anthologies
* An Anthology of Graphic Fiction, Cartoons and True Stories, Ivan Brunetti
* Art Out Of Time, Dan Nadel
* Best American Comics 2006, Anne Moore with Harvey Pekar
* Drawn and Quarterly Showcase (series), Chris Oliveros
* Flight, Kazu Kibiushi
* Kramers Ergot (series), Sammy Harkham
* Mome (series), Eric Reynolds and Gary Groth
* Project: Romantic, Chris Pitzer

Pictured: The third volume in the Flight series, released in Summer 2006.

Notes: Anthologies make great gifts because they have a lot of cartoonists in them and some collectors are way too grumpy and fixated on maximizing value artist by artist that they won't go near them without the excuse of getting them for free. Art Out Of Time, Dan Nadel's book of outsider cartoonist working in the comics mainstream, is one of the books of the year. The Kramers issue was really strong. If you're looking for young cartoonists, maybe for someone just starting out that career, Mome and the D&Q Showcase series are both getting better as they go.

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11. Comic Strip Collection Series
* Dennis The Menace, Hank Ketcham
* Dick Tracy, Chester Gould
* Krazy Kat, George Herriman
* Maakies, Tony Millionaire
* Moomin, Tove Jansson
* Mutts, Patrick McDonnell
* Peanuts, Charles Schulz
* Popeye
* Walt & Skeezix (Gasoline Alley), Frank King
* Zippy, Bill Griffith

Pictured: The latest printing of a Mutts book, I think a paperback treasury printing.

Notes: It's the Second Great Era of the Collected Comic Strip. The Peanuts series is in its prime, Dick Tracy and Gasoline Alley are still in their infancy, and the various Mutts and Maakies collections are as beautiful as modern comics come.

Readers Say: "The Long Road Home (One step at a time) and The War Within (One more step at a time) Doonesbury books by G.B. Trudeau. Two small TPBs which chronicles the journey of Doonesbury character B. D.from the battlefield in Iraq home after an amputation, hospitalization and Post Traumatic Syndrome Disorder (PTSD). All Royalties from these books will go to to the Fisher House Foundation for American servicemen and women who have been
wounded in service to our country. No matter what you think of our overseas conflicts, this is a good cause to contribute to and after 35 years in syndication, has any cartoonist ever taken a major character on a story arc like Mr. Trudeau has done with B.D. over the last 18-20 months? This is his best work and I think its the best comic strip in the world right now." -- Gary Esposito...


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12. Old Comic Books
* Ebay
* Mile High Comics
* MyComicShop.com
* Your Local Comic Book Shop

Pictured: A early 1970s Fantastic Four comic book by Roy Thomas and John Buscema I once bought a family member who said he remembered the story with fondness.

Notes: I'm sure there are a ton of other places to buy old comic books on-line -- -- but these are the only ones I've used. Runs of old comic books can be fun because they serve nostalgia as well as provide a great reading experience. Warning: you have to be really damn good when it comes to knowing the person you're buying for. But if you have something specific in mind, this can be a special present. Since I don't have a local shop, when I'm stumped and the on-line retailers don't have what I want, two brick-and-mortar comic shops I will phone without hesitation are The Beguiling and Comic Relief.

Readers Say: "Marvel's Essential line has branched out into some pretty weird territory in the last couple of years, as has DC's Showcase line. Probably not for the casual fan, since a phone-book sized collection of Jonah Hex can be pretty intimidating, but ideal for someone who was a Herb Trimpe fan in the 1970s, lost all of his comics and would like to have 600 pages of Hulk to read through on a long plane ride." -- Andrew Farago...

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13. Gift Certificates
* Amazon.com
* Barnes and Noble
* Mile High Comics
* MyComicShop.com
* Your Local Comic Book Shop

Pictured: A jpeg facsimile of a Mile High Comics $100 gift certificate.

Notes: Hey, who doesn't love gift certificates? If you gift-buying relationship allows for them, gift certificates can be great because many comics fans prefer to buy their own books. As for the individual choices listed: 1) I can't guarantee your local comic shop will want to do them, but they'd be crazy to turn down your money, and 2) MyComicShop.com has a gift certificate link right on their front page, but it was linking to nowhere when this entry went up, so hopefully it's fixed. My apologies if it isn't.

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14. Items From Wish Lists
* Amazon.com
* Mile High Comics
* MyComicShop.com
* Your Local Comic Book Shop

Pictured: Joe Sacco's The Fixer, an item on my Amazon.com wish list.

Notes: I love Wish Lists, because I can spy on my smart friends' choices to see what they want and use their taste to drive my own. A lot of local comic shops will let their best customers leave a list at the shop to make your shopping easier; you can also use an automated one like they have at Amazon.com. These are really good because of the specialized nature of comics reading; it lets the reader be as specific as possible and lets the buyer get something good without having to have a crash course in the medium. Plus, wish lists are cool because you can spy on the reading habits of many of your favorite comics pros.

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15. Mini-Comics
* Bodega Distribution
* Partyka
* Little House Comics
* Poopsheet Foundation
* USS Catastrophe Shop

Pictured: A panel from Eleanor Davis.

Notes: Mini-Comics are simply handmade comics; they generally have small print runs and when compared to comics published by an established comic book company or book company are extremely rare. I'm sure these place would work out a gift certificate deal if you feel like you're not qualified to make purchase decisions for the mini-comics reader in your life. Artists to look for? Eleanor Davis, Kevin Huizenga, John Porcellino, Frank Santoro, Dan Zettwoch, Matthew Thurber, John Hankiewicz, Matt Wiegle, so many others... if there was ever an area of comics that asked for hunch buying based on a panel or two or a quick peek on a convention table, this might be it.

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16. Enhanced Items
* At Conventions
* Comic Book Legal Defense Fund's Premiums
* DreamHaven's NeilGaimain.net
* Dynamic Forces
* Ebay
* From the Individual Cartoonist

Pictured: A signed Emily the Strange print of the kind you can get from the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund.

Notes: This is one of the areas I know least about, but I can see the appeal of getting a signed book or a limited edition. This is one of those items that might also be easier to pursue if you go to a comic book convention during the year. Another thing to do might be to check to see where a cartoonist is signing and calling the store in question and have them secure you a signed book or item.

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17. Subscriptions
* DailyINK
* DC Comics
* Marvel Comics
* Nickelodeon
* Shonen Jump/Shojo Beat
* The Comics Journal
* TwoMorrows

Pictured: The December issue of the Shonen Jump anthology.

Notes: Once upon a time, getting a subscription to a comic book was the greatest gift ever; who knew if your local spinner rack would even have all the issues? Now I see it more as a fun way to give someone a comic they might not have the passion to track down otherwise, or as a gateway to a product they might dearly love and passionately use -- like the gateway DailyINK.com site, or the kids-oriented Nickelodeon and Viz Magazines. Plus, I have to imagine getting stuff in the mail is still fun when you're a kid. The Comics Journal is among those magazines that offers premium on-line access as a bonus to subscribers, including immediate on-line access when an issue is ready so you don't have to sweat your mailman's arrival.

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18. Items Adapted From Comics
* Asterix Chess Set
* Dr. Slump Toys
* Hellboy Christmas Ornament
* Postcards from Tom Gauld
* Toys From Charles Burns, etc.
* Toys From Jim Woodring
* Eric Shanower Oz Lunchbox

Pictured: A postcard by Tom Gauld from his Robots Monsters, Etc. booklet.

Notes: I like the idea of toys, movies and clothing more than I like owning them, but there's certainly enough stuff out there if you look. Boutique toys in particular have really blown up since about 2001 or so. The above is only a tiny sampling of what's out there for you to discover.

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19. Comics I Would Have Liked As A Little Kid, Even If Didn't Understand Some of the Bawdy Parts
* Bone (Color Series), Jeff Smith
* Dragon Ball, Akira Toriyama
* Harlem Beat, Yuriko Nishiyama
* Klezmer, Joann Sfar
* The Dungeon Series, Lewis Trondhem and Joann Sfar and Various Others

Pictured: A newer volume from the freewheeling Dungeon series.

Notes: I would never suggest that these are perfectly suited for children -- there's straigh-up nudie stuff in Klezmer and Dragon Ball which would probably set some folks' hair on fire. -- but all of this stuff I would have liked if I could have gotten my hands on it. For kids, I think Shonen Jump, Shojo Beat and Nickelodeon magazines are all good. I like the color Bone stuff. Jordan Crane's The Clouds Above I thought was a fun kids' book and I know kids who have read it and loved it. And, of course, there are great kids books by cartoonists ranging from Peter Kuper to Lorenzo Mattotti to Richard McGuire.

Readers Say: "For kids' comics, I'd recommend the terrific Spiral-Bound by Aaron Renier." -- Brian Moore...

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20. Ten Old Cartoon Books I Like And The Price I Found For Each One On-Line
* Barkis, Crockett Johnson ($33.50)
* Cartoon Cavalcade, Thomas Craven ($6.13)
* Drawn and Quartered, Charles Addams ($9.83)
* East Texas, Michael Dougan ($4.83)
* Emett's Domain, Rowland Emett ($22.50)
* Eyebeam Therefore I Am, Sam Hurt ($20.89)
* It's Pub Time, Andy Capp, Reg Smythe ($7.00)
* Ladies & Gentlemen, Peter Arno ($12.84)
* Stan Lee Presents The Mighty Marvel Strength and Fitness Book, Ann Picaro & Joe Giella ($18.84)
* You're Sitting On My Eyelashes, Whitney Darrow ($8.50)

Pictured: One of the very fun Andy Capp paperbacks.

Notes: Cartoon books are the last great frontier of comics collecting, and all sorts of great volumes can be found in church sales and library annex sell-offs from coast to coast. They can also be found in more considered fashion. The three places I go to search for old cartoon books on a regular basis are AbeBooks, Alibris and Bookfinder, although I'm sure there's overlap between those sites.

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21. Charities
* Comic Book Legal Defense Fund (CBLDF)
* Hero Initiative
* Museum of Comics and Carton Art (MoCCA)
* Patrick McDonnell's Mutts For The Humane Society
* The Center For Cartoon Studies

Pictured: James Kochalka drawing on behalf of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund.

Notes: While the CBLDF remains this site's preferred charity and purchase of a membership for one and all this site's preferred comics donation, you can't go wrong with any of the choices on this list. The Center For Cartoon Studies and its Schulz Library you might keep in mind if you get any comics you don't want this year.

Readers Say: "The Cartoon Art Museum's always looking for money, too." -- Andrew Farago...

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There are a ton more books out there to buy, all of which will make someone a great gift, and hopefully more than those that originally appeared here will be suggested to this entry as the holidays go on. Good luck and good shopping!

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