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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