After A Significant Delay, Welcome To The Fully-Completed 2012 CR Holiday Shopping Guide. I'm Sorry For Your Wait.
What follows are several suggestions for comics-related gift shopping. These suggestions are intended to help you along if you've decided that sequential narrative presents and things related to sequential narratives are to be on Santa's list this year.
As I have little chance of actually selecting something for your friend or loved one, please use this as a starting point only. It's unlikely I'll have discovered just the thing. More likely what follows will give you an idea as to what's out there, or spark some brainstorming that leads to an idea for something specifically suited to your loved one. I'm also quite certain I'm forgetting a list of items and ideas equally as long as the one that follows. That list is almost certainly filled with quality works and books. I apologize profusely for their absence here. This is not meant to be a comprehensive list, and anyone that thinks such a list is even possible these days may be a fool.
Have fun in the weeks ahead, and please remember a few simple rules about comics gift-giving:1. When it comes to gifts, comics are best for people that already like them as opposed to people that may like them someday.
2. The bigger the comics fan, the more likely that person is to be very specific about what it is they want. Be careful!
3. Comics don't have the retail saturation of, say, DVDs, and some of the best things are carried by specific vendors or involve an element of handcraft, so make sure you have enough time to receive the thing it is you want to buy.All that said: gifts are gifts. It's difficult to do anything wrong when giving someone a gift. Happy shopping, and here's to a fulfilling and safe holiday season.
THE COMICS REPORTER BLACK FRIDAY HOLIDAY SHOPPING GUIDE 2012
SEVENTY-TWO REASONS (SO FAR) TO SPEND YOUR SHOPPING MONEY ON COMICS THIS YEAR
AN OPENING SALVO OF GIFTY-TYPE GIFTS, MANY WITH A HOOK INTO THIS YEAR'S COMICS PUBLISHING EVENTS OR SOME ARGUABLE EQUIVALENT THEREOF
1. Los Bros Hernandez At 30
The Hernandez Brothers celebrated 30 years of comics publishing in 2012 with several convention appearance and a general outpouring of goodwill for this staggering accomplishment. They made some of the very best comics the year that Love and Rockets began; they made some of the very best comics this year. There are all sorts of ways to provide a gift that relates to these great cartoonists, starting here with their page at their primary publisher, Fantagraphics Books. I really like the series of books represented here -- because of the nature of their work and how long they've been doing it, there's no one great place to start as much as there is just starting.
You can find the Abrams-published Jaime art book for very cheap if you look around. I thought this was a hugely underrated series from Gilbert Hernandez, while others have enjoyed this latest work from Dark Horse. Fantagraphics is also offering a bunch of anniversary-related books, clumped together and discounted here. You can also track down original art occasionally offered through the Heritage Auctions site by searching their names.
There exist no comics I've enjoyed more than the best from Los Bros Hernandez.
2. Something Or Several Somethings From Oily Comics
One of the exiting stories of 2012 was the rise of micro-publishers and specialty distributors working both mail-order and convention booth sales for their various niche markets. One such is Oily Comics, which offers its work a la carte and also occasionally in group subscription form. It's hard to go wrong with any of the crisp minis found on their intuitive, well-designed site.
3. Something Written By Ed Brubaker For Image Comics
The writer Ed Brubaker announced his decision to step away from writing comic books for Marvel at the moment. He's splitting his time between film/TV projects and work for Image Comics. He has a small army of collections out for the holidays. I'd recommend two books from Image: a collection of his Scene Of The Crime mini-series with Michael Lark, and two volumes collecting his Fatale series to date, in collaboration with Sean Phillips. It's not hard to find a bunch more work from the writer, but I like those two series because I'd like to see him succeed at Image because with his potential sales levels that's the company where I think he'll find the most profit doing original work.
4. A Trip To A Convention, Or A Segment Of Such A Trip
This is kind of an odd present, but I was thinking about what I would want from a friend or family member with whom I had a Significant Gifts relationship -- I've had a few of those in my time -- and this is what popped into my head. There are really fine comics shows now, all over the country, ones that you can reasonably rely on being the same from year to year. Because of that reliability, you can project or outright buy in advance certain segments of such a trip -- advance tickets, guaranteed hotel rooms, air travel, a shopping budget, a per diem so that the other things can be saved for, etc. Like I said, it's kind of an odd thing, but I can't imagine anyone saving for a trip to, say, Comic-Con, that wouldn't love seeing an air travel voucher in their stocking, or someone heading to Angouleme that wouldn't love receiving an envelope of local currency. I love the fact that comics affords us the opportunity to buy event and lifestyle gifts now.
5. The King-Cat T-Shirt
John Porcellino is one of our greatest cartoonists. Any issue of his King-Cat Comics And Stories is a perfect comics object. As much as I'd recommend any of John's comics work or the work he distributes or the art he makes as gifts, here I'll make the case for a classic King-Cat Logo T-Shirt. I think that's a perfect not-comics object. Alt-comics t-shirts have made a comeback since Fantagraphics and a few other companies and individuals took a stab at them in the early 1990s. Plus with the King-Cat shirt, you can send in a photo to the devoted Facebook gallery of good-looking people wearing King-Cat t-shirts.
6. A Piece Of Art From The Comic Art Collective
This is a great site/service, where a lot of alt-comics talent has been allowed to upload art offerings for free. They don't have an agent selling for them, but they do get to keep more of what they sell that way. I've bought maybe ten pieces through this site over the years. One thing it's quite good for is the illustration work that a lot of these folks do that never gets seen but is sometimes more frameable and hangable than straight-up comics art.
7. RASL Volumes 1-4
Let's get some more comics in here! Cartoon Books has the four over-sized collections of Jeff Smith's RASL available for $50 combined; you can also find these volumes in many of your local comic book stores. I greatly preferred reading Smith's science fiction/science fact/noir in this form -- not only is these books' size flattering, but he did a lot of reworking to tweak things about the story. If I'm correctly processing what I know about RASL, Smith worked really quickly on some of the chapter for immediacy's sake, so the tweaks greatly serve such things as clarity and the emphasis of certain story points. At any rate, I think we're really lucky to continue to have creators making new work that, like Smith, could retire to a life of high-fives and check-cashing from comics already completed.
8. The Complete Calvin And Hobbes Softcover
The hardcover version of this set of Bill Watterson books is a gift-giving perennial and will remain so. It's also nice to see a softcover of this material coming out. I won't be buying one because I have the hardcovers -- I'm a fan, but I'm not a crazy-fan with lots of money -- but if I were to buy one today I'm not sure which way I'd go. For one thing, I bet the softcovers fit more comfortably into one's lap. The standard price reduction that comes with softcovers might be appealing to those that won't do a lot of bargain-shopping before purchase.
9. Building Stories
Hello, book of the year. In fact, I think there's a good chance that Chris Ware's latest might seize a number of overall book of the year honors, including awards programs that focus primarily on prose. With the box set presentation of the work, I think this would make a fun gift, like getting the most beautiful and luxurious offering from Avalon Hill circa 1978.
10. Marvel Comics: The Untold Story
A prose book of the year offering in terms of wide appeal, engaging prose and thorough reporting -- it's a book I'm in the midst of reading. I had someone over the BCGF weekend describe it to me as a younger person's Marvel history in that the 1980s and 1990s period that are of concern to some of us as a creative afterthought but loom large in the memories of those under 40 get a serious, sustained treatment. I'll find out soon if that's true, but I haven't encountered anyone who hasn't been entertained by this hefty tome.
11. Pogo: The Complete Syndicated Comic Strips Vol. 1-2 Box Set by Walt Kelly
We're still in a golden era of strip and comic book archival collections. You can find great works all over the place, but let's spotlight the first slipcovered two-fer in the Fantagraphics effort on behalf of Walt Kelly's Pogo. That is an acknowledged top 25 all-time comics efforts by a lot of people, top five by others, #1 for several. I love the early Pogo work best of all the Pogo work, and these volumes are attractive in a way that's extremely difficult to guarantee with a post-World War 2 offering. They were cramming the strips into papers by then, making tear sheets and originals an even greater premium than is usual.
12. An IDW Artist's Edition Book
Scott Dunbier and IDW have happened upon a format that not only makes these volumes work as art objects but provides a new reading experience for those of us that prefer to consume comics as narratives. That's a pretty impressive feat. It's hard to know which of these books are available. Some have sold out on the publisher and distributor level but can still be found in comics shops, usually high above the cash register for discerning fans to have brought down off the wall and into their hands. I've enjoyed them all, and think a strength of the series is that even the ones you wonder if they'll work offer something in terms of pleasure and insight. I'm looking forward to the Gil Kane.
13. The Team Cul De Sac Book
Richard Thompson retired his beautiful Cul De Sac newspaper strip this year, and I'm still a little heartbroken as much as I'm looking forward to whatever Richard does next. The Parkinson's charity project Team Cul De Sac book seems like a perfect way to celebrate the strip's passing from current syndication into legend -- it's for a great cause, and you get to see Bill Watterson's only original comics-related art in years and years. In the next couple of years I'm hoping there will be a chance to recommend a complete-strip collection.
14. The Carter Family: Don't Forget This Song
There was a mini-comeback of Alt-Comics Generation Two this year: major efforts either begun or complete from talents like Rich Tommaso, Tom Hart and Jon Lewis, among others. It doesn't get much better than a complete color graphic novel drawn by David Lasky, a little-published cartoonist much-loved by his peers and by discerning comics fans that have had the pleasure of encountering his work in places like Boom Boom and Urban Hipster. This collaboration with one-time TCJ managing editor and JohnStanleyOlogist Frank Young deals with a resolutely mainstream-type literary subject matter -- the origins of the modern music industry as told through the prism of the Carter Family and even includes a CD for an extra-gifty feel. I greatly enjoyed reading it.
15. Original Art From Frank Santoro
I'm quite taken with the original art PictureBox Inc. is offering from the cartoonist and rogue educator (I don't know what that means, really, I just like typing it) Frank Santoro, and would love to buy some for myself and will consider doing so if my budget allows. Santoro has an outsized personality which may or may not distract -- for some folks -- from the appeal of the visuals he puts out into the market. I think some of his recent comics have been pretty great, too.
16. Check Your Favorite Artist's Site/Tumblr/Twitter Account For Personal Offerings
Do you have an artist or several that you enjoy, that you follow on-line in some way or have always meant to follow but never have? Pay close attention over the next several days because a significant number of comics-makers out there are going to offer something for the holidays. For instance, Dennis Culver is breaking out his print of characters from The Wire, while Dustin Harbin is offering a discount in his store for those that use the code word "Dharbmas." The economies of comics function now in a way that personal projects offered by comics-makers are a crucial part of how folks like these make a living, and there is a ton of fascinating material offered this way. It's worth your time to check it out, if only to buy something for yourself.
17. A Desk Made By Dave Kellett's Brother
I'm convinced one of the reasons why Marvel impressario Stan Lee has managed to outlive most members of the Golden Age generation is that he's always stayed fit and trim. He used to write his scripts at home while standing up. More and more writers and artists are taking that option and saving wear and tear on their backs in the process. The above link takes you to a post by Dave Kellett about the desk he fashioned with the help of his brother. If you really wanted to try something like this, I bet it could be done whether or not you can afford this particular type of piece.
18. Something From The Alan Moore Part Of The Top Shelf Catalog
No matter where you stand on work being done with co-creations of Alan Moore that do not involve Alan Moore, there can be little doubt that he's settled into a long and fruitful relationship with the publisher Top Shelf. They have a ton of stuff available, including all three issues of the latest League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen cycle and hefty volumes of perennials From Hell and Lost Girls.
19. Color Moomin Books From Drawn And Quarterly
Drawn and Quarterly started out publishing the black and white comic strips from the much-loved Moomin characters, but they've ended up with quite the little storehouse of color Moomin works, all of which are lovingly presented and contain the evocative-looking, sometimes-wistful and frequently-funny stories by which their reputation was made. Their kids line is generally pretty strong, maybe as strong as exists anywhere in comics and certainly as consistently excellent first offering to last.
20. A Trade Volume From One Of The Growing Number Of Book-Focused Micro-Publishers Growing Like Weeds: Beautiful, Special Weeds
This was a big year for the emergence or at least rise of small alt- and arts-comics publishers, people focused on putting out just a few books -- at best! -- a year but that work along the lines of bookstore ready comics publishers as opposed to more mini-comics focused comics houses. Buying this kind of book is not only a pleasurable transaction, but it's a vote for diversity in the general marketplace and a general thumbs up in the direction of the individual effort you're supporting. I can recommend a bunch. In fact, I'm sure I'll forget one or two worthy efforts. Uncivilized Books has a bunch of attractive books out right now from Gabrielle Bell, James Romberger (and his son!) and Jon Lewis. Bill Kartalopoulos and his Rebus Books has brought us the first in-one-book effort in English from the French team of Ruppert and Mulot. Yam Books' Ticket Stub was a huge surprise to me and maybe the most fun I've had in recent weeks reading a comics trade. The guys from Secret Acres offered up a really pretty Theo Ellsworth book among other efforts. Everyone loves what Koyama Press is up to, and while a lot of what they did this year was comic-book format comics, Julia Wertz's The Infinite Wait And Other Stories is a book I'm giving out this year to a couple of people.
21. Something In The Key Of "Massive Omnibus" From One Of The Major Mainstream Publishers
"But Tom," you say. "Are you some sort of snob? How can you be twenty entries in and there's nothing on your list from either of the two major North American funnybook publishers?" The answer to this question, which no one will ever ask me, is that I don't read a ton of superhero comics so I don't see a lot of what they have to offer. When I do dive into superhero books I tend to buy discounted back issues in original comic book form because I'm a nerd with very specific format fetishes. When I look at superhero material in the comics shop on the current sales racks, I tend to admire the massive collections more than the current trades or even the latest issues. Two books that look pretty good to me are the massive Grant Morrison-written New X-Men collection and the Jack Kirby Fourth World Omnibus series, both a little bit in the rearview mirror by now. I like the way both of those stories read, and I like the way the Kirby looks. The Morrison is sort of fascinating if you're the kind of geek that likes to ponder how these companies function: a lot of what Morrison does with the comic has long been changed back to status quo or some variation thereof by Marvel, and the revolving door of artists I think diminishes a bit what the writer is trying to accomplish here. Still, I enjoyed reading those books as comic books, so I have to imagine having them all under one cover might be fun.
22. The Shark King
There are enough kids' comics out there for the category to gain its own section in this gift guide, a section which will eventually appear below. My favorite kids' comic of the last year was the exuberantly drawn The Shark King effort from R. Kikuo Johnson and Toon Books. This is one snappy-looking, pretty comic book, and while the story doesn't transcend its target audience in the way some kids' books might, you'll probably be drinking in the visuals with too much pleasure to care. Or, you know, you could actually give it to a kid and just borrow it for yourself later on.
23. The One Comics-Related Gift I've Given Three Years In A Row: The Little Nothings Series From Lewis Trondheim
I've bundled off these wry memoirs from Lewis Trondheim to a number of friends the last few years, more than one a season. I think they're super-accessible, pretty, funny and show off a couple of the great strengths of comics when it comes to presenting tone and facilitating a kind of casual, narrative density. I'm giving a set again this year, so I'm glad that NBM has put all of them back into print.
24. A Major Digital Comics Purchase
I imagine there's potential for massive discounts on digital comics content in the next few weeks. That is a market that strikes me as being somewhat driven by discounts, plus that's a strategy that many digital content sellers have adapted for the holiday season. One nice thing about this kind of purchase is that a lot of comics readers are still waiting for that big push in order to get in the habit of buying digital comics, so a gift from you might change someone's consumer life. There are any number of providers of this kind of material, and certainly comiXology is the giant when it comes to offering content that's also on paper (if I bought digital comics on a regular basis, I'd make sure I had that site bookmarked for the next several days). I'm personally enamored of Monkeybrain Comics for its devotion to new comics content at a 99-cent price point. I'll cover this area again a bit in its own section.
25. An Old Cartoon Book Or Comics Publication 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.
26. Old Comic Books From Ebay
The foundational auction site eBay is probably still the great marketplace of old comics. 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.
27. 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.
28. 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.
29. 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.
WAYS TO GIVE BY GIVING BACK
30. A Donation In Someone's Name To The Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum
I was lucky enough to donate some handmade comics to the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library & Museum this year. I was impressed with my visit, and this was about a full year before they move into a spectacular new location. They could still use funds for that capital drive. They'll treat you like you're special if you ever visit whether or not you give, but I think that they can be counted on to put anything you send them to very good use.
31. A Donation In Someone's Name To The ToonSeum
Pittsburgh's ToonSeum didn't make last year's list, and I got some sternly written e-mails from some of its many fans. Pittsburgh is one of the great North American cities – maybe the greatest – and any excuse to put myself into city limits is greatly appreciated.
32. 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.
33. A Donation in Someone's Name to The Cartoon Art Museum
Of all comics' donation destinations, CAM may be among the least appreciated and also, as it turns out, one of the stronger performers in terms of routinely fulfilling their mandate.
34. A Donation in Someone's Name to the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund (CBLDF)
The CBLDF continues its advocacy work on behalf of free speech issues in comics, having expanded its mandate in the past few years.
35. A Donation in Someone's Name to the Hero Initiative
These good folks focus their attention on older comics creators in need. I've had the opportunity to work with them for the first time this year, and found that to be a positive experience.
36. A Donation In Someone's Name To Child's Play
This charity started by the team of folks behind Penny Arcade, they focus on fulfilling wish lists from kids at their networks of hospitals.
37. Direct Relief To Someone Whose Life Felt The Impact Of Superstorm Sandy, Or Whose Life Could Be Made Better With a Little Help In Funding
There are always ways to help make someone's dreams come true via sites like Kickstarter, and there still a few ways to lend a hand to those that felt the impact of this Fall's big storm. If you have a favorite pro that works in New York, I bet they suffered a minor setback of some sort even if they haven't gone public – just the interruption in work is probably being felt right about now. There are also cartoonists like JK Woodward that are making more direct appeals due to the egregious nature of their financial hit.
38. Buying Items Or Services Related To One Of These Charities
Each one of the above charities at times may offer premiums or items as an inducement for you to donate, or as a flat-out sales mechanism in order to generate cash. The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund site has a very elaborate store set-up, such as the print depicted above. You can read about the CBLDF's 2012 fundraiser for the holidays here.
WAYS TO GIVE THE GIFT OF ART
39. Something From Lisa Hanawalt
Like many artists, Hanawalt has some things available from a third party and some things available directly, in this case from an Etsy store. There's no one better-liked or that offers better looking art than Hanawalt, but I'm including her here in part to remind you to search out your favorite artists for things like this -- Hanawalt alerted people to her offerings through her twitter account.
40. A Drew Friedman Print
This may be the only entry were I don't have to say anything. Just look at this stuff.
41. Custom Art From Gary Panter
The great Gary Panter continues to offer up custom art, drawn according to words that you provide him. Forget friends and any and all members of your family, this is what you should get me.
42. Custom Art From Johnny Ryan
I have purchased two pieces of custom art from Johnny. The results in each case, one being Judge Dredd here, were phenomenal.
43. Original Art From Comicartfans.com
I'm not familiar with this site, and can't vouch for it, either, but it seems to be a place where comics fans and a few professionals put up galleries of original art they own, including a large "classifieds" section of art for sale. I would imagine that many of the ads on the site might be helpful as well.
44. Original Art From The Beguiling's Art Store
Retailer Peter Birkemoe is a nice man 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.
45. 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.
46. Original Art From Mike Burkey
Again, I have no personal experience beyond knowing they've been around for a while.
47. 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.
48. Original Art From Denis Kitchen Art Agency
Denis doesn't have as many clients as some people, but they're all heavy hitters like Frank Stack. Kitchen has a long enough track record in the industry I can certainly endorse him, too. I'm not sure if the temporary glitch getting to the original art sales is a temporary glitch or an indication that the site has abandoned this sales track, though.
49. A Poster Or Print From The Beguiling's New Store Section
This is a new section for their store, so I wanted to give it some extra-emphasis this year. The selection is small but everything is super-attractive and affordable.
50. 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.
51. 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.
52. 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.
53. A Print From Todd Klein
Todd Klein has been self-publishing prints featuring his lettering, and they're all a) very handsome, b) co-starring creative talent from various corners of the wide world of funnybooks.
54. Art From Jim Blanchard
And all-time favorite print and portrait maker, and ink-slinger for the ages. Blanchard's print of Redd Foxx should go into whatever museum you'd put things like prints of Redd Foxx.
55. Tom Gauld's Robot Print
Tom Gauld is one of my favorites and his work lends itself extremely well to prints and cards and other items.
56. A Print From Jordan Crane
Always gorgeous-looking; usually slightly disturbing.
57. Print Of A King Features Comic Strip
When Dan Wright and I were doing Wildwood for King Features, we'd give friends -- and random people that weren't really friends at all -- inkjet-made "prints" of good strips. This looks much more legal.
58. A Print From Steve Bissette
I've seen some of these art objects the illustrator and educator has been doing in partnership with a variety of interesting cartoonists; they're really gorgeous. Poke around a bit.
LET'S GET A FEW STAND-ALONE BOOKS UP EARLY ON FROM LAST YEAR'S LIST; A LOT MORE SHOULD EVENTUALLY BE COMING
59. Nelson, Edited By Woodrow Phoenix and Rob Davis (Blank Slate Books)
This is a big, full-color anthology featuring work from various stalwarts of the surprisingly under-appreciated -- and therefore under-seen by most North American comics fans -- current British comics scene, with proceeds being donated to the homelessness charity Shelter.
60. Richard Stark's Parker: The Martini Edition, Darwyn Cooke (IDW)
IDW has done a really nice job with their various deluxe editions across the line, and that's certainly the case with this edition of Darwyn Cooke's first two Parker adaptations, bound together and stuffed with extras including an interview from this site. I can't really compare the experiences of reading the actual comics involved, but I know two people have reached for it right off of my bookshelf that didn't ever show interest in the initial publications.
61. Jack Davis: Drawing American Pop Culture, Jack Davis (Fantagraphics)
Jack Davis is an outside, little-discussed candidate for Best Living Cartoonist and this is a fine survey of his work.
62. The First Five Books Published By Domino Books For $21
That's a holiday season 2012 special rather than one from last year, but I wanted to slip it in before I called it a day. Domino is Austin English's imprint, and five books in is a lot further than many publishers get.
63. D+Q's Kate Beaton Wall Calendars
I already bought some of these for friends. Kate Beaton is very funny, and these are attractively produced. Plus there are two, so you can give them out to siblings without a big fight like the Spurgeon Boys used to have over those Tolkien calendars.
64. Charlie Brown's Christmas Stocking
There aren't a whole lot of Charles Schulz-related items that have yet to be published; this holiday-related book is one of the few hold-outs.
65. Brad McGinty's Holiday Cards
These were a big hit last year and should do as well this year; I wish that his site wasn't jammed so I could swipe an image from there instead of wherever this one came from, but oh well. I'll take it down if someone complains.
66. Donald Duck: A Christmas for Shacktown
The latest in Fantagraphics' fine series of Carl Barks ducks comics collections features a lovely holiday story right up front. I used to love the unabashed sentimentalism that saturates a story like this one, at least in the initial pages.
67. Nancy Likes Christmas
I have yet to dig into these Fantagraphics collections generally, let alone this one specifically, but it sounds good. I'm pro-Nancy and everything.
68. The Great Treasury Of Christmas Comic Book Stories, Edited By Craig Yoe (IDW)
Craig Yoe's 2010 release features classic Christmas stories, comics made back when hitting the widest possible audience with things they might actually like was the comic book mandate.
69. HarperCollins' X-Mas Short-Story Adaptations
It doesn't get more Christmas-y than this triptych of stand-alone works from HC from I believe 2009: The Gift Of The Magi, The Fir-Tree, A Kidnapped Santa Claus. I liked the Alex Robinson one best.
70. Monster Christmas, Lewis Trondheim (Papercutz)
I greatly enjoyed this stand-alone, translated Christmas fable from Lewis Trondheim. It's slightly odd, but it's also very grounded in what I can remember as a kids' perspective on the holidays and how the adults in my line of sight fussed around it. It also has a basic plot I've rarely seen used -- a family taking a trip for Christmas rather than staying home.
71. Hellboy Ornament
Which one of your frightened, crying children will get to hang this lovely piece of comics-related merchandise? A Spurgeon family tradition for more than a half-decade now.
72. Classic Christmas-Related Comics
These are great novelty gifts for people that collect Christmas items of for someone that like X-property but didn't know they did a Christmas comic. Or you can just buy them this issue of Justice League Of America, which scared the crap out of me back when it first appeared on the stands.
BARGAIN GIFT IDEAS IN CASE YOU'RE STILL SUFFERING THE EFFECTS OF RECESSION
73. Something via AbeBooks
This is the interface I use to access used bookstores. One thing that such stores tend to have that comic shops don't is classic "cartoon books" from artists like Peter Arno, Charles Addams, Pat Oliphant, B. Kliban and so on. But you can frequently find all sorts of comics and comics-related books for cheaper than the standard, going price. It's worth checking.
Like most men that live alone and don't have a real specific reason why that is, I like to make crafty things from old comic book pages. Comics art offers a lot of opportunities for such handmade gifts if you're inclined to go that way. Be creative. One easy one is coasters.
75. Various Calvin and Hobbes Books -- or Something Similar -- at Barnes & Noble
Barnes & Noble has for years carried a lot of the classic Calvin & Hobbes collections at a reduced rate. That's a tricky buy for someone right now as many older fans will certainly have this material -- perhaps that giant, expensive set -- while a lot of younger fans may not know Calvin from Hobbes. But if you have someone for whom it's appropriate, those are good deals. I have to imagine a lot of work from recent years gets processed into the discount sections of such stores -- I've seen a few Peanuts books there, and some MAD material -- so it might pay to look around in those areas.
76. Non-Mint, Not Super-Popular, Older Comic Books From A Shop Or On-Line Store
Most comic book stores sell discounted comics in some fashion. Ebay has provide an industry-wide correction to store owners, who once upon a time held onto comic books no one wanted for 15 years or more because they were certain that a dollar's worth of desire out there would someday and somehow compound itself up to $7.XX. With a little effort, you can snag readable runs of unpretentious adventure comics ranging from Master of Kung Fu to Power Man and Iron Fist to Thriller to Camelot 3000 to The Intimates for less than $1.50 an issue. Try reliable on-line retailers like Mile High and MyComicShop.com (especially during their sales); try eBay for things like Chicago Comics' manga sales; try Google Maps or the Comic Shop Locator service to find a store near you.
77. Amazon.com's Used Books Options
Most comics in trade collections or in original graphic novel form come with an ISBN. In most of those cases, that means used copies can be sold on Amazon. I don't believe in selling review copies unless they're doubles or absolutely not the kind of thing the site covers, but from the number of used books that pop up in the listings every single time there's a new comics release, I'm guessing most folks disagree with me. That means if there's something new and fancy out, you should probably check Amazon's used books before buying a new copy. That can sometimes lead to heartbreak, but you're usually okay if you use vendors that are selling a lot and have generally high ratings from their buyers.
WAYS TO FACILITATE THEIR DOING THE SHOPPING FOR YOU
78. Gift Card From Amazon.com
Here's one way to let people buy comics for themselves, a gift certificate/gift card to the bookstore Amazon.com, which of course by virtue of comics' journey into the world of book sales is a prominent -- maybe the prominent -- comics retailer.
79. Gift Card From Barnes and Noble
There's an advantage with a Barnes and Noble gift card that you don't get with one from Amazon: you can use it in the brick and mortar locations of the chain. I would imagine that, like something from Amazon, this one would have an additional appeal to users of their Nook device.
80. Gift Certificate From Mile High Comics
I've purchased these before and had no complaints.
81. Gift Certificate From Your Local Comic Book Shop
Your shop may not do this, but it never hurts to ask. I imagine there are several that would take money from you and apply it to store credit even if there's not an official certificate in the offing or they have to make a certificate with a backing board and a sharpie. As I will likely mention more than once in putting this list together, a lot of comics fan are devoted to their local store.
82. Something From Someone's Amazon.com Wish List
I used to have an Amazon.com Wish List solely devoted to Marvel's Essentials and DC's Showcase reprint series, but, then again, I'm a nerd. Most comics fans have a few comics on their regular Wish Lists waiting for you to purchase them.
83. Something From A Want List Someone Made At Their Local Shop
Many comic shops will let their customers leave a list of comics they want their friends and family members to buy them. If your store doesn't have a program like this, they might be convinced to do it for someone that asks nicely. This has the advantage of keeping your comics fan's local store in the purchasing loop.
SUBSCRIPTIONS, THE GIFT THAT KEEPS ON GIVING
84. Subscription to an Archie Publication
It's like having a little piece of supermarket checkout right there in your home.
85. Subscription to a DC Comic Book
This could make a nice nostalgia gift for a one-time, now-lapsed, weekly comic shop visitor that didn't quite get the urge to jump back in with the New 52 but may have heard of them. Grant Morrison's books are always solid, but he may be winding down his time with their regular, monthly titles; people have taken to Scott Snyder's comics for the Grand Old Man of The Funnybook Business in a significant way.
86. Subscription to a Marvel Comic Book
Once upon a time, this was maybe the best way to guarantee getting a comic book -- you couldn't really count on the grocery store owner to care about a complete run as much as you did. I can generally recommend whatever books Jeff Parker and Matt Fraction are working on.
87. Subscription to a TwoMorrows Magazines
There are certainly enough of the TwoMorrows magazines that one of them at least should be worthy of your attention. You can't go on buying them at conventions forever, you know. Luggage restrictions.
88. Subscription To John Porcellino's King-Cat Comics And Other Stories
The greatest of all mini-comics and a national treasure, King-Cat can be purchased in subscription form which the cartoonist will faithfully service over the next few years. When people talk about what they can do for the art form of comics, the talk usually gravitates towards giving people greater exposure or proselytizing in general about the great books. That's all good stuff, but it would also be beneficial if we could manage to simply give more money to talented, committed-for-life cartoonists like Porcellino. I'd be all for replacing "Read Comics In Public Day" with "Send John Porcellino A Five-Dollar Bill Day."
89. Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited Subscription
Marvel's first serious step into the world of digital comics may not last forever as the iPad- and device-related stuff ramps up, but I have a fondness for this program as a way to facilitate reading a bunch of Marvel stuff I'd never see otherwise, and I hope they keep some iteration of it.
90. DailyInk.com Subscription
Still going strong is DailyInk.com from King Features, a site that features old and new material at a size that actually rewards your reading it on a computer screen. A nice gift for that friend of yours who knows which strips run on the Houston Chronicle web site as opposed to which run on the Seattle P-I's.
91. Subscription To The New Yorker
A number of first-rate cartoonists like Ivan Brunetti and Chris Ware appear on the covers, and growing number of young cartoonists from the webcomics and small-press worlds have work on the insides, too. I'm told the articles are pretty good.
SUGGESTIONS FOCUSED ON YOUNG PERSON-FRIENDLY GNS, COMICS AND/OR KIDS BOOKS WITH CARTOONIST HOOKS
92. The John Stanley Library, John Stanley et al (D&Q)
D&Q has begun a super nice-looking series of Seth-designed reprints of comics from the great John Stanley. They'll probably be among those books of your kids you'd rather they not color in, but I know parents whose kids have taken to these in a big way.
93. A Kids Book From Toon Books
The comics-for-kids line spearheaded by Francoise Mouly employs a staggering number of talents generally familiar to longtime comics readers, from Frank Cammuso to Eleanor Davis to Art Spiegelman to Dean Haspiel to great friend of CR Jeff Smith. They've settled in last year with a new distribution partner, so they have to be everywhere.
94. The Smurf Series From Papercutz, Peyo (Papercutz)
Peyo's Smurf books are effective, enjoyable comics and an obvious long-time kids favorite. This series of books may strain a few parents' eyeballs because of the size at which they're published, but having this material out there on the stands right now is a definite blessing. I know at least two sets of kids that have read every one.
95. One of the Kids-Focused Books From First Second
A number of the graphic novels in the First Second line are aimed at kids at a range of ages, including Tiny Tyrant, the successful Sardine series (up to six volumes for the latter, I think) for very young kids and the award-winning Laika for slightly older ones. They've actually made doing comics for kids and teens a greater focus for the company recently, I think, so there's a lot of material here to look over. When I was a kid I would have liked the weirder stuff they've done, like Dawn Land.
96. A Kids Book From A Favorite Cartoonist
There's a lot to choose from here, such as the Bow-Wow books Mark Newgarden works on, the classic little kids books of Richard McGuire and the gorgeous painted books Lorenzo Mattotti did once upon a time. If you have a favorite comics artist, look up their sites or check out abebooks.com for their kids book work.
97. All-Ages Superhero Comics Efforts
Both Marvel and DC Comics have comics they publish aimed at younger readers, and many of them are quite a bit more fun to read by readers of all ages than a lot of today's continuity-obsessive, clenched-sphincter, standard comic books and collections. Marvel's actually between lines here, as I recall, but they always seemed to me -- based on the scientific sample of me walking around Wal-Mart and looking at things while waiting for a prescription to be filled -- a little bit more aggressive than DC is right now in terms of licensed kids books that tie into their movies.
98. Various Kids Comics, James Kochalka
James does a lot of comics for kids, all of which have an undeniable power similar to his work intended for adults.
99. Various Books, Edward Gorey
Although I've focused mostly on current books for kids, I can't let the comics-related books I loved most as a child go without mention. There are stand-alone Edward Gorey books that are perfect for slipping into a stocking, and there are four fine anthologies -- Amphigorey, Amphigorey Again, Amphigorey Too and Amphigorey Also -- that are easy to track down.
100. Hybrids And Picture Books
There are a lot of books in the bookstores that function as hybrids -- offering comics/cartoons and prose -- or as straight-up picture books. The Wimpy Kid series is one of a few super-successful kids series in the hybrid corner of the market. Two of my favorites in this category that some may not think of for their comics properties are The Invention Of Hugo Cabret, which breaks up its prose with lovely silent comics sequences (and is now a movie), and the books of Shaun Tan, particularly The Arrival.
101. Various Manga Series Out There For Kids
A ton of manga out there is certainly suitable for kids, just as a ton of it may not be depending on the household rules that apply. Of series out there that I would have liked as a kid, Naruto, Yotsuba&!, Dr. Slump, Slam Dunk and Hikaru No Go all spring to mind as stuff I might have obsessed over in one way or another. For older kids and teenagers, this list becomes something 200 titles long.
102. Kids-Oriented Comics From Boom! (Boom!)
It seems to me that kids does a lot of book that may be good for kids -- some obviously so, some with maybe a flip-through by the responsible adult in the equation. There's a point in my life I would have given up burning ants with a magnifying class for two solid years if I could have had a Muppet Show comic book series.
103. Little Lulu Digest Series, John Stanley (Dark Horse)
I don't have tactile familiarity with this series, but these are some of the best comics in the world and color is usually a very nice thing.
104. Hope Larson's Books
I like all of Hope Larson's books; more to the point, I know people that aren't yet old enough to drive that like Hope Larson's books.
105. The Amulet Series, Kazu Kibuishi (Graphix)
While this series has taken up space either outside or under the radar of traditional comic book talking points, it has sold scads of copies in the book market.
106. Two Picture Books From Tove Jansson: The Book About Moomin, Mymble and Little My and Who Will Comfort Toffle? (D&Q Enfant)
These books are beautiful-looking efforts from Drawn and Quarterly's still-burgeoning kids' book line, and are gorgeous. Can be paired with the other Jansson efforts at the company such as the strip reprints or enjoyed on their own.
107. Andy Runton's Owly Books, Andy Runton (Top Shelf)
One of the few outright indy-comics debut hits of the past decade. A nice thing about it is that Runton has stuck around to do several books rather than just one and done. Kids love their series.
108. The TOON Treasury of Classic Children's Comics, Art Spiegelman and Francoise Mouly and Jon Scieszka (Abrams)
The nasty thing people always say about children's anthologies is that they feel like a bunch of kids' comics that adults would like to read. That doesn't seem to be the case with this amazing compendium, if multiple reviews from my friends with kids are any indication -- adults surely loving this material is the dessert here, not the main course.
109. The Secret Science Alliance Vol. 1, Eleanor Davis (Bloomsbury USA)
Another very promising cartoonist, working in full-color and really going to town. I thought this book -- a couple years old now -- was extremely clever.
110. The Unsinkable Walker Bean, Aaron Renier, First Second
Like the Eleanor Davis book, I wanted to give this one a special shout-out: Aaron Renier's tale of sea monsters and soldier ships is like the best 1970s Wide World Of Disney live-action movie executed with 2015 cgi. As opposed to a run of books for kids and early teens that seem to embrace formula as if making a comic where you can always tell what's going to happen ten pages later will add years to your life, Renier's work retains its indy-comics funk, hitting all the traditional high points in slightly left-field but still very logical fashion. It's also stuffed with detail, a key to a later re-read.
111. Lost In The Andes, Carl Barks (Fantagraphics)
These are just really great comics, re-colored as if they're brand-new, and anchored by the first great duck adventure story. To think we get 15 years of this kind of material is a wonderful, wonderful thing. There's no guaranteeing that a kid is going to love these like kids did in my generation and the generation preceding did, but it's not going to be because the material is lacking in any way.
112. Gil Jordan, Private Detective: Murder By High Tide, Maurice Tillieux (Fantagraphics)
These are more all-ages safe than directed at kids, maybe, but they're fun, involving comics and I would have adored them when I was 10-12 years old. The mysteries are quirky enough, but like the best detective stories in any medium it's watching the character move with idiosyncratic style through an entertaining setting that's the key to one's enjoyment.
113. Hereville: How Mirka Got Her Sword, Barry Deutsch (Amulet Books)
This is the veteran cartoonist's webcomic turned full-length book, drawn in a clear and engrossing style and about as friendly as your average resident of Mayberry. This actually came out in late 2010, but didn't register on my radar until that next Spring, just based on the weight of the number of people that told me they enjoyed it.
NOT-COMICS IDEAS THAT AREN'T A BOOK OF COUPONS FOR HUGS
114. Little Baby Jumpsuits Modeled After DC Superhero Costumes
This is good because it's cute and it's also blackmail material for whatever will have taken the place of Facebook twenty years from now.
115. Jimbo, The Doll; Herbie, The Doll
A pair of vinyl figures for people who don't really "get" vinyl figures.
116. Merchandise From PictureBox, Inc.
Dan Nadel has really fine taste in various non-comics stuff available from the artists he publishes.
117. A Moleskine Journal
I haven't spent any time talking about art supplies, and I'm not really qualified to do so, but one thing writers and artists all seem to like are the legendary notebooks made by Moleskine. By the way, a place to get really cheap notebooks -- not moleskine -- is at those big box bookstores; I've been picking up notebooks for $3-$4 a pop there for most of this calendar year and last.
118. Prose Works By Your Favorite Comics People
Peter David, Mike Carey, Alan Moore and Warren Ellis are among those well-known comic book writers with prose works out there to track down and devour. Don't forget Neil Gaiman. I'm fond of this work by the critic Bob Levin.
119. Something From Debbie Drechsler's Store
The on-line store from the cartoonist Debbie Drechsler is almost entirely made up of card offerings. They look snazzy.
120. A Place To Put The Business Cards
Seriously, there's about 18 billion pieces of comics-related merchandise out there if you just plug in a publisher or character's name and the item you're looking to buy.
121. T-Shirts And Other Stuff From Your Favorite Artists
Make sure to check around the various artists sites for either merchandise listings or links to merchandise listings. Here's four I was able to come up with in 45 seconds of google, all of which look promising to awesome: Richard Thompson still has a presence on Cafe Press, for one. I purchased a Dylan Horrocks t-shirt (the comet one) here, and you can access a bunch of material from Cathy Malkasian here.
122. Something From A Syndicate Store
I know at least one of the syndicates has a store where you can go buy mugs and t-shirts from the business partners of some of your favorite cartoonists, as opposed to a cartoonist themselves: King Features.
123. Webcartoonists With Merchandise Options
Your favorite probably offers something. I've purchased stuff for other folks from the portions of this company's site devoted to Ryan North and Kate Beaton. I've been staring at this page featuring Goats-related material far too frequently to be healthy. R Stevens has a first-class set-up. Just look around.
124. Dame Darcy's Store
She has a devoted store at her site, complete with a link to her etsy offerings.
125. Paul Hornschmeier's T-Shirt Store
I'm way too old to wear any of them, but I admire the consistency of Paul's t-shirt offerings.
126. Spying On A Favorite Comics-Maker's Amazon.com Activities To Get A (Usually Not-Comics) Recommendation Or Two Directly From Them
People I know have been spying on their favorite comics-makers' wish lists on Amazon.com for as long as there have been wish lists. Sometimes a cartoonists will write a review about something in which they're interested, like Dylan Horrocks on the D&D history Playing At The World. It's the now-version of reading letters pages hoping for a name-drop.
127. A Choice From Any One Of A Number Of Small, Comics-Maker Related Stores Found Wherever
I have a bunch of strange bookmarks of material I've seen throughout the year, and I encourage everyone to do the same. Comics people are good people, and interesting ones, and a lot of them want to sell you cool stuff. You can get a bunch of material of all kinds from various members of Portland's Periscope Studios here. You can buy pottery from John Porcellino and Noah Van Sciver here. You can buy the best thrift-store finds from Western MA at Melissa Mendes' Etsy store. You can buy a game with artwork from Adam Koford at the Barnacle Press site. Jim Mahfood offers credit card skins here. Let google be your guide.
128. Something Political: Cartoon Movement Has T-Shirts, Too
Here. That's a lot of different artists than what you might be used to seeing.
129. A Piece Of Art From That Pantheon-Level Cartoonist Lynda Barry
When I published a link to Lynda Barry's Etsy store a few months back I got four or five e-mails from people floored that her work was routinely available at those prices. It is indeed pretty great, and pretty affordable.
130. Something From Eleanor Davis Or Drew Weing At Little House Comics
The Drew Weing/Eleanor Davis imprint Little House looks like it's become less about various minis (I had it listed in that section in 2011) and more about original arts and prints, but who cares when the stuff looks this good? Try not to cry when you see the above image is sold out.
FOUR BASIC WAYS TO ENGAGE GIFT-BUYING POSSIBILITIES IN MANGA
131. Something From Osamu Tezuka
I believe 2006's Ode to Kirihito to be a fevered masterpiece of craft on a level with films like The Wild Bunch or White Dog; there is also much of interest craft-wise and story-wise and because it's Tezuka history-wise in 2007's MW and Apollo's Song. Vertical's also done a terrific job with the Dororo, Black Jack and Buddha series. Buddha is an all-time classic, Black Jack is a big hit book, and Dororo is the rare gift of something not obviously one of those first two things getting the deluxe treatment. Last year's Vertical/Tezuka biggies were the excellent The Book Of Human Insects and the seminal Princess Knight. This year's is Message To Adolf.
132. Non-Tezuka Manga From Vertical
Vertical has always offered more than just Tezuka; with series like Twin Spica, Chi's Sweet Home and 7 Billion Needles, those offerings taken as a group seem like a stronger part of their catalog than ever before. One of their major offerings starting last year was the long-anticipated English translation of The Drops Of God.
133. Various Volumes From Ongoing Series At A Major Publisher
I realize this is advice that covers a ridiculous amount of material. Like saying "Buy Food From A Grocery Store." Please remember: manga can be a difficult buy as a present because a) a bunch of it comes in long series of individual books and b) many of its readers have highly idiosyncratic taste. A manga fan is probably already following the series they like best, in some form or another. It's a good crowd for whom to buy gift certificates and the like, purchases aimed at allowing them to continue on the path they're on. That being said, the link takes you to Shaenon Garrity's great list covering "overlooked" manga. Here's a list I made last year of a few series that I thought others might find "appealing and addictive": Fumi Yoshinaga's Antique Bakery, Takeshi Obata and Tsugumi Ohba's Death Note, Ai Yazawa's Nana, Kazuo Koike's Lone Wolf And Cub, Naoki Urasawa's Monster, Takehiko Inoue's Slam Dunk and Kiyohiko Azuma's Yotsuba&!.
134. Manga From One Of The North American Arts-Comics Publishers
Artists published by Drawn & Quarterly include: Yoshihiro Tatsumi, Imiri Sakabashira, Susumu Katsumata and Seiichi Hayashi. PictureBox has relationships with artists like Takashi Nemeto, Yuichi Yokoyama and Ken Kagami. (I can hardly wait for the Anne Ishii-produced Tagame; that should be something.) Fantagraphics has some manga, too, including work by Moto Hagio (one imminent) and Shimura Takako. I enjoyed Last Gasp's publication of Yusaku Hankuma's Tokyo Zombie when that came out. Top Shelf did that Ax: A Collection Of Alternative Manga a while back and I'm sure they'd still love to sell you one.
MULTIPLE WAYS TO GET YOUR HANDS ON HANDMADE BOOKS, OR OTHERWISE VERY-SMALL-PRESS ITEMS
135. Follow The Name
Just about any cartoonist that makes handmade comics will have those books for sale directly or immediately indirectly (through a major distributor of such items) on-line. Like sitting on my desk as I'm typing these words out is the Seattle tabloid anthology Intruder Comics, a welcome stocking stuffer for the arts-comics maker you know if ever I saw one. It took me about three seconds to find this tumblr; eight more seconds to find this advertisement. I just remembered receiving a tweet from someone at Chance Press; here's Chance Press. I would imagine something similar would apply to dozens upon dozens of people you might encounter on-line or at a small-press convention. This may sound like absurdly simple advice, but I think people sometimes forget how easily this stuff is available for just a little effort.
136. Buy Comics From Quimby's
Chicago's longtime home for handmade comics work may offer a wider selection of work than ever before, but comics is still a strength.
137. Buy Comics From Profanity Hill
It's hard to imagine a better guide to today's NW mini-comics scene than cartoonist and comics editor Jason T. Miles.
138. Buy Comics From The Secret Acres Store
Everything in their store is at least good if not great work of its kind.
139. Buy Something From Spit And A Half
You can probably tell I'm on a huge John Porcellino kick as I'm assembling this gift guide; he's also a very important distributor for and curator of handmade and small-press comics. I can't imagine that anything he'd put together on your behalf would be a bad package of these works.
140. Buy Mini-Comics From Partyka
141. Buy Homemade Books From PictureBox, Inc.
PictureBox carries some higher-end homemade comics from the artists with which it works.
142. Buy 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.
LET'S GET TO #150 WITH A FEW GATHERINGS OF INDIVIDUAL BOOK IDEAS, BECAUSE COMICS ARE AWESOME NOW AND MAKE THE GREATEST GIFTS
143. Newspaper Strip Series I Enjoy
There are almost too many to mention, and because of the way this period of archival work developed, they're almost uniformly well-produced. So why not rattle off a bunch of names? There's Walt And Skeezix; Floyd Gottfredson's Mickey Mouse, Captain Easy, personal favorite Popeye (now completed; buy them all); Krazy Kat; Little Orphan Annie; The Complete Peanuts; Bloom County; Polly And Her Pals. I could go on for about 25 titles. I love each and every one, at least a little bit. The only comics I'm following in book form that are more current are Cul De Sac and Doonesbury, and I basically recommend all of those works, too.
144. Recent, Worthy Books About Comics
I am dreadfully behind on my reading about comics, but a few volumes stood out. Hand Of Fire is Charles Hatfield's Eisner Award-winning book on Jack Kirby; I found it eminently readable for a work that also has some traction with academics. Bart Beaty's latest is Comics Versus Art, and I'm of course very fond of Bart's comics-writing. He's not exactly light on the trenchant observations, that guy. Comic-Con And The Business Of Pop Culture was a thousand times better than that SDCC documentary in terms of allowing us to see Comics' Big Show in an entirely different light. American Newspaper Comics from Allan Holtz is a show-stopper and a doorstopper.
145. Individual, Recent Books From Fantagraphics
Dal Tokyo came out this year, which pretty much justifies the entire year all by itself. The fact that this just showed up on the table at Comic-Con killed a bunch of us who sat there going "Look what's out!" and "Holy shit!" for the two days of that show. I thought that Barack Hussein Obama was unfairly overlooked as a webcomic; I hope that's not the case for the collection. It's weird, unsettling, idiosyncratic and fun work from all-time good guy Stevie Weissman. Fantagraphics distributed an honest-to-god complete work from Rich Tommaso, The Cavalier Mr. Thompson that a bunch of his among cartoonists in their 30s were really psyched to see. I'm very happy that Prison Pit has turned out to be such a big hit for Johnny Ryan.
146. Individual, Recent Books Of Note From Drawn And Quarterly
Drawn And Quarterly had another really fine year; you can see practically the whole bunch of what they're offering here. I hope people don't forget that Tom Gauld's Goliath came out in 2012; I thought that was a fine book from a cartoonist that doesn't do a whole lot of longer comics. I just read Pippi Moves In and enjoyed it; I think that would be a fine book for younger kids, too; it's told in a very appealing and sort of odd fashion. I liked Jerusalem the most of all the Guy Delisle books. I'm not sure that's most folks' opinion, at least not the ones I know (the book was well-reviewed), but you can go to their damn holiday guide if you want, then. Basically because the act of living in Jerusalem is a political one all by itself I thought the book had much more resonance than some of the other Delisle travelogues that kind of have to depend on the cartoonist as an outside commentator.
147. Individual, Recent Books Of Note From PictureBox, Desert Island, First Second And Others
Le Donne is a book of Liberatore's erotic art, from NBM -- I can't remember the last time I saw a Liberatore book new in the mailbox or on the stands; Sammy Harkham's Everything Together is an excellent one-man anthology-style collection which I enjoyed as much as any book out this year; This Train is the most recent Tony Fitzapatrick art book, as we wait for his series on Ohio; The Art Of Daniel Clowes: Modern Cartoonist was as snappily produced as one would hope for a projects like that one; The Nao Of Brown is on my bedside table right this very moment; underneath the Glyn Dillon is the Talbots' Dotter Of Her Father's Eyes, I plan on consuming Mark Siegel's Sailor Twain, and Lucy Knisley's Relish before I take time off for the holidays. It's hard to go wrong with a new comic series made by that great man, Sergio Aragones -- we have Bongo to thank for this one. There are so many more good books out there that it's not even funny. I read three great books in preparation for a panel I did at BCGF this year: the one that fits into this category and hasn't already been mentioned is the beautiful The Hive.
148. Books From People To Whom I Enjoyed Talking This Year Or To Whom I Will Soon Speak
The day after this posts I'm e-mailing Alison Bechdel to arrange an interview so we can talk about Are You My Mother? My Friend Dahmer is the best work of Derf Backderf's career; all you sort of need to know about that one is when a friend told Derf that one of his high school classmates had been exposed as a serial killer, Derf guessed someone else entirely. Marbles is another career milestone, this time for one of Seattle comics' iconic mainstays. Maybe my most pleasant surprise this year was the Crogan series from educator and comics-maker Chris Schweizer -- this would have been my favorite comic at eight years old. Center For Cartoon Studies and Hyperion continue to make comics together: Joseph Lambert declares himself a cartoonist to watch -- to read right now, but to also watch -- with his Annie Sullivan And The Trials Of Helen Keller. I enjoyed the Blown Covers book throwing the spotlight on the decision-making process employed by New Yorker art director Francoise Mouly. And 2012 is the year we got Hugo Tate back, thanks to Blank Slate.
149. Five Superhero Comics I Genuinely Enjoy