Still shopping, huh? Don’t worry, we’ve got some ideas for you. We’ve held back on prices—availability, shipping, and prices vary so much—but rest assured, a wide variety of price points is represented.
Today we’ve got book and comic book recommendations. Come back Friday for recommendations on geeky stuff and things.
Adventure Time has quickly established itself as one of the best all-ages, licensed comics on the stands, and if success can be measured in variant covers, Adventure Time has struck a mint. Eye Candy collects all the covers of issues 1-16 in one impressive volume, with dozens of artists imagining the adventures of Finn and Jake in the Land of Ooo. BOOM! Studios has a keen eye for talent, mixing industry veterans with rising stars, and the resulting covers are bright and charming and eclectic.
There’s Ming Doyle’s rendition of Marceline the Vampire Queen, Sanford Greene’s homage to Fantastic Four #1, Kevin Wada’s watercolor Princess Bubblegum and Lady Rainicorn, Chris Houghton’s epic six connecting covers–and those are only a taste of the covers inside. If you’re a fan of Adventure Time or the art of the comic cover, treat yourself to Eye Candy.
According to us (and you), its film adaptation was the hottest comic book movie of the year. Fifteen-year-old Clementine finds her first love in older, cooler, art student Emma. It’s passionate and intense affair that develops into a decade-long, complicated love story. With that said, it’s not a fairly tale, but rather a deeply human story. Love is difficult, and so easily falls prey to life’s daily miseries, and Clementine and Emma must struggle to maintain their relationship. As do we all. The art is just as lovely and human—not fanciful. Maroh worked with a limited palate—blue is theme, feel, and character, here. Is that a spoiler? Well, this is an ideal gift for the reader in your life who likes complicated and not-to-type.
Gengorah Tagame, Chip Kidd, Graham Kolbeins, Anne Ishii
I had the pleasure of attending a panel about this book at TCAF, this past May. The Passion of Gengorah Tagame is Japanese, gay erotica with a butch, BDSM bent. This ain’t yaoi doujinshi. Tagame’s men are towering, virile, and aggressive. He pushes the boundaries of taste and genre without sacrificing artistry. But don’t think that means the book isn’t gorgeous. Celebrity book designer Chip Kidd and the translation and editorial team really took their time with this one. And Tagame’s linework and visual storytelling are exquisite—this isn’t just good gay erotica, it’s good comics.
Vivek J. Tiwary, Andrew C. Robinson, and Kyle Baker
I’m not much of Beatles fan. I’m more of Howling Wolf/Zeppelin kind of girl. But I’m recommending this book both because it’s an A+ comic, and because I’m 100% sure that you know at least one intense Beatles fan. I know at least five. Two of them write for WWAC! The Fifth Beatle is the story of the band’s first manager, Brian Epstein. He’s being inducted into the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame this year, and it’s about time, because as this comic makes clear, Brian had an enormous impact on the band, and on the shape of early rock and roll. But as the Dark Horse pitch puts it: “Brian Epstein was homosexual when it was a felony to be so in the United Kingdom, Jewish at a time of anti-Semitism, and from Liverpool when it was considered just a dingy port town.” This is deeply human story of ambition, vision, love and all the rest of it.
Darwyn Cooke and Richard Stark
There’s a new book due out next year, so it’s a good time to get your crime fiction loving friend acquainted with this series. This perfect series. (As with Die Hard, I won’t hear otherwise). Darwyn Cooke has been adapting Richard Stark’s Parker books, one by one, since 2009. And they’re perfect. Parker is the kind of criminal you can’t hate, but you can’t quite love either. The difficulty is that he’s truly awful; cold, calculating, and possessed of a will to
power money that would make Nietzsche faint. The series takes place in the 60s and much of it has that original flavour, Ocean’s Eleven cool. But Parker and his equally hard boiled colleagues are too raw, too on the edge, and just too borderline sociopathic, to star in an effervescent heist story. To be sure, you want them to pull off whatever impossible score they’ve set their sights on, but not because you’re charmed by them.
Cooke’s retro style and restrained storytelling are perfect here—he knows how to tell a story in the margins; how to hold back. And for damn sure he knows how to turn out sexy line work.
Buy one. Buy them all. And if you’re looking to splurge, there’s also the oversized, hardcover Martini Edition.
Do you remember the first time you picked up a comic, superheroic or otherwise? The magic – there was no other word for it – of image and text coming together, or perhaps even of metahuman beings setting the universe to rights with the power of goodness and punching?
Part history of comics, part autobiography, Supergods evokes that sense of wonder for adults by drawing attention to the genesis and significance of the godlike (hence the title) characters that played critical roles in the rise of comics. This is an excellent gift for both new comics readers and those who are familiar with the medium but less so with the forces and industries that have shaped it thus far.
Be warned: there are exterrestrial/occult/fiction suit-y encounters with the weird, and accounts of how The Genius of Grant Morrison Helped to Save Comics. However, Morrison fans will be familiar with this already, while new readers can either skip it or take it in — but I would suggest the latter, even if you don’t believe all of it. To read a comic is to take part in something wonderful, and Supergods reminds us just how special that is.
A book like Marvel Comics: The Untold Story could come off as the comics equivalent of hot dogs: once we know how they’re made, the magic is gone.
However, Sean Howe’s captures both the ugly side and the lightning-in-a-bottle feeling of the creative processes that shaped the comics we have known and loved/hated/made fun of throughout the decades.
Howe takes us from the earliest days of Marvel (when it was still Timely Comics) through the details of Liefeld and McFarlane’s disputes with Marvel; Stan Lee’s careful manipulation of his public image; the revolt continuously simmering under the surface of Marvel in the 80s under Jim Shooter; and to the cusp of Marvel’s domination of mass entertainment.
His clear respect for comics and the talents – whether in terms of art, PR, or anything else – of those who created them take you back to a time when a street gang kid from the wrong side of New York could help to create an entire medium that would become beloved by millions, without falling into the easy traps of worshipping these creators or demonizing those who oppose them (such as prodigy-turned-hate-figure Jim Shooter, Marvel’s Editor-in-Chief for part of the 1980s). Instead, Howe depicts the primary players in Marvel’s many dramas as the complex individuals they undoubtedly were and reminds us that comics are created by people: people with flaws, ambitions, and dreams.
Benjamin Franklin had a sister, and she was pretty cool too. No, this isn’t historical fiction–it’s an examination of how we do history, and who makes it into the history books. Like her famous brother, Jane possessed a shrewd mind, a gift for writing, and a way with political commentary. But unlike her brother, Jane had twelve children to raise, and that doesn’t bring public adulation. This is smart pop history; a political and personal biography that treats an American unknown with gravity and care.
Jospeh Campbell and Will Pryce
For the actual-physical-book person in your circle. This is a coffee table book devoted to beautiful and fantastic libraries from all over the world. The Library contains sharp, lovingly presented photos of eighty (!) libraries that are both visually appealing and can speak to the essence of libraries themselves—what are they; what should they be; what can they be?
For Young Adults and Kids
Boxers & Saints is one of the best works to come out in 2013. Yang has truly outdone himself in this masterpiece. While also great for adults I see this book as fitting perfectly within the YA historical fiction category. While each book stands on its own I recommend getting the two-volume boxed set. Set during the Boxer Rebellion, the two volumes feature characters on opposing sides. I would recommend to Boxers & Saints more mature younger readers as it does have violent content. It would also be a great gift for teachers looking to incorporate graphic novels in the classroom.
Battling Boy is a little bit of a lot of things (pulp adventure, jet pack sci fi) but what it is, above all, is fun. The book is tailor made for young teens, but will work for older and probably younger readers as well. A classic adventure story, beautifully made and thoughtfully reconstructed for maximum wow? Hell yeah. How much do I really have to tell you about the nitty gritty of this one? Well, Boy comes to earth to battle monsters myths. Boy battles. It’s a fast-moving coming-of-age story in rich, new imaginary world that takes inspiration from the Greeks, the Romans, and more.
J.R.R. Tolkien and Jemima Catlin
This special illustrated edition looks incredible! It comes in a fabric hardcover with golden details and signed by Jemima Catlin, the artist. The inside was not left behind: all in couché paper and colors, the drawings complement the text. It’s the perfect gift for someone who is enjoying The Hobbit’s movie trilogy but was not yet initiated in the books, Tolkien collectors or maybe children who are still scared of only-text books.