2019 CHRISTMAS GIFT GUIDE
J.C. Vaughn recommends…
As always with these types of lists, the following are rooted firmly in the realm of personal taste and opinion. It’s hard to go wrong with the tried-and-true choices such as Howard Chaykin’s American Flagg!, Walter Simonson’s Star Slammers, or Terry Moore’s Strangers in Paradise, or with such best-selling fare as Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, the Thor by Walter Simonson Omnibus, the Daredevil by Frank Miller & Klaus Janson Omnibus.
On the other hand, as I mentioned in this space last year, it can get a little awkward if you give the same people the same gifts every Christmas or Hanukah, right?
With that in mind, here some suggestions for killer holiday gifts that will have the recipients thanking you for years to come rather than re-gifting them at precarious speeds.
Image Comics; $16.99
Writer Ed Brubaker and artist Sean Phillips have been producing their shared visions of crime comics for almost two decades. Their collaboration has given us Criminal, Incognito, Fatale, Kill or Be Killed, and The Fadeout, and most recently their revival of Criminal at Image Comics. The hardcover graphic novel Bad Weekend is an expanded, slightly tweaked version of Criminal #s 2 and 3 from that new series.
It centers on Hal Crane, a legendary artist, a cantankerous creator awaiting his lifetime achievement award at a convention, and his former assistant, who is surprised that Crane requested his presence. The convention and the comics industry provide the backdrop; “Comics won’t just break your heart. Comics will kill you.” is the tagline.
As usual, Brubaker and Phillips mesh incredibly well. They capture not only the moods and settings, but the ambiguity surrounding hard feelings and the chase for the almighty buck. Perhaps he best thing about Bad Weekend is that it’s highly accessible even if you’re not familiar with the previous installments of Criminal.
STARTUP #1, 2 & 3
Sitcomics/Binge Book; $3.99 each
Screenwriter Darin Henry (Seinfeld, Futurama) and artist Craig Rousseau (The Perhapanauts) deliver this amazing new series that springs from a compelling set-up and never stops running. Renee Garcia-Gibson is a 300-pound single mom fighting the seemingly never-ending challenges of providing for her son and not embarrassing him at school due to her size.
Desperate for a change, she agrees to take an experimental diet drug that instantly transforms her into a svelte 330-MPH superhero. Taking he name Startup, she fights crime (of course). But when she doesn’t concentrate, she reverts to her normal form.
Renee and her family are engaging characters and her struggles will be all-too-real for many. They’re treated with a great degree of candor, and her new-found powers highlight this.
In addition to the story, which just makes one eagerly await each new page, the format deserves its own kudos. In all of his “Binge Books” line, Henry offers readers 64 pages of story for a regular $3.99 cover price. Considering the quality of the production, it’s an incredible value, and they’re also a done-in-one complete stories.
Titan Comics; $24.99
The serialized comic book adventures of Ms. Tree, private investigator Michael Tree, first appeared in the pages of Eclipse Magazine in 1981. It’s been a long road since then, taking the tough-as-nails leading lady through Aardvark-Vanaheim, Renegade Press, First Comics, and DC Comics, movie options, and a 2008 novel from Hard Case Crime. Now, at long last, someone’s collecting all of her comic book adventures.
Written by Max Allan Collins (Road To Perdition) and illustrated by Terry Beatty (Rex Morgan, M.D.), Ms. Tree is cut from the same cloth as Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer. Spillane and Collins were close friends in real life, and Ms. Tree is more than a tough guy’s tough girl. She’s her own woman. She is sharp, insightful, hard-nosed, somewhat caustic, and when called for, very deadly.
It’s odd (at least to me) for a retrospective collection to start with the DC Comics stories, since they were the last produced, but they do represent some of the creators’ best work on the character, so it sort of makes since. Regardless of that, this book is a compelling read for those of us who love the character and a great, thoroughly accessible introduction for new readers. Bravo to Titan for this new collection and the books that will follow!
Still on my list from last year. Why? It’s that good. The quality and permeating ambience of writer-artist John K. Snyder III’s adaptation of Lawrence Block’s acclaimed novel Eight Million Ways To Die may not exactly be shocking, but it’s still a very pleasant surprise. There just aren’t that many creators with this much experience under their belts who are still elevating their game.
Eight Million Ways To Die may well be Snyder’s magnum opus, and it is unquestionably the best work of his career. His art and colors flow together in stunning fashion, blending into a gritty, well-researched New York City of the early 1980s with a distinct cast of characters. From bars to back alleys, from high-end hookers to AA meetings, the atmosphere in this adaptation is more than just a mood or a setting; in Snyder’s hands it’s another character. If you like crime comics, this is the genre at its best.
By Carrie Wood, Amanda Sheriff & Robert M. Overstreet
Gemstone Publishing; $30
The Caped Crusader. The Dark Knight Detective. Batman. Over eight decades what began as a simple comic book concept in the pages of Detective Comics #27 has grown into an iconic cultural institution. In addition to mainstays such as Detective, Batman, Brave and the Bold, Legends of the Dark Knight, Shadow of the Bat, and Batman and the Outsiders, his adventures have launched scores of one-shots, mini-series, and graphic novels. They’ve also spawned hit TV shows, multiple cartoon interpretations, feature films, video games and more.
The team behind The Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide brings you a detailed look at the collectibles, Batman’s key adventures, and the creators behind them. 416 pages, full color, soft cover.
Bobby Nash recommends…
I’m feeling like it’s shark week for the holidays. Check out these new items based on my favorite movie. These are must haves for me,
JAWS Blockbuster Puzzle: https://www.target.com
JAWS Funko POPS: https://www.amazon.com
Jaws Board Game: https://www.amazon.com
A few things I love and/or want myself..
What We Left Behind: Looking Back At Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: https://www.amazon.com/What-We-Left-Behind-Looking/dp/B07RR73J7Y
JOHN BYRNE’S THE FANTASTIC FOUR ARTIST SELECT SERIES Signed and Numbered: https://idwlimited.com/shop/fantasticfoursigned/
Art books: https://www.fleskpublications.com/books
Holly Golightly recommends….
The BroadSword Comics Comicon Coloring Book
32 pages of our 8.5×11″ coloring book, are filled with BOTH Jim & Holly G! characters! Tarot, Pooka, Pangur, School Bites, 3 Kittens and More! Have fun coloring your favorite characters!!! You can even share them on the BroadSword Comics Facebook page!
Joeseph Simon recommends…
Buying is a great way brighten someones day. There many ideas that I could suggest to purchase. After some consideration, I decided to make suggestions that are a different kind of giving
3. Comic journalism is important to the health of our industry. Thankfully there are sites like First Comics News and others who give you access for free. There are also more in-depth published books focused on individual creators or characters that are an important accompaniment to your favorite creators and characters. Buy one of those and compliment your collection while expanding your knowledge!
Along with some good quality reading time, find time to be with the ones you love, create good memories, treat your fellow person with respect and enjoy the holidays!
Ed Catto recommends…
What a year for Geek Culture! There’s so much great stuff available. In the spirit of trumpeting some of the good stuff, here’s my Annual Holiday Gift Guide:
by Danny Fingeroth
Like the worlds he created, Stan Lee’s legend grew to be larger-than-life. But is he really the kindly, energetic godfather of comics, or a privileged opportunist? Longtime comics professional Danny Fingeroth takes a deep dive into Stan’s life and stuffs this book with balanced analysis and long-lost stories. It’s a page turner and highly recommended.
$29.99 400 pp. • Hardcover • ISBN-10: 1250133904
Available at books stores & comic shops everywhere: https://www.midtowncomics.com/product/1861345
Written by Timothée de Fombelle and Illustrated by Christian Cailleaux
EuroComics, an imprint of IDW Publishing
Gramercy Park, written by Timothée de Fombelle and illustrated by Christian Cailleaux,
is a comic that the rest of the world will definitely feel more comfortable calling a graphic novel. It’s tight and clever, scattering just the right amount narrative breadcrumbs to keep the reader involved. Author de Fombelle mixes intriguing characters and thoughtful dialogue that rope you in. I had planned, in fact, to just read a few pages at a time. But at one point, about halfway through, the creators had me and wouldn’t let me go. It pretends to be just a crime thriller set in 50s NYC, but it’s really so much more.
$19.99 96 pp. • Hardcover, Full Color • Diamond Code MAY190623
Available everywhere books are sold, but I bought it at Comics for Collectors, in Ithaca, NY.
By Nick Parisi
University of Mississippi Press
Nick Parisi’s Rod Serling biography is both an in depth look at a creative entrepreneur and a great read. There’s a lot to learn about, and from, this brilliant innovator, and Parisi serves it all up in a way that’s compelling rather than overwhelming. It’s a hefty book, but at the same time, I found it to be a quick read.
$39.00 541 pp. • hardcover • ISBN-10: = 1496817508
Available at fine bookstores everywhere: https://www.amazon.com/Rod-Serling-Life-Work-Imagination/dp/1496817508
by Steve Cerio
The brilliant creator Steve Cerio is back with another trippy book. Steve’s a longtime innovator and gallery artist who blossomed as part of the old NYC Comix scene. His newest book is subtitled “A False History of The Residents”, but the imaginative illustrations appeal to art lovers beyond that band’s fan base. Fresh Hell in Fits is also available as a special signed collector’s edition (only 33 copies) complete extra goodies.
This book is best found at the Psychofon Records site: https://www.psychofonrecords.com
$various levels 40 pp. • paperback • SKU: EBM-02
by Various Creators by Richard Williams
If Edgar Allan Poe is your favorite author, this is NOT the book for you. The new, irreverent publisher, AHOY Comics, collects the ‘first season’ of their new, irreverent comic Edgar Allan Poe’s Snifter of Terror. It’s ghoulish fun by top notch creators like Tom Peyer, Fred Harper, Mark Russell Hunt Emerson, Cienna Madrid, Carly Wright, and Shannon Wheeler. My favorites are the “Dark Chocolate” stories illustrated by a returning favorite artist, Peter Snejbjerg, and I certainly won’t ruin the fun by revealing the twist. The brilliant Richard Williams, you may know him from his deliciously subversive MAD artwork, provided the cover artwork.
$19.99 192 pp. • paperback • ISBN-10: 0998044237
Available at comic shops and fine bookstores everywhere: https://tinyurl.com/EdgarVol1
by Ryan Parrott and Milos Slavkovic
A clever story about the King of the Fairies and his recruiting in today’s world. Slavkovic’s art, which bursts forth as a brilliant cocktail of stylistic illustrators Kaluta & Dodson, brings this suspicious and delicious story to life. I reviewed, and really liked, the first issue here.
$14.99 120 pp. • paperback • ISBN-10: 1949028194
Available at bookstores & comic shops everywhere: https://www.indiebound.org/book/9781949028195
by Wayne Carey with interior illustrations by Ed Catto
This pulp thriller, published by Airship27, is all about lost loves, weekend fun and unexpected ghosts as educator Frank Blaine struggles with what may or may not be a mid-life crisis. He enjoys his participating in Civil War battle re-enactments with his young son and his neighborhood buddies. I had the pleasure supplying the interior illustrations for this one, and thought it was a great yarn. Fun to read when visiting a historical battleground like Gettysburg (as I used to when our middle daughter went to college there) or in front of the fireplace.
$16.99 174 pp. • paperback • ISBN-10: 1946183539
Available at comic shops, fine bookstores and Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Company-Shadows-Wayne-Carey/dp/1946183539
Steve Rotterdam recommends…
Hanna Bahedry recommends…
For Your Friend who Still Listens to Donna Summer
What do you get when you combine all the best-loved pop culture genres of the 1970s: apes, monsters, Kung Fu, sword-and-sorcery, and cosmic adventure? You get BRONZE AGE BOOGIE, a psychedelic, disco-infused romp from author Stuart Moore and artist Alberto Ponticelli.
CAPTAIN GINGER Trade Paperback ($15.99)
Legendary comic book artist June Brigman, inker Roy Richardson, colorist Veronica Gandini, and acclaimed writer Stuart Moore have created an epic comic featuring cats united against a hostile universe—and their own worst feline instincts. When the human race died out, the cats inherited the Earth! (Or at least a starship.)
EDGAR ALLAN POE’S SNIFTER OF TERROR Trade Paperback ($19.99)
A comedic collection of classic tales and brand new stories, adapted by comics’ snarkiest talents, in this cross between Drunk History and Tales from the Crypt ―all introduced by Edgar Allan Poe at his drunkest.
HASHTAG: DANGER: DANGER ON DINOSAUR ISLAND Trade Paperback ($17.99)
Renowned young readers artist Chris Giarrusso and AHOY Comics’ Editor-in-Chief Tom Peyer have teamed up to create a fantastically fun and twisted graphic novel that is chock full of potty mouth humor and not recommended for children. Follow the adventures of three heroes with three special skills: brains, strength, and unwarranted enthusiasm. Together they vow to confront fantastic perils and monetize them! But will their selfish bickering destroy the team? And why do they spell out “Hashtag?”
HIGH HEAVEN Trade Paperback ($15.99)
Writer Tom Peyer and artist Greg Scott have created a savage satire of religion that explores an afterlife of bureaucracy, pettiness and maybe even the truth itself.
PLANET OF THE NERDS Trade Paperback ($17.99)
In PLANET OF THE NERDS, by writer Paul Constant and artists Alan Robinson and Felipe Sobreiro, three high school jocks in the 1980s are accidentally frozen by an experimental cryogenics device, only to be revived almost 40 years later. They awake in today’s computer-driven, superhero movie-loving world— in an era ruled by nerds.
For That One Friend Who Only Reads Superhero Comics
On dark, gritty Earth-Omega, masked vigilante Dragonfly punishes evil maniacs and evades corrupt authorities. On sun-splashed Earth-Alpha, costumed crook-catcher Dragonflyman upholds the letter of the law. Now they’re trapped on each other’s worlds, where even the good guys don’t share their values! Writer Tom Peyer and artists Jamal Igle and Juan Castro are here to introduce yourself to your new favorite superheroes.
AHOY Comics has introduced an amazing line of t-shirts. Collect them all: Captain Ginger! Hashtag Danger! Wrong Earth! Planet of the Nerds! Bronze Age Boogie! Ahoy Comics! Every member of your comics-loving family can have their own.
Rik Offenberger recommends…
The MLJ Companion
Everything you ever wanted to know about The Mighty Crusaders, Archie’s super-hero line. In the comprehensive and incredibly detailed MLJ Companion, you can explore every incarnation of these heroes for seven decades, from pre-Archie MLJ, to licensing them to DC (twice) and everything in-between.
A stunning 288-page full color book, it will give you more information about the Crusaders, The Shield, the Fly and all the other classic characters than you could ever have hoped to learn.
Forgotten All-Star: A Biography of Gardner Fox
by Jennifer DeRoss
He wrote over 4000 comic book stories, and co-created such enduring heroes as The Flash and Hawkman. He wrote dozens of novels. He inspired a generation of comic book writers. And yet his story has never fully been told. From his youth in Brooklyn, to his decades as a pulp fiction and comic book author, to his lasting legacy, Jennifer DeRoss tells the timely tale of forgotten all-star Gardner Fox.
Timely Confidential: When the Golden Age of Comic Books Was Young
by Allen Bellman
One day in 1942, a kid who liked to draw responded to an advertisement in the New York Times. He carried his portfolio to a young, upstart publishing company, landing a job on the spot. That company would become Marvel Comics …Allen Bellman participated in the early years of popular characters like Captain America, the Human Torch, and the Sub-Mariner. One day he left the comics field and never looked back. Five decades later, an intrepid “Golden Age” comic book collector located him. Allen received a hero’s welcome from comic book historians, and now appears at conventions nationwide, proclaiming “I was there!” Herewith, his circuitous journey back to comics …In the pages of Timely Confidential, Allen recalls growing up in Brooklyn, and commuting to the McGraw-Hill building (and later the Empire State Building) every morning to work at Timely Comics; friction between different divisions among artists and writers; brushes with celebrities; Martin Goodman’s failed expansion into Broadway plays; his departure from the comic industry in the 1950s; a second career as a graphic designer and photographer; a move from the New York City area, capital of publishing worldwide, to the Florida tropics; his return to the world of comic book fandom nearly six decades after leaving the field.
Mac Raboy: Master of the Comics
by Roger Hill
Beginning with his WPA etchings during the 1930s, Mac Raboy struggled to survive the Great Depression and eventually found his way into the comic book sweatshops of America. In that world of four-color panels, he perfected his art style on such creations as Dr. Voodoo, Zoro, The Mystery Man, Bulletman, Spy Smasher, Green Lama and his crowning achievement, Captain Marvel Jr. Raboy went on to illustrate the Flash Gordon Sunday newspaper strip, and left behind a legacy of meticulous perfection. Through extensive research and interviews with son David Raboy, and assistants who worked with the artist during the Golden Age of Comics, author Roger Hill brings Mac Raboy, the man and the artist, into focus for historians to
savor and enjoy. This full-color hardcover includes never-before-seen photos, a wealth of rare and unpublished artwork, and the first definitive biography of a true Master of the Comics!