Contrary to what the Northeastern United States’ relatively mild weather would tell you, winter is here and the holidays are swiftly blowing towards us. The many stresses of the season include college finals, the encroachment of no-longer-so-distant relatives on our homes, and the strangely loaded task of gift giving. While we at The Comics Beat cannot save your grades or your pantries, we can make it a little bit easier for you to find the perfect gift for the geek in your life. It’s The Comics Beat Holiday Shopping Guide 2015!
Five items I’d like to get for Christmas (but I’ll probably end up buying myself >sigh<) :
- Don Rosa Collection (via Google Translate) “1,600 pages Comics, 105 cover illustrations, 120 posters and over a hundred pages exciting extras await you in the 3 boxes á 3 volumes. All volumes have a high-quality linen cover. A feast for fans and collectors – more Don Rosa does not work!” Three slipcases, each with three hardcovers. Yeah, Fantagraphics is doing the definitive American series, but this is soooooo handsome! Only €525.00 ($570)!
- The Colecovision/Adam complete set After I grew tired of MAD Magazine, and before I became a four-color connoisseur (1981-84), I was heavily into video games. (I still own the J&R catalogs from back then!) This was the golden age of console gaming, and the ultimate toy of the year was Colecovision, which gave Warner Brothers’ Atari a run for market dominance. The original console came packed with Donkey Kong, and there was an adapter which translated Atari 2600 cartridges, plus a trackball controller, a driving wheel and accelerator controller, and lots of other cool stuff! The Holy Grail at the time? Converting the gaming console into a home computer. Coleco managed that feat with the Adam computer. Yeah… it’s woefully antiquated (but, I did once program a 2K Timex Sinclair!) but it’s one of those things I wanted desperately as a teen. It’s on my Lottery Bucket List. If someone loves old school video games, buy them the hardcover edition of Supercade: A Visual History of the Videogame Age 1971–1984, a sumptuous, fully illustrated history of videogames, from Brookhaven Labs to the introduction of the Nintendo Entertainment System.
- Lego Serious Play Yup, Lego has been an educational tool for decades. (Mindstorms, their robotics series, evolved from a project created with MIT.) Now they have one for business training, called Serious Play! So maybe I’ll become a licensed Lego Serious Play facilitator!
- Apple iPad Pro with Apple Pencil I’d read a lot more comics if I had a tablet. I have access to a lot of review copies, and a tablet would help. The Pencil? It’s just AMAZING. I don’t know if Apple’s fixed their handwriting recognition software, but I’d be using it to sketch, not to draw or write. But I could… Meanwhile, I’m happy with my Samsung Galaxy Epic 4G (gen1) from 2010.
- …and one dream item, which doesn’t exist in this universe (but might be nearby): a Blu-ray disc of The Cowboy Wally Show, starring Chris Farley as Wally with David Duchovny as Lenny. Farley would later star in A Confederacy of Dunces earning his only Academy Award after choking to death on a Lucky Dog at the premiere.
These three books have been previously released, but I think far too many people missed them the first time around.
- How to Pass as Human (via Amazon) “How to Pass as Human is an attempt on the part of the world’s first android to understand the irrational, unpredictable, eclectic creatures known as human beings. Written in the form of a field guide, complete with sketches, graphs, flowcharts, and other reference materials, Android Zero (aka “Zach”) has compiled a variety of useful information for future androids on how to pass undetected as human beings. Along the way, he also attempts to solve the mystery of his own creation with the help of Andrea, a human female who has taken an interest in him that may be more than friendly, and eventually leading him to “meet his maker” and discover the surprising purpose of his existence.” A book that came out this year but too many readers missed, this book from Dark Horse stretches the use of the term graphic novel, but is an invigorating read nonetheless. It’s about an android trying to, you guessed it, pass as human, and merges calculated insights into humanity with a gripping narrative. I only discovered it because I reviewed it, and now I want the whole world to know about it.
- Guns of Shadow Valley (via Amazon) “Somewhere in Shadow Valley lies a secret that could forever change the frontier. Only a posse of gunmen with special abilities can defend that secret from a tribe of ghostly warriors, an advancing army led by a deranged Colonel, and the perils of the valley itself.” Another book from Dark Horse (one of the most underrated publishers of graphic novels, by the way), this hardcover that collects the Guns of Shadow Valley webcomic from Dave Wachter, James Andrew Clark and Thomas Mauer. The high concept is basically cowboys with superpowers, but the content rises so far above and beyond that premise. It’s like if Ed Brubaker did a great Western. Highly recommended.
- The Antler Boy & Other Stories “A collection of 10 short stories beautifully printed with a hard cover binding.” After drawing a few issues of Rocket Raccoon and a very successful Kickstarter for his graphic novel SkyHeart, there’s a lot of attention on cartoonist Jake Parker. That attention should be most focused on The Antler Boy and Other Stories, an anthology that collects years worth of his short works. Not only does the title hint towards the winter holidays, the stories inside are sweet, poignant and beautifully told. You can buy it off of Jake Parker’s online store, and you really should.
Victor Van Scoit
The most difficult thing about putting together gift guides is keeping the list manageable. The best way to rein it in is stick with a theme. This year is art inspired so you can class up your walls or even your body.
- Dave Pollot’s Pop Culture Thrift Art |via Cool Material | $15 – $150 | I’m always on the lookout for an interesting way to display geek love in subversive ways, and one of the best ways is with art. Artist Dave Pollot obviously thinks so and every piece of his requires a second glance often followed by a wry smile. Pollot takes thrift store paintings and skillfully blends in pop culture icons to the scenery. Perhaps you’d like the Millennium Falcon landing upon a Victorian era beach, Optimus Prime towering over a thatched cottage, or Mario Kart competitors zipping through a flowery path. His Etsy shop offers you posters, prints, canvas options, and even better deals on collections.
- Ty Mattson’s Star Wars Prints | $50 | Ty Mattson is a graphic designer whose work nods to designers of the 50s and 60s like Saul Bass and Paul Rand. Take that same inspiration and apply it to Star Wars and you’ve got one hell of a poster series (officially licensed even). This is a bold, graphic, classy opportunity of taking your Star Wars love up a notch from simple posters tacked to the wall.
- Momentary Ink | $15 – $20 | You’ve either been thinking about that tattoo, or already have one (or several) and looking for that next one. Now it’s time to commit—or is it? The difficult part is choosing which pop culture icon and how best to permanently adorn your body with it. Momentary Ink is here to remove the anxiety and make you feel more confident in your choice with a try-before-you-buy option. Their tech allows you upload your custom designs (Boba Fett’s Slave One, Cthulu deities, etc), they send you the temporary tattoo, and you apply it where you think it might look best. They guarantee the look and color of a real tattoo, are 100% resistant to sweat and water, and last up to 10 days. The results are pretty impressive and you can see some of them via Instagram.
For the Comics Lover with a coffee table:
The Eternaut by Héctor Germán Oesterheld and Francisco Solano Lopez is not only a rousing SF tale with twists turns and an incredible history but it’s die-cut slipcase with the intense statre of the hero on it will be a conversation starter for coffee tables everywhere.
For the person who likes to laugh and Downton Abbey:
Step Aside, Pops by Kate Beaton – it doesn’t get any funnier than Beaton’s droll takes on historical foibles.
For the person who you want to get into comics, indie division:
An Anthology of Graphic Fiction, Cartoons, and True Stories Volume 1 Amazon has only a few copies of this anthology from 23006 left, and even fewer of its sequel An Anthology of Graphic Fiction, Cartoons, and True Stories: Volume 2 but these are the finest anthologies of non superhero comics since The Smithsonian Book of Comic Book Comics. Clowes, Barry, Los Bros…they’re all here. Someone should reprint these and use them as the ultimate comics textbooks.
For the person you want to get into comics, non-indie:
Y The Last Man, Vol 1 by Brian K. Vaughan, Pia Guerra and Jose Marzan, Jr. Yes I worked on this book, but if I had a dollar for everyone over the years who has told them that this is the book that got them reading comics (before they know of my involvement) I would be able to buy dinner. Alternatively: Saga Volume 1 will probably do the job too.
For the person who you don’t have time to ship a gift to:
A Comixology gift certificate. Yes I know gift cards are sometimes the last resort , but everyone likes to pick things out themselves in these individuated days.
For the discerning Star Wars fan:
A hand carved Star Wars figure by Michael Leavitt. This is part of the artists’ Empire Peaks series from 2013, I’m told the Jonathan Levine Gallery has a few of these left for your loved ones. OR you can buy 3D printer versions from the artist. The above figure is only $59.
For the person who has everything:
James Jean temporary tattoos. You’ll be the greatest person ever for this gift, trust me.
For the collector who marches to a different drummer:
Black comics storage boxes from BCW Supplies. Suitabel for goth or style-bssessed collectors. Doubles as a coffee table if necessary.
What are you nabbing for your friends and family? A Doomsday onesie? Infinity Gauntlet gloves? Sound off in the comments and feel free to suggest git ideas of your own!