Happy December folks. I don't know where you come from, but 'tis the beginning of some viciously aggressive holiday marketing as you stock up on gifts and appropriate presents for your holiday-minded friends and family. With that in mind, I've put together a handy little shopping list for the people in your life who might appreciate a thoughtful gift. These holiday gifts are primarily aimed at (basically) adult tastes.
While I've given a small glimpse of some beloved books published in 2010 that would make wonderful gifts for almost anyone (including non-comic book readers who might need to be converted), we have to at least consider other options too. Here are some of my favorite picks of quality objects which echo comic book culture, but still speak to the sense of style we've come to know and love in comic books.
Please note: Many of the non-book gifts listed which are hand made or sold by independent retailers. With that in mind, I'd recommend using this long lead time to order any of these things early for xmas delivery.
GIFTS WHICH AREN'T BOOKS
As crazy as it sounds, some people aren't into reading comic books, even when they're lovingly hidden under the guise of a graphic novel. In these instances, it is still possible to find gifts which still speak to the love of the medium. Stuff which is fun and useful:
To carry all those books:Red Robot Army Tote BagMy friend Ferocious J once loaned me all of his hardcover volumes of Garth Ennis' Punisher Max. He delivered them in this unexpected Red Robot Army tote bag. Not only is it the most geek friendly tote bag, but it is strong enough to hold 5 hardcover books. Not to be sneezed at, it is also an ecologically sound alternative to using 8 plastic bags every time you loan someone comic books or go buy groceries.For the true robot fan, pair with the adorable Red Robot socks.
Handmade Wonder Woman UnderpantsThere comes a time in everyones life to put aside childish things, or not. Sadly, we can no longer wear the underoos we loved as children, but we can wear these lovingly constructed, high-quality, star-spangled panties. A perfect gift for anyone with a good sense of humor about taking their clothes off, these panties are as comfortable as they are fun. A far cry from the usual publisher-produced comic book clothing, this is more clothing with a jaunty tip of the hat to comics.
To pack a visual punch:Lightning Bolt Recycled Vinyl Record JewelryUniting the love of records and comics with this lightning bolt-shaped jewelry made from colored and classic black recycled vinyl records. Lightning bold shaped necklaces made from a variety of golden colored vinyl records and superhero-esque cuffs with lightning bolts cut-outs made from red or black vinyl records.
To idolize: Ami-Comi Heroine Series: Jade PVC FigureThe greenest and the slinkiest of the adorable DC Direct Ami-Comi series, this is a sculpture to enrich any shelf. Aesthetically pleasing even to non-comic book readers, this will be a great precursor gift to accompany a date to go see the upcoming Green Lantern movie in 2011. (Shhhh, just don't mention that the character actually has nothing to do with Hal Jordan.)
Silver Speech Bubble PendantCanadian jeweler Melanie Favreau produces a variety of interesting, clever pieces and this is no exception. Comic books wouldn't be anything without those eponymous speech bubbles and now you can have one of your own. In addition, Melanie will adorn it with the text of your choice (or the default text "WTF...") and she also sells chains for you to hang your speech bubble on.
To carry the money you don't spend on comic books:Comic WalletUnique wallets made from a page (or cover) from a real comic book, then laminated front and back, then reinforced with fabric inside. These are solid wallets, built to use and enjoy while showing off your love of the medium. Custom orders can be made.
To superpower desert:Alcoholic Whipped Cream A grown up gift for those of us who wants to get drunk and fat simultaneously. Yes, it's hyper indulgent and incredibly unhealthy. However, it does seem like the most futuristic way to top a desert and get loaded. While I'm sure that only a small percentage of us need to gain weight that easily, since it is the holiday season we get some leeway. Besides, I can't imagine anything funnier than feeding my family dessert and watching them get soused, could be the easiest way to loosen up those awkward, wintery, holiday dinners.
READING MATERIAL GIFTS
This year there have been quite a few incredible graphic novels published which make great gifts, not simply because they're a fun read, but because the right comic book for the right person can change reading habits for life. Choosing correctly is key, being sensitive to the recipients taste and interests. It doesn't hurt if it is an attractive collectible for someone to treasure and pass on or a life altering story to transform and enlighten. Here are a few of my favorites:
For the deep thinker: LINT: Acme Novelty Library #20Chris Ware's latest foray into his Acme Novelty Library continues to evolve and expand with volume #20. Certainly the most elegant and beautiful object of the library it is a beautifully bound book and an object to desire. Then we look inside. A strange book, but then isn't that to be expected from this master of the an almost cubist surrealism? A culmination of sorts, as Ware's continued Acme Novelty Library continues to evolve and expand. LINT works as an incredible stand-alone novel, telling the life story of one Jordan Lint, from his experience of the exact moment of his birth to that of his death. Complete and elegant, the story is as creepy and touching as you would expect from Ware. The intimacy, vibrancy and attention to detail betray the author's affection for his character.
For the hard-bitten:Parker: The OutfitDarwyn Cooke's loving adaptation of Richard Stark's novel is a hard-bitten gangster story in the pulp fiction vein. This is a book which takes all of your favorite classic noir film devices and combines them with the best of comic book communication techniques. No need to read the first volume, since although Parker: The Outfit picks up exactly where the 2009 volume Parker: The Hunter left off, it stands alone beautifully. In fact there are elements which are far more enjoyable, for example the great expositions and explanations of the mechanics of Parker's world of 1950's era organized crime.
For the childlike:Meet the MuppetsHarvey Award winner Meet the Muppets appeals to all ages. This year Roger Langridge injected this beloved old favorite with an incredible lease of life. His affection for the original characters and his love of old vaudeville comedy infuses every panel. Just as the old Looney Tunes cartoons had something for every demographic, so too does Langridge's take on the Muppet Show. So close to the original tv show that you'll feel as if you've gone back in time, this will appeal to any fan of the Muppets.
For the aesthete:Batwoman ElegyAbsolutely the most beautifully illustrated comic book you will find this year, J.H. Williams III has outdone himself in drawing this timely, iconic character. With grace and strength this is a woman to rescue the defenseless and battle crime in the streets of Gotham. With the lines of an art nouveau designer and the fashions of a functional, real world sex symbol, Kate Kane comes alive in every panel. The precursor to her own ongoing series, this book will set up anyone to begin 2011 collecting the new Batwoman comic.
For the aspiring: Graphic NYC Presents: Dean Haspiel: The Early YearsChristopher Irving writes this disarmingly open story, charting the evolution of Haspiel's work as a writer, artists and man. From Haspiel's early childhood creating his own comic books with his friends, to his work in Howard Chaykin's studio, then on to his independent, biographical comic books, his groundbreaking digital publishing community and his current, award-winning collaborative publishing today, it is an impressive document, richly supplemented with a wealth of photography by Seth Kushner and Ryan Roman, as well as a wild variety of Haspiel's own stories and artwork, (many never before published.) This book provides the ultimate inspiration material for any young artist/writer seeking a roadmap for their own comic book outlet.
For the curious: AX (Vol 1): A Collection of Alternative MangaA diverse and fascinating collection of Japanese underground comics (translated into English for the fist time.) 400 pages compiled from ten years of the Japanese magazine of alternative comics provides a completely unexpected glimpse into the previously unseen world of comics. Rich and diverse, this elegant book is an excellent gift for any manga or indie comic book reader.
These are just a very few ideas for gifts that might help you surprise and delight the recipients. If you have any to add, please do in the comments section below. I know that I need all the help I can get and you might be able to assist some of your fellow readers too.