Welcome to our weekly “Food or Comics?” feature, where we set certain hypothetical spending limits on ourselves and go through the agony of trying to determine what comics come home for Christmas dinner and which ones stay on the shelves, sitting cold and lonely through the holidays. So join us as we run down what comics we’d buy if they only had $15 and $30 to spend, as well as what we’d get if we had some “mad money” to splurge with.
Check out Diamond's release list for this week to play along. Because of weather issues, shops on the West Coast won't be getting everything; Brian Hibbs has a list of what to expect in his store in San Francisco, which should give you an idea of what is and isn't showing up out here.
If I had $15…
No question, I'd get the first trade of Thor: The Mighty Avenger ($14.99). Back when I read superhero comics, The Mighty Thor was one of my favorites, and I'd love to revisit the character without getting tripped up by all the continuity I missed. This series has gotten great word-of-blog, particularly since it was canceled, and that has me curious as well.
If I had $30…
I'd take a chance on an odd little book in this week's ComicList that sounds absolutely fascinating: Edible Secrets: A Food Tour of Classified U.S. History ($10). It's a nonfiction book that chronicles the different way food pops up in politics and espionage, drawn from declassified intelligence documents, organized graphically, and illustrated by Nate Powell (Swallow Me Whole). It sounds truly awesome, and at ten bucks, it's affordable, too.
And then I'll steal $5 from the week's grocery money so I can buy the first volume of Kamisama Kiss, by Julietta Suzuki ($9.99). I really liked her first series, Karakuri Odette, and this new one, about a girl who unwittingly takes the place of the deity in a local shrine, sounds like a Japanese version of The Santa Clause—she has to adapt to a new life, with unforeseen dangers and a bit of romance.
So many choices this week! The best splurge, to me, is a big, colorful collection of classic comics. There's the second volume of The Phantom Complete Newspaper Dailies, from Hermes Press ($49.99); the fourth volume of the Boris Karloff Tales of Mystery Archives, from Dark Horse ($49.99); and the first volume of IDW's Polly & Her Pals Complete Sunday Comics ($75). Of the three, Polly looks like the most interesting, and it's the one I'm least familiar with, so that's my splurge.
If I had $15:
I'd steal another dollar from my kids' piggy bank (I have no shame) and get Dark Horse's second Tubby volume, The Runaway Statue, as I'm pretty much sworn to purchase every John Stanley book that comes out the gates. I think I've written it down in blood somewhere.
If I had $30:
I'd steal another two dollars and get Who Will Comfort Toffle, the latest Moomin children's picture book from Drawn and Quarterly's kids' line. It's not as visually inventive as their first offering, The Book About Moomin, Myble and Little My, but hey, it's a Moomin book. It's still loaded down with charm and grace.
At $75 it's definitely a splurge item, but IDW's latest classic comic-strip collection Polly and Her Pals Complete Sunday Comics Vol. 1: 1925-1927 is a must-buy for any serious fan of ye olden comics. Creator Cliff Sterrett was at the top of his game here, offering one stunning and visually inventive strip after another, each heavily influenced by the art deco movement going on around the same time. I have the earlier Kitchen Sink volumes of this work and they're really wonderful things to behold (so long as you're wiling to ignore some of the sexism and racism that was ever-present in that era). Anyone who enjoys just pure, devil-may care cartooning will want to check this out.
Thanks to even more strange weather affecting comic deliveries here on the West Coast, I feel like all of this week's choices should be prefaced with "If this makes it to my local store." And it's not even that cold here in Portland! It's like all of the drawbacks of winter, but none of the benefits! Or something. That said, if I had $15, I'd put my first $9.99 towards Fables #100 - which may or may not be on the final list - because, even though I follow the series in trades, the 100-page package filled with short stories, prose by Mark Buckingham (illustrated by Bill Willingham!) and a board game seems too much fun to turn up first time around. After that, my love of the season takes over and pushes me toward the DC Universe Holiday Special 2010 ($4.99). Ho ho how could I resist?
If I had $30, I'd check out some first issues: Chris Roberson's new Stan Lee-created series for BOOM!, The Starborn ($3.99), the debut of supernatural rock'n'rollfest 27 from Image ($3.50), and the sorta-kinda spin-off from Jim McCann's already-missed Hawkeye and Mockingbird, Widowmaker #1 ($3.99). While I'd love to add Dynamite's Project Superpowers Xmas Special ($5.99) - I do love those holidays, remember, and have an unspoken love for Alex Ross' golden age-recreation series - it won't fit into my remaining $3.50, so instead I'll pick up the seventh and sadly penultimate issue of Thor: The Mighty Avenger ($2.99). You won't regret getting the trade, Brigid; Chris Samnee's art is worth that price alone.
Splurging, it's a very obvious choice this week: The Spirit Collectors Set ($39.99) is a must-get; collecting the entire eight-issue Kitchen Sink "New Adventures" series from the 1990s, it's got favorites like Paul Pope, Kurt Busiek, Eddie Campbell, Neil Gaiman and all manner of fine folk giving their take on Will Eisner's most famous creation, and it's stuff that hasn't been seen in far too long. If you need more reason to pick it up, it also has a post-Watchmen collaboration between Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons...
If I had $15:
At the top of my stack this week would be two Vertigo titles -- Fables #100, which Graeme mentioned above, and Northlanders #35, which reunites the Demo team of Brian Wood and Becky Cloonan. That puts me at roughly $13, which caps me out for this first tier.
If I had $30:
I'd also grab the last issue of IDW's Mystery Society ($3.99), a fun little series that I caught up with recently on my iPad, and the newest issues of Thor ($3.99) and Thor: The Mighty Avenger ($2.99). That leaves me with roughly $6, so let's grab the second issue of Superboy and Justice League: Generation Lost #15, each of which is $2.99.
For my splurge items this week, instead of buying for myself, I'm going to plan ahead and buy some Christmas presents. I think my brother would dig Irredeemable, so I'll grab the latest trade for $16.99, while my younger brother would likely enjoy Orc Stain, so let's grab the first trade for $17.99. Finally, my nephew recently got in trouble at school because reading Bone "interfered with math time," and that's the kind of behavior I feel like I should be rewarding. So I'll grab him the three Usagi Yojimbo trades from Dark Horse. He's almost ten, so they should be age appropriate.