As we’ve expounded over the course of this week, thoughtfulness and individual attention are key in selecting a holiday gift. Of course, such considerations only account for some 3% of a present’s worth. The real value is in, you guessed it, value. Retail value. To demonstrate to a loved one that you truly love them, it’s important to spend a significant — dare we say dangerous — amount of money. By the latter half of this month, you should each be teetering at the precipice of financial ruin, having spent nearly all of your resources on material goods and, we suppose, chestnuts. Holiday gifts from others will swoop in at the 11th hour to cushion your descent. For this system to work, we must each contribute to the cause. Who are a few ways to show the comic fans in your life that you indeed give a figgy pudding about them and commerce in general.
Man-Thing Will Make Their Hearts Sing
By Steve Gerber, Chris Claremont, Mike Ploog, Val Mayerik, John Buscema
Marvel Comics – $125
When Man-Thing eats too many of Aunt Petunia’s holiday cookies, he’s sure to break out in poinsettias. How festive! Seriously though, spend a little green on your loved ones with over a thousand pages of Marvel’s leafiest, mossiest transport system. Way better than a Chia-Pet because he feeds on both photosynthesis and your fear.
The Mark of a Prestige Book is the Mark of a Lovingly Reproduced Coffee Stain
By Archie Goodwin & Walter Simonson
Titan Books – $75
Love it or loathe it, Prometheus rekindled our fascination with the Xenomorph and 1979′s original Alien. There are a handful of ways to enjoy Archie Goodwin and Walt Simonson’s adaptation of the Ridley Scott classic this year. There’s a lovely color reprint in traditional trade paperback, and then there’s the boogie-board sized artist’s edition, featuring huge pages reproduced from Simonson’s original art. It’s a warts-and-all reproduction replete with coffee stains, hand-written notes and revisions, and even a few paste-in sound effects and art changes. Even the exterior of the book looks and feels like a hand-crafted artifact, yellowed with age and slightly tacky with mailing tape. The real draw are the bonus materials, including script pages and Simonson’s color tryout pages, produced before he had access to the film or any production photos. He had to guess what the alien looked like based on the script.
Written by Frank Miller, Art by David Muzzucchelli
IDW – $125
Another enticing artist edition the size of a modest grave stone. After the disservice Mazzucchelli received on a recent misguided reprint of Batman: Year One, we’re looking at the artist’s original intent, at least at the pre-color stage. It’s a thrilling time to be a Daredevil fan, so why not look back to one of the character’s definitive story lines? For process junkies, this one is a no-brainer. Perhaps my favorite addition is the playful inclusion of tactile Braille inscriptions, as seen on the bottom right of the cover.
Never Starve a Fever Dream
Written by Grant Morrison, Art by Steve Yeowell, Jill Thompson, Phil Jiminez, Tommy Lee Edwards, Frank Quitely, etc
DC Comics / Vertigo – $150
If you’ve read Grant Morrison’s fascinating Supergods, a love letter to superhero comics and a memoir of his own experiences therein, you know that The Invisibles was composed under some fairly unusual circumstances, even for Scotland’s most transcendental son. It’s hard to say whether this saga of humanity’s last line of defense against pan-dimensional psionic subjugation is Morrison’s least lucid opus, as after all, there’s a lot of competition, but it’s that delightful kind of madness you embrace gleefully. Most of the people you care about will get some kind of sick in the new year, and this will prepare them for the fever far better than a dream catcher or a crate of clementines.
Written by Neil Gaiman, Art by Dave McKean, Sam Keith, Kelley Jones, Jill Thompson, etc.
DC Comics / Vertigo – $199
I’m not going to pretend this is anyone’s introduction to Neil Gaiman’s variations on the themes of dream. Simply put, this newly released set is that next step down from the glorious Absolute editions, presenting all of the newly re-colored paperback collections in a lovely box designed by Dave McKean. Perhaps a more comfortable way to enjoy Sandman on the go, but still an imperious conversation piece.
The End is Just a Little Merrier When Brought About by Friends
Written by Scott Lobdell, Mark Waid, Fabian Nicieza, Jeph Loeb; Art by Ron Garney, Roger Cruz, Andy Kubert, etc.
Marvel Comics – $125
If you simply must evangelize the mutant manifesto, I urge you to at least spread the truth. In this one, I’m pretty sure they all show their true colors and we get to see what might happen if we don’t nip this mutant problem in the bud right now. The holidays are a perfect time for cautionary tales, like the one about the grasshopper and the ants and that other one about poor Mr. Fezziwig. This is a little like that, but with filthy mutants.
All of It. All. Of. It.
By Naoki Urasawa
Viz – Something like $285.00
The 22 volumes of manga mastermind Naoki Urasawa’s, well, voluminous thriller 20th Century Boys are finally available in full here in North America. Personally, I haven’t made my way through the full score and change of these little gems (i’m chipping away at the quarter century mark) but I’d liken it to Stand By Me meets Se7en meets Zodiac. I guess what I’m saying is it’s a Stephen King coming of age conspiracy saga as directed by David Fincher. If that’s your bag, and it damn well is, go to town on this one the same as you did on the terrific Pluto. They go for around $12.99 each. That works out to just under $300. That’s love. That’s affection. That’s the whole sugarplum.
Slade is Definitely on the Naughty List
Written by Marv Wolfman, Art by George Perez
DC Comics – $75
Better binding and glueing technology means a better reading experience on this second go with Dick and the gang. This volume collects the iconic “Judas Contract” storyline which so epitomizes this wildly popular run. In it, Slade Wilson earns his place in permanent ink on Santa’s naughty list. This might be a good one for any fans pining for more Young Justice, just so long as they’re open to delving into a previous era. It’s superhero teen soap opera at the height of the sub-genre’s popularity, rivaling even some of the best X-Men stories. Or all of them, since this doesn’t have mutants.
A Hymnal for That Midnight Mass
Written by Alexandro Jodorowsky, Art by Zoran Janjetrov, Fred Beltran
Humanoids – $114.95
This has been a banner year for science fiction, especially Weird science fiction. Beyond the influx of new works like Saga and The Manhattan Projects, Prophet and Planetoid, I’ve taken it upon myself to get better acquainted with masters of the genre like Jodorowsky and Moebius, finally snagging a copy of The Incal and The Metabarons. More and more of those European masterworks are making their way to these shores, and one of the latest is a hefty collection of Jodorowsky’s trippy galaxy-hopper, The Technopriests. If you know a cat who digs on the loftier, grungier works of Warren Ellis, Grant Morrison, Matt Fraction and Jonathan Hickman, hell, Frank Herbert, this could be their next jam.
If I Could Recommend Just One Collection That Might Not Fall on Your Radar…
By Hayao Miyazaki
Viz – $60
Princess Mononoke. Howl’s Moving Castle. Spirited Away. Or my personal favorite, Castle in the Sky. They’re just some of the wondrous animated films on offer from Studio Ghibli and fantasist Hiyao Miyazaki. He’s your guy. His first major work was a bug-punk ode to the natural world in the magnificent Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind. You can pick up the Blu-ray release of the film along with this box set of the companion manga story for a little over 50 clams. Wild worlds, strange creatures and a terrific female protagonist make this one perfect for a young reader. Yes, these two over-sized tomes are read from right to left, but the influences are as much European as they are Japanese. It’s a beautiful set. Trust me on this one.