All I Want for Christmas


Short one this week. The turkey's run off and I need to circle the neighborhood and warble for him. 

I do want your opinion on something though.  

Last week my editor at Philadelphia Weekly asked if I'd be interested in writing a comics wishlist for the upcoming holiday shopping guide. I'm fond of money, so I said yes. The piece is around 1000 words and includes my favorite original graphic novels and collected editions from 2009 organized into handy categories like "For Your Uncle Chris the Conspiracy Theorist" and "Your Cousin Beth, Who Was Recently Let Out of Prison." It will appear in an upcoming issue (check the yellow PW box each Wednesday). I've already decided to spend the money on one of those electric foot spas with bubbles and a six week falconry workshop being offered at the local Protestant home. Hopefully the feature will help some readers find a comic they'd like to read and share with the people they spend time with.

In writing the holiday gift guide, I got to thinking just how difficult it can be for the friends and loved ones of comic readers when it comes time to purchase a gift. Any kind of hobbyist item is intimidating when you're an outsider trying to navigate unknown territories. Especially when things are numbered and the people who publish them are batshit crazy. But even when you're a comic reader yourself, it can still be difficult to pinpoint the perfect comic related gift for a likeminded friend. For one, it's not always easy to figure out what the person might already own.

Let's say I wanted to buy a comic for Josh (which I don't because he's awful). I know some of the books Josh owns, but not all of them. I could guess and try to find something I know he doesn't have, but in all likelihood he'd claw through the wrapping paper and grimace at a book he'd known about, but had no real desire to read. It's the same as his joyous expression, but I'd know because he'd tell me. I wouldn't blame him either. The book was free to him, but it's also worse than getting nothing. A book you don't want is an extra layer to any comic reader's growing to-read pile, more chore than treasure trove for some ungodly reason. This is why I wouldn't take the gamble of giving comics as a gift. It's also why Josh is getting an Outback steakhouse gift card like everyone else.

Being on the receiving end can also be frustrating. Said the actress to the bishop. No one's ever given me an actual comic as a gift without my actually having pointed them in its direction. You either do it as an item on a wish list with proper instruction, thereby ruining the surprise and appearing entitled in the process, or simply don't ask for anything at all. This is how I've come to own five Superman folders and two pairs of Super Friends pajama pants.

I'm wondering whether you've had any success either giving or receiving comic related gifts. Do you make a list? Do you try and discourage comic related gifts outright, making that area of your life the stuff of gift cards and holiday bonuses? Have you had any success in giving comics as gifts to others, whether they're as avid a fan on the medium or not?

 


Paul Montgomery wants a Red Ryder carbine-action, two hundred shot Range Model air rifle with a compass in the stock and a thing which tells time. Find him on Twitter or contact him at paul@ifanboy.com.

Comments

  1. you’ll shoot your eye out, kid!

  2. I’ve actually only one comic (trade) as a gift.  I usually get something comic-related, but never an actual one.  The one I did get was the Alan Moore’s DC Compliation of stories:

    http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/59705.DC_Universe_The_Stories_of_Alan_Moore

    I don’t real alot of older stuff, but this was a great one I didn’t have and was VERY glad to recieve.  I had read some of these stories separately or seen them made into cartoon, but was great to have them all in one place.  He’s a true master and something like this is always a good gift.

  3. Personally if I ever wanted a comic that I haven’t yet bought myself, I tell people to check my amazon wishlist. Anything bought of that still tends to be a surprise because I constantly maintain it instead of just plugging stuff into it for the holidays. Maybe someone will be nice enough to buy me those four volumes of 7 Soldiers I put on my wish list over a year ago.

    As for giving comics, I give comics to my brother and his son all the time. They love comics but aren’t as seasoned of a reader as myself so I just pick and choose stuff i know is good and that is not totally mainstream and most of the time they haven’t read it. I’ve also given comics to non-typical comic readers, but again it all counts on the taste of the person you’re buying for. I knew my Dad would love Alan’s War and I was right. I know my friend likes zombies so Walking Dead is a no brainer. It’s hard to compile a general list without knowing the person, so I guess yours is the best approach "For you typical Zombie Apocalypse fan, try…."

  4. My mom and brother always get me Batman pajamas and/or underwear for Christmas.  I never ask for it, but it’s always appreciated.

    A few days ago my mom told me that my cousin likes the Joker.  17 yrs old and loved The Dark Knight.  She then asked what she should get said cousin.  I told her there are several books I could suggest in a heartbeat…IF she wanted to get him that.  If she just wanted to get him an oversized Joker shirt, I was of no use to her.  She gave no difinitive answer to what she wanted.  My point is, most people I know are still hesitant about A) giving comic books as gifts and B) receiving comic books as gifts.  

    Paul…can I get an Outback gift card?  Their cheesy fries are amazing.

  5. @Drake mmmmm Cheese Fries

  6. Just last birthday I got an awesome gift that I didn’t point anyone in the direction of . . . R. Crumb’s The Illustrated Book of Genesis.

    Mix of my love for comics and religious studies. Perfect gift.

    Only problem was I got two of them.

    My favorite collections this year are Garth Ennis’s Battlefields hardcover, Criminal Deluxe hardcover, and Crumb’s Genesis.

  7. I’ve got to specifically ask for whatever trades or comics I want. It sucks, but for all the reasons Paul names, I really can’t rely on anyone else not to get me something I either have already or just don’t want – it’s the exact same thing with other collections of mine (I have like 5 Santa Pez dispensers – ARRRGGGHHH).

    The worse part is when people buy it for you, and – while being a very thoughtful gift and if you didn’t have it, would be awesome – ask you if you have it already. Do you have to lie and say no? Do you say something like, "Yes, but a second (or fifth!!!) copy is always welcomed." What is the etiquette here anyway?

    But I’m getting old. Surprises just aren’t as welcomed – or healthy – as they once were.

  8. As far as giving goes, I have had some success at gifting comics, but only if the person is either a fairweather reader or not really a reader. My prime example is my dad. He read comics as a kid, but like most aduits, he grew out of the hobby. That said, he’s a HUGE science fiction fan. He loves Dune and Star Trek and Heinlein. He’s very analytical, and he likes sci-fi that expands his mind with new ideas and concepts. 

    There are plenty of comics that fit this bill, but I also realized I needed something with very clean, cinematic storytelling. Something that was self-contained and required no additional reading. Something in a book form.

    My biggest success to date has been Y:The Last Man. The first time I got him a volume, he read the entire thing on Christmas day and asked for the next one. At this point, I think I’ve given him the entire series. He also liked a few other books, but none as much as Y.

  9. Woohoo! Bloomin’ Onion!

    Wait- what? Awful.  Why I?!

  10. My solution is a spreadsheet. It’s harsh and materialistic but makes holiday shopping a breeze for my loved ones. It’s easier than asking Payton and Alison.

  11. Can I be part of this "everyone else" category? I’d like a gift card to a place that serves food!

  12. I have the problem of giving my boyfriend things I liked that he doesn’t care about.  Which was some sandman volumes and a copy of Vampire hunter D.

  13. I will show you exactly what I am doing this year.  It worked last year and it better work this year!  I send this email (with various subsets of the items in this list included to protect against duplicate gifts) to each member of my family and all my friends (Can one of you guys [Ron, Conor, Josh, Paul, anyone else who knows] confirm that using this link will result in purchases being credited to iFanboy?):

    Go here: http://www.amazon.com/?_encoding=UTF8&tag=ifanboycom-20&linkCode=sb1&camp=212353&creative=380557

    Buy anything you want to from this list (Just copy the name and past it in the search box on Amazon):
    Asterios Polyp 
    Parker: The Hunter (Richard Stark’s Parker) 
    Transformers: All Hail Megatron Volume 1 (v. 1) 
    Transformers: All Hail Megatron Volume 2 
    Preacher Vol. 5: Dixie Fried 
    Preacher Vol. 6: War in the Sun 
    Preacher Vol. 7: Salvation 
    Preacher Vol. 8: All Hell’s A-Coming 
    Preacher Vol. 9: Alamo 
    The Wonderful Wizard of Oz 
    I Kill Giants 
    Robin: Year One (Batman) 
    Teen Titans: Titans of Tomorrow 
    B.P.R.D., Vol. 1: Hollow Earth & Other Stories (Hellboy) 
    Batman: No Man’s Land, Vol. 1 
    Batman: No Man’s Land, Vol. 2 
    Batman: No Man’s Land, Vol. 3 
    Batman: No Man’s Land, Vol. 4 
    Batman: No Man’s Land, Vol. 5 
    Fear Agent Volume 1: Re-Ignition (v. 1) 
    Fear Agent, Vol. 2: My War (v. 2) 
    Fear Agent Volume 3: The Last Good
    Fear Agent Volume 4: Hatchet Job (v. 4) 
    Gotham Central Vol. 4: The Quick and the Dead (Batman) 
    Gotham Central Vol. 5: Dead Robin (Batman) 
    My Custom Van: And 50 Other Mind-Blowing Essays that Will Blow Your Mind All Over Your Face 
    The Ultimate Hitchhiker’s Guide: Five Complete Novels and One Story 

  14. I’m giving away my Hellboy trades and Criminal issues to friends and whoever wants them (so I can buy their respective Big Ol’ Hardcovers later).

  15. last year my wife got me a gift card to my shop.  That was awesome.

  16. I’d love a comics gift.

  17. I usually get comics for Christmas and birthdays, but I also provide a list of stuff I want with pictures.  I’ve found this works best only because there’s so much stuff out there for the different characters that repeats and crap is easy to get.

    As for giving, I’ve found some success.  I haven’t converted anybody, but I have bought my mom graphic novels the last few years, and she enjoys them (plus the thought that goes into pick them out for her; I always inscribe them with a little note).  This year, I’m thinking I’m going to get a few graphic novels for some people in my family because there were lots of solid releases this year.  We’ll see how it works. 

  18. Stuclach: An incredible list, but what do you think we are? Made of money?

  19. @ato220 – You mean you aren’t?

  20. @stuclach: That link is correct. Thanks!

  21. @stuclach-I am, but not dollars.  Pesos.

  22. I keep an Amazon.com Wish List updated with prioritized listings for most entries.  I then print this list off and put on the refrigerator of every family member I see from late November to December.  I’m not too big of a man to do that.  It’s an ongoing joke about how much I love my Wish List.  My wife complains that this means I’m almost TOO easy to shop for and that anything she gets for me isn’t going to be a surprise.  She makes up for it by being notoriously difficult to shop for, so I think we balance each other out.

  23. My mom (and anyone who’s known me for years) gave up on giving me comic gifts after the years I made her track down 20 or so George Perez comics to fill in my collection.

    How about a gift card to your LCS or a gift certificate to InStockTrades.com?

    Take care,

    Filip Sablik
    Publisher
    Top Cow Productions, Inc.
    Read The Darkness/Pitt #1 for free on your iPhone from comiXology.

  24. Why can’t my boss ask me if I was intrested in writing a comic wishlist?

  25. The Criminal Hardcover would be on my list, if we celeberated Christmas.

  26. Amazon wishlist for me.  I just keep it updated, with priority tags, and direct all family members to it at Christmas and birthday time.

    When i get the inevitable "but your present won’t be a surprise", I rationalise by saying "well there’s so much on there, and I don’t check it leading up to Christmas, I won’t know what you’ve got me".

    I of course check it on a daily basis.

  27. I tell people all the time: there are two things you NEVER buy me that I didn’t ask for: CDs or Comics. Because I have thousands of CDs and thousands of comics, people just assume it’s an easy thing to get one for me. But the thing is, because I have so many of both of those things, people assume I just buy things that i vaguely want, or that i see on sale or something. No, I only want specific things in my collection. And if you buy me something I didn’t ask for, chances are I don’t want it. And I’m also very bad at faking enthusiasm for shitty gifts. So I always send out an Amazon wish list. Yeah, it ruins the surprise, but at least I know I’ll be getting something i want. 

  28. JohnVFerrigno embodies the spirit of Christmas

  29. hahahaha

  30. I do the same as lots of other people have said. I make a list of all the trades that I’ve been wanting to read but havent got to pick up yet and disperse it to my family. I figure this way, I’m getting something that I want to read, and it’s a lot easier on them buying for me.

  31. @Conor – Thank you for the quick response.  Don’t spend it all in one place.

    @drake – Pesos are easily converted.  Each Peso is worth roughly 8 cents (7.8 to be exact).  

    We should set up a big iFanboy gift exchange.  Hopefully, I will get KickAss in the drawing.  I’ll get him a copy of History of the DC Universe (http://www.amazon.com/History-DC-Universe-Marv-Wolfman/dp/1563897989/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1259172053&sr=8-1). 

  32. I bought THE ESCAPISTS for Pa Carr who is found of stories sent in blue collar towns. This also might be my favorite comic miniseries. And it’s a good Chabon Carrot. Now to get him to read Kavalier and Clay.

     

    Action Philiosophers is good for bitter Academics or enthusiastic academics.

  33. This is always a weird one for me, too, as well as my friends.  They always ask me what i want for a gift, and they know I like comics.  They always start with, "So, if I wanted to buy you a gift, a comic book, which one would be good to get?"  I reply if I tell them what to get, it ruins the surprise.

    Usually, I just direct them to a publishing line that is usually no-fail with me.  Vertigo, Top-Shelf, or Oni.  I know if they get me something from there, I will more than likely be happy with it.  And if I’m not entirely happy, at least I’ll be curious enough to read a book I may not have known about.

    That or Batman.  Really can’t go wrong with Batman for me.

  34. I spent years trying to discourage the practice of gift-giving entirely, because it’s difficult and frustrating for both giver and giftee, and I would explain over and over that what I really wanted was just to spend time with people and have fun, and the money we saved could be spent on doing so.

    This long-term effort was largely unsuccessful, because people just really like receiving gifts, so much so, it turns out, that being absolved of the responsibility to buy things for others does not apparently make up for the lack of getting stuff in return.  (Never mind that most of what you get you didn’t want and won’t keep; it’s the act of tearing open wrapping paper that counts.)

    So I figure if I have to buy stuff of dubious value to the recipients anyway, I can at least try to spend money on stuff I like spending money on.  So most people get comics.  If they don’t like ’em, well…they should have gone along with my plan to skip getting each other stuff in the first place.

  35. Like some others here I have an amazon wishlist, otherwise no one would have any clue what to get me.

    As for giving comics as a gift, I’ve had success with SiP, I Kill Giants, We3, Fell and hopefully this year with Locke & Key.