Get Some Holiday Joy, Cheap and Easy


The stress of the holidays is occasionally overwhelming, and the older I get, the less fun it gets. To be sure, there are moments on greatness, like when your friends get you a gift that is so perfect, and well thought out that you’re genuinely touched, regardless of the cost. But as time goes on, and the more complicated things seem to get (and we don’t even have kids yet!), the harder it is to find those moments of joy during the whole Christmas/Hanukkah thing. Between the shopping with money I don’t have for people I realize I don’t know all that well anymore, and the traveling overcrowded highways through winter storms, to trying to find a moment of peace to just relax for a bit, the holiday vacation is usually anything but.

So what can one do? Well, it’s all well and good to say, “hey, just relax, and try to enjoy yourself,” but it’s harder to do than say by a long shot. But, I’ve been trying to think of some easy ways to give and bring some smiles, and here’s what I came up with.

This first one is easy, and might have the best effect. Think of your favorite comics of the year, and think of the people who made those comics, and send them a brief, sincere thank you note. See if they have a website, and if that website has a contact email or form, do it there. Or if they’re on Twitter, send them a direct message. Just let them know that in the mass void of thorny message boards and harsh reviews, that you are a person who truly appreciated the work they did, and those comics made you happier than you were before you read them. Maybe you get a note back, and maybe you don’t, but if you just send those good vibes to creators, you’ll inspire them to keep going, and you’ll get more out of it because they’ll keep working to make good comics. One of the great things about comics is that the people making them aren’t trapped behind walls of assistants and staff to keep you from them. The chances are very good your message will get through, and who doesn’t want to hear that they’re making people happy.

What’s next? It’s time to take care of yourself. This is going to sound impossible, especially with the hectic schedules and things that need to get done over the holidays, but sometime over the next couple of days, today if at all possible, take one of your favorite comics, collections, trade paperbacks or whatever, and go somewhere and read it. Don’t take your laptop, phone, or anything that’s going to bug you. Forget about texts and work and message boards and facebook and twitter. Ask your wife or boyfriend or parents or kids to just leave you alone for a little while, put on your favorite reading music, and just enjoy that comic book again. Try to go back and read something that really touched you the first time, and pulled you in, and try to get back there. When we tape shows for iFanboy, I often have to reread stuff, and very often it’s a lot of material, and there are other things going on, and I feel rushed, and don’t really re-create the experience of really enjoying a read. So do that. Find a way. Make some time. It’s absolutely worth it, and you’ll be able to deal with everything else all the better.

Next, let’s spread the love a little bit. This one could backfire, but at least you tried. Think of a friend, or someone close to you. Now pick out something from your comic books which that person would really enjoy. Really take the time to think about it, and make sure you’re not just giving them something you really like and want them to like, but rather it’s something they would really appreciate. Once you think you’ve got it, give them your book. I suppose you can ask for it back, or get another copy for yourself eventually, but the point is, take that book, and just hand it over. Don’t pressure them to read it right away, and don’t build up expectations. Just tell them, “I’ve been thinking about it, and I think you will really enjoy reading this.” Then leave it. Don’t stand around raising your eyebrows, asking “Well? How is it?” Just push the boat away from the dock and let the wind take it. This isn’t the time to try to convert someone who doesn’t want to read comics at all. Perhaps you’ve got a friend who already loves comics, but hasn’t read something, so make your best guess. I’m not saying to go out and buy books for people. Anyone can do that. Give them one of your books. See if you can recreate the feeling you experienced when you read your favorite book. It’s just one book.

Finally, and I’m veering into resolution territory here, if you’ve been thinking about doing something, or making something or anything creative, but haven’t started yet, make a little promise to yourself to do something about that. I’m not saying you need to write a novel or draw a comic book, but do something. Spend some time thinking about what you’d really like to accomplish. I find the shower works best for me to really start thinking about stories I’d like to tell. After you’ve had some time to process, just write something down. Make a couple notes. Make a text or Word document, and save it on your desktop, so you can’t escape it. In that file, or on that piece of paper, just write it down, whatever it is. Whether you idea is a sentence or a paragraph, or a few thoughts, write them down, and make it tangible. Just like that, you’ve started, and created something that did not exist before. Now that you’ve got an anchor down, you’ll have a place to start from the next time you think about it. Take the first step. It doesn’t have to take much time at all, but you’ll have something where before there was nothing. Sure, not everyone out there wants to make comics (you are the lucky ones) but for those of us with any size of creative itch, just make sure to give it a little scratch. If you remember the positive feeling that came with even that small accomplishment, you’ll remember, and try to get it to come back, and then eventually, you might even finish something.

Maybe some of these work for you, or maybe all of them do. Maybe (again with the lucky ones) the holidays are all the big party they’re supposed to be. Even so, doing a couple things like this can only make them better. Now I have to go pick a book to read, just for myself.



  1. Nice article.  I actually just handed over my copy of Kill Your Boyfriend to a friend who doesn’t really read comics the other day.  It totally worked like you said; I just handed it to him and said he should give it a shot.  A few days later and he’s telling me how much he enjoyed it, no prompting on my part.  It’s a good feeling.

  2. I wonder how many people are now going to email jewish comic creators with messages ending in "Merry Christmas"…

  3. That is a bizarre image of the iconic Charlie Brown Christmas tree.  It looks like extraterrestrial erotica.  

  4. First want to wish all of the ifanboys as well as everyone who comes to this site a happy holidays.

    After reading this, I have decided to do the following:

    1) Write to Kirkman for making college finals tolerable with rereading Invincible and Walking Dead.

    2.) Thinking about  rereading Identity Crisis or the first trade of Y The Last Man. Decemberists in the backround of course.

    3.) I gave my girlfriend Mouse Guard and she absolutely adored it. This was the other day, so now I am going to try and find the rest of my Winter collection for her.

    4.) Today I WILL write the first chapter of a novel I have been working on. 


    Once again I would like to wish everyone a Happy Holiday and to thank the ifanboys for always putting out quality articles and content. Best of luck and hoping I get my shirt soon .

  5. @Paul: I know, I was oddly disappointed that this article wasn’t about alien tentacle-rape porn.

    …What does that say about me?

  6. Mouse Guard is a really, really good suggestion that I keep forgetting about.

    Carving out a chunk of distraction-free time to just reread a favorite for pleasure will add years to your life. This point cannot be overstated.

  7. The problem with just handing a book to someone and not badgering them about it is that if they’re doing it just to humor you, they’ll just set the book down when they get home and kind of forget to pick it up again. That happened to one of my friends who is a big novel reader when I lent her a copy of "Pride of Baghdad" about 6 months ago. She eventually forgot about it. It might’ve been because I mentioned it had talking animals, but who knows. Maybe it was just that it was a comic book. Anyway, about a month ago, I let her borrow the first Y: The Last Man trade, and long story short, she motored through all ten of them in about 2 weeks. She even dropped by once (after volume 3) to get more of the books to see what happened. It was awesome. It was like seeing someone’s first taste of comic book crack. I keep telling my fiance that she’s next!

  8. That’s why I said to choose carefully.  Give the book to someone who you think will both read and enjoy it.  But at the same time, don’t worry about it.  That’s not the point.  You did your part.

  9. I think I misread what you had said. When you said "give" you meant "give", whereas I thought you meant "borrow". Sorry.

  10. 1) After reading thise ill probally send Geoff Johns a message saying, thank you for every thing you have done at DC. I’ll also thank him for getting me into comic books.

     2)Well, a few days ago i re-read the filth, and soon ill re-read seaguy.

     3)I just gave my friend watchmen, and i am giving my cousin watchmen and the boys.

    4) I’ll probally start writing the beard hunter 1 shot I have been thinking of writing. So maybe one day I can pitch it to DC.

  11. I just wrapped a copy of "Nightly News" for my brother. He’s a graphic designer and apparently there was a big Sharks/Jets thing between the designers and illustrators at his college. So he wrote off pretty much all things illustrated a while ago, and I thought that it may be a good way to bridge the gap. Of course I want him to like it and have it be a gateway for him, but am not going to bug him if he doesn’t. 


  12. My nephew is a huge fan of The Dark Knight, so I went through the long boxes and packaged him up all my 90’s Batman stuff including the whole Knightfall/Knightquest run.  If the little snot trades them off for M:TG cards or something I will punch him in the throat….in a happy holidays sorta way.

    Looking forward to relaxing this season, finally reading the new Stephenson, watching my youngins open their Wii and Rock Band, shooing them away while I hook it up, and maybe letting them have a turn by new year’s.  Anathem can wait until I master the drum track to Dont Fear The Reaper.

  13. I’m going to attempt the "just hand it over" routine.