iFanboy’s 2011 Holiday Gift Guide: New Reader Friendly

The holidays are officially here, and that means one thing: PRESENTS! What better way to show your friends and family how much you care than by giving the gift of comics. I think there’s a comic out there for everyone, even people who’ve never read comics. It’s just a matter of finding out what they like and matching it with the right book. So if you’re looking to spread some four-color cheer this holiday season, here are a few recommendations for non-comic readers.

For your mom who’s always watching the USA network:

Cinderella: Fables are Forever

Burn Notice, White Collar, Covert Affairs. Whenever you stop by your parents’ house, your mom has one of the USA network shows on in the background. USA is really great with fun, action-packed series with an espionage twist. If that’s something your mom’s a fan of, then why not pick up Cinderella: From Fabletown with Love or Cinderella: Fables are Forever. Set as part of the larger Fables universe, these two trades focus solely on Cinderella and her missions as Fablestown’s top secret agent. This smart witty spy will definitely give Michael Westen a run for his money.

Cinderella: From Fabletown with Love ($14.99)
Cinderella: Fables are Forever ($14.99)


For your dad, the history buff:


If your dad is like my dad, he usually has his nose in a giant history book… or he’s yelling at the TV because the Giants are losing. Anyway, if you’ve got a history buff to shop for, I’d recommend picking up Petrograd by Philip Gelatt and Tyler Cook. In the middle of World War I and on the presipice of the Bolshevik Revolution, a British secret agent is given the assignment to help assassinate Rasputin. It’s a really great chacater piece that explores every corner of Russian society at the time. This choice also works if your dad is into spy novels.

Petrograd ($29.99)


For your brother who’s really digging that Walking Dead show:

The Walking Dead

Even if your brains were eaten by a zombie, I’m pretty sure you could figure this one out. If your brother is watching and enjoyingThe Walking Dead on AMC, this is the perfect opportunity to get him hooked on Robert Kirkman’s brutal tale of life after the zombie apocalypse. And since your brother’s girlfriend is always talking about that Once Upon a Time show, wrap up the first volume of Fables for a quick gift.

The Walking Dead, Volume 1: Days Gone Bye (Trade paperback) ($9.99)
The Walking Dead, Book One (Hardcover) ($34.99)
The Walking Dead: Compendium One (Paperback) ($59.99)

Note: There are a lot of options for the collected editions of The Walking Dead, which can make things a bit confusing for non-comic readers. I know a few people who have gotten burned by the hardcover versus trade paperback editions. While the trades come out faster, I think the hardcovers may be the better option. This way, if your brother really gets into it, and he accidentally picks up the wrong Book 2 or Book 3, he’ll know immediately without having anything spoiled for him. Although if you really love your brother (and he REALLY loves the show and/or zombies) , go ahead and splurge on the compendium edition.


For your sister who loves Buffy, Supernatural, and classic monster movies:

The Sixth Gun

Your sister has always been a fan of things that go bump in the night. You have fond memories of staying up way passed your bedtime and watching Monster Squad while the babysitter was gabbing on the phone. Surprise her this year with the first trade (or two) of Cullen Bunn and Brian Hurtt’s The Sixth Gun. There are ghosts, monsters, and demons a-plenty in this supernatural Western from Oni Press.

The Sixth Gun, Book 1: Cold Dead Fingers ($19.99)
The Sixth Gun, Book 2: Crossroads ($19.99)


For your aunt who is totally obsessed with Game of Thrones


When HBO brought George R.R. Martin’s Game of Thrones to the small screen, thousands of viewers got sucked in to the brutal political drama/fantasy series – your aunt being one of them. Every Sunday night around 11:03pm, you’d get a call from her, “OH MY GOD! CAN YOU BELIEVE THEY **spoiler deleted**!  Peter Dinklage is AMAZING! He just has to get an Emmy for this.” Try wrapping up a copy of Brian Wood’s harsh, violent comic Northlanders. It’s more viking than fantasy, but it has that same sense of brutality and wide assortment of characters as Game of Thrones. And there’s snow.

Northlanders Vol. 1: Sven The Returned ($14.99)
Northlanders Vol. 2: The Cross + The Hammer ($16.99)
Northlanders Vol. 3: Blood in the Snow ($16.99)
Northlanders Vol. 4: The Plague Widow ($16.99)


For your uncle who loves romantic comedies:

Love and Capes

As soon as your uncle is done rooting and cheering (or yelling and screaming) for the Cowboys on Thanksgiving, he pops in Love, Actually to start the holiday season. When you go over for New Year’s Day dinner, When Harry Met Sally is usually on in the background. The majority of his DVD collection features Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan. Make sure you have Thom Zahler’s Love and Capes under the Christmas tree for him this year. Part superhero comic, part sit-com, Love and Capes is the adorable story of Abby and her superhero boyfriend Mark (a.k.a. The Crusader). It reminds me a lot of the old Lois and Clark TV series.

Love and Capes Vol. 1: Do You Want to Know a Secret? ($19.99)
Love and Capes Vol. 2: Going to the Chapel ($19.99)
Love and Capes Vol. 3: Wake Up Where You Are ($19.99)


For your best friend who misses Gilmore Girls and Veronica Mars:

Stephanie Brown Batgirl

She’s the Rory to your Lorelei, the Willow to your Buffy, the Shirley to your Laverne. You get the picture. She’s the one you’ve spent countless hours debating between Dean or Jess and Logan or Duncan. This holiday, splurge and buy her all three volume’s of Bryan Q. Miller’s Batgirl. A perfect gateway drug for superhero comics, the snappy back-and-forth and pop culture references of the comic will grab her attention. But the fantastic relationships in Batgirl are what she’ll fall in love with. Team Batgirl for the win.

Batgirl: Batgirl Rising (Volume 1) ($17.99)
Batgirl: The Flood (Volume 2) ($19.99)
Batgirl: The Lesson (Volume 3) ($19.99)

Note: DC Comics is notorious for not numbering their trades. So make sure you let you BFF know what order she should read these in.


For your cousin the chef:


Your cousin knows his way around a kitchen. You have now idea when this happened because you still remember him as the kid who squashed bugs and made fart jokes. But he’s always loved food. This Christmas introduce him to the quirky world of Tony Chu, FDA special agent and cibopath. That means he knows the entire history of a food (or other items) just from one bite.  Food plays a big role in John Layman and Rob Guillory’s Chew. What’s also great about this comic is it covers a lot of genres–Sci-Fi, Buddy Cop Action, Romance, Comedy, Zaney Relatives–there’s something everyone can enjoy.

Chew: Omnivore Edition, Volume 1 (Hardcover) ($34.99)
Chew, Volume 1: Tasters Choice ($9.99)
Chew, Volume 2: International Flavor ($12.99)
Chew, Volume 3: Just Desserts ($12.99)
Chew, Volume 4: Flambe ($12.99)

Note: I leave the choice up to you and your wallet on which edition to get. The second volume of the Omnivore Edition is due out a few days before Christmas, so if you decide to splurge, your cousin can continue with the hardcovers if he likes it.


You can also find these titles at your your friendly, neighborhood comic shop or independent bookstore. 


  1. Hey! I like Burn Notice! Are you saying I’m like my Mom!? I’ll have you know she much prefers gardening shows!

    That said, some great ideas… and you reminded me to pick up the Cinderella trade.

    And watch Burn Notice.

  2. Daytripper.

  3. Add Northlanders to my list. My collection is spotty at best. Great suggestions, Ali!

  4. I never even thought about getting my chef brother-in-law a copy of CHEW. Now I feel like this has to happen. Good call.

  5. I enjoyed Petrograd, mind you reading it on the balcony of my cruise ship stateroom may of helped!

  6. I had considered getting the Walking Dead hardcovers for my sister, since she’s been following the show. But I came to the conclusion that she wouldn’t really care for the comics, so yea…

    Fables is a great suggestion though. Got my friend into the series, and she’s been lovin’ it since.

    Surprised the Parker adaptations didn’t make the list. Seems like they would be perfect for parents.

  7. Ali, your family seems a lot cooler than mine.

  8. What kind of reactions are you guys getting from the people who receive comics as gifts?

    Giving the gift of comics among my immediate family over the past few years has been kind of a bust for me. My Mom enjoyed Maus and Persepolis, but her interest in comics didn’t extend beyond the end of those books. I switched things up with the Castle OGN for her birthday (she loves the show), but haven’t heard one word about what she thought.

    My younger brother used to read comics with me when we were growing up – he liked Queen and Country and Global Frequency, but not enough to get back in the game. I got him the big-ass Walking Dead compendium last year…I don’t think he even cracked the spine.

    I had some success with my sister-in-law and Fables, but I got her Return of The Dapper Men last year and haven’t heard any kind of feedback. She’s really into art and design, so I thought it would be a sure-fire hit.

    My Dad was my biggest success story — he gets a kick out of some of the new stories of heroes he liked as a kid (Flash, Green Lantern) and he really likes American Vampire (I’m sure he’d buy a digital subscription for his iPad….if such a thing existed). I think The Sixth Gun might be up his alley too.

    So other than my Dad, I think I’m done giving the gift of comics for a while.

    • I try to get them another present as well, usually a DVD boxset for my family to share (this year it was Castle and Grey’s Anatomy) and then get them one trade each, as a “little something extra” normally they’re more excited about the DVD at first but when there’s that lul in late afternoon they decide they might as well see what’s in the book and by the evening they’re asking me when the next one’s out (well sometimes).

    • Had a similar situation with my sister when Watchmen came out. She got really into it, loved the movie, had action figures, then when I bought the actual comic for her for christmas, it just sat on her shelf, untouched. Once tried to show Parker: The Hunter to my mom, with unsatisfactory results.

    • I know it seems odd but refer to them as “graphic novel” no matter what people say “comics” still have this stigma about them. That’s the good thing about manga-sized issues as well, somehow people are more accepting of that.
      It’s odd even back before I tried to get my family into comics my parents would still also refer to what I read as “graphic novels”, they’d try to show an interest over dinner “how’s that graphic novel you’re reading dear? always seemed strange to me.

    • Ken. The reactions i get have been pretty positive. I give 20 plus trades as Christmas gifts every year. Ive only struck out with one person…. and even he told me that he finally started reading the walking dead book one (about a year after i gave it to him, I never asked him about it). My 65 year old mom has read every single fables tpb (shes loves the wolf babies) and every Locke and Key tpb.. (she loves Bode) and she has initiated conversation about them with me during and after finishing them. Theres a group of 3 or 4 of my friends that are lapsed comic book readers mostly because of financial reasons. I give them stuff like invincible and uncanny xforce. or the immortal iron fist. and then theres people that i know are into scifi, fantasy and or horror. but have never opened a comic… I give them stuff like locke and key and We3 or Negation even. To women i mostly give fables… it seems to work. Anyway one guy that had never read a comic in his life… has now read every walking dead tpb released after getting hooked on the first 2 trades i gave him for Christmas a few years back. I get very enthusiastic input back.. .. mostly to the effect of this was awesome or that was awesome. I get big smiles and “whats happening with such and such?” …. “no..dont tell me!”.. etc… Like people do with TV shows. Of course like kzap says its a good idea to get 2 or more different things.. so i normally give a dvd or a game or at least chocolate or something with every tpb.. then at least if they hate the comic they can use it for toilet paper when they pass the chocolate. I cant tell you how many people tell me that locke and key is effing awesome. Like 5 lapsed comic readers and 5 never read a comic people.. all responded with “holy shit thats cool”.. and I didnt ask them what they thought.. they told me….rather forcefully.. So my gift giving advice. Locke and Key!

    • The thing with buying comics for your family members, like buying any other kind of gift, is knowing who you’re buying for and what they like. You also remember that, as someone who doesn’t normally read comics, they’re probably not going to be like “Oh man this is awesome!” as soon as they open it because it’s probably not something they were expecting. That said, the comics I have given to “new readers” are usually read and enjoyed.

    • Ya Ali … normally people arent so thrilled at first with comics if they dont know comics… but .. if they just crack the first few pages.. thats half the battle usually. Of course for some people its just not for them and thats what i forgot to say in my last post.. you really have got to give the right books to the right people…if you dont its game over before the game even starts. I think im pretty good at rationalizing what someone will like or wont like. I normally just give the first tpb and then let them decide if they want to continue.
      Criminal is another book that I think would please a wider audience.

  9. Awesome recommendations!
    Unfortunately it came out the day after I ordered all my presents 🙁
    My brother is a fan of the Walking Dead (TV) but I figured he’s going to get the comics with his Christmas money himself so decided to give him a taste of what else comics can be with Skull Kickers (he’s also a HUGE, fantasy fan, LOTR, Warcraft 3, etc).
    I was stuck on my sister, who’s really into Buffy, if I’d known I would have got her Sixth Gun in the end I got her Runaways. Never mind there’s always birthdays and plenty of other times to spread the comics love.

  10. Great list !
    btw, when will Amazon sell kindle – comics ? I am sort of done with analog thingy´s.


  11. I am not getting those Cinderella books for my mother. She’d think I was handing her cartoon porn or something. I’m a little ashamed at myself for thinking that some of those covers were kind of hot.

    It’s probably been 50 years since my old man read a comic book, but I thought about getting that Lone Ranger: Death of Zorro book for him.

    Everyone in my family save for me is gaga over Walking Dead since the first season was filmed where I grew up. (Note: None of them cared about the movie Fled) I couldn’t care less personally, but maybe they’d like those books.