The iFanboy Christmas Gift Exchange of 2008

Every year since we started iFanboy back in 2000 we’ve had the tradition of getting each other comics for Christmas. Those comics usually take the form of trade paperbacks or other collections and traditionally we’ve gotten each other two books each. Although, as you’ll see below, sometimes the numbers get fudged a bit. 

Here’s what was exchanged this Christmas:

Nova, Volume 1
To: Conor
From: Ron

Ron says: Conor can be both incredibly hard to buy for at the same time as being incredibly easy to buy for. For this particular gift, it was super easy. Nova is one of my favorite comics being published right now, and lo and behold, it was on Conor’s wish list. Probably took me about 10 seconds to decide to get this for him. Wish they could all be this easy.

Conor says: It’s hard to ignore all the Nova talk, especially when you hang around Josh and Ron as much as I do. This is a book I never would have considered wanting to read before, but once Josh jumped so enthusiastically on-board I knew there had to be something special going on here. Thus, I had Nova on the very top of my wish list this year and it was the one thing I really, really wanted to get from somebody… anybody. This is a great collection: oversized and containing the first twelves issues and the first Nova Annual. It’s finally time for me to see what all the fuss is about.


Skyscrapers of the Midwest
To: Josh
From: Ron

Ron says: I like to get Josh something from the indie world that he hasn’t read or would try of his own volition. I have read and heard nothing by amazing praise for this hardcover collection of his indie comic, Skyscrapers of the Midwest. Honestly, I’m not sure if this will be up Josh’s alley, but it can’t hurt to try and see if he digs it.

Josh says: I actually had heard of this, and put it on my short list of books I wanted for Christmas that I sent to my family. But of course, it’s not the easiest book for folks to find if they’re not around great comic shops, or familiar with web ordering. Yet, that’s exactly what Ron is. I have no idea what this is, but I know I like the title, I like the buzz, and I love the design of the book. Haven’t started it yet, but I’m looking forward to it.


Superman and the Legion of Super-Heroes
To: Ron
From: Conor

Conor says: Ron practically worships Geoff Johns so his aversion to reading John’s best book, Action Comics, simply because of some misguided anti-Superman bias that doesn’t extended to any other medium but comics seems quite silly to me. Getting him an Action Comics trade was a no-brainer. Unfortunately, the one I really wanted to get him — and I talked about this on the Pick of the Week Podcast in very oblique terms so as not to ruin the surprise — was the Brainiac storyline, which I think was the best Action Comics arc so far. Sadly, that arc isn’t out in any collected form yet because DC’s trade program blows. So I went with this one. This is the storyline where Johns’ Action Comics took the great leap forward from good to excellent so I’m okay with it.

Ron says: Conor has a long history of not necessarily getting me books I want, rather books he thinks I should read. I can’t say that I disagree with him after I’ve read the books he’s given me. He originally got me the first two trades of Gotham Central for Christmas one year and even I can admit that that book is awesome. So now that Superman is good again and he’s loving it, despite my lack of interest in Superman, he got me this hardcover which I will read and most likely be forced to admit that I liked a Superman comic.


Lush Life
To: Conor
From: Josh

Josh says: I’d heard Richard Price on This American Life, performing on The Moth, which is something more people should know about. The piece just blew me away, about a bunch of cops hunting for collars, and doing some shameful stereotyping in the process. Price was a writer on The Wire, a show which Conor finally acquiesced to watching (beyond season one) this year, to rave reviews. As has been hinted, Conor is tough to buy comics for. I talk to him about comics more than anyone else, and the guy buys every single thing that he wants the day it comes out. So I did an end run, because I know he likes prose books, especially really interesting hardcover versions of them. I’m currently reading this book, and I’m totally digging it, so I’m sure he will too.

Conor says: It was not a total surprise that Josh got me a prose book, as the comics exchange is more of an informal guideline than a rule. I’m pretty sure it’s been broken in the past, I just can’t think of any examples at the moment. Regardless, Josh knows what I like and this book sounds like something I’d like. Mystery and intrigue in New York City from an author with an authentic New York voice. About a month back we discussed an interview Richard Price did on NPR about this book and now I realize I was being subtly questioned about my possible interest in Lush Life. Josh is a wily one.

Annihilation, Book One
To: Josh
From: Conor

Conor says: A little while back on the Pick of the Week Podcast when Josh was talking about Nova, the Annihilation series that birthed Nova came up and Josh mentioned that he should probably read it. I have a pad of paper that I keep next to my computer to jot down ideas or things to remember, and while Josh was talking about wanting to read it, on the pad I wrote “Annihilation –> Josh –> Christmas Gift”. And that was that.

Josh says: Sometimes the obvious answers are right in front of your face. This book was one that never really coalesced into something that I needed to get, but rather it existed in the back of my mind as something I probably wouldn’t ever actually get it on my own. Hence, it makes a great gift, because I’ll certainly enjoy it. Conor is a ruthless gifter, always thinking, always planning, always preparing. He is a force not unlike Nova himself.


Stars and S.T.R.I.P.E., Volume 1 & 2
To: Ron
From: Josh

Josh says: I spent a good 45 minutes in a comic shop looking for a gift for Ron. Since he moved to San Francisco, and we tend to talk about things other than comics a lot of the time, I realized that I had no idea what he had or what he wanted. I had to call him and read off a list of things that included some real choices, and some fake choices, but I was pretty much decided on this book when I saw it. Not only was Geoff Johns a safe choice, but it’s Johns with his collaborator Scott Kolins as well. I was pretty psyched when I noticed it on the shelf because it just made sense right away. I hope it’s good, or at least shows those seeds of greatness we’d come to expect from Johns later on.

Ron says: I’m a huge fan of Geoff Johns and have read pretty much everything he’s written, except Stars and S.T.R.I.P.E.. I don’t even really know why, other than it’s one of his first comics and before I jumped on the Johns bandwagon. I’ve always wanted to read this run, but never got around to chasing the issues or the trades down. This is definitely one of those kind of gifts I’m glad someone got for me, as I’m not sure I’d get this for myself.


Scarlet Traces
To: Conor
From: Ron

Ron says: Having given Nova my other present, I wanted to go in an indie/non-superhero direction for my 2nd gift to Conor. This is where Conor becomes difficult to buy for. It’s difficult to know what he has and was he doesn’t have, because turns out the man has a torrid love affair with Amazon and buys a lot of indie books in trades and hardcover. So much so that I lost track of what he had and what he doesn’t have. When I came across this book from Dark Horse, it seemed to be right up his alley. A little bit historical, a little bit science fiction, this “sequel” to H.G. Wells War of the Worlds was something I was pretty sure that Conor hadn’t heard of yet and would enjoy.

Conor says: Ron knows me really well, as evidenced by this gift. He knows I love a good mystery, and he knows that I love historical fiction. I’ve never heard of this book before but I’m already excited to read it. The only thing that’s getting me down is that this is a sequel and my first impulse is to pick up the War of the Worlds adaptation that Edginton and D’Israeli did and read that first just in case it enhances the reading experience of this one. We shall see.


The Umbrella Academy, Volume 1
To: Josh
From: Conor

Conor says: This was the one gift that I knew I was going to get for the longest amount of time. I picked up the trade earlier this year and enjoyed the hell out of it. I thought that the wacky adventures from Dark Horse’s latest hit franchise might be up Josh’s alley, and knowing that he wasn’t ever going to buy it for himself I knew right away I had one Christmas gift already in the bag. I really lucked out with Josh this year.

Josh says: I don’t know why I didn’t buy this, and had always meant to check it out, but eventually time passes and the thoughts of the book fade away, and then there are 3-4 volumes, and it’s easier just not to bother, and be content to have missed it. Occasionally these guys do an end run around me, and force my hand. Such was the case with The Umbrella Academy. Against all seeming odds, it seems like a great book, and I’m glad I’ll get a chance to read it, because I might never have gotten to it, lest it show up in a bargain bin at some convention in 2011. Plus, look at that cover right there. It’s sexy, and stylistic and class all at once. I have no idea what that cover is supposed to mean, but I certainly appreciate it.


Green Lantern Corps: Ring Quest
To: Ron
From: Conor

Conor says: All year I’ve been really enjoying Green Lantern Corps as a nice addition to the “Blackest Night” storyline that Geoff Johns has been engineering over in Green Lantern. Every time I bring it up on the show I mention to the guys that if they love Green Lantern so much (which they do), there’s really no reason that they aren’t reading this one too. And every time my pleas were met with non-committal murmurings. Well, no longer! The Power of Christmas allows me to rectify these kind of things.

Ron says: Unlike the Superman book, this won’t be difficult for me to read as I really enjoy the Green Lantern book, and have heard great things about Green Lantern Corps. Unfortunately it’s just beyond the reach of my wallet on a monthly basis for buying the issues.  Although after reading this trade, I wouldn’t be surpised if I end up on the issues bandwagon with this title (albeit a bit behind).


Young Avengers
To: Josh
From: Ron

Ron says: If only all my Christmas shopping could have been this easy. I’ve been yelling at Josh to read this series since it was originally published in issues. I knew that with the combination of The Avengers theme and Cheung’s art, Josh would love it. But he just never got around to it, so I took matters into my own hands and bought him this complete hardcover collection. Ironically, a few days before Christmas, Josh IMed me with a link to this saying that he’d love to get this as a present with a nudge and a wink. I had already ordered the book though at that point, so I was glad to see I was getting him something he’d actually want.

Josh says: To be fair, I wasn’t being that obvious when I mentioned it to Ron. I was looking for a Young Avengers book to link to and noticed that all 12 were in one volume for a good price. I happened to be talking to Ron at that exact moment over IM, and casually mentioned that I’d like to have that. That’s how I remember it, but Ron might suggest that my powers of subtlety are not that strong. However, the rest is dead on, and for some reason I never picked this up. I’ve checked every discount bin at every convention for a couple years for this trade (have you noticed I hate spending money?) and never found the first and second trades at the same time.  Well, it turns out that holding out was a great idea, because this a great volume, and yes, so far it’s as good as advertised. In fact, I think I finally understand that we should all in fact shout “Damn you, Heinberg!” because this comic was too good to be the only significant work he’s done in comics, and Grey’s Anatomy isn’t so great these days from what I understand.


Marvel Chronicle
To: Josh & Ron
From: Conor

Conor says: This was a last minute impulse buy. I had already picked up two books each for Josh and Ron and then I saw talk about this one on-line and kicked myself because it seemed like the perfect gift. After about two minutes of mentally kicking myself I said, “Aw, what the hell, it’s Christmas” and picked up one for each of the guys.

Josh says: This one was a surprise, since Conor went above the usual quota, especially in what we’ll term a “lean year.” Like many comic book readers out there, we have a stack of these kinds of books bought be relatives who see them on end caps and figure they’re an easy gift. Most of the time, they’re fun to wade through once or twice, and place of the shelf, forgotten. Yet, as this comes from Conor, you know it’s got some real value to a comic-phile such as myself. It’s just a neat book. That’s all there is to it. You want to know what was happening in Marvel when you were born? You didn’t know when “Dark Phoenix” was actually published? It’s all in here. The packaging is gorgeous, with a Jimmy Cheung cover, and a great magnetic case. This is going to be very useful going forward.

Ron says: I’ve seen and gotten a lot of these types of books over the years, where they take either Marvel or DC and do a comprehensive history or encyclopedia-like archive. But I have to admit, this is one of the most impressive collections I’ve ever seen. By breaking down Marvel’s history in a year by year format (going all the way back to 1943!), this book doesn’t suffer from being out of date like some of if the Encyclopedia-like books. The printing and presentation is beautiful and the information within is comprehensive. As a Marvel Zombie, I don’t think there’s a better archive reference book out there. 



  1. I’m not one for encyclopedias or any type of reference material but my parents were nice enough to get the Marvel Chronicles for me.  I was very impressed with the packaging and overall presentation.  I picked up the Nova trades after reading the Nova Secret Invasion tie-ins (see marketing does work) and have been hooked ever since.  Like Ron, I adore Jeff Johns but have never read Stars and STRIPE, looks like DC gets a few more of my hard earned dollars.

  2. I just comment had absolutely no point.  Happy Holidays iFanbase!

  3. I got Marvel Chronicle as well, and it really is a very lovely book.  Unfortunately the box was damaged in shipment, but not so much that I want to send it back for a new one.  The book itself is great.  

    Looking forward to reading the Nova hardcover as well.  

    Hope everyone had a great holiday! 

  4. I specifically asked people not to get me books this year, because. . .well, because *I have a lot of books I haven’t read already* and was missing things like a functional skillet and a blender.  And, well, I have a blender now, but I miss having new books.  These all look like awesome choices.

    By the way, Josh, the Umbrella Academy cover is much more literal than you would think.

  5. Science![C

  6. To Conor: I recently read SCARLET TRACES myself and I can tell you that you don’t need to read the Edginton and D’Israeli WAR OF THE WORLDS to enjoy it.  True, their version is great and sets the tone for the sequel, but if you have even the slightest inkling of what WAR OF THE WORLDS is about, then you already know everything you need to know.  Even a cursory glance at LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN VOLUME II would be enough to fill you in on the back-story.  SCARLET TRACES is excellent.  It has a lot of elements to suggest that Edginton and D’Israeli are fans of Arthur Conan Doyle as much as H.G. Wells.  After I read it, I immediately tore into KINGDOM OF THE WICKED, another Edginton/D’Israeli collaboration released by Dark Horse.  I wish I could fill a shelf with comics from these guys.

  7. Video show = What you thought of these?

  8. Marvel Chronicles might be the first history book I like coming from DK. The presentation is astonding and even if it isnt a vault type of book that has relics from the past in it; it’s a great book. Oh and Ron, is that the GLC trade with the Mongol storyline? Cause if it is: You got yourself one of the best (and probably most underrated) storyline of the year in that trade.

  9. @Paul: That seems to be a flaw in the design.  Unless the shipping is packed super tight it will probably arrive damaged.  Both copies I got were damaged.  The outershell is too flimsy for the weight of the book.  I had to spend an evening superglueing it all back together before I wrapped them. 

  10. i got the marvel chronicle with a gift card and damn is it lovely. that book is jam packed with lots of fun facts for Marvel Zombies. has anyone read any of the Encyclopedias published by the same company? there’s one for both DC and Marvel, as well as Vertigo, i’m wondering if they are worth picking up

  11. Marvel Chronicles is truly a beautiful book – well worth the price. However, I have a very great fear of walking into a big-box book store this summer and seeing it for 1/3 the price. I’d pay double, however, for a similar DC book, and the Encyclopedia doesn’t count. (Although the Vertigo one was pimp.)

    I second the notion of a video show about the results of this gift giving.

    Best book I got this X-mas — The Joker GN by Azzarello and Bermejo. Really great stuff – this is what his run on Batman with Risso should have been. Really cutting back on the books, though – that to-read pile is too big as it.

  12. Here it is, almost New Years and you guys are still spilling out goblets of Christmas Cheer.  Somehow hearing how you made your decisions for each other and how well you know the tastes of your buddies filled me with Yuletiede sentiment.  Merry damn Christmas to all of you all over again.



  13.  really like conor’s shopping style.

  14. I don’t like any of the books listed there.  I would ask your for the receipts if you bought any of these for me because I would trade them in and get some Batman TPBs.

  15. Way to broaden your horizons.  

  16. @Dan: The Joker GN is awesome.  I got it on sale from TFAW for $10! 

    Here is a question for the iFanboys/iFanbase, who is going to NYCC?

  17. 3 people this year told me they almost bought me that Marvel Chronicle book.

  18. I recieved the Marvel Chronicle book and love it!  My family even got into what was happenning when they were born and things like that.  A great book to have.  I also got Joker and The Crow.  Good stuff.

  19. Hey, Conor – Here’s one of the first interviews Richard Price did about Lush Life, if you’re interested. (I know; I wrote it).

  20. @robby.  I’ve read 90 percent of these and they’re fantastic.  I’ve given most of them 2 or 3 reads as a matter of fact. (At least 4 for Young Avengers.)

  21. Those are some great books.  

  22. what did you get me?

  23. Finally, someones going to read Annihilation!

  24. All of these things sound dope.  My jealousy level is crazy through the roof.

  25. I’m halfway through Skyscrapers of the Midwest right now, and its good so far. At first it seemed to be a series of disjointed stories (kind of like something Tony Millionaire might write), but now I can see that Josuha Cotter is in fact linking everything together and there is absolutely nothing random going on in this book. There is no wasted space.

    There is some very funny parts, but it is also pretty heavy hitting at times. 

    Okay, I probably shouldn’t ruin it for you, so I won’t include anymore details. 

    FYI…this was one of NPR’s best graphic novels for 2008. I think Heavy Liquid was also on their list. 

  26. Oh, and yes, I have to admit I like the Young Avengers. I’ve been getting the TPBs from the library, and just enjoy the unabashed superhero nature of the books. In a funny way, which is difficult to explain, reading the Young Avengers reminds me of the feeling I would get from readinng the very old Legion of Superheroes comics.

  27. I’m in Japan this year, and though I did put Batman Death Mask (in Japanese of course – gonna use that and an English copy in my efforts to learn to read Japanese) and a Manga series called Dolls on my list, I didn’t get either.  My wife got me a PSP instead.  Guess I’ll just grab a used copy of the whole mini for a buck at the bookstore 😛

  28. Forgot to mention just how much I missed not being able to ask for comics this year.  Got the Uncanny X-Men and Daredevil Omnibus’ last Christmas.  That was so great.  Couldn’t believe my wife actually tracked them down!

  29. This is great, but I must admit I got a kick out of the gift giving podcast you guys did a few years back, that was really funny…

  30. Happy New Year Guys!

  31. Hey I didn’t get shit!

    I enjoyed Annihilation more than I thought.  Keith Giffen is an underrated writer.  Anybody remember when he used to draw?

  32. my girlfriend’s wierd shakey friend has been telling me to get skyscrapers over the midwest for a while now… it looks good but i hate that dude… i think i’ll have to get it


    and scarlet tracings is very good, i don’t think you need the first first trade, it’s basically just the h g wells novel in comic from… everyone knows that story

  33. I got Stars and Stripe for myself for christmas.  I just got done reading them.  Fun stuff.

  34. Lush Life is a great, densely plotted book.  No one captures the gritty side of city life quite like Price.

    Good gift, Ron!

    Conor, I hope you enjoy it.

  35. Wow, great gifts guys! I thought the Marvel Chronicle gift mentioned at the end though was genius. My family totally caught me off guard and gave me one for Christmas, gotta say it makes for a fantastic gift!

     I was so close to picking up the Joker hc for a friend who loves everything Batman, but the trade dress and page count  doesn’t seem to justify a hardcover format. Also good call on Lush Life, although I didn’t get one for the holidays I’m definitely going to pick it up!

  36. I got the first 3 books of Bone and the DC Vault from my wife.  DC Vault is not what I expected at all, but it’s pretty cool.  It’s a retrospective on the organization, not the product.  I’ll have to put up a review after I’m done with it. 

  37. i got a gift certificate to my local LCS. i got Guardians of the Galaxy, the Nova book, The Spirit, 2 volumes of booster gold, and new avengers number 8. im saving up for the Marvel Chronicle cuz its awesome.