Archive for Holiday Gift Bag

Holiday Gift Bag: Mouse Guard

My children, we have completed our traditional Thanksgiving celebration once again. We have imbibed turkeys and yams and pies. We have endured Uncle Edgar’s racist yammerings. We have watched football, unless we were sensible and avoided football. And it is now time for our nation’s most entirely noxious tradition: Black Friday, when we go out in the wee hours (or, if you particularly hate goodness and decency, Thanksgiving Day itself!) to track down dubious bargains, to battle for mall parking, to press your face obscenely against glass doors and scream at underpaid department store clerks to open the doors right now, and to fight other customers for, I dunno, wifi toasters or something.

But you don’t have to put yourself through that! In fact, there are many wonderful gifts you can get at your friendly neighborhood comics store! Shall we examine a few?

Let’s kick things off with Mouse Guard by David Petersen.


This is a great series taking place in a quasi-medieval fantasy setting where mice are our heroes, facing off against various predator species. Our main characters for much of the series are Saxon, Kenzie and Lieam, who are all Guardmice, dedicating their lives to protecting mouse cities, citizens, and merchants and to combating threats like ferrets, weasels, owls, and snakes — and sometimes, they have to deal with threats from within mousedom.

The action is often jaw-droppingly awesome — after all, these are mice fighting and often beating owls, hawks, snakes, and other animals that are much larger and stronger. But even better is the character work — to our human eyes, one mouse looks much like another, so visually, the only difference we may see in most of them is different colored cloaks. But each of the mice we meet is a very distinct character, with different personalities and styles of speaking. The dialogue is often gloriously fun to read, too.

And a big chunk of the appeal of the story is the background. Each of the collections includes maps of the mouse territories, descriptions of their tiny cities hidden inside trees and rock walls, common mouse trades, and more. And it’s just grand fun to imagine life inside these tiny cities, intricately carved out by tiny mouse tools, guarded by brave mouse warriors, served by craftsmen and merchants.


Verdict: Thumbs up. The whole series is incredible fun, with David Petersen’s amazing art and storytelling running through every major storyarc. Yeah, the action is great, the characterization and dialogue are wonderful — but there’s nothing like turning a page and discovering a whole new setting you never could’ve imagined before, whether that’s an entire city or just a simple tavern or workroom, built and decorated by mice.

It’s a kid-friendly series, but it’s not entirely violence-free — characters are terribly injured and sometimes die, so don’t expect to just drop this in your kindergartener’s lap unless you want to deal with the emotional traumas yourself. But for the right kid — and especially for the right adults — this is beautiful, emotionally vibrant storytelling that you’ll treasure.


About the worst thing you can say about it is that it’s an unusual size for a comic — the books are just about square, so it can be hard to display them in some bookshelves. And there are quite a few books in the series — Fall 1152, Winter 1152, and The Black Axe are the books in the main storyline, while the two Legends of the Guard books are collections of stories from different creators — they’re all greatly worth reading, though. And you’ll also want to look for a new collection called Baldwin the Brave and Other Tales, which is full of Petersen’s incredibly charming Free Comic Book Day stories.

Mouse Guard is a perfect gift for kids and adults who love mice, action, and fantasy. You can find them at many comic shops, and you can also order them online from many different store. Go pick ’em up!

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Holiday Gift Bag: Hyperbole and a Half

It’s Christmas Eve, but I think we have time for one final dip into our Holiday Gift Bag. Today, let’s look at Allie Brosh’s Hyperbole and a Half.


A lot of y’all probably read Brosh’s amazing website already — she specializes in pants-wettingly funny essays, accompanied by her equally hilarious semi-primitive artwork — and the occasional extremely sad story, which often ends up being fairly funny, too. Yeah, she’s got a great grasp of the way comedy can be found in tragedy.

But now she’s written a book, some of it taken from her website, and some of it all new material. There are a few old favorites, like “The God of Cake” and “The Party,” and there are quite a few that are completely new — the full story of her hopelessly crazy Helper Dog, Allie’s letters from (and to) her 10-year-old self, getting lost in the woods with her mom and sister, and plenty more.

It’s not all silly stuff, though. The book also includes her lengthy essay on what it’s like to be depressed, as well as her thoughts on perception and identity — and the nature of thought itself. But even then, Allie has a strong sense of the way life’s most serious moments still end up being surreal and unexpected — so they’re still pretty silly. This is in no way a bad thing.

Verdict: Thumbs up. The Internet loves Allie Brosh, which is just proof that the Internet is really, really smart.

Let’s talk about the art first. It looks really goofy and crude, doesn’t it? No human looks like that, with the stick arms and cone hair. But it ain’t crude at all. Yeah, it’s designed to look like it was done in MSPaint — but Brosh spends a lot of time tweaking the art to make sure it looks right. And it’s got a lot of sophistication hidden behind the primitive exterior — there’s a lot of emotion and unexpected detail. If she’s making the art in MSPaint — well, she’s really good at making art in MSPaint, ain’t she?

The book is very funny. You will find stories in here that will make you laugh ’til you need new underwear. But her essays on depression are some of the most heart-breaking things you’ll ever read — and also the most insightful and educational. I’ve been depressed before, but after reading Brosh’s essays, it’s very, very clear that I’ve never been clinically depressed. And I also feel like I have a much greater understanding of what an absolute hell it must be to go through that, and I know now not to say a lot of the things I used to say. Her “dead fish” analogy should be required reading for anyone who has friends or family who are depressed.

If you know someone who loves Allie Brosh’s website, you should get ’em this book. If you know someone who loves really amazing humor and goofball cartoons, you should get ’em this book. If you know someone who likes a little seriousness with their comedy, you should get ’em this book. And hey, it may be Christmas Eve, but this one’s a fairly new release, so you may even be able to find it at your local bookstore. So go pick it up!

Oh, and if you want even more gift ideas, check out my previous Holiday Gift Bag posts. You might find some other ideas under my posts about graphic novels, superhero prose fiction, and even the fabled Not a Comic Book tag. Happy last-minute shopping, everyone!

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Holiday Gift Bag: Cursed Pirate Girl

Is it time for another Holiday Gift Bag? Yes, it is. It’s time for more Holiday Gift Bag. Today, we’re talking about Cursed Pirate Girl by Jeremy A. Bastian.


Our lead character is… THE CURSED PIRATE GIRL! Not that she has a pirate ship, at least not initially. She doesn’t seem particularly cursed either. She might be cursed with madness, but she’s no different from any other character we encounter here — everyone’s a nut.

She’s definitely trying to find her father, though — he’s one of the great Pirate Captains who sailed the legendary Omerta Seas, and she desperately wants to find him and join his crew. But she’s offended the governor, who orders one of his thugs to kill her. He fails, luckily, and she gains her first ally — Pepper Dice, a parrot who crawls into a fish (Yes, the whole story’s a bit loopy) so he can lead her to the secret entrance of the Omerta Seas. She also meets Sir Haffu and Sir Halek, a couple of quarreling swordfish knights.

But there are lots of deadly foes on the Omerta Seas — specifically, rival pirates like Captain Holly and his grotesque crew of scallywags! Can the Cursed Pirate Girl win out over them all? Will she ever manage to find her father? Will she eat better than any other pirate? How did she get that awesome eyepatch? How much does she love laughing?

Verdict: Thumbs up. It’s a deeply weird and surreal and hilarious book. Just about everyone is deformed and grotesque, both physically and mentally. The world is full of freaks and monsters of all types — and usually, they’re not there to menace our heroine — they’re just background color. They’re just there to remind you how spectacularly weird this little world is.

And holy quackers, you’re gonna have to check out the art on this one. Y’all know I’m not an artist and don’t know a whole heck of a lot about art history, so it’s tough for me to pin down just which artists Bastian reminds me of. It’s a bit like Windsor McKay’s work on “Little Nemo in Slumberland,” a bit like Richard F. Outcault’s Yellow Kid comic strip, a bit like Thomas Nast’s editorial cartoons, a bit like Gustave Dore. It’s weird and intricate and beautiful, and you can sit there and look at a whole page over and over and always find something you’d missed the first time.

You can’t say this about every graphic novel out there, but the physical presentation of this is a definite selling point. You gotta get the hardcover with the rough-cut pages. I got some serious happiness just from the tactile sensations of holding the book and turning the pages — it makes you feel like you’re really reading something special.

Get this for anyone — kids or grownups — with a taste for surreal, swashbuckling adventure, or for someone who really appreciates weird humor or gorgeous artwork. I bet someone on your Christmas list is going to love this, so go pick it up.

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Holiday Gift Bag: Delilah Dirk

Already? Another visit to the Holiday Gift Bag? Well, we didn’t get new comics here yesterday because of a slowdown in shipping from last week’s ice storm, so I gotta have something to write about. So let’s talk about Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant by Tony Cliff.


You like swashbuckling adventure, don’t you? Nod your head — of course you love swashbuckling adventure. This story stars Delilah Dirk, an expert swordswoman, archer, and acrobat who travels the world stirring up trouble, and Erdemoglu Selim, a mild-mannered lieutenant in the Turkish Janissary Corps, whose greatest pleasures involve resting quietly and brewing excellent tea. Due to a misunderstanding — Delilah was robbing his employer, and Selim’s employer was an idiot — they end up on the run together, trying to avoid capture and execution while absconding with wonderful treasures.

Selim would really prefer to settle down alone in a quiet town, but he sticks with Delilah, partly out of duty and partly because everyone seems to want both of them dead. Actually, Selim might not quite admit it, but there are other benefits — adventure, flying boats, hair’s-breadth escapes, gold, tea, a beautiful woman who only almost gets him killed every few days… But will their amazing adventures end with them living lives of endless wealth or getting the pointy end of the headsman’s axe?

Verdict: Thumbs up. It’s an utterly beautiful comic. It’s a bit cartoony at times — and I know we’ve talked about how that ain’t a bad thing — but sometimes you turn the page and hit this astonishingly gorgeous landscape shot that completely transports you into the story.

Cliff is a fantastic storyteller — dialogue, characterization, body language are all hugely entertaining. Delilah and Selim are extremely appealing and charismatic people, and it’s a real pleasure to read about them, whether they’re gambling their lives against impossible odds or just sitting around their flying boat chit-chatting.

The action is just plain jaw-dropping. Bridges get blown up. Towers get holes punched in them. Bad guys get with swords and chairs, and thrown through windows, and clobbered with buckets and fists and feet and everything else they could get clobbered with. And there’s a flying boat. Did I mention that? A genuine flying boat. The action, again, is just plain jaw-dropping.

You’re going to want this for anyone who loves truly breathtaking swashbuckling adventure, for anyone who loves great comic book art, for anyone who loves fantastic female heroines and reluctant male heroes. Go pick it up, people, and do not delay.

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Holiday Gift Bag: Slayground

I still have plenty of gift recommendations to get through before Christmas. Today, let’s look at Richard Stark’s Parker: Slayground, adapted and illustrated by Darwyn Cooke.


By now, I expect you know the general idea behind this series. Richard Stark was actually a mystery writer named Donald Westlake, and his series of hard-boiled crime novels about a heist artist named Parker has been quite popular for decades. Darwyn Cooke, who creates great retro-pulp comics like “DC: The New Frontier” and the “Spirit” revival from a few years ago, has done several graphic novel adaptations of the Parker novels. And this one is the latest one.

In “Slayground,” Parker’s latest heist has gone sour. He’s made his escape into Fun Island, an amusement park in Buffalo, New York, that’s been closed for the winter. Parker knows some cops saw him climb into the park — but they aren’t coming after him. He quickly deduces that the cops are crooked, and they and a bunch of mafia goons are planning on coming after him, stealing the loot, and killing him to cover up their own crimes.

But it’s a big park. And the longer they wait before they move in after him, the more time they give him to hide and to turn the rides and attractions into deathtraps under his control.

Verdict: Thumbs up. What’s not to love? It’s “Home Alone” with a sociopath in place of Macauley Culkin!

Seriously, I’m gonna go ahead and keep this fairly short. Y’all must know by now how much I love Cooke’s Parker graphic novels. The big difference between this and the previous three is that there’s a lot less heisting, a lot more action, and no gorgeous bombshells getting in Parker’s way.

What’s it got? It’s got fantastic art, a thrilling story, great characters, and the distinct brand of awesomeness we’ve come to expect from the Parker books.

You want more in-depth analysis? Read my previous reviews of the Parker comics. You want it short and simple? This will be a great gift for anyone who loves crime comics, cool, retro artwork, and noir storytelling. Go pick it up.

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Holiday Gift Bag: Wearing the Cape

Still so many great gifts I wanna recommend, and I really don’t think I’ll have time to review them all. But for today, let’s talk about Wearing the Cape: Young Sentinels by Marion G. Harmon.


I love all the “Wearing the Cape” books. I get enjoyment outta them that I don’t get from any other superhero novels — and from only very few comic books. So I always look forward to a new one.

In the latest novel, Hope “Astra” Corrigan is settling down into her role as one of the leading heroes of the Chicago Sentinels. There are a lot of familiar faces — Blackstone, Watchman, Harlequin, Chakra, Seven, and Astra’s best friend, Shelley, whose completely digital status allows her to upload herself into the robot body of Galatea.

There are a lot of new crises — a new villain called the Green Man periodically tries to destroy the city with out-of-control plant life, and a new villain group called the Wreckers are targeting anti-metahuman organizations. And there are lots of changes in store for Astra, too — chiefly, she’s being put in charge of a new junior branch of the Sentinels.

And that means we get to meet a bunch of new young superheroes, including angsty exploding kid Megaton, shapeshifting teen monster Grendel, arrogant aerokinetic Tsuris, and Ozma, a magic user who claims to be the actual Empress of Oz. Can she mold them into a serious team, especially with the colossal personal changes going on in her life?

Verdict: Thumbs up. I love the stuffing out of this series.

The characterization and dialogue are first-rate. The personalities of almost every character are incredibly strong and distinctive, and most of them are charismatic enough that you want to read more about them. When things are going well for them, you want to celebrate — when things are not going well, you wanna commisserate with them. When they’re in danger, you get worried about ’em, because they all feel like real people.

The action is fantastic, too — it always feels desperate, painful, panicked, and exciting, and that’s really perfect for this series. Superhero action should be above and beyond anything in any other genre, and the action in the “Wearing the Cape” series is breathtakingly great. And it’s not just the superheroic crises and disasters — the personal crises that come up genuinely feel like crises, too. When an injury to a sibling feels just as terrifying as a wave of killer vegetation preparing to destroy Chicago O’Hare International Airport, you’ve definitely got the Superhero Angst-and-Crisis Meter pegged in the right direction.

Maybe my favorite thing about this series is that it’s realistic without being boring or depressing. There are a lot of superhero stories that opt for realism that kills the superheroic mood and turns into gritty military sci-fi, but Harmon realizes that you can have realism in superhero fiction as long as you give your story permission to ignore realism and just let superheroes testify in court while wearing masks, let superheroes get into super-fights without killing everyone, let fictional magic items from Oz show up and work just like they did in Baum’s novels. These books are realistic and fun, and we need more of those, in every possible genre.

My lone quibble with this novel — I wasn’t a big fan of the alternate narrators. The previous novels have been entirely narrated by Astra, so it took a little time to catch on that she wasn’t going to be the sole focal character this time out. And while I liked Megaton and Grendel just fine — and while I kinda wanted to see some of this story from Ozma’s viewpoint — I still wished we could have more Astra.

But that’s a very minor quibble, because this is a seriously fantastic novel. If you haven’t read it — or if you want to get it for a friend who enjoys superhero novels — you should definitely pick it up. And if you haven’t read any of the “Wearing the Cape” books — well, you should probably read all of ’em.

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Holiday Gift Bag: Bandette

I got so much stuff I want to review for the Gift Bag, and so little time left before Christmas, so I’m gonna try to get all the reviews I can. Today, we’re going to talk about Bandette, Volume One: Presto! by Paul Tobin and Colleen Coover.


That’s our lead character up there — Bandette, agile, laughing, clever, somewhat deranged Parisian thief. We meet her for the first time while she’s robbing an underworld figure of some small Rembrandt portraits — and she’s soon on the run from his heavily armed guards. Perhaps she could escape from them on her own, but instead she enlists the aid of her Urchins — friends ranging from little children to ballerinas — to get the bad guys thrown off the scent.

And even though Bandette is a notorious — yet daring and celebrated — thief, she is pursued by the police — so that they can ask her for help! Her skills are so remarkable that she can take down a gang of armed robbers without difficulty! Is there nothing Bandette cannot accomplish? Well, perhaps she cannot best the famed thief Monsieur. Perhaps she cannot avoid the assassins of Finis. Perhaps she cannot avoid the blade of Matadori. Perhaps she cannot vanquish the heart of the hapless Daniel.

Ha ha! How droll! Of course Bandette can do all these things!

Verdict: Thumbs up. This is a wonderfully charming comic. Can I say it’s delightful and still keep my street cred? I don’t care, I’ll say it anyway. It’s delightful. Completely delightful.

Colleen Coover’s artwork is fun and charismatic and kinetic and joyful and dadgummed delightful. Her artwork will make you fall in love with Bandette and Daniel and Monsieur and Matadori and the ballerinas and even gruff Inspector Belgique. If you love Colleen Coover’s art, this should be on your wish list.

And Paul Tobin’s writing is equally fun and charismatic and joyful and delightful. He stuffs Bandette and all her friends (and her rivals, too) with so much personality and life. It’s an extraordinarily French comic. Well, I’m not sure how authentically French it may be — probably not very authentically French at all. But it sure as heck feels French, and you’ll spend the next few days after reading it wishing you could eat in small cafes and looking at pictures of Paris and muttering all the French words you know under your breath. It’s a grand and delightful piece of storytelling.

It strikes me that this is something that young female readers are going to enjoy greatly. Bandette is a wonderful, fun-loving heroine, and many of her friends and foes are girls, too. It’s got swashbuckling thievery, ballerinas, romance, and Paris — all things which many girls like. But on the other hand, I know this book is also very well-loved by many male readers as well.

It’s definitely the kind of comic that should be great for readers of all ages and all genders. So definitely go pick it up.

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Holiday Gift Bag: Hip Hop Family Tree

It’s December, and that means everyone’s looking for more ideas for presents for family and friends, so let’s take another look into our Holiday Gift Bag for some more great stuff we can give. Today, we’re gonna check out Hip Hop Family Tree by Ed Piskor.


Piskor is a cartoonist best known for his Wizzywig graphic novel, and he’s been running this new series as a webcomic on the Boing Boing website. It’s basically a crash course on the history, culture, and personalities of hip hop, starting in the mid-1970s, when most of the elements of what we now call hip hop came together.

I’ll say, first, that I simultaneously want to call this a very brief history and a very in-depth history. It rockets through a dizzying number of musicians, both obscure and famous, more and more of them on almost every page, so it feels like we’re just hitting the high points — but on the other hand, the entire book covers a fairly short span of years. All those names were people who were pretty influential in the early days of hip hop, so while the book moves fast, it’s also covering almost every person who’d need to be covered.

And I’ll also say, as a white boy who grew up in rural New Mexico, that a lot of the stuff I read here was completely new to me — and completely amazing. The guy who invented record scratching did it completely by accident? Afrika Bambaataa was a gang leader who got into the music scene to steer his followers in more nonviolent directions? Fab Five Freddy and Chuck D both got into hip hop through art? Blondie helped push rap into the mainstream? They didn’t teach this stuff in school, and I kinda wish they did.

And it’s not just musicians we get to meet. We get introduced to a lot of producers and moguls — Russell Simmons, Sylvia Robinson, Rick Rubin, and tons of others, both small- and big-time. And a lot of the time, they come off a lot worse than any of the performers — they often seem greedier, more conniving, and sometimes less forward-thinking than the musicians. But they’re still super-important, because they were the ones putting rappers and DJs on records when no one else thought there was any point.

And we get a few micro-moments here and there — a few single nights or single encounters that get multiple pages devoted to them. Maybe the best of the bunch is the epic battle rap between Busy Bee Starski and Kool Moe Dee.

Verdict: Thumbs up. I seriously love this book so much. My musical education was stunted for years, thanks in part to access to little beyond Top 40 and AOR radio in my wayward youth, and this book introduced me to a lot of old-school performers I’d never heard much of. So it was really useful for helping me learn that I had so much I needed to learn.

Piskor’s art style is beautifully stylized here. His caricatures are often hilarious all on their own — Russell Simmons nearly never comes off well, Sylvia Robinson always wears the same outfit, Melle Mel always looks musclebound and furious, Grandmaster Flash always looks stylish, Afrika Bambaataa always looks gigantic and terrifying. Of course, they don’t look a lot like that in real life, but it’s a great way to characterize the major players quickly. The artwork is funny and expressive and just fun to look at.

And the book itself looks amazing. It’s an oversized comic — 9×13 inches, so you’ll have to store this one in the big bookcase. The pages are yellowed, like an old ’70s comic, and it’s even colored in old-school four-color style, so it almost feels like you’re reading a hip hop comic that was actually made in the ’70s.

It’s gonna be a perfect gift for the hip hop fan in your life — or for someone who you need to turn into a hip hop fan. Go pick it up.

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Holiday Gift Bag: Yarnvalanche!

Alright, my children, if it’s Friday as you’re reading this, that means you’ve successfully survived your Thanksgiving turkey-and-Skittles coma, and you’re now ready to embark on the grand adventure known as… Black Friday. Soon (or hours ago, depending on whether you were fool enough to bother with the early-morning doorbuster sales) you will have to deal with your fellow human beings, who used to be normal, civilized people but have now devolved to the point where they’ll eat their own grandmother’s entrails if it means they can get a Furby for 10% off (after the 25% markup, of course).

Or, if you’d rather avoid all that ridiculous nonsense, you can get a gift that’ll always be appreciated — comics!

Let’s start this year with a new book by a some folks with Lubbock ties — Yarnvalanche! by Rachael and Josh Anderson.


This is, as it says on the cover, the first collection of the Andersons’ “Worsted for Wear” webcomic, which is a comic about knitting, crocheting, spinning, and all kinds of yarncraft. Our main character is Cam, a young woman obsessed with knitting who has managed to ensnare most of her friends into her hobby. Her friends come from all walks of life and are focused on all kinds of yarn crafting. One’s a horror nut who loves to crochet creepy dolls; one runs a periodic web program that combines knitting and fitness; one is a secret knitter and a member of an all-guy knitting group. And one is a really, really fluffy bunny.

The group runs through all sorts of misadventures — the search for a meeting place for their knitting group, Cam’s attempt to make a baby blanket in less than a week, their mostly in-vain attempts to keep from buying ridiculous amounts of yarn, some knitting haikus, and several discussions of just how macho knitting may be. And yes, this includes the question of whether Batman knits.

Verdict: Thumbs up. It’s an excellent gag strip with strong doses of geek humor, slice-of-life, and a little outright surrealism. Combine that with Rachael’s awesome art, and you got a winner of a comic strip.

The character work here is really outstanding. Everyone has very recognizable personalities and foibles — and even better, they’re all drawn pretty realistically. In other words, they’re all adult women with normal bodies — they’re not busty supermodels, so some of them are overweight, some are fat, some have normal human builds. They look like normal people, and that’s just plain awesome.

Oh, you think you won’t be able to get this for the comic book reader in your life? That’s the beauty of this one — you can get it for people who don’t read comics. Got a friend or relative who likes to knit? Get them this, and you’ve introduced them to comics. You may not have them reading Daredevil any time soon, but we’ve all gotta start somewhere. It’s even possible that you may be able to turn the comic reader in your life into a knitter. Stranger things have happened…

Yarnvalanche! by Rachael and Josh Anderson. It’s good stuff. Go pick it up.

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Holiday Gift Bag: Showcases and Essentials

Time for one more check into our Holiday Gift Bag, with my gift recommendations for comics fans and non-comics fans alike. Today, we’re going with something I recommend every year: Marvel’s Essentials and DC’s Showcase Presents.


These are old favorites around here because they’re some of the best, easiest gifts you can get for someone who loves comics, especially older comics. They’re very thick collections of old, usually out-of-print comics — usually over 500 pages long, black and white printing, on inexpensive paper. They’re sometimes called “phone books,” ’cause they’re about as thick as a big city phone directory. DC and Marvel sell ‘em cheap, too — usually between $15-20 each. Yes, it’s just in black and white, no color, and the paper isn’t the best quality — but if they published these in color or on fancy paper, they couldn’t afford to make these so affordable, and that’s a trade-off you should feel pretty comfortable with.


These collections can be divided between early works, like the first appearances of Spider-Man, the Flash, the Fantastic Four, or the Legion of Super-Heroes, and rarities that haven’t previously been collected because they’re not in high demand, like Rip Hunter, the Rawhide Kid, the Losers, or X-Factor. There’s a huge variety of comics offered this way — superhero comics, war comics, Westerns, horror, sci-fi, fantasy, and more. You can even find a few romance collections out there now. You get major characters and minor ones, and some of the greatest artists and writers in comics history.


People are still looking for good gifts that won’t cost a fortune, and that makes these perfect — they’re extremely affordable, especially when you consider how much comics material is stuffed between the covers. And while Christmas is almost here, this is something you won’t have to put on special order — most comics shops and large bookstores are going to have quite a few of these on hand, so you can stop in, spend a little green, and walk off with an easy last-minute gift. Comics shops and bookstores don’t always have the older editions of these, so if a particular phone book was released more than a year or two ago, you may have to hit up the used bookstores. Still, I try to save this particular recommendation for late in the season every year — it’s a fast, easy gift that’ll go easy on your checkbook while still giving the comics fan on your list some classic stories they’d never get to read otherwise.


Marvel’s Essentials and DC’s Showcase Presents. Go pick some up.

And hey, looking for some of my older recommendations? Check out my archive of Holiday Gift Bag recommendations — there’s six years’ worth of ’em at this point!

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