'Tis the season for comic book publishers to be giving readers a suggested shopping list, and we've already got a peek at the holiday gift guides from Dark Horse, DC and Aspen. So...what would ComicBook.com like to get under our trees? Or at least what would we recommend giving people?
Well, that's hard to say, isn't it? Last year, we tried to give people ideas but most of them ended up being pretty pricey (because, let's face it, that's the kind of book you don't just run out and buy yourself if you're interested). This year, we'll try and diversify a little bit.
First of all, if you're feeling a bit of the holiday spirit, you should check out Ron Marz's Comics For Tots site. He auctioned off a bunch of signed and sketched books earlier this week with the proceeds going to Toys for Tots, but he's still got some stuff left on his blog. Everything that's left is signed and runs between $10 and $50.
Secret Santa ($25 and under)
In the $25 and under price range, we've got things like Dark Horse Comics's Nexus Omnibus Volume 1, featuring the stunning art of Steve Rude and Mike Baron. It retails for $25 but you can get it at Amazon or Barnes & Noble for under $20, and digital copies for just twelve bucks and change. It's a classic of sci-fi comics and with over 400 pages in the first volume, that's a great deal even if you were paying retail (like, say, if you found it at your LCS with no discount).
Many publishers also have the first volumes of their fan-favorite titles discounted. From Image, for instance, you can get Prophet, Volume I: Remission, one of our ten best new comics of 2012, for just $9.99. Also at that price point? The first volumes of The Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman's Thief of Thieves and Saga, which is another one of our Best of '12 titles. The first volume of Ron Marz and Lee Moder's samurai-vampire mash-up Shinku is available for just a touch more, at $14.95, including a fair amount of bonus material in the back. That was one of our best new launches of 2011, so you won't be disappointed by any of the above.
Or, of course, you've got the first trade paperbacks and hardcovers of DC Comics's New 52 relaunch titles. Almost all of them are available by now, but there's a particular value to some of the better books that have either been cancelled or on the bubble, with books like O.M.A.C. and Frankenstein Agent of S.H.A.D.E. collecting eight issues for under $20 (in paperback). The latter was our favorite book of 2011, so those issues are certainly worth the $9.99 it would cost you on Nook or Kindle.
My personal favorite, though, is probably Ed Brubaker's Scene of the Crime. This wonderful title he did with Michael Lark years ago for Vertigo is finally back in circulation as a deluxe edition hardcover with a new look by Sean Phillips. Some of Bru's earliest sequential crime fiction and still one of my favorite stand-alone miniseries of all time, for less than $25? Sign me up.
And don't forget X-O Manowar: By the Sword, the first trade paperback out of the new Valiant, for just $10.
Something a little more... ($25-$50)
Okay, so that's the ground-level stuff. I mean, you could always pick up some single-issue comics, but if that's what you're doing, you're better to find a comic shop and just browse, right?
So what if you're shopping for somebody a little more special, or just a little more well-to-do and figure $25 will seem cheap (if so, I want to be your friend this Christmas), check out some of these books.
New, paperback editions of Batman: No Man's Land are available; it's one of the more underappreciated Bat-crossovers of the '90s, I always thought, and an interesting read now because bits of The Dark Knight Rises were based on it. Because each one is collecting a ton of issues, they run $34.99 apiece.
Speaking of the movies, for that same price, you can get The Dark Knight Trilogy: The Complete Screenplays With Storyboards, a beautiful paperback collection of Nolan's definitive word on the subject of Batman.
The Graphic Canon is a must-own for lovers of good comics; some of the greatest sequential artists ever to put pen to paper come together in a book by 7 Stories Press that adapts key pieces of Western literature into comics from names as diverse as Will Eisner, Robert Crumb, Kim Deitch and Molly Crabapple. The first and second volumes of the Canon, are already available and the third and final volume is available for pre-order with a release date in April. Each volume retails for just under $40 and is, trust me, one of the most beautiful and impressive comics you could possibly get under the tree.
Marvel Comics has some nice items to offer at this price point, too, with a number of Marvel Masterworks ringing in at $29.99; they just released new volumes for X-Men and Namor. Dark Horse, for their part, has some beautiful library editions coming in at just under $50, including Hellboy, which is of course the greatest gift to give your friend who keeps posting to Facebook that he wants you to "keep Christ in Christmas."
Chris Ware's Building Stories is a great book, by the way, and and endlessly fascinating presentation as well...but major booksellers are all out of stock and comic book stores didn't really buy big. Chances are good you'll be paying more than the $50 cover price if you actually find a copy.
The Big Stuff
Okay, so you're past all of this and now we're assuming that you're either really trying to impress somebody, or buying a big gift for your kid/parent/significant other. Spending more than $50 on a comic might seem crazy to those unacquainted with the industry, but of course to those of us who read them weekly it's not as uncommon as it sounds.
The obvious choices here are Omnibus Editions; DC has a New 52: The Zero Omnibus hitting stores this week (or, rather, hitting Amazon and Barnes & Noble--if your local comic shop is going to carry one, it probably came in last Wednesday). Just a couple of weeks ago, they rolled out a 52 Omnibus, as well, which is more my speed since 52 was miles better than anything much that's come out of the New 52.
There are a lot of great big books coming on the horizon, too, and some older ones worth investing in, but we want to try and keep it to the ones released relatively recently.
While Marvel has a lot of omnibuses coming up, there's not a whole lot of new ones right now, likely because they were so focused on getting the Marvel NOW! initiative squared away, and because they have to know there'll be a fair number of big hardcovers coming down the pike with guys like Brubaker, Bendis, Hickman and Fraction ending long and fan-favorite runs on beloved titles.
Still, they've got that pricey Avengers vs. X-Men hardcover, which retails for $75 and collects the central miniseries, AvX: VS., Marvel Point One and more. There's also a pretty substantial collection that gives fans a chance to own the Death of Spider-Man (no, not that one--the other one).
Of course, the most obvious choice of the season is The Walking Dead Compendium Volume 2, which collects 48 issues of the fan-favorite, Eisner Award-winning series and just hit the stands a month and a half or so ago.