The Holidays are upon us and that means that we're buying all kinds of stuff for the people we care about and even those we don't care about but still feel obligated to get a gift for. Instead of going out and getting something lame like a Christmas tea cozy or a Mitt Romney commemorative plate set, why not get the gift that keeps on giving? I'm talking about comic books of course. Encourage reading and in the case of horror books, possibly scare the crap out of someone. You've seen the UK guide and the US guide, but I've put together a comic fan's guide to the holiday gift giving season. Check out this list of sweet swag for some gift ideas for the horror comic fan in your life or maybe just treat yourself to something special.
For the Walking Dead Fan...
Damn, it's a good time to be a fan of The Walking Dead. Whether you're into the comic, the TV show, or the video game, there's something for you here. The safe bet for someone that liked the AMC show but hasn't read the book from Image Comics is to pick up The Walking Dead Compendium. There are currently two volumes out now. Each tome holds 48 issues of the comic and can be used as a weapon if you're attacked by a horde of zombies. This is a great way to get someone almost entirely caught up with the comic as they just passed 100 issues.
Let's say you want to mix it up a little bit. You don't want to give your buddy a whole lot of reading to do. GameStop has an exclusive Collector's Edition of The Walking Dead from TellTale Games. This includes all six episodes of the hit game where you make life and death decisions as escaped convict Lee Everett. In addition to the game, you also get the first Walking Dead Compendium! Not a bad deal for a new fan.
These gifts are well and good for someone that's not yet a full on Walking Dead expert, but what do you get for the fan that's read all the comics and played the video game already? Titan Magazines has you covered with The Walking Dead: The Official Magazine. A subscription to this is perfect for the hardcore zombie fan. The second issue will hit stands this month. Titan has a special deal going on right now where you save $10 on a subscription and get a free Walking Dead t-shirt.
If You Really Like This Person...
Sometimes a single comic just isn't enough to show someone how awesome they are. You need something really cool and publishers have come out with some pretty great stuff for you folks with the deeper pockets.
IDW Publishing has developed an entirely new imprint called IDW Limited. This is focused on incredibly small runs of popular titles with very special editions. They've recently announced limited releases for Monocyte and Alan Robert's Crawl to Me. The books look absolutely beautiful and come signed by the creators.
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If that's a little too pricey, you can check out the special edition of Locke & Key, also from IDW. They've created a die-cut key cover for the first story entitled "Welcome to Lovecraft" by Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez. In addition to the complete arc, you get Hill's complete scripts and an art gallery.
Hellboy in Hell just started and fans that want to catch up on the adventures of the former B.P.R.D. agent would be happy to receive the Library Editions of the comics. Held in oversized hardcover format, these massive collections from Dark Horse Comics collect the content previously published as two trade paperbacks. The first volume contains both Seed of Destruction and Wake the Devil. There are five altogether now and each one of them is just as gorgeous as the last. This is the kind of thing that you want to show off on a bookshelf.
You also can't go wrong with the classics. There are some comics that are continually best sellers even if they were first published years ago. One such book is Sandman by Neil Gaiman. Vertigo recently released a complete series set that includes all ten volumes of the main series housed in a beautiful slipcase. Sandman is easily one of the best comic books of all time and one that is easy for any new reader to get into.
If you've got someone on your list that likes things that are a little more extreme, Avatar Press has you covered. They recently collected the first volume of their new weekly webcomic Crossed: Wish You Were Here in a great hardcover. You can sample the book at CrossedComic.com, but suffice it to say, it's not for the faint of heart. The third page pictures a man infected by the Crossed virus viciously screwing a dolphin's blowhole as the animal screeches away. Take that, Aquaman. You can get the regular version of the hardcover, but if you want something really special, you can pick up copy signed by writer Simon Spurrier and artist Jacen Burrows. Act fast though as these are limited to just 1,000 copies.
For Someone Who Wants to Try Something New...
This year was great for new comic releases. I cover a chunk of them in my Top 10 List of 2012, such as Hoax Hunters, Fatale, and The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. They're all good for someone that is into comics but tired of the same old superhero nonsense. There are a few others that are definitely worth investigating.
Dark Horse Comics teamed up with Tom Morello from Rage Against the Machine to create Orchid. It's a post-apocalyptic story centering on the title character who is a young prostitute in the dregs of society. Through a series of events, she breaks free from her bonds and leads a revolution against the oppressive emperor. The comic features some gorgeous art by Scott Hepburn. There are two trade paperbacks out now, collecting the first eight issues. The final chapter of the comic comes out next month.
Indie comics have blown up this year as well. It's worth exploring some of the titles that are vying for space on the shelf alongside the dozen or so X-Men comics. Studio 407 hit the ground running this year with a heavy production schedule. They've released several original graphic novels and a chunk of them fall in the horror category such as The Night Projectionist, Hybrid, Smuggling Spirits, and Night and Fog. Of the bunch, Night and Fog stands out with a story that harkens back to old-school Creepy comics. It deals with a freak accident at a bioengineering facility that ends up transforming the residents of a small village into horrific monsters. Only a few people escaped, and now they have to stop these beasts, which is no easy task. Getting a book like this is great as you're supporting indie comics and exposing someone to a book they might have missed.
Speaking of old-school comics, Dark Horse recently collected the four issue mini-series Ragemoor, which is a great looking homage to the horror comics of yesteryear. Written by Jan Strnad and illustrated by Richard Corben, Ragemoor's focus is on a castle of the same name. This isn't some drafty place in the middle of nowhere. It's a living building and it doesn't take kindly to being pillaged for treasure. It reacts angrily and reveals dark creatures living within its depths. It's an unsettling read at times with some great art by Corben.
For the Kids...
Sometimes you want to scare the crap out of your kids, but I don't think it's a good idea to give them comics like Ragemoor or Crossed. Somehow I think child services may want a word with you. That isn't to say that there aren't some spooky books that would be fit for children.
Bruce Brown wrote a pair of graphic novels for Arcana Studio that are a perfect gift for kids that are into horror. Plus they deal with one of the most iconic writers in the genre. Howard Lovecraft and the Frozen Kingdom and the follow-up The Undersea Kingdom create a Calvin and Hobbes feel to the author. Here he's a child who is whisked away to a foreign land and befriends a huge beast affectionately called Thu Thu. Yes, it's a friendlier version of Cthulu and he forms a strong bond with young Howard. The book is fun and lighthearted while still including some great scares. It's not the kind of thing that's going to give your kid nightmares though.
Sticking with Cthulu for a moment, Archaia Entertainment has recently released a children's book entitled Where's My Shoggoth?. It centers on a young boy that lost his pet shoggoth. He sets out to find his pet and encounters all sorts of creatures and demigods, but can't seem to find it. Archaia knows a thing or two about publishing great kids books. They've done a great job with titles like Cow Boy and Rust. This is a little different but it's still a great presentation.
If you've got a kid that loves zombies, first off, you've got a cool kid. Reward that with a comic book! The Littlest Zombie from Antarctic Press tells the tale of a young member of the undead that just wants a friend...and a meal. With luck, he can find both at the same time. Brought to you by storyteller Fred Perry.
For the New Comic Fan...
Let's say you really want to get someone into comics. They're hesitant and they don't know much about the medium. Why not give them something that's based on a movie, book, or TV show that they already love? There have been plenty of great stories that have been adapted or expanded upon in comics and most of them are perfect gateway drugs to the world of funny books.
If you know someone that likes Buffy the Vampire Slayer, you probably live on planet Earth. Seriously, is it possible to not know at least one person that's a fan of the show? Dark Horse Comics continued the story in comic book form. It's official canon and executive produced by Joss Whedon. Similar to the Hellboy releases mentioned earlier, the entirety of Season 8 has been released in deluxe hardcover Library Editions. Each one includes at least ten issues and absolutely gorgeous covers by Jo Chen. There will be four in total with the last one coming out in early next year. These will get you almost caught up for Season 9, which is currently being published.
I've never gotten tired of asking "Who Ya Gonna Call?" when a co-worker has a problem. That's probably why I don't get invited to many parties. Fortunately, I have Ghostbusters comics aplenty from IDW Publishing. There are a number to choose from now, so any fan of Egon, Ray, Peter, and Winston can pick the era they most want to explore. For someone that likes cartoon there's the first volume of The Real Ghostbuster Omnibus. This collects the first 14 issues of the comic originally released by NOW. If you're looking for something a little more modern, there's the regular Ghostbusters Omnibus which includes two mini-series and several one-shots brought to you by IDW. These are all new adventures of the team and are a little more mature than the Real Ghostbusters.
Finally, if you want to get into the continuing adventures of the team, there's the current ongoing Ghostbusters comic. Erik Burnham has been crafting a great story that's been expanding on the original films. He gets the characters so well that you can see Bill Murray or Day Aykroyd saying his dialogue. Dan Schoening's artwork is cartoony so it keeps the book lighthearted and fun, but he can bring in some pretty spooky ghosts for the crew to take on.
The Strain Trilogy of novels by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan have wrapped up, but the story is not finished yet. Dark Horse has been adapting the books into comics with the help of author David Lapham, aiming to have 12 issues per novel. The first trade paperback is available now and collects the first six issues. This is a perfect gift for fans of the series as it provides an illustrated version of the story with some great artwork by Mike Huddleston. Damn, are those vampires creepy.
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