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2014 HORROR COMICS GIFT GUIDE
Hello again, December. This is the time of year I'm reminded that I know next to nothing about my friends and family, so I have no idea what to get them for Christmas. I wait until the last minute and then just get them gift cards or whatever I can scrounge together at the checkout counter at Target. Hope you like batteries, gum, and hand sanitizer, Grandma. In a perfect world, I'd just give everyone comics. That can be tricky though because how do you know what to get each person on your list? I'm going to help you figure that out with a holiday gift guide, but mine is geared towards the spooky, naturally.
For the Buffy fan...
Although Buffy the Vampire Slayer has been off the air for over ten years, it's still a big influence on a lot of people. It's pretty easy to find a Buffy fan and instantly share a common love for all things Joss Whedon. The simple solution for a fan of the TV show is to get them going on the comic. Dark Horse continued the series with a bunch of funny books, all "executive produced" by Whedon. It's up to season 10 now, and has spawned a spinoff series called Angel & Faith. If you're going to get someone into the books, the publisher has released four hardcovers that collect the entire eighth season that would look great under the tree.
But what if your giftee is already up to speed on the current goings-on of the Scooby Gang? There are a few Buffy-esque comics that would be a perfect fit for them. If he or she was a fan of the girls kicking ass part of the show, I strongly recommend Hexed from BOOM! Studios. It follows a thief of supernatural items named Luci Jennifer Inacio Das Neves, better known as "Lucifer." The book was originally released as a four-issue mini-series in 2011, but was recently brought back as an ongoing series. Unfortunately, the first trade won't be available until 2015, but the original series is still available and works as a great introduction to the character. I'm sure you can find the single issues of the new series if you look at a local comic shop too. Hexed is a smart, fast-paced, and gorgeous comic created and written by Michael Alan Nelson and each issue gets better and better.
If the Scooby Gang was more your thing, you can get your friend or family member up on Wayward from Image Comics. Written by Jim Zub with art by Steven Cummings, it follows a young girl named Rori Lane who moves to Tokyo and finds herself dealing with all sorts of supernatural happenings from Japanese folklore. Along the way, she meets up with other kids that have strange powers and they form a sort of group to track down these creatures. As with the new Hexed series, the first volume of Wayward won't be out until 2015, but you can probably get some of the first four issues (or at least reprints) at your local comic shop.
For the Walking Dead Fan...
This is another easy one to start with. If your giftee likes the TV show, get them the comic. Image Comics has released a couple compendiums, each of which collects a ton of the single issues. In a pinch, these things can be used as a weapon against an actual zombie.
As with Buffy, what if this person has already caught up on the 100+ issues of the book? Get them another comic with zombies in it! You can pick up the first volume of Afterlife with Archie now that collects the first story arc of the series in which zombies invade Riverdale. It's a gripping, emotional, and most importantly serious take on the horror genre with characters that most people are at least somewhat familiar with. You don't have to have read Archie comics to understand it. The book is written by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and features stunning artwork from Francesco Francavilla.
You can also take the zombie theme and move it to the animal kingdom with The Other Dead. The elevator pitch for this comic is undead animals rise up and a small group of southerners and President Obama shoot them in their furry faces. The comic is written by Joshua Ortega and illustrated by Qing Ping Mui and is currently in development as a TV show on Animal Planet. Get the book so your loved one can brag to all his or her friends about how they knew about it before it was cool.
For the Little Kids...
Kids love comics. It's a fact. More kids should be reading comics, but obviously there are some that they should probably wait until they're older for. You can still start them early on some great spooky stories that are kid friendly. You can give them anything from Art Baltazar and Franco, but if you want something with a horror angle, try Itty Bitty Hellboy. The creators take the characters from Hellboy and make them adorable, giving them adventures that kids can relate to and adults can still enjoy.
If you want to get a little crazy, you can pick up Howard Lovecraft and the Three Kingdoms. This hardcover collects the three graphic novels written by Bruce Brown depicting a young H.P. Lovecraft getting into all kinds of adventures with the Necronomicon and his pet elder god, Spot. It's just as crazy and fun as it sounds.
You can also pull a sort of Nightmare Before Christmas idea with Costume Quest: Invasion of the Candy Snatchers. Based on the video game from Double Fine, this graphic novel is written and illustrated by Zac Gorman and features a Grubbin looking to bring back a ton of candy from the human world.
For the Collector...
Maybe your giftee is already a comic fan and you want to get them something really fancy. There are some primo editions of funny books out there that really show off some great artwork. Thanks to Kickstarter, Ben Templesmith recently released his original graphic novel, The Squidder, through 44FLOOD. The hardcover graphic novel is gorgeous on its own, but there's a special Kraken Edition with slipcase that is downright beautiful. You get the full story plus a few extra features and you can even order it signed by the creator himself. The Squidder is a post-apocalyptic tale that has been described as Mad Max meets Cthulhu.
One of the absolute best comics in recent years has been Locke & Key from Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez, released by IDW Publishing. The series came to a close earlier this year and a slipcase edition was published collecting all six softcovers in one place. This is also a great comic to introduce someone to the medium. It's got horror, deception, family drama, and packs an emotional punch like no other.
For the First Time Reader...
Let's say you've got someone that doesn't fit any of the above criteria. They just like a good book. There have been a number of new titles launched this year that are good for just about anyone. Here's quick rundown of some of them, currently available in graphic novel formats, all at great introductory prices.
Nailbiter tells the story of the fictional town of Buckaroo, Oregon, where sixteen of the world's worst serial killers came from. An FBI agent goes in to look for a reason behind this and goes missing. Then bodies start piling up.
Day Men follows David Reid, a man employed by a vampire coven to take care of their matters during the daylight hours. He gets wrapped up in a mafia-esque war between families where he's forced to fight for his life and everything he believes in. This is a gripping, action-packed comic that anyone will enjoy.
Dream Thief centers on John Lincoln, a loser that steals an aboriginal mask from a museum and finds himself possessed by vengeful spirits while he sleeps. Upon waking, he retains all of the memories and abilities of the spirit, but he also has to clean up a dead body or three as a result of all that revenge. He has no idea where he'll end up – or who will be along for the ride – when he closes his eyes.
For the Internet...
Finally, if you're really in the gift giving mood, I highly suggest you take a few minutes and browse through the comics section on Kickstarter. At the time of this writing there are over 130 live comic projects on the crowd funding platform. This is going to sound really cheesy, but there may be no better gift you can give to someone than helping make their dream come true. Contribute a few bucks to a project to help make it happen and you can get some pretty cool rewards in the process. I've included links to some notable horror books below, but they are far from all of them on there.
Nenetl of the Forgotten Spirits: Part 3 - A spirited horror comic about a ghost searching for her family & dodging exorcists during the Day of the Dead festival.
Terra Kaiju - The story of a young samurai who sacrifices his life to awaken the local god so that his village may be saved.
Abbadon - A graphic novel from Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray about the wildest sin-filled town in the old west that is plagued by a series of murders.
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