Welcome back, gals and pals, to another Comic Book Wednesday. Since it's December, and since the holidays are upon us, we're all going to be doing a fair amount of shopping soon. And you know what makes excellent Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanza/Winter Solstice/Shit-It's-Cold-Let's-Give-Each-Other-Crap gifts? Comics. So, I thought in December I would do some holiday gift guides for the people in your life who might really like some comics.
Some of you know that I've spent the past six years working at a comic shop, and every holiday season we get a ton of people who come in looking for books for people. Most of the time, they have only a vague idea of what they're looking for. The result is that I've gotten quite good at the recommendation game. Usually I ask the person what kind of movies or books or TV their loved one likes, and we go from there. So instead of a "For Him, For Her, For Dad, For Annoying Cousin" sort of list, these recommendations will be a little more specific. If you don't see the kind of person you're looking for on this list, let me know what kind of person you're looking to buy a gift for and I'll see what I can come up with.
Onto the gifts!
1. For the Person Who Likes The Marvel Movies
We all know that person who loves comic book movies, but just hasn't really gotten into comics themselves. They love superheroes, so why not get them something easily accessible to tide them over till Captain America 2 comes out. Get them Hawkeye: Volume 1 (oversized HC) by Matt Fraction and David Aja.
Hawkeye is an amazing book. It's perfect for the hardcore comic fan and for the comics newbie. Has your friend only ever really seen the Marvel movies but never read the comics? This is the book that will get them hooked. Like the Marvel movies, Hawkeye knows when to be funny, when to be serious, and when to just be a really damn good time.
The story centers on Clint Barton a.k.a. Hawkeye, who movie fans will recognize from The Avengers, and what he does when he's not on duty as an Avenger. This mainly circles around Hawkeye's life in his Brooklyn apartment, his relationship with his protege Kate Bishop (who also calls herself Hawkeye), and generally trying to keep his life from going insane. This is some of Matt Fraction's best work. The dialogue is tight and clever, the stories are compelling, and best of all he knows exactly when to step back and let the artists do their thing. The majority of the book is drawn by the insanely talented David Aja, who worked with Fraction on The Immortal Iron Fist. Aja's art is just out of this world. It's incredibly simple, but at the same time so kinetic that you can just see the motion from panel to panel. Also, no one does a layout like Aja.
There are a couple of Hawkeye soft covers floating around, but the fact of the matter is that you want to get the oversized hardcover if you're giving it as a gift. First of all, it is really well designed. The oversized books that Marvel does are always really gorgeous and they look damn pretty sitting on the shelf. Second of all, the hardcover contains 12 issues of comics (Hawkeye #1-11, plus Young Avengers Presents #6 which focuses on Kate Bishop). Hawkeye: Volume 1 retails at $34.99.
2. For The Kid Who Likes to Read
Maybe it's your kid, maybe it's a niece or nephew, maybe it's your neighbor's kids, but we've all got that kid you need to get a present for. Sometimes you want to get them a book, but maybe you're not really on top of kids books or want something new. Get them City of Light, City of Dark by Avi and Brian Floca.
Some of you might remember this book. It originally came out in 1991. I know that it was one of my favorite books as a kid. I still remember lying in the guest bed at my grandparents house, devouring this book the first time I read it. So, I was thrilled a couple weeks ago to see that this book is back in print!
For those who aren't familiar, City of Light, City of Dark is the story about a boy, Carlos Juarez, and a girl, Sarah Stubbs, who have to find and return a specific transit token to a group of shadowy creatures before December 21st or New York City will freeze solid. Meanwhile, at the same time, the kids are being hunted by Mr. Underton, a blind maker of neon signs, who is desperate to steal the token's power for himself. Part comic, part chapter book, City of Light, City of Dark is an incredible story that creates a rich mythology surrounding New York City. There is something indescribably special about this book. It's perfect for any kid.
Besides the wonderful story, Floca's art is really outstanding. It's very minimal, but he manages to bring everyone to life with simple expressions and clever layouts. He also know how exactly to use light and dark in his work (appropriate, no?), and the result is fantastic. Throughout the book are some really spectacular layouts, including one of a gaping subway tunnel that just sends chills up my spine.
The new printing is a simple softcover book that retails for $10.99. I cannot recommend this book enough for any kid that might be in your life (and even some adults).
3. For The Person Who Loves 'Maus' and 'Persepolis'
You know that friend who doesn't really read comics but loves books like Maus and Persepolis. Well, those aren't the only books out there in that vein of memoirs. Get them Cuba: My Revolution by Inverna Lockpez and Dean Haspiel.
Cuba: My Revolution is the memoir of Inverna Lockpez, a story that tells her transformation from a young, idealistic girl who fully supported Castro to a woman disillusioned with her country and desperate to leave it. Throughout the story, we see 'Sonya' change and grow as life in Cuba changes around her. We see her story as an artist, her story as a lover, her story as a daughter, her story as an army doctor, and her story as a communist. Lockpez does not hold anything back in this memoir and any reader will be amazed at the deep wells of strength this woman possesses.
The book is drawn by Dean Haspiel, a long time family friend of Lockpez, who describes her as a second mother. It is clear how much Haspiel respects Lockpez's story through his art. Each page is beautifully drawn in black and white, with a hint of red somewhere on each page that serves to highlight the art and the story. He also does not hold back on illustrating the more vicious moments of Lockpez's story. This is a beautiful book, but sometimes the imagery can be downright disturbing.
Cuba: My Revolution is a spectacular read and a great gift for anyone who likes history, art, memoirs, or stories of incredible women. Fair warning, there are a few scenes that have graphic depictions of torture and sexual abuse that can be triggering. I wouldn't recommend this book for anyone under the age of 16. The hardcover edition retails at $24.99.
So, that's it for this week! Got anybody you need to buy a gift for? Got a comic that you love to give as a gift? Got a comic that you would never want to give as a gift/receive as a gift? Let everyone know!
See you next Comic Book Wednesday!