It’s been a rough year for most of us, but in Geek Culture there have been plenty of bright spots. In the spirit of trumpeting some of the good stuff, here’s my Annual Holiday Gift Guide:
Written by Mark Voger • TwoMorrows • 192 pp. • Hardcover, Full Color • ISBN-13: 978-1-60549-097-7 • $43.95
Every yuletide season I trot out my copy of The Battle For Christmas by Stephen Nissenbaum. For my money, that’s the best book out there to analyze and explain the many traditions that have shaped the way we celebrate Christmas. It’s clear to me that it’s time to make room on my coffee table this December for another impressive book. TwoMorrows newest, Holly Jolly is kind of the pop-culture counterpart to the Nissenbaum’s authoritative tome. I really enjoy Mark Voger’s writing. For example, I grooved on his Groovy: When Flower Power Bloomed in Pop Culture (also published by TwoMorrows) not too long ago.
“I can’t think of a single topic that has generated more art and culture,” says author Mark Voger of why he decided to do a Christmas book. “From music to movies, TV, cartoons, food and decor, everybody seems to have a favorite Christmas ‘something’ — a delicacy or a song or an animated special. I tried to cram everything in Holly Jolly.”
Available everywhere books are sold, and from the publisher.
By Giorgio Salati & Christian Cornia • Papercutz • 88 pp. • Paperback • ISBN-10 : 1545804265 • $9.99
I tend to like just about everything imported from Italy, and this book, the first in the Brina the Cat series, is no exception. This graphic novel is for everyone who’s ever had the slightest twinge of conflict in letting their cat out of the house. (Full disclosure: I’ve recently joined those ranks). Lots of fun and you can’t go wrong with gifting this book to an 8 to 12 year old, but the audience is for all ages (and all cat lovers).
Available at books stores. comic shops and directly from the publisher, Papercutz.
by David Gallaher and Steve Ellis • Papercutz • 72 pp. • Paperback • ISBN-10 : 1545802033 • $8.99
You really have to fasten your figurative seatbelt before jumping into The Only Living Girl adventures. These books are a delightful showcase for two talented creators, writer David Gallaher and artist Steve Ellis. They won DC’s ZUDA contest years ago with High Moon, but like fine wine, they get better with age.
This new series, The Only Living Girl, picks up right after their brilliant The Only Living Boy stories. Please note: reading all the prior books isn’t a must, and this fantastic book is the perfect jumping-on point for all age readers. In fact, there’s a page that gets everyone up to speed. And then… it’s off to the races!
Available at books stores, comic shops and directly from the publisher, Papercutz.
by Frank Cammuso • Viking, an imprint of Random House • 176 pp. • Hardcover • ISBN-10: 0425291960 • $17.99
Frank Cammuso is an amazing creator: he teaches at Syracuse University, he makes comics as part of the AHOY team, and he creates fantastic all ages graphic novels. I just love his Edison Beaker, Creature Seeker series for its wild and crazy, breakneck action. Cammuso is the real deal with story and art – he has both a clever sense of humor and a wonderful line.
I also love these books for the smiles that inevitably grow bigger with every page you turn!
Available at books stores, comic shops and online here.
by Cullen Bunn and assorted artists • AfterShock Comics • 496 pp. • Hardcover • ISBN-10: 1949028569 • $79.99
Prolific writer Cullen Bunn has created so many stories for Aftershock Comics. Now fan favorites like Knights Temporal, Brothers Dracul and Dark Ark are collected in this impressive hardcover. This also includes many short stories previously seen only in the Aftershock Anthologies.
Available at bookstores, comic shops, and at ComicsCity.
by Mariah McCourt, Soo Lee, Pippa Bowland and Jill Thompson • AHOY Comics • 120 pp. • Paperback • ISBN-10: 1952090008 • $16.99
Believe it or not, my mom (she’s in her late 70s) was flipping through some of my comics recently. (I had left some on her coffee table during a recent visit.) When she saw an ad for AHOY’s Ash & Thorn comic, she paused and really examined it. I think she was intrigued to see two protagonists who looked like her in a comic ad.
And yes, that’s the conceit of this series. To save the world this time, instead of Buffy the Vampire Slayer or young King Arthur, a retired art teacher is recruited. It’s wry fun served up in what is becoming that AHOY signature style. And that’s not all that’s served up; the heroine’s baking recipes are also included in this trade paperback collecting all five issues of the series.
Available at comic shops and fine bookstores and Midtown Comics’ online site.
by J. David Spurlock • Vanguard Publishing • 120 pp. • paperback • ISBN-10: 1934331813 • $39.95
Despite the calamitous nature of 2020, my wife and I were able to visit the Frank Frazetta Museum this summer. It was a wonderful trip, and I am still in awe of all of the amazing paintings we saw there. Reading this oversized coffee table book is like a V.I.P. guided tour in that museum. Spurlock provides just enough background and reference so that anyone can appreciate Frazetta’s talent and creativity. In fact, I wrote about this book earlier this year, and you can read that here.
My Highest Recommendation
Available at bookstores, comic shops, the Frazetta Museum and directly from Vanguard, the publisher.
by John Walsh • Titan Books • 120 pp. • Hardcover • ISBN: 978-1789095067 • $42.51
Way back in college, I had a great pal with a fantastic vinyl collection. Squeeze was one of his favorite bands and became one of my favorites too. When he learned that I liked comics, he pulled out this Flash Gordon soundtrack. He worshipped this album. And in those pre-DVD/streaming days, we kind of thought that listening to that album would be the closest I got to seeing the movie again.
Fast forward (a VHS term) to the 40th anniversary of the film, and UK publisher Titan delivers a wonderful new Flash Gordon book.
Film historian John Walsh discovered and presents many untold stories of this Flash Gordon film, including visions of the proposed sequels, that are bound to raise eyebrows – on both Earth and Mongo. And the author managed to engage in deep conversations with almost all of the original cast or surviving family members.
Flash Gordon isn’t only about Alex Raymond, you know.
This book just burst onto the scene at UK and US bookstores. Flash Gordon: The Official Story of the Film is also available directly from Titan Books.
Edited by Jim Beard • Crazy 8 Press • 206 pp. • Paperback • ISBN-13: 979-8621575373 • $12.99
Batman stuff and gifting have been going together like Christmas cookies and milk for as long as I can remember. Writer Jim Beard has gathered together a “rogue’s gallery” of writers and artists (and I was proud to be included) to celebrate the first season of the old Batman ’66 show. This collection of clever essays and illustrations have been so well received, in fact, that there’s a sequel in the works.
Available at comic shops, fine bookstores and online.
Have a wonderful Yuletide, gang!