Ed Catto’s Year End Favorites

1 Ed Catto Column Year End Books

There’s a lot going on in Geek Culture right now. I’m just amazed how shows like Supergirl, The Flash and Jessica Jones have engaged faithful fans and created new fans simultaneously. I’m surprised to be reading about Santa Con and noting the similarities to the explosive Cosplay growth at every comic convention this past year. And I’m encouraged by the all the great Geek Culture books, comics, merchandise and collectibles out there – and ecstatic that it’s so creative and fun.

So this week, let’s take a pause and look at a few of these treasures. This isn’t meant to be a Holiday Buying Guide – but if you get a little cash from your Aunt Agnes this yuletide season, you might want to zip down to your local comic shop or bookstore and check these out.

2 Wally Wood Artisan IDWWally Wood’s EC Stories Comics Artisan Edition, Edited by Scott Dunbier

Scott Dunbier is so much more than just an editor at IDW. He’s a passionate fan who’s committed to creating product the way he’d love to see them –and not afraid to blaze a few trails along the way. In recent years, his “Artist’s Editions” have created a new category, replicating the look and feel of holding the actual, oversize comic pages upon which artists typically pencil and ink their illustrations.

Scott has created books that are reproduced from the actual original artwork pages, so in addition to every ink line and stray pencil mark, you can also see the corrections, whiteouts, touch ups and scrawled notes in the margins. It’s an astounding experience for fiction lovers and art lovers.

HomeStay_Page01-Jpglo-650x957And in the “he’s done it again” category, Scott and IDW have created the Artisan Edition. This format is similar, but it presents the pages reduced to a size we’re all more accustomed to seeing the final printed product at; the typical book/magazine size. For an artist like the great Wally Wood, who packed every panel with brilliant and thoughtful detail, this is a feast for your eyes.  If artwork had calories, you’d go over your daily allotment reading just one story illustrated by Wally Wood.

The other rule that was “broken” here is that this Artisan Edition presents several different stories, and covers, from a bunch of different EC comics. This provides the reader with a fantastic assortment of artwork and adventures from this influential artist, clearly one of the greats of the industry.

Trigger Mortis by Anthony Horowitz

3 Trigger Mortis 007Most of the folks reading this column probably saw the latest James Bond adventure, Spectre, and probably enjoyed it. It was a lot of fun for long-time fans but had a fresh cutting edge vibe that kept it from being stale or stodgy.

That’s exactly what author Anthony Horowitz has done with the newest Bond thriller, Trigger Mortis. This spy novel is set in the past, right after the James Bond adventure with Goldfinger. And the good news is that Pussy Galore, the quintessential Bond Girl –is still hanging around at the novel’s start.

This novel weaves in some original Ian Fleming chapters. These were pages he had written for a proposed James Bond television show.  And the nice part about a James Bond novel is that the reader can cast his or her favorite Bond actor in the lead role. This one seems tailor made for Sean Connery, and in my mind’s eye it played out like a lost James Bond movie broadcast on the old ABC Sunday Night at the Movies.

One other note: Horowitz provides Bond with exposure to alternative lifestyles in this book, and presents Bond rising to the occasion. In the original novels, Bond sometimes exhibits a misogynistic or close-minded side, but that was refreshingly absent here. Bravo!

4 Pistol Whip DHThe Complete Pistol Whip by Matt Kindt and Jason Hall

I’m blessed with an abundance of generous people in my life. One of them is my cousin Yamu. Despite a childhood filled with non-stop reading and re-reading old 60’s Marvel Comics bequeathed to him, and his brother Peter, by their baby sitter, Yamu is always enjoying new and different comics. He still enjoys the capes-and-tights stuff, but he’s great at finding fresh new voices and then helps spread the word.

Yamu gifted me The Complete Pistol Whip and what a treat it’s been. Dark Horse publishes it, but Top Shelf published the original series. Kindt is currently gaining accolades with Mind Management, but this is where it all started. In fact, Pistol Whip was named as one of Time Magazines Top 10 Graphic Novels of 2001. (How’d I miss that?)

This is a lovely book that still seems fresh and innovative, despite being almost 15 years old.

5 Out And About Dad Jim JosephAnd much like the Wally Wood book with all the imperfections and corrections, this collection also lovingly provides the reader with many thoughtful, small extra touches. One of my favorites – they’ve printed a tear in the book as if several pages were ripped in the same place. They aren’t of course, but it adds to the astonishing attention to detail that makes this volume a reading experience.

Out and About Dad: My Journey as a Father with all its Twists, Turns, and a Few Twirls by Jim Joseph

This book isn’t a graphic novel, but it does have many of the hallmarks of heroic fiction. On one hand, it’s the story of a guy trying to do the right thing and working hard to be a good father. He faces his challenges with a great deal of courage and humility. And in the end, he ultimately triumphs. Jim usually writes insightful marketing books (his Experience Effect series are marketing “must reads”) but this very personal memoir is outstanding and I can’t recommend it enough.

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And in the meantime, I hope you’re enjoying your Yuletide. You (probably) deserve it.