Last month I was browsing around Amazon and noticed someone complaining about how her young daughter loves Marvel heroes, but she doesn't know what to buy that's appropriate for her. I suggested Girl Comics, the collected trade of a three issue miniseries that Marvel put out earlier this year. We mentioned it on the podcast a few times. It's a great combination of female artists and writers, all of whom were tasked with creating two-or-three page stories about female Marvel characters. There are even articles in-between, talking about female Marvel authors and illustrators from days gone by.
That got me thinking, though. What are some good comics to gift for Christmas? Whether you're looking for a series to draw someone in to the world of graphic novels, or you have a small child that loves Batman or Spider-Man, hit the jump link for our list of books you might want to consider as gifts this year.
The Mini Marvels Ultimate Collection is the complete run of Mini Marvels, an all-ages comic with the cutest versions of Hulk, Spidey, Iron Man, and pretty much every other Marvel character, that you will ever see. Writers like Sean McKeever and Paul Tobin contributed stories like "Wolverine buys some cereal." It's a great way to get little kids who are enraptured by superheroes actually in to reading comics.
In the same vein, if you're not already buying Tiny Titans, DC's version of "mini" superheroes, you can start now. Tiny Titans Go Camping! is actually a book book, not a collection of the single issue comics. It's written by Tiny Titans co-creator Art Baltazar. The best thing about Tiny Titans, other than it's adorable and fun, is that the stories are easy for even the youngest reader to follow, and they don't need to be read in order. (Meaning, you don't have to start with Tiny Titans issue #1.) Each individual issue usually includes three or four little stories inside, so if bedtime reading is your thing, you don't even have to read a whole issue all at once. My favorite part, though, is that all three Robins get to be part of the group.
If you're looking to buy comics for someone who isn't currently reading comics, a great series to start with is Fables, by Bill Willingham. Many, many people comment at conventions all the time about how Fables got them in to reading comics. The funny books aren't all heroes in capes any more, and Willingham's take on classic (public domain) fairy tale characters is fascinating and inspired. Start with Volume 1: Legends in Exile, and I guarantee they'll be asking you for the next one in no time. (Not for young children, there's some salty language and occasional sexy situations.)
Two of my all time favorite comics I like to give as gifts are Box Office Poison or Tricked by Alex Robinson. He's also written Too Cool To Be Forgotten about a guy who goes through hypnosis therapy to quit smoking and goes back in time to high school. They're the first comics I read that weren't super hero/sci-fi/fantasy oriented and they're really wonderful stories. Robinson both writes and draws them and he's one of my favorite writerly/artsy people of all time.
I gave the husband Skottie Young's first Oz trade for Christmas last year and the second trade for our anniversary this year. Beautiful work on familiar stories - so perfect for anyone who is a fan of Oz. Young brings something new to the table with his unique artistic style but doesn't fuck with the characters or tropes of the original.
I would buy and give Y: The Last Man in its entirety to anyone I know who has not read it, and if I had a shitload of money. If you love it already, buy it for someone else. If you have never read it, be a selfish asshole and buy it for yourself for Christmas even if that means you can't get gifts for anyone else. Best story in comics in the last decade.
Jeff Parker and Steve Leiber's Underground is a beautiful book. It's an interesting story that involves two park rangers being chased through natural caves by thugs working for someone who is trying to illegally dynamite the cave so it is more open for tourism. The story deals with the local political intrigue, but mostly it's just exciting and fun. More importantly, Lieber's art is absolutely mind blowing. Finally, it's the only comic I can think of that will give you an excuse to use the word "spelunking."
I got the Wednesday Comics hardcover for my birthday and I love it, so I know that's a great gift. Even people who may have picked it up as a weekly series will enjoy the extras here, which include one page stories by Evan Dorkin and Stephen DeStefano and Keith Giffen and Eric Canete. The whole project was just such a wonderful idea, and I can't seem to stop turning through the pages looking at all the beautiful art.
Matt Fraction and Salvador Larroca's Invincible Iron Man is good for anyone who might be interested in Marvel superheroes, but wants something that's mostly self-contained. The hardcover Omnibus is actually two story arcs spanning 19 issues, but you could also check out Volume 1: The Five Nightmares in trade paper if you're looking for a cheaper option. This series is a good introduction to comics for anyone who enjoyed the Iron Man movies, but Matt Fraction's ability to tell fun stories that are both grand and intimate with compelling characters should appeal to almost anyone.