Column by Rob Salkowitz
Posted by Rob Salkowitz on October 23, 2023 @ 6:05 pm CT
The Super Hero’s Journey (from Abrams ComicArts) tells a very Silver Age-y story involving Galactus, the Watcher, Doctor Doom and most of the Marvel pantheon, interspersing actual pages and panels drawn by Kirby, Ditko, Heck and others, with McDonnell’s own drawings and dialogue (see "’The Super Hero’s Journey’"). McDonnell is both a gifted cartoonist and a scholar of the medium. He also has a generous view of human nature that is in short supply these days, and the story ends up being a neat summary of everything that made Marvel comics of that era of comics so memorable and endearing. Perfect for fans of any age.
Until relatively recently, his work has been something of a hidden treasure in North America, but Magnetic Press, picking up from Archaia, has been systematically rectifying that with semi-annual hardcover collections of Toppi’s short stories, organized by theme and locale. The newest edition, The Collected Toppi Volume 9: The Old World, features a typically mind-blowing sampling of Toppi’s black and white and color work, beautifully reproduced from high-resolution scans. The glossy paper is good for resisting the drool that art fans will produce in abundance as they flip through the pages.
Star Wars Adventures: The High Republic – The Complete Phase 1 collects the entire recent series by Daniel Jose Older and Harvey Tolibao, chronicling the period 600 years prior to the events in the films when the Jedi Order was all that stood between the Republic and a mysterious threat called the Nihil (see "’Complete Phase 1’"). The 368 color pages will keep readers enthralled all the way to grandma’s house, and the stories represent some of the best work of Dark Horse’s second tour of duty as a Star Wars licensee.
Atlas Comics Library No. 1: Adventures into Terror collects the first 8 complete issues of Atlas’s Tales from the Crypt knockoff featuring the usual cavalcade of pre-Code horror cliches (see "Pre-Code Atlas Comics"). Much of the art is done by folks who would later be known for better work, including Russ Heath, George Tuska, Joe Sinnott, Gene Colan and Joe Maneely, with only Basil Wolverton and Don Rico really at the top of their game. The production value is top notch, and there’s an introduction by Atlas maven Michael J. Vassallo, perhaps the one person on earth capable of providing the context, historical detail, knowledge and enthusiasm to elevate this material.
One of the company’s more recent releases is also one of its best. Little Earthquakes: The Graphic Album, edited by Rantz Hoseley, takes inspiration from Tori Amos’s classic 1993 album, and brings together a killer lineup of creators and material, including Neil Gaiman, Colleen Doran, Margaret Atwood, David Mack, Marc Andreyko, Leah Moore and others. There are several editions at various price points, including some highly limited ones that include signed prints, vinyl LPs, and other treats.
Just in time for the holidays, DC is releasing The Riddler: Year One as a hardcover collecting all six issues. It is both familiar to Batman fans and also a refreshing new take on the character and the mythology. The sophistication of Dano’s character-driven storytelling combined with Subic’s painterly, expressionist-style art makes this one of the better superhero books in recent memory, and one that may have flown under the radar for some fans.
The gift that keeps on giving. As always, I want to end this gift list with the very best gift you can offer a comics fan and the comics medium: a piece of original artwork commissioned from your favorite artist. Not only is this a completely one-of-a-kind gift that can be tailored to the specific tastes of the lucky recipient, and something you can enjoy every time you look at it on the wall, but it also puts money in the pockets of the people without whom there would be no comics.
Especially in these days of rampant pirated print art and the scourge of AI, look up the webpage, Etsy shop, Instagram or artist representative of your favorite creators, check the rates and terms, and maybe check references. Holiday commission lists tend to fill up quickly, so if this is your jam, don’t wait too long. Artists, deadlines, you know…
Anyway, if this column feels premature given that, you know, we’re still not to Halloween yet, bookmark it for future reference.
The opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the writer, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the editorial staff of ICv2.com. Rob Salkowitz (@robsalk) is the author of Comic-Con and the Business of Pop Culture and an Eisner-Award nominee.
For more great suggestions for gifts merchandising this holiday season, click here.
Column by Scott Thorne
December 4, 2023
This week, columnist Scott Thorne discusses how sales have been so far during the holiday season, despite Wizards of the Coast not releasing D&D: The Deck of Many Things on time.