It's nearly Halloween and we all know what that means… the holiday season will soon be upon us. And because of supply chain issues, shipping delays and havoc at the Post Office, it’s never too early to start gift shopping for the fans and geeks in your life.
As usual, publishers are laying out a sumptuous feast of must-have items. Here are a few graphic novel and comics-related books that caught my eye.
All of the Marvels: A Journey to the Ends of the Biggest Story Ever Told,
by Douglas Wolk (Penguin Books). If you’re a comics fan, chances are you’ve heard about this prose book. Critic and one-time Judge Dredd
scribe Wolk read just about every comic Marvel published from 1961 to the present, and in this book, attempts to piece it all together as parts of one gigantic story. He does so by zooming in on specific issues and story arcs of some representative characters, interspersed with discussions of how Marvel stories interacted with real-world events and cultural trends. Any true-blue Marvel fan will find things to love and things to hate about his analysis, which is what makes this book so much fun for those in the know.
Dune: The Graphic Novel Book 1,
written by Frank and Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson, art by Raul Allen (Abrams ComicArts). Abrams got in ahead of the gold rush with this concise, nicely drawn adaptation of Frank Herbert’s 1965 sci-fi classic, which you may have heard about recently (see "’Dune’ Gets Graphic Novel Treatment by Abrams ComicArts
"). This is not to be confused with the official adaptation of the movie, which is currently being Kickstarter by Legendary Comics (undoubtedly also a worthy project), though both feature covers by Bill Sienkiewicz, who drew the 1984 adaptation from Marvel, which is very much worth tracking down. Anyway, they’re all basically the same story. Any of these graphic adaptations are sure to add to the enjoyment of old fans and new ones.
The Eternals Monster Size,
by Jack Kirby (Marvel Comics). Whatever becomes of the upcoming MCU Eternals
movie, one of its enduring benefits is the reissue of Jack Kirby’s original run in one of Marvel’s immense, tombstone-sized deluxe editions collecting the entire 19 issues and one annual from the mid-70s. Anyone who thinks the King was off his game in his return to Marvel needs to read these comics front to back. Not only was Kirby’s artwork at a cosmic peak, so was his skill as a writer crafting a mature, well-paced work of science fiction – at least for the first dozen issues or so. Needless to say, it all benefits from being upsized and printed on high quality paper. This will set you back some, but if anything is worth the bucks, this is it.
The History of Science Fiction: A Graphic Novel Adventure,
written by Xavier Dolla, art by Djibril Morissette-Phan (Humanoids). This brand new, first-time-in-English hardcover from Humanoids embarks on a straightforward project: presenting an illustrated narrative history of the genre of science fiction from its earliest prehistorical beginnings through the pulp era, the "Golden Age" of the 40s-50s, and down to the current day. But, like Wolk’s All of the Marvels
, in tackling such a broad topic in a personal and selective way, it is sure to start as many arguments as it settles, particularly since it approaches the subject from a European perspective. Science fiction fans tend to be an opinionated lot in the first place. If you want to set the stage for some epic fan-splaining, slip this little volume under their tree.
Queen of the Ring: Wrestling Drawings by Jaime Hernandez 1980-2020,
by Jaime Hernandez and Katie Skelly (Fantagraphics Books). OK, not gonna lie, this is a weird book. Jaime Hernandez of Love and Rockets
fame needs no introduction as one of the foremost literary graphic novelists of all time. But he also harbors a secret love for the world of women pro wrestlers, harkening back to the lucha libre magazines of the 1960s. Over the decades, Hernandez created his own cast of characters and embroidered their mythology in lusciously-drawn single images and illustrations that are full of pathos and drama. This isn’t a story per se
; more of a monomaniacal art book produced to Fantagraphics’ exacting standards. If that sounds like something to get your special someone excited, don’t miss out on this one.
Wonder Woman: 80 Years of the Amazon Warrior,
by various creators (DC Comics). DC’s iconic super heroine celebrates the big 8-0 this year and DC has released a deluxe hardcover collection featuring over 400 pages of her greatest adventures through the years. This book reprints classics from the Golden Age down to the modern era, featuring work by George Perez, Jill Thompson, Greg Rucka, Nicola Scott and many others, and features key stories introducing important characters and storylines. With new essays from Gal Godot, Lynda Carter, Patty Jenkins and Trina Robbins, this volume is ideal for connecting modern-day fans with long-time collectors.
For all of the ICv2 Gifts Week articles on 2021 holiday merchandising, see "ICv2 Gifts Week 2021
The opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the writer(s), 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.