WELCOME to the Topless Robot 2014 Holiday Gift Guide! All this week we’ve been showing you the best gifts you can buy for friends, neighbors, postmen, supers, nieces, nephews, loyal flatscans, good children, bad children, parents, teachers, coworkers, significant others and business partners. Today, we’re looking at some awesome gifts for the comic-inclined in your life. We’ll have gifts that are inexpensive but still great, that are good for buying in bulk for casual acquaintances. We’ll have gifts that are so expensive only the truly frivolous would even think to ask for them. And we’ll have everything in between.
White Elephant is an increasingly common type of gift exchange, especially in offices or large families. The rules usually involve people bringing gifts worth a modest amount (most of the ones I’ve been involved in were right around $20). People draw numbers to determine the order, then choose presents from the common area in that order, or select an already opened gift from one of the people who already chose. Or, when someone takes the gift that the hostess really wanted from her hands, the gift swap turns into a feeding frenzy and I end up walking out with the thundersticks that make fart noises when all I really wanted was the pint glass and the nice microbrew Auntie Linda.
Gifts in this section are priced to make them perfect for informal gifts: office parties, yankee swaps, stocking stuffers, Christmas Thunderdomes or gifts for folks on a budget.
1. Winterworld volume 1 (IDW Publishing) $9.99
This is the first volume of Chuck Dixon’s return to the post-apocalyptic icescape he first visited in the ’80s for Eclipse. He’s now joined by Butch Guice on art, and partnered with IDW to publish (and release as XBox original programming so get in on the
ground second floor). This book is conveniently priced at “slightly cheaper than gateway drugs” levels.
GOOD FOR: Comic newbies; Tim Drake fans; people from Buffalo.
2. Jim Henson’s Labryinth: The Novelization (BOOM! Studios) $19.99
Plenty of special features make this hardcover reissue of the novelization of the beloved Henson movie a great gift idea. It will have previously unpublished illustrations from a concept artist and pages from Henson’s personal journal, so it’s great for process geeks, too.
GOOD FOR: Non-comics readers; Henson fans; Hank & Dean Venture.
3. Ms. Marvel volume 1 (Marvel Comics) $15.99
It had the danger of spiralling into a black hole of Mary Sueism, but G. Willow Wilson and Adrian Alphona’s series about a teenage Carol Danvers fan who gets a huff of Terrigen and turns hero has been absolutely terrific so far. It’s also apparently Marvel’s best selling title when you factor in digital sales. So in addition to being a fantastic comic that looks amazing and is widely beloved, it also has the benefit of finally giving comic book representation to a group that’s been sadly ignored for far too long: people from Jersey City.
GOOD FOR: Runaways fans; MCU fans who haven’t transitioned to comics yet; Chris Christie.
4. Legend of Korra Coffee Mug (Dark Horse) $12.99
Like its target audience, The Legend of Korra is a little more mature and a little more complex than Avatar: The Last Airbender. So that target audience is ready for coffee now! The mug has basic but still great artwork showing the four main characters and the logo of the show.
GOOD FOR: Airbenders; firebenders; earthbenders; coffee benders.
5. The Justice League of America 100 Project (The Hero Initiative) $12.99
The holidays are the busiest time of year for the fundraising departments of charities and nonprofits because people are so acutely aware of how desperately their support is needed. We’ve mentioned their work before, but the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund and the Hero Initiative are both incredible groups that do really important work, as was unfortunately demonstrated by Russ Heath’s comic on boingboing earlier this month. There are a couple of reasons to check out this book in particular, though: it’s a collection of 100 different covers to JLA #50 drawn by some crazy talented folks; it’s a very limited print run, so there’s a good chance it’ll be a collectors item soon; and it’s cheap as hell, so you can hit the holiday feel good trifecta of giving something, getting something, and promoting something cool.
GOOD FOR: Do-gooders; passionate activists; everyone. Seriously, buy this for everyone.
FRIENDS AND FAMILY
A little bit pricier, but these gifts are for people you like more, and what are we as a culture if we don’t attach value to our relationships based on the dollar amount exchanged between the two parties? These gifts are all between $20 and $50.
6. Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy: The Art of the Movie (Marvel Comics) $49.99
A coffee-table book that collects beautiful behind-the-scenes and concept art from Marvel’s most insanely-designed movie to date? Yes please.
GOOD FOR: FX junkies, easter egg hunters, cocktail parties where you want to simultaneously display class and nerdery.
7. Teen Titans: A Celebration of 50 Years (DC Comics) $39.99
8. Teen Titans: Earth One (DC Comics) $22.99
You’re getting both ends of Titans history here. One is a bulky trip through the history of DC’s premier teen-sidekick team, with classic stories from Marv Wolfman, George Perez and Geoff Johns. The other is an Ultimate-style reimagining and streamlining of the team’s origin from the always-amazing Jeff Lemire and Terry Dodson, though there’s a pretty substantial leap of faith involved when you put a guy named Terry anywhere near these guys.
GOOD FOR: Teens; titans; Puffy AmiYumi.
9. I Was the Cat: Conquest T-Shirt (Oni Press/WeLoveFine) $25
Show our new feline overlords that you, for one, welcome them with this shirt from Oni and WeLoveFine based on Paul Tobin and Benjamin Dewey’s series about exactly what it says it was about.
GOOD FOR: Cat people; people who like strangely comfortable shirts; cowardly species-traitors.
10. Legion Flight Ring (ThinkGeek) $24.99
The ring every Legionnaire needs to fly and to survive in the vacuum of space, or on hostile environments of any kinds, is back in stock from Think Geek. Now’s a great time to grab these, because they quickly sold out of them when they were first released back in August.
GOOD FOR: Accessory Lad; Imagination Girl; Hopefully Won’t Take This Too Literally Kid
11. Princess Mononoke: The First Story (Viz Media) $34.99
It’s been approximately 735 years since I last watched Princess Mononoke, an error that I can surely rectify now that it’s on Blu-ray. That’s sort of immaterial here, though, as Viz isn’t really publishing an adaptation as much as a first draft of the story, but with stunning watercolor Miyazaki art.
GOOD FOR: Ghibli fans; anime historians; earth spirits.
12. The People Inside (Oni Press) $24.99
The People Inside is an emotional look at a bunch of different characters, and tries to screw around with sequential storytelling on the way. Ray Fawkes did some pretty solid work here, and this is a good gift for people who like to drift back and forth between cape books and indie stuff.
GOOD FOR: Inner children; possessor demons; emo kids.
13. The Complete Peanuts 1950-1954 Vols 1&2 Gift Box (Fantagraphics) $39.99
It’s books like these that got me into comics in the first place. My family used to keep softcover reprints of old newspaper strips lying around everywhere (cough cough in the bathroom cough) and I would, at like 8 years old, rip through them like they were going to disappear. If you want to get them early, you can’t go wrong with something like this.
GOOD FOR: Parents of pre-k aged kids. Go for the bank shot here, where you make the parents happy that they have something classic and timeless, but also something that they’ll also feel comfortable leaving lying around.
SIGNIFICANT OTHERS AND WELL-BEHAVED CHILDREN
These gifts are for the people you really like, and even still, some of them will be followed by “…but this counts for all 8 nights.” They’re priced between $50 and $100.
14. The BOOM! Bundle (BOOM! Studios) $54.99
Ten bucks cheaper than if you buy them separately, this special BOOM! Studios holiday bundle includes collected editions of The Woods, Dead Letters, Day Men, Hit 1955, and Six Gun Gorilla. I’d pay $55 for Six Gun Gorilla alone, but [exaggerated stage whisper]they’re all really good. This is a sneaky way to bulk out your undertree, and a steal at a higher price.
GOOD FOR: People whose to-read pile is getting short; Jane Goodall from Earth-18; Wyatt Earp from Earth 8101.
15. Black Science Skateboard Deck (Image Comics) $75
If you’ve got enough money to buy this, it’s statistically likely that you’re too old to be using it to actually skate. Bully for you, then, that it’s got this boss Matteo Scalera art on it, because this would look reeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeally nice hanging on your wall.
GOOD FOR: Skaters; haters; master decorators.
16. Mouse Guard Volume 2: Winter 1152 Black & White Limted Edition (Archaia Entertainment) $99.95
It’s so hard to recommend a book that should be read by 11 year-olds in a format that should be kept sealed in a sexy-book humidor (not to be confused with a sexybook humidor, full of cigars and old Penthouses). But everything about this edition of Mouse Guard shouts “I AM AWESOME PLEASE BUY ME.”
GOOD FOR: Careful tweens; twentysomething Redwall fans; chronically aroused bookbinders.
17. Marvel Unlimited+ Subscription (Marvel Comics) $99
Any Marvel Unlimited subscription is a given for a list like this. You’ve got three options: $10 a month (maybe as a trial gift, he said in his best Zoidberg voice?) for a monthly subscription; $70 for a full year of regular MU access; or this one, the $99 fancy “plus” sub. The reason for the big one is simple. The membership card is nice, and the exclusive figure and special issues and variant covers that Plus members get are cool, but remember that event in LA where Marvel announced their slate of movies through 2019? Or the panels at San Diego and New York where they screened Age of Ultron footage? Those were Marvel Unlimited Plus member-only events. Plus, with access to everything Marvel’s digitized, that’ll let you join Topless Robot’s exclusive Marvel Unlimited Book Club, where we discuss our takeaways from old stories. Next month: “Operation Zero Tolerance.”
GOOD FOR: Marvel zombies; people who know how to sideload illicit apps onto their Kindles; frenemies you don’t want to talk to for a while.
18. Hip Hop Family Tree Box Set (Fantagraphics) $59.99
Ed Piskor is in the process of making one of the finest non-fiction comics I’ve ever read, and Fantagraphics released a collection with some cool bonus material about Spike Lee, Rob Liefeld and jeans and Image just in time for the holidays.
GOOD FOR: B boys; b girls; c men.
An unfair name, but a broadly apt one. Skymall implies that neither of these gift ideas would be useful, like a blanket that retrieves your wayward putts or a collar that turns the sound of your dog’s vocalizations into one of three pre-programmed arias (my dog barks the Habanera), which just isn’t true. They are certainly unnecessary, expensive and frivolous, but they’re also informative and gorgeous to look at. Suggestions from this category cost more than $100, and can only be justified with “because I want it.”
19. Marvel Covers Artist’s Edition (IDW Publishing) $100
God these things.They’re so pretty. And so expensive. Full size, super hi-res scans of the original art to a ton of iconic Marvel covers are reprinted here exactly as they would appear if you bought it. Artist’s Editions are amazing, and any one of them would be an incredible gift.
GOOD FOR: Art history majors; comic history majors; other baristas with less expensive degrees.
20. Batman ’66 Blu-rays (Warner Home Video) $269.97
TR has been over why this collection is awesome for Blu-ray collectors, but let’s not forget that the 1966 Batman TV show is the fulcrum of cape comic history, too. So much of what happened in its immediate aftermath was influenced by (or a backlash to) the show’s sensibility that its value as a historical artifact far exceeds the UTTERLY ABSURD price point.
GOOD FOR: Comic book Garth; Comic book Indiana Jones; the Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art.
Previously by Jim Dandeneau
The 7 Best Ways to Clear Up Continuity Errors
4 Reasons Why We Shouldn’t (and 4 Why We Should) Get Excited About the Kirby Settlement
TR’s 2014 New York Comic Con Preview
The 14 Biggest Highlights from NYCC
12 Other Events Marvel Should Revisit for Secret Wars