You know a few graphic novel geeks, we all do, but when it comes the time for gift-giving, they can prove a tricky crowd since you don’t know what they already have and what they don’t. There’s always Vertigo’s pleasing Deluxe editions for the discerning giver, particularly this year’s collection of first ten issues of the fabled Fables series, wherein fairy-tale creatures make do in modern-day Manhattan. Snow White is a bureaucrat, Goldilocks a Trotskyite revolutionary, and the Big Bad Wolf is a cynical cop investigating the murder of Rose Red. The sketches and extra material are almost beside the point, what with the handsome binding and sharp color printing, but it all adds up to a superb presentation of an iconic modern comic series.
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Part travel literature, part cultural criticism, part humor chronicle, part graphic art, the reputable Guy Delisle (Pyongyang (2007) and Shenzhen (2006) –- English language versions) has done it again: capturing the entire experience of expat life –- complete with family –- in a region far from home. While his wife works in Pyongyang (formerly Burma) for Doctors Without Borders (her work being the catalyst for his far flung travels), Delisle takes his artful view of everyday life (and the baby, too) for daily strolls into cultural and physical environs far different from his own. His natural curiosity, respect and ease with people transcends difference. Upon return to wherever he’s staying -– often without electricity and other luxuries –- he applies intellectual compassion to the stories conveyed in pictures with words, here and there, as needed. People who like travel writing and cultural reporting will find themselves surprisingly taken by this and all of Delisle’s graphic fiction books, wherein panel after panel conveys a wealth of meaning and provides valid documentation of a time and place.
In a few weeks, the comic-book fiend we all know and (possibly) love is going to be deluged with even more of the pre-release hype for Zach Snyder’s March 2009 film adaptation of Watchmen, Alan Moore’s superhero-redefining 1986 graphic novel. At that point, this person may also be kicking themselves for never getting around to buying a book that they love, and just borrowing a copy years from that friend who had money for comics. Now your friend is really looking forward to the film but can’t quite remember the story. But what’s this? A smartly bound hardcover edition? With bonus material? Then you will be a true friend indeed, and for less money than if you’d bought them the $75 slipcased Absolute Edition.
Horror film has never been more popular and so the timing of this collection of frightful stories from the pages of Creepy magazine’s vaults is right on target. This first volume goes back to 1964 and winds up in 1966, reproducing the first five issues of the magazine in the exact size of the original, including the full-color covers. Another great contribution to the preservation of comics history from Dark Horse.
We batched these three together because they’re clearly, quintissentially for the hardcore comics enthusiast. These are history books first—documenting the first appearance of a character, the initial emergence of a storyline, the series’ run, the writers and artists—and art books simultaneously, true to the form. These books are big, they’re gorgeous, and of course, they’re ‘encyclopedic’ in scope and presentation. The ecstatic recipient has a large, sturdy bookshelf, no doubt cluttered with comics actions figures, with which to house them.