Graphic Depictions Last-Minute Gift List
time of year again: the stockings are hung by the chimney
with care, the chestnuts are roasting by the fire, and visions
of overdue credit card bills dance in our heads.
Christmas. Bring on that fat guy in a red suit.
it is the season, I've decided to forgo my usual review to
come up with a list of a few comics that can end up being
the crown jewels of anyone's collection. Diehard fanpeople
may have some of these already, while others may never have
even heard of them. They are some of the best our favorite
literary medium has to offer, at least in my humble and often
ignored opinion, and would make a good gift under any comic
Comics by Scott McCloud
comics, but I never understood why until I read this graphic
novel about three years ago. Scott McCloud created the most
widely sought and highly regarded critical evaluation of comic
books to ever grace the industry and if you haven't read it
yet, you don't deserve to read comics.
Comics, McCloud makes the best case for the validation
of sequential art as a serious medium, demonstrating the clarity
and depth that can be achieved when words and art are combined,
and analyzing and defining our favorite medium. He takes the
reader through the history of comics, pointing out its ties
to ancient pictorial writing and artwork, while pointing out
the potential and the flaws of the medium. He includes visual
art concepts right alongside panel description and negative
space techniques, all to link the world of high art with the
world of comic book creation.
he teaches the fanperson more about the history and inner
workings of comics and at the same time, introduces the comic
book novice to an easily understood explanation of how to
read, understand, and interpret comic books. It's the comic
book Bible, and should be on your shelf, if for no other reason
than to lend it to people who don't read comics, so they can
Books of Magic created by Neil Gaiman, continued by
John Ney Rieber
one of Vertigo's best selling and best written titles to date
and has seen its entire run collected, as well as a collection
for The Names of Magic miniseries, Books of Faerie,
and a sequel series Hunter: The Age of Magic. Eight
volumes grace my shelf and the rest are soon to follow.
was a thirteen year-old British kid with glasses and an owl,
long before a certain Potter made it cool to be a thirteen
year-old British kid with glasses and an owl. And he also
original miniseries by Gaimain, to the recent ongoing by Dylan
Horrocks, The Books of Magic have been the story of
a young man discovering that there is magic in the world,
and it's not always riding around on a flying cleansing implement,
looking for a spastic, winged pinball. Magic is hard, dangerous,
and it brings you miles and miles of painful memories.
introduced us to Tim and the world of Magic, and Rieber showed
us the world as a Tim aware of magic and his own powers had
to deal with it. The series never failed to be strikingly
real despite its fantasy elements, the characters never less
than thoroughly human. It covers the broad spectrum of emotion
and tackles all kinds of topics, from love, Death (fanboy
points for those who know why the "d" is capitalized),
life and loss, to the afterlife and what it means to really
grow from adolescence into adulthood. It's one of the greatest
series I've ever read and you do yourself a disservice if
you haven't done so.
sound like a bad Hallmark commercial, give the gift of Magic
City by Kurt Busiek and Brent Anderson
are what got just about everyone who reads comics into comics.
Superhero as a fiction genre, and even as a literary writing
style, is unique in the way it examines themes of responsibility,
power, and the belief that an individual or group of individuals
can affect something larger than themselves.
City is a title that explores almost every aspect of the
superhero as characters, as well as showing the affects superheroes
have on the world and people around them. Busiek used the
archetypes that the comic reading world is used to (the powerhouse,
the the amazon, the vigilante, etc.) and created a plethora
of characters help him comment on the world of superheroes.
In the four collected volumes (some issues have yet to see
collection), Busiek gives each one a theme to address.
In the Big City, the original miniseries, Busiek gives
his introduction to his fictional home to superheroics Astro
City, telling several done-in-one stories that give the reader
a smattering of his honest and down-to-earth writing style,
introducing the reader to many great characters like the Samaritan,
Winged Glory, Jack-In-the-Box, and the Hanged Man.
Busiek addresses the affects of being a superhero has on the
familial process in Family Album, the definition of
heroism in Confession, and the idea that a man can
be redeemed in Tarnished Angel. All the volumes are
written with a deft understanding of what it means to be human,
while still being superhuman, as Busiek writes an alien invasion
as well as he does a little girl learning to play hopscotch
for the first time.
kind of book that has us wishing superheroes were real, not
because we want to fly as fast as a speeding bullet or shoot
beams from our eyes, but because the world would contain just
one more spark of wonder, one more example of the great things
humanity can accomplish, if they were real. Anyone who reads
any of these volumes will get that. "Wonder" always
seemed like a good gift idea.
that's it for me. Time to hang up my reviewing hat for the
week (it's a very nice hat, red and white and furry). The
three comics (or over fifteen if you count individual volumes)
I've mentioned cover what I hope are parts of everyone's comic
reading experience: history, magic, and wonder. Every Christmas
should have a little of each, so try and sprinkle a dash or
two around. Merry Christmas, Happy Chanukah, Good Kwanza,
and Best Festivus to all. And to all a good night.