Hardcover Comics Volumes and Graphic Novels Holiday Gift Ideas..

Photo Dec 05, 4 11 15 PM

I got some gift suggestions for this holiday season, with something for everyone out there..

Below, are my hardcover comic book volume and graphic novel suggestions, (away from the superhero genre). Why such things for gifts? Because, the hardcover format gives a lasting quality for those who like their books on a shelf, and adds a bit of deserving specialness to it. The sequential art form within can hold deeper, longer lasting appreciation to those holding a hardbound shell. That’s how I see it, as I find myself bound to the hardcovers in my collection.

So, these picks below are hand-picked favorites by me (Orion!), having read and enjoyed each one. Each pick is likely available through local comic and retail book stores. Ordering online is good too, but part of the fun for the holidays is visiting local shops and checking out the holiday deco around. So, print or write these out, and don’t forget the wrapping paper!

Sweet Tooth – Deluxe Edition – Book One

Sweet_Tooth_Deluxe_Edition_Book_One

  • Writer/Artist: Jeff Lemire
  • Publisher: Vertigo (DC Comics imprint)
  • Hardcover Publication Date: Sept 8, 2015
  • Pages: 296 Price: 29.99 ISBN: 978-1401258719
  • Contains violent and mature content

“Kids like Gus have a price on their heads. Seven years ago, the Affliction raged like a forest fire, killing billions. The only children born since are part of a new breed of human-animal hybrids. Gus is one of these children, a boy with a sweet soul, a sweeter tooth-and the features of a deer. When vicious hunters descend on his isolated forest home, a mysterious and violent man called Jepperd rescues Gus. The hulking drifter promises to lead Gus to The Preserve, a fabled safe haven for hybrid children. As the two cross this dangerous new American frontier, will Jepperd corrupt the boy he’s nicknamed Sweet Tooth, or will Gus’s heart change Jepperd?  Written and illustrated by spectacular talent Jeff Lemire, SWEET TOOTH is a haunting tale of survival in post-apocalyptic America of friendships formed in tragedy, and the good and bad in humankind. Collects SWEET TOOTH #1-12, as well as never-before-seen sketches and an introduction by celebrated actor Michael Sheen (Masters of Sex, Frost/Nixon)..

Note: For anyone who loves a good hero’s journey through difficult times, with some fantastic twists and character development along the way. It’s got the right blend of humor, action, drama in post-apocalyptic storytelling.

Little Nemo: Return to Slumberland HC

Little Nemo

  • Writer: Eric Shanower
  • Artist: Gabriel Rodriguez
  • Publisher: IDW, HC Publication Date: July 23, 2015
  • Pages: 120, Price: 19.95, ISBN: 978-1631400599

“An all-new, all-ages series full of magic and whimsy from award-winning creators Eric Shanower (Adventures in Oz) and Gabriel Rodriguez (Locke & Key)! Spinning out of Winsor McKay’s brilliant early 20th Century strip, Return to Slumberland sees King Morpheus’ daughter, in the Royal Palace of Slumberland, selecting her next-playmate – Nemo! Only Nemo has no interest in being anyone’s playmate, dream or no dream! Winner of the 2015 Eisner Award for Best Limited Series.. “

Note: A magical blend of breathtaking art and storytelling; for anyone who enjoys a fresh fairy-telling with all the magic of the original Windsor McCay strips. This book is a true imaginative escape, for all ages.

The Kurdles

Kurdles

  • Writer/Artist: Archie Goodin
  • Publisher: Fantagraphics, HC Publication Date: May 1, 2015
  • Pages: 60 Price: 24.95, ISBN: 978-1606998328

“Sally is a teddy bear who gets separated from her owner while on a drive in the country. Desperate to find her way home, she stumbles upon Kurdleton, home to a most peculiar group of characters in the midst of a crisis: their forest house has grown hair, eyes, and a mouth! The creatures work with their new friend to keep Kurdleton from growing legs and running away! Goodin, an animation industry veteran, delivers a timeless classic in his debut graphic novel, introducing an unforgettable and charming cast of characters. Printed in an oversized format to showcase Goodin’s stunning, hand-painted artwork, The Kurdles will capture the imagination of all ages.

Note: A warm story for all ages, and a good starter for the those discovering comics for the first time (and not so much interested in the superhero stuff out there).

He-Man and the Masters of the Universe Minicomic Collection HC

MOTU

  • Writer/Artist: various
  • Publisher: Dark Horse, HC Publication Date: October 21, 2015
  • Pages: 1,232 Price: 29.95, ISBN:978-1616558772

“The toy juggernaut Masters of the Universe and its subsequent action figure lines featured memorable pack-in minicomics that aided in playtime for children across the world. This oversized hardcover collection features sixty-eight US releases, including all minicomics from the eighties Masters of the Universe line, the eighties Princess of Power line, and the eighties and nineties He-Man line, plus an introduction to the minicomics in the current Masters of the Universe Classics toy line. Relive the illustrated adventures that fueled your imagination!

Note: Ridiculous fun on some many levels, as these reprinted comic stories originally came with the toys (with pushes to buy other relayed MOTU toys). Many comic artists and writers had their early start with these in the early 1980s – Robert Kirkman (Walking Dead), Bruce Timm (Batman), Michael Straczynski (Babylon 5), Stan Sakai (Usagi Yojimbo), and many more. Plus, it’s packed with interviews and other surprises. Overall, a gem for 80s nostalgia lovers, fantasy art seekers, and MOTU fans.

Locke & Key – Master Edition – Volume 1

Locke And Key

  • Writer: Joe Hill
  • Artist: Gabriel Rodriguez
  • Publisher: IDW, HC Publication Date: June 4, 2015
  • Pages:  328, Price: 49.99, ISBN: 978-1631402241
  • Contains mature and violent content

“Acclaimed suspense novelist and New York Times best-selling author Joe Hill (Heart-Shaped Box) creates an all-new story of dark fantasy and wonder: Locke & Key. Written by Hill and featuring astounding artwork from Gabriel Rodriguez, Locke & Key tells of Keyhouse, an unlikely New England mansion, with fantastic doors that transform all who dare to walk through them… and home to a hate-filled and relentless creature that will not rest until it forces open the most terrible door of them all… Locke & Key creator Hill has received the Bram Stoker Award for Best Fiction Collection, the British Fantasy Award for Best Collection and Best Short Story, and the Sydney J. Bounds Best Newcomer Award-2007, among his growing collection of critical accolades.”

“Named a “modern masterpiece” by The A.V. Club, the critically acclaimed series takes on new life in a reformatted hardcover collection. The Locke & Key Master Edition, Vol. 1 features the first two arcs, “Welcome to Lovecraft” and “Headgames,” with all-new cover art and design by co-creator Gabriel Rodriguez. “

Note: My favorite comic horror story epics of all times. This is my favorite edition of the series for its cool cover design and book-shelf friendly spine. A fantastic comic story that takes you about a third of the way in, and leave you wanting more. Highly recommended for anyone who loves classic Stephen king stories, character building, and plot twists.

Wayward -Deluxe Edition- Book One

Waywad vol 1

  • Writer: Jim Zub
  • Artist: Steve Cummings, Tamra Bonvillian, John Rauch
  • Publisher: Image Comics. HC Publication Date: October 14, 2015
  • Pages: 300, Price: 39.95 ISBN: 978-1632154736

“Rori Lane is trying to start a new life in Japan, but ancient creatures lurking in the shadows of Tokyo sense something hidden deep within her, threatening everything she holds dear. Can she unlock the secrets of her power before it’s too late? Image Comics’s new supernatural sensation gets the deluxe treatment in this oversized hardcover collection that includes every stunning cover illustration, design sketches, and extensive essay material on Japanese culture and mythology by noted monster scholar ZACK DAVISSON. Collects WAYWARD #1-10.

Note: Fantastic for those who love a little modern Japanese supernatural horror, combined with Japanese mythology. The art is beautiful, especially for those who appreciate modern digital coloring style. Story is great too, but enhanced further with the many extras within this edition.

Archie vs. Predator – HC editon

Archie Predator

  • Writer: Alex De Campi
  • Artist: Fernando Ruiz
  • Publisher: Dark Horse Comics, HC Publication Date: November 4, 2015
  • Pages: 128, Price: 19.95, ISBN: 978-1-616558055
  • Contains violent content

“When Archie and friends head south for Spring Break, party games and beach games are soon replaced by the Most Dangerous Game! As the unparalleled fierceness of Betty and Veronica lures the trophy-collecting Predator to Riverdale, will the kids even realize they’re in danger before it claims them all?! Collecting issues #1-#4 of the smash-hit series!”

Note: This one is pure fun with  all that one could love about the Riverdale case, combined with the over-the-top violent actions of the Predator. This is highly recommended for those with a sense of humor, and old-school slasher flicks.

Uncle Scrooge and Donald Duck, The Last of the Clan McDuck – The Don Rosa Library Volume 4

ROSA-vol4-COVER_FINAL

  • Writer/Artist: Don Rosa
  • Publisher: Fantagraphics, HC Publication Date: Dec  2015
  • Pages: 192,  Price: 29.99, ISBN: 978-1-606998663

“Uncle Scrooge, the world’s richest duck, knows exactly where he got every coin he ever earned. And in this fourth book of Duck epics by Don Rosa, that story begins to unfold at last! Relive Scrooge’s Scottish boyhood as “Last of the Clan McDuck,” then his teenage years as “Master of the Mississippi” on Uncle Pothole’s steamboat! Witness Scrooge’s first fights with the Beagle Boys and Flintheart Glomgold — and in a bonus “Chapter 0,” his earliest meeting with Magica De Spell! Presented with brilliant color and a treasure trove of Rosa’s cover art and behind-the-scenes factoids, these Duckburg epics are back in a definitive, comprehensive edition for posterity — at a bargain price worthy of Scrooge himself!”

Note: Why Volume 4? Because, this reprints the early half of the greatest Duck story of all, “The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck.” Currently out of print as a standalone story, this story is now available through the Don Rosa Library (probably through volume 5, and maybe six). A sky-high recommendation for anyone who appreciates gripping art and storytelling, with solid character development on our iconic richest duck

Saga – Deluxe Edition – Book One

Saga

  • Writer: Brian K. Vaughan
  • Artist: Fiona Staples
  • Publisher: Image, HC Publication Date: November 24, 2015
  • Pages: 504,  Price: 49.99, ISBN: 978-1632150783
  • Contains mature content, graphic imagery depicting sex and violence.

“Collecting the first 18 issues of the smash-hit series, this massive edition features a striking new cover, as well as special extras, including never-before-seen sketches, script pages, and a roundtable discussion with the creators about how SAGA is really made. Altogether, this hardcover contains over 500 pages for less than fifty bucks! Written by Eisner Award-winning “Best Writer” BRIAN K. VAUGHAN (Y: The Last Man, The Private Eye) and drawn by Harvey Award-winning “Best Artist” Fiona Staples (Mystery Society, North 40), SAGA is the story of Hazel, a child born to star-crossed parents from opposite sides of a never-ending galactic war. Now, Hazel’s fugitive family must risk everything to find a peaceful future in a harsh universe that values destruction over creation. Fantasy and science fiction are wed like never before in a sexy, subversive drama for adults that Entertainment Weekly called, “The kind of comic you get when truly talented superstar creators are given the freedom to produce their dream book. 

Note: My personal favorite ongoing comic series now ongoing. I can’t recommend this enough to those wanting everything in their sci-fi, fantasy stories…action, humor, philosophy, conflict big and small, challenging ideas, concepts and landscapes that open the imagination, character development, an involving cast..the list goes on. This deluxe edition will give new readers plenty to jump on, and sturdy enough to reread as I have multiple times.

That’s all for now. I may come back with a second helping of suggestions who also waiting till the last-minute. in the meantime, if you have any added suggestions or notes to add, please share in the comments below!

– Orion T

Banned and Challenged Comics Worth Reading

Banned Book Week

Banned Books Week is now, September 27 – October 3, 2015.

Since the days of metal moveable type, select books have been the subject of scrutiny, sorted for censorship and challenged by figures of authority. In our modern times, these books now include those in sequential arts format (comic books, graphic novels).

The reasons for censorship vary further with comic art, as visuals often enhance the type and message. These comics can exhibit a powerful force for change and subversion. Such works can enlarge the meaning and stir powerful emotions. They can also change one’s growth and development, and often inspire. But creativity and imagination have no limits, and can interfere with the intended moral directions of ruling establishments.

Banned Book Week is a resistance to censorship, and a continued fight to make sure creative writings that may offend or bother select groups, are not hidden for that purpose. Within great comic selections, there are excellent readings not to be missed.

Below are my suggestions and notes for popular banned and challenged (in certain areas and times) comics. I also included many “Case Study” links to the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund (cbldf.org). Keep in mind, some books do carry mature reader labels or age recommendations, which usually acts as a suggestion guide or warning.

Saga

Saga

  • Written/ Artist: Brain K Vaughan,  Fiona Staples
  • Publisher: Image Comics, 2012
  • Notes: Monthly series in single issue and collected in volumes.

“The series is heavily influenced by Star Wars, and based on ideas Vaughan conceived both as a child and as a parent. It depicts two lovers from long-warring extraterrestrial races, Alana and Marko, fleeing authorities from both sides of a galactic war as they struggle to care for their newborn daughter, Hazel, who occasionally narrates the series. “

Banned/Challenged by: Often challenged for removal, according to the American Library Association, for reasons of being “anti-Family, nudity, offensive language, sexually explicit, and unsuited for age group ” Also, one monthly chapter of Saga was once removed by Apple for it’s mobile devices. Click here for the CBLDF Case Study.

A fantastic series for those who like a little bit of everything in their science fiction, with no limits to the imagination.

Barefoot Gen

Barefoot Gen

  • Written/Artist: Keiji Nakazawa
  • Publisher: Last Gasp 2004
  • Notes: Manga series, now collected in volumes. Originally published in Japan in Shonen Jump Magazine from 1973-1985.

“This harrowing story of Hiroshima was one of the original Japanese manga series. New and unabridged, this is an all-new translation of the author’s first-person experiences of Hiroshima and its aftermath, is a reminder of the suffering war brings to innocent people. Its emotions and experiences speak to children and adults everywhere. Volume one of this ten-part series details the events leading up to and immediately following the atomic bombing of Hiroshima.”

Banned/Challenged by: Multiple educational institutions for being too graphic with violence and imagery, and also “anti-Japanese.” Click here for the CBLDF Case Study.

Otherwise critically acclaimed, and essential to those who appreciate manga as an art form in storytelling, and love historical fiction.

Bone

Bone

  • Written/Artist: Jeff Smith
  • Publisher: Originally Cartoon Books 1991 (self-published), now by Scholastic
  • Originally a series, now collected in volumes and a all-in-one omnibus

“The BONE adventures tell the story of a young bone boy, Fone Bone, and his two cousins, Phoney Bone and Smiley Bone, who are banned from their homeland of Boneville. When the cousins find themselves mysteriously trapped in a wonderful but often terrifying land filled with secrets and danger – and special new friendships – they are soon caught up in adventures beyond their wildest dreams.”

Banned/Challenged by: Multiple school libraries, often challenged for multiple reasons (political stuff, drinking) and being “unsuitable” for minors. Click here for the CBLDF Case Study.

Great fantastic series, but I think a repeat target because of the cartoony appearance of lead characters. Still, a great read for all ages wanting a bit more than the typical G-rated Disney formulaic stuff in their epic fantasy literature.

Maus

Maus

  • Written/Artist: Art Spiegelman
  • Publisher: Pantheon, 1991
  • Notes: Originally published in serialized parts in Raw Magazine, 1980-1991. Now obtainable through the direct market in a complete book.

“The Pulitzer Prize-winning “Maus” tells the story of Vladek Spiegelman, a Jewish survivor of Hitler’s Europe, and his son, a cartoonist coming to terms with his father’s story. “Maus” approaches the unspeakable through the diminutive. Its form, the cartoon (the Nazis are cats, the Jews mice), shocks us out of any lingering sense of familiarity and succeeds in ‘drawing us closer to the bleak heart of the Holocaust'”

Banned/Challenged by: Pasadena Public Library in Pasadena, California. Major book chains in Russia. Reason: anti-ethnic and unsuited for age group. Probably other areas for it’s Swastika imagery. Click here for the CBLDF Case Study.

An essential read for all those who love comics. The storytelling is emotionally gripping, and at times quite suspenseful. Also, the only comic story to win a Pulitzer Prize.

The Boys

IMG_2564

  • Written/Artist:  Garth Ennis / John McCrea
  • Publisher: Year: Dynamite, 2007
  • Notes: Monthly series, collected in volumes.

“This is going to hurt! In a world where costumed heroes soar through the sky and masked vigilantes prowl the night, someone’s got to make sure the “supes” don’t get out of line. And someone will! Billy Butcher, Wee Hughie, Mother’s Milk, The Frenchman, and The Female are The Boys: A CIA-backed team of very dangerous people, each one dedicated to the struggle against the most dangerous force on Earth – superpower! Some superheroes have to be watched. Some have to be controlled. And some of them – sometimes – need to be taken out of the picture. That’s when you call in The Boys!”

Banned/Challenged by: Qatar’s Ministry of Culture, banned and denied checkout to a reader there for being “offensive.” More info here.

Garth Ennis uses lot of dark humor in his writing, but with fantastic character development (other works including Preacher, Punisher, Hitman). The Boys is among his best creative work, though not as popular as his Preacher..but should be.

Perseopolis:

IMG_2567

  • Written/Artist: Marjane Sartrapi
  • Publisher: Pantheon 2003

“Persepolis is the story of Satrapi’s unforgettable childhood and coming of age within a large and loving family in Tehran during the Islamic Revolution; of the contradictions between private life and public life in a country plagued by political upheaval; of her high school years in Vienna facing the trials of adolescence far from her family; of her homecoming–both sweet and terrible; and, finally, of her self-imposed exile from her beloved homeland. It is the chronicle of a girlhood and adolescence at once outrageous and familiar, a young life entwined with the history of her country yet filled with the universal trials and joys of growing up.”

Banned/Challenged by: Multiple schools for different reasons including “coarse language and scenes of torture.” Click here for the CBLDF Case Study.

Not only fantastic for its challenging content, but for the art style and storytelling. Though it was later adapted into an award winning animated film, this book is a better  as Marjane Sartrapi’s memoir.

Sidescrollers:

SideScrollers

  • Written/Artist: Matthew Loux
  • Publisher: Oni, 2006

“Brian, Brad and Matt are best described as lovable perpetual losers. They’re good guys who just lack direction and are all too happy to be enjoying that lazy time after high school. Their favorite thing to do in life is to play video games, eat junk food and kick around the suburban town they live in. All of this tranquil laziness is interrupted when Brian, Brad and Matt discover that the new girl Amber (of whom Matt is sweet on) is going to that night’s big local rock show with Richard, the bully football jock. Determined to steer her away from Richard, the boys are launched off of their lazy rears and forced into a grand adventure. Chased by an irate football team, a vengeful troop of Girl Scouts and a stalking evil cat that may actually be possessed by Satan, our heroes are thrust into a giant rock ‘n’ roll videogame adventure.”

Banned/Challenged by: Connecticut School District after a complaint of sexual references and profanity. Click here for the CBLDF Case Study.

Well received for its time, and often recommended on various shelves of comic stores and libraries. But, also relevant for the growing inclusion of geek culture to the current pop mainstream.

The Color of Earth

Color Of Earth

  • Written/Artist:  Kim Dong Hwa
  • Publisher: First Second 2009 (Macmillan)

“First love is never easy…Ehwa grows up helping her widowed mother run the local tavern, watching as their customers – both neighbors and strangers – look down on her mother for her single lifestyle. Their social status isolates Ehwa and her mother from the rest of the people in their quiet country village. But as she gets older and sees her mother fall in love again, Ehwa slowly begins to open up to the possibility of love in her life.”

Banned/Challenged by: Multiple institutions according to the American Library Association, as it’s on their “Top Ten most Challenged Books of 2011.” This for reasons on nudity and sexual content.  Click here for the CBLDF Case Study.

Not personally read, but I have seen this book often on suggested lists for reading.

Blankets

Blankets

  • Written/Artist:  Craig Thompson
  • Publisher: Top Shelf Productions, 2003

“…A rarity: a first-love story so well remembered and honest that it reminds you what falling in love feels like. …achingly beautiful.” – Time magazine Wrapped in the landscape of a blustery Wisconsin winter, Blankets explores the sibling rivalry of two brothers growing up in the isolated country, and the budding romance of two coming-of-age lovers. A tale of security and discovery, of playfulness and tragedy, of a fall from grace and the origins of faith.”

Banned/Challenged by: The Marshall Public Library, Missouri (2006), challenged for “obscene illustrations.” Click here for the CBLDF Case Study.

A fantastic multi-dimensional read with powerful story developments do emotional themes. Also, a long read for a graphic novel at 562 pages..something to take time with, as the artwork is beautiful.

League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Black Dossier 

Black Dossier

  • Written/Artist:  Alan Moore, Kevin O’Neill
  • Publisher: DC Comics, 2008
  • Note: Part of a series, as the full story calls for the reading of Volume 1 and 2 of the series, while this is placed before Volume 3 and the Nemo sub-series (printed by Top Shelf).

“The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen returns in this amazing new Absolute Edition! England in the mid 1950s is not the same as it was. The powers that be have instituted…some changes. The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen has been disbanded and disavowed, and the country is under the control of an iron-fisted regime. Now, after many years, the still youthful Mina Murray and a rejuvenated Allan Quatermain return and are in search of some answers. Answers that can only be found in a book buried deep in the vaults of their old headquarters, a book that holds the key to the hidden history of the League throughout the ages:”

Banned/Challenged by: Denied checkout to an 11-year old girl by two employees of the Jessamine County Public Library in Kentucky (who were fired shortly after), on grounds of “pornographic” content. Click here for the CBLDF Case Study.

The work of Alan Moore has been challenged multiple times from Watchmen to Neonomicon. But what sets this book apart is Alan Moore’s unique interpretation on classic characters and events. While there is nudity and sexual references, I feel it is especially important that any profound interpretation on classic literature be kept in the open to anyone, regardless of content. Plus, the series as a whole is fun.

That’s all for now. I hope you have added at least a few of these to your reading list. If you checked out any of these banned books and have thoughts to share, or have suggestions of your own..let us know in the comments.

-Orion T