Newsarama's HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDE, Part 1: For Friends

<i>By <a>Chris Arrant, Newsarama Contributor</A></I> <p>The barbarians are at the gate. In this case, the gates are department stores and the barbarians are the massing hordes of holiday shoppers. But this time around, you don't have to fight the crowds to find the best gifts to give your friends and loved ones. This holiday season, let Newsarama and the comics community help. <p>We've gathered an eclectic group of comic book creators ranging from superhero mainstays to stunning independent artists and even a face from Newsarama's past for this all-star event. Today we're focusing on gifts to get for your friends on your list. Come back later this week for gifts for kids, and for the best gifts of all the gifts you're going to want to put on your wishlist! <p><i>Got a comment? There's lots of conversation on Newsarama's <a href=><b>FACEBOOK</b></a> and <a href=><b>TWITTER</b></a>!</i> <p>


"I can say that <B>100 Bullets</B> is the book that got me back to comics, and also presented me a new kind of Vertigo publication, different than the poetic universe of <B>Sandman</B> (that I like, but never really loved). <B>100 Bullets</B> was bold, serious, and was about my favorite subject ever: Conspiracy. Brian Azzarello knows it better than anyone, and that's why he is one of the greatest writers of his generation. <p>Even if the crappiest artist drew this, i would be in, but no. <B>100 Bullets</B> was illustrated by the modern master, Eduardo Risso. One of my favorite artists ever. More than a great writer and a great artist, the creative team always have the chemistry necessary to create a new classic." <p><I>After breaking into the big-time illustrating DC's <I>Blue Beetle</I>, <a href=>Rafael Albuquerque</A> partnered with Scott Snyder on what's become his signature work, <B>American Vampire</B>.</I>


"It all depends who you're shopping for. Even people who say they don't like comics or won't read comics love <B>Calvin and Hobbes</B>. Chris Ware books always go over well and the car door-sized <B>Little Nemo in Slumberland: So Many Splendid Sundays</B> by Winsor McCay would be a treat for anybody. I love the <B>Walt and Skeezix</B> collections as well and these are all books which you could give to most anybody. <p><B>Masterpiece Comics</B> by R Sikoryak from Drawn and Quarterly is a lovely book with a more literary bent. Any well-read adult would flip over it. <p>Fans of the TV show <B>The Walking Dead</b> will likely love reading <b>The Walking Dead</B> comic book. I recently gave one of those dictionary-sized collections as a gift and it was well-received. <p>If you're going for superhero fans you can't do much better than <B>Savage Dragon</B>. Seriously. <p>But see what people like and where their tastes are and try and find something appropriate. Try to expand their horizons if you can. If a fan likes a certain artist try and find other books they've done. <p>The real problem with shopping for any comic book fan is that they might already have it. If you have some serious money kicking around you might try a one-of-a-kind gift like original art. Find out which artist tickles their fancy and then go out and find something you think they'd like. This can run into huge dough, however so it's not something I can recommend to everybody." <p><I><a href=>Erik Larsen</A> is the cartoonist and creator of the long-running series <B>Savage Dragon</B>, and is also one of the original founders of Image Comics.</I>


"Honestly, this recommendation falls is great for anyone original holiday ornaments by Janet Lee. <p>Every year, Janet does about 12 ornaments, three sets of four. This year, she has done Hipster Animals, Scary Toys, and Art Nouveau Angels. They are signed and dated, and at the end of the season, that's it! She stops making them. I've been collecting them since 2007, and now our tree is almost completely filled with Janet's art. You can buy them exclusively through her <a href=>Etsy shop</A>. <p>Oh, and if you're <i>really</i> nice, she <i>may</i> have a very limited <B>Dapper Men</B> ornament or two. Just ask!" <p><I>After working at Marvel for several years doing public relations, <a href=>Jim McCann</A> recently returned to his roots as a writer with <B>The Return of the Dapper Men</B> (with artist Janet K. Lee). McCann's gone on to write a number of titles for Marvel as well, including the holiday-themed <B>Marvel Zombies Christmas Carol</B>. </I>


"I think eBay is a terrific place for gifts, particularly for (ahem) older comic fans. You can buy someone's childhood back albeit at inflation-adjusted prices... While cool, who needs all the retro toys they're making today when you can buy the real thing? For that matter, you can even find toys that never existed in the first place: custom jobs, some of which are exceedingly well done. Some of those custom figure artists even do commissions. For example, for my 40th birthday, my brother commissioned an <B>Eli Stone</B> action figure." <p><I><a href=>Marc Guggenheim</A> spends his days writing television and movies like <B>Eli Stone</B> and <B>Green Lantern</B>, but his secret identity is as a comics writer on series such as the recent Image release <B>Halcyon</B>.</I>


"<B>Mangaman</B> (publisher Houghton Mifflin) by Barry Lyga and Colleen Doran: An exquisitely crafted existentialist tale about a manga character being ripped from the pages of his comic book world and landing in our "real" world. Great stuff, and Colleen Doran's art has never been better, she perfectly captures the realistic world art style clashing and merging with a manga art style. Brilliant. <p>Walt Disney's <B>Donald Duck: Lost In The Andes</B> (publisher Fantagraphics) by Carl Barks: Old Disney comics really just don't get better than Carl Barks. A true master of cartoon wit and adventure. There is a certain charm and magic that Barks brings to the page, well beyond what one might expect from a Disney comic. Only Don Rosa captures this, but in his own unique way. Carl Barks manages to give us characters that seem more than two-dimensional, watered-down toons. The strips are smart and so amazingly illustrated by him, you can't help but fall in love with the work." <p><I><a href=>J.H. Williams 3</A> is the current co-writer and artist of DC's ongoing series <I>Batwoman</I>. He's worked with everyone from Alan Moore on <I>Promethea</I>, Grant Morrison on <I>Seven Soldiers</I> and Warren Ellis on <I>Desolation Jones</I>.</I>


"<B>Remake</B> & <B>Remake Special</B> by Lamar Abrams (AdHouse): <b>Remake</b>, which follows the brash jet-pack-wielding Max Guy, is one of my favorite comics of all time, especially the second book <b>Remake Special</b>, it is so funny and one of those comics that makes me drop everything to read it as soon as i get it. <b>Remake</b> could also be for kids, I don't recall there being any profanity and it's all very cartoony, full of poop jokes and silly humor and ridiculous antics and people made of poop. definitely the funniest comic I've ever read." <p><I><a href=>Ross Campbell</A> is the creator of the long-running Oni Press series <I>Wet Moon</I> which has a new volume planned in 2012. The artist is currently working on the revival of Rob Liefeld's <I>Glory</I> with writer Joe Keatinge.</I>


"For me, buying holiday gifts is a real art... getting to know the person is the important part of it, and when I give a gift, I really want to make the person know I gave their selection a ton of thought. <p>For the comic book lover in my life as well as the art appreciators, I always choose a piece of original art that I see fits them. There are two constant places I do my shopping at each and every year. The first one also happens to be where my girl, Amanda Conner, has her work featured. <a href=></A>, one of the finest selections of comic art in the world and something for just about every price range. The other place is for the illustration fan as well as the comic fan <a href=></A>. Between these two sites, and the really honest and nice guys running them, you will be able to find a gem for just about any person in our life... and the best part, each piece is one of a kind, so no one else can give them the same thing ever. Happy shopping and happier holidays." <p><I><a href=>Jimmy Palmiotti</A> is the award-winning writer of series such as <I>Jonah Hex</I>,<I>All-Star Western</I> and <I>Power Girl</I> with long-time co-writer Justin Gray.</I>


"<B>Marvel Firsts: The 1960s</B> from Marvel Comics is my new favorite thing a 500-page compendium of all the first issues and important debut appearances from Marvel during its first decade. The entire nascent Marvel Universe at your fingertips." <p><I>Writer <a href=>Mark Waid</A> is the award-winning writer of <I>Kingdom Come</I>, <I>Captain America</I> <I>The Flash</I> and his current series <I>Irredeemable</I> and <I>Incorruptible</I>. </I>


"For the funny animal fans on your list: <B>Donald Duck: Lost In The Andes</B> from Fantagraphics. This is a prime collection of some of the best Carl Barks Donald stories, including, of course, the legendary "square egg" tale. And as long as we're talking Barks, IDW's <B>Carl Barks' Big Book of Barney Bear</B> is a great collection of rare stories about one of MGM's frequently overlooked cartoon stars. When compared to the merry brutality of <I>Tom & Jerry</I> and the outright lunacy of Tex Avery's <I>Droopy and Wolf</I>, the animated <B>Barney</B> comes off as tame by comparison, but like Donald, Barks' comics give the slow-burn bruin a depth of characterization that he lacked in screen cartoons. Both <B>Donald</B> and <B>Barney</B> are reprinted in handsome hardcover bindings, worthy of any kid or comic collector's bookshelf. <p>As for video games, there's a new <B>Batman</B> game out from Warner Interactive and Rocksteady Studios that I understand is worth a look. It even has a snazzy hardcover graphic novel prequel drawn by Carlos D'Anda. Modesty forbids me from naming the author. Heh." <p><I><a href=>Paul Dini</A> writes comic books, animated shows and video games, among many other things. His newest comic, <B>Jingle Belle: Gift Wrapped</B> will be published by Top Cow on Dec. 7th.</I>


"Wow it's been a long time since my words have been up here. But given that I started this whole Newsarama Holiday Gift Guide thing more years ago than I care to count and always pushed it off on to other people, I guess karma's finally caught up with me. <p>My three gift suggestions are for the writer in your life, or that you want in your life, or that guy in Starbucks with the open laptop and nothing written on it. On second thought, don't get <i>that</i> guy anything, he just needs a kick in the ass, and those are free. <p>Anyway: <p>1) <a href="">Scrivener</A> so, sooo much more than a word processor. If you're a struggling writer, a wannabee writer or had these weird thoughts that If I could just find the right program, I could write more/better/in the first place. Nothing's going to trump talent, but Scrivener comes close. <p>Scrivener has everything everything you need to keep an individual writing project up and rolling it's got an intuitive (and customizable) way to organize your thoughts, scenes, characters, whatever. It can hold all of your references, whether they're pictures, movies, PDFs, sound files, whatever. You can work on individual chapters or sections or pages at a time, in isolation from everything else. You can compile things after you've shuffled everything to your liking. And words really don't do it justice check it out at the site above. Hey Joshua Hale Fialkov and Antony Johnston highly recommend it (and Johnston put the comics script template together and wrote a great <a href=>How-To for it</A>, so if you don't trust me, trust them. <p>Also it's not just for comics. It's got templates aplenty for novels, short stories, plays, poems, nonfiction and more. My wife hijacked it and at this point has used it to write about half a dozen papers for her PhD program. It's a meaty program that has a million uses. Yeah, it's about as sexy as giving socks, but it's going to be appreciated and appreciated more as that writer digs into it. Guaranteed you'll be the only holiday gifter still hearing Thank you for the gift in April as they use it and use it and use it some more. <p>2) Good notebooks and pens. I'm partial to <a href=>Moleskines</A>. I know, I know, a notebook is a notebook is a notebook, and you can get a spiral bound one for about $.97 at Wal-Mart and a pack of ballpoints for about the same. I've been there I've used them. Thing is, Moleskines (or other nice notebooks Warren Ellis prefers <a href=>Field Notes</A>) make you feel that what you're doing is <i>important</i>. It's not just another notebook. It's the <i>writing</I> notebook. You need everything in the world pushing you to write, and sometimes, just doing it in a nice notebook will be that oomph. Also if you know a writer or someone trying to be a writer, a gift of nice notebooks and pens that you obviously went to trouble to get sends the message that you take their plan, their dream seriously, and sometimes, <i>that's</I> enough to keep them going as well. <p>As for pens the world's your oyster, but I dig the TUL pens from Office Max. Fine point. They're narrow enough that they make this really nice skritch-skritch noise when you write that let's you know you're writing, and they push down enough on the page that when you're done and have written on both sides, you've got this crinkly little record of your thoughts. <p>I fear I may be getting old. I sound like a librarian in a Bradbury story. <p>3) Last up <B>The Writer's Tale: The Final Chapter</B>. Yes, it's Russell T. Davies and Benjamin Cook basically turning their e-mail exchanges over a few years' worth of <I>Doctor</I> Who seasons into a book (and it's a monster tome at 704 pages), but it's so worth it. <p>Even if that writer in your life isn't a <I>Doctor Who</I> fan, they will love you forever if you give them this book. It's not <B>On Writing</B> by Stephen King (my other in my top 2 list of writing books that are worth losing the time reading when you otherwise should be writing), but there's an immediacy to it as Davies is writing to Cook during <I>Who</I> filming and ultimately, the final episodes of his tenure on the series. <p>Davies has a tremendously fresh view about the craft and approach to writing, and his advice and thoughts can be applied to anything, not just television writing (although, it's probably going to be easiest to use his ideas in scriptwriting). It's a tremendous resource, and one that any writer will devour from cover to cover. <p><I>Matt Brady has written the <I>Buck Rogers Annual</I> for Dynamite and the short story Short Straw for DC's <I>Batman 80 Page Giant</I> with co-writer Troy Brownfield, and the duo has several other projects in the works. You might remember him as editor of</I>

Newsarama's HOLIDAY GIFT GUIDE, Part 1: For Friends

Date: 28 November 2011 Time: 09:11 PM ET