A Shop of Ideas: Holiday Hullabaloo

A Shop of Ideas: Holiday Hullabaloo

Joker by Brian Azarello and Lee Bermejo
Joker by Brian Azarello and Lee Bermejo

Hey Fandom! Welcome to the “Shop of Ideas: Christmas Special,” where you’ll discover what “A Comic Shop” does for the Christmas holiday to promote comics and what you can do as a comic fan to help grow comic readership. We also have a question for you at the end.

The main goal of “A Comic Shop” is to promote comics as an entertainment art form, not as a collectible investment, and the holiday season gives us a chance to really put that into practice. We inspire, encourage, and empower existing comic fans to give the gift of comics! The right graphic novel gift can change someone’s perception of what this medium has to offer. We all love comics, so let’s use Christmas as an opportunity to passionately share this part of our lives.

Gift cards and gift certificates are great for current comic fans, but we are more focused on getting new people hooked. One thing we do is hand pick and rack great gift ideas.

This year’s top offerings are Azzerello’s Joker hardcover, Warren Ellis’ Iron Man: Extremis, and Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ Watchmen. Joker is great for anyone who loved the Dark Knight movie; it’s dark as hell and it feels like a “movie” take on all the Batman villains. If you want to get someone a Batman book, Frank Miller’s Batman: Year One is always a great start. Grant Morrison’s Arkham Asylum is a crazy stand alone book with mainstream interest since a video game is coming out with that name. Jeff Loeb’s Batman: Long Halloween is a good mystery, and of course there’s Alan Moore’s Batman: The Killing Joke. If one of your friends wouldn’t shut up about the Iron Man movie, they need to read “Extremis!” You could also get an Iron Man movie fan New Avengers volume one- Tony’s in the group and the Marvel movies are heading towards an Avengers crescendo.

Watchmen is pretty much the best comic ever written and is about to take the world of pop culture by storm. You’ll be the gatekeeper of pop culture- turning your friends onto stuff before it gets big! There’s also a great reason to give comics to Obama supporters: the president-elect reads comics! It’s been reported that he reads Spider-Man and Conan comics. The best Spider-man for a new reader is Ultimate Spider-Man volume one by Brian Michael Bendis. Tell your friends if it’s good enough for Obama, it’s good enough for them.


Beyond these easy suggestions, the medium has plenty to offer people who didn’t catch the super-heroes summer blockbusters. A friend who likes heist movies like Snatch or crime dramas like The Wire would probably love Ed Brubaker’s Criminal. It’s an award-winning book with nuanced three-dimensional underdogs that are involved in crime in different ways for various reasons. If you have friends who like the TV show Lost, get them Y: The Last Man. Not only are Y and Lost both survival-mystery-adventures, Brian K. Vaughn writes for both. Y: The Last Man is the story of an unmanned world-what better gift to give the woman in your life! Someone who read the Harry Potter series and is now at least eighteen could get into Neil Gaiman’s Sandman or Bill Willingham’s Fables. Blow a Potter fan’s mind by giving him or her Gaiman’s Books of Magic and let him know that this story of a young British kid (with an owl destined to be the world”s greatest magician) came out well before Harry. Any horror movie fan would love Robert Kirkman’s The Walking Dead. They’ll be in your debt for introducing them to the best zombie tale of all time. Jason Aaron’s Scalped is a story of organized crime and life at an Indian reservation. The book is well researched in Native American history, the American Indian Movement of the 1970’s, and current conditions on a “rez”. If you know anyone who has a dream catcher over their bed or a “Free Leonard Peltier” sticker on their car, get them Scalped Volume 1. I could go on and on but here’s one last off-the-wall suggestion. Someone who loved Arrested Development, Superbad, Juno and Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist (basically a Michael Cera fan) would love Scott Pilgrim Volume One. Michael Cera will be playing Scott Pilgrim in an upcoming movie and the book is quirky-fun, filled with video game physics.

The Best of A Comic Shop set

As a store we package up gift sets, value priced volume ones and stand alone graphic novels sealed with an insert on what to read next. Our favorite gift set is Walking Dead, Y: The Last Man, and The Boys. We call that one “The Best of A Comic Shop”, because they are our favorite books and we think it’ll turn any adult into a comic fan. Beyond that, we have a Best of Marvel set (Avengers: Disassembled and X-Men: Deadly Genesis), Best of DC set (Identity Crisis, Green Lantern: Rebirth, and Teen Titans), and Best Buzz Books (DMZ, Scalped, and Ex Machina). Any comic shop can make up gift sets to encourage comic gift giving and help turn that recipient into a comic fan. If anyone has a cool idea for a package set of graphic novels, email me at aaron@acomicshop.com. I do have one comic related holiday digression (and I say “I” and not “we” because it’s a peeve of mine). Why are Marvel and DC”s “Christmas” specials now called “Holiday” specials? These books have always been for comic fans caught up in the Christmas spirit to pick up as an impulse buy. The books have almost always had a Hanukkah story in there with a Jewish protagonist, but they don’t have to generically be called a holiday special because of that. Polls show 95% of Americans celebrate Christmas (google it), and I personally know Jewish people who exchange Christmas presents with their friends and celebrate Hanukkah with their family. The idea of generically using “holiday” to replace “Christmas” stems from government officials fear of offending even one potential voter or being sued by the ACLU. I’m sure people witness cities with “Holiday Trees” that the mayor or president light, but that’s not my concern. My concern is not as a “Christmas” activists, but as a retailer. No Christmas tree salesmen has signs selling “Holiday Trees”. When you are selling something, you use terms that strike a chord with the potential buyer, not generic bureaucratic terms. A potential Christmas special comic buyer, caught up in the spirit of Christmas, would be more likely to buy the book if it actually said “Christmas” on the cover. A “Christmas” special can make you feel all the “warm and fuzzies” of yesteryear, where “holiday” could mean Labor Day. Anyone who would be offended by “Christmas” being on the cover isn’t going to buy the same book just because it says “holiday” instead. My biggest problem is the awesome word play that’s off the table without the use of Christmas: the “Nightmare Before Holiday” doesn’t ring true. I’d have loved an Infinite Christmas, Countdown to Final Christmas, and this year a Final Christmas special from DC. How cool would it be to read a Final Christmas tie-in special I’m envisioning rag tag groups of humans and heroes celebrating Christmas as best they can in Darkseid’s anti-life world, and Ragman’s “Hanukkah in Hell”. The possibilities are endless without self-imposed limitations.

Iron Man: Extremis

Sorry about that, back on point. Comics aren’t seen by the general public as a practical gift so it’s up to us to give comics. You know there’s no mystical difference between a great movie and a great comic. So think of what some of your friends’ favorite movies are and give them a comic that’ll blow them away! This really isn’t limited to Christmas. If all of us gave a graphic novel as a birthday, graduation, or any kind of gift, we’d have more comic fans! So, even after Christmas we challenge all of you fans to make one of your New Year’s resolutions to give graphic novels as gifts this year! Share your love of comics.

We’ll close by asking you all a question: what graphic novel do you think would make a great gift, for what type of person and why” Have a Happy Hanukkah, a Merry Christmas, and a kick-ass New Year. Keep an eye out for our next “Shop of Ideas” titled “Ideology”, a five part weekly article where we spell out what we believe and give our vision for the comic industry.



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