Here is a list of gift ideas for that comic book fan in your life. You know, the nephew you thought would love Peanuts and Calvin and Hobbes because that helpful patron in Borders--the one who thought Myra Breckinridge was a cook book author--insisted he would. Now you know better.
No need to check over this list twice; every book is a surefire winner that will light up the holiday for any devout comic book reader, especially the horror-minded ones.
1000 Comic Books You Must Read by Tony Isabella
Starting briefly with Superman in the 1930's, then into the Fighting Forties, Tony Isabella provides cover shots and brief synopses of many notable issues categorized by decade up to the present. Archie and Millie the Model, super heroes and horror mix it up in a sumptuous memory lane experience for older fans (like me) and a wonderful, if-you're-so-smart-what-about-that-issue, reading list for younger ones (like me, too). Some older issues will, of course, be harder to find by themselves, but with so much of historical and reading interest being reprinted today in archived volumes, it's becoming easier to catch up on all this sequential art goodness.
Saga of the Swamp Thing, Books 1 and 2 by Vertigo and DC Comics
Horror never had it so good until Alan Moore decided to explore its elements in Swamp Thing. I recently received Book 2 from DC Comics for review. With Moore's depth of storyline and penchant for bringing in familiar DC characters, and Stephen Bissette and John Totleben's expressive illustration gallivanting across panels--and printing it all on superbly non-slick, dull, pulpy paper to retain the original sense of coloration and tactile nuance, this hardcover edition, along with Book 1, is essential reading for any horror comic fan.
Boris Karloff Tales of Mystery, Vol. 1 by Dark Horse Archives
This hardcover archive collects the first four issues of Boris Karloff Thriller retitled to Boris Karloff Tales of Mystery. Sara Karloff provides a brief introduction and bios of the creative people involved are included. Confined to static panels, five per page, the artwork is a tidy balance between adequate story-telling and heavy-inked momentum. The stories come with morals or little twists of fate. Boris the Uncanny introduces each one and sums up the lesson afterward. Not overly scary or expressively artistic, this volume will either bring back delightful memories for older fans or provide a good example of what bread and butter comic art and story are all about for others.
Reading Comics: How Graphic Novels Work and What They Mean by Douglas Wolk
For the hardcore comics fan who's not squeamish about exploring what lies under the panels, Wolk's book will irritate, infuriate, and possibly elucidate. Agree or not, you will find plenty of reading-list material here, many thoughts to ponder or pummel, and inspiration to delve more deeply between the lines or write that great American graphic novel and put Alan Moore to shame.
The Walking Dead Compendium, Vol. 1 by Image Comics
Run, don't walk, to add this baby to your comic fan's Christmas stocking or gift basket. Just measure the stocking or basket first; this book is big, heavy, and filled with enough zombie mayhem, soap opera nuance, and humanity to keep anyone up all night. Without color and tights, it's amazing how much power and terror Robert Kirkman, Charlie Adlard, Cliff Rathburn, and Tony Moore can quietly generate in this us-against-them-and-us series. Volume One collects the first 48 issues in a hefty softcover format that's easy to read and retains the gory black and white illustration in all its glory. Larger formats and hardcovers are available, but having all these issues in one book is a reading pleasure and a great way to introduce someone, who is not familiar with the series, to The Walking Dead.
The Dylan Dog Case Files by Dark Horse Comics
Seven stories in digest-sized format fill close to 700 pages in this compendium of Italy's supernatural detective Dylan Dog (though he lives in London). Written by Tiziano Sclavi and illustrated by various artists, anyone who has seen the movie Cemetery Man already has a sense of the surrealism and classic horror Sclavi brings to the comic. Being Italian, Dylan Dog is a romantic, although he can never seem to hold onto any of the women he meets from story to story. Maybe it's the annoying screaming doorbell to his flat on Craven Road that keeps them away. The black and white art rarely strays beyond the 5 or 6-panel pages, but it's crisp and vibrant; and filled with Dylan Dog's phobias, untidy habits (though he does play a mean licorice stick), and monsters.
I snapped this picture of Mattel's new 12-inch Ghostbusters line at the New York Comic Con 2009. With fabric clothes, great detailing, and ghost-detection and entrapment accessories that put Grant and Jason of Ghostbusters to shame, these figures are simply awesome.
Mattel's "Ghostbusters" collectible line debuts with 12-inch figures in
June 2009, and will be available exclusively at Mattycollector.com.
figure will feature window box packaging and include authentic
Ghostbuster equipment unique to each character. For the first time,
Mattel's line will include talent likeness of Egon Spengler, Ray Stantz,
Peter Venkman and Winston Zeddemore.
Hellz n' Bellz Hellz n' Bellz Screaming all the way! What the hell, am I to do With my horror fan's gift-buying today, hey!
"Well, what are you waiting for?" insisted Zombos. "Stop daydreaming and get out of the damn elevator shaft already."
We were playing Alone in the Dark and I kept getting killed. I refocused my attention and pulled my thoughts back from dwelling on the early days of PC games, keyboard and mouse controls, and cheat codes--lord knows I could use some omnipotence now. I stared at the Nunchuck and Wii-mote in my fumbling hands. My awkward, entirely useless hands, struggling to master the rudiments of the life-like motions and 'A', 'B', 'Z', button-presses needed to save myself--damn, fell down the elevator shaft again. Where is that '-' button anyway, and how do I use it to get past those blasted exhaust fans?
"You're impossible," encouraged Zombos, grabbing the Wii controls out of my hands. "Go do something useful, like putting together a book gift-buying list or something."
It's here, it's here! Run for your lives and grab one!
Now, if they'd only come in life-size...
From Archie McPhee:
THE REMOTE CONTROL MOANING, WALKING ZOMBIES!
That's right, you can finally control your own undead minion using a brain-shaped remote that toggles it on and off. No more breaking into graveyards and casting voodoo spells, technology will do it all for you! One push of a button sends your own personal zombie shuffling and moaning in whatever direction you point him! Use this remote control zombie to scare your office mates and torment your pets.
"This is not right at all," lamented Zombos. He exerted great effort to disentangle himself from the strings of Christmas tree lights tightly winding around him. We were engaged in putting the lights on the tree, but that didn't go as planned.
"I hear putting up a menorah is much easier," I said. "You just plug it in."
I watched in wonder as the mesmerizing, brightly-colored bulbs blinked on and off, bathing him in their warm glow. The cheery colors were comforting even while he struggled helplessly against their ever-tightening grip; the Saw torture devices were not as insidious. I sipped my Toboggon' Egg-Noggin' prepared by Chef Machiavelli, with a dash of rum and splash of lime.
"Perhaps if I unplug the main strand from the wall socket, that might help?" I volunteered. It didn't. Deep within that mess of tortuous cords was the perfect analogy for heaven, limbo and hell. Heaven was definitely your destination, but you're stuck in limbo with hell to pay before you could get there.
Feel that way with your gift-giving? Frantic now that you've wasted all year planning to shop early but didn't? Shame on you. But there's still time, you know. Here are some last minute ideas to light up the weird, scary, and fantastic-loving fan on your list.
Any fan of Weird Tales andArkham House is familiar with Lee Brown Coye's monstrous abominations put to paper. His distorted, macabre drawings hint at the abnormal, the unsavory, and the unholy.
In Arts Unknown: The Life and Art of Lee Brown Coye, Luis Ortiz brings us into Coye's fantastic, anatomically-skewed world. This hard cover book is filled with illustrations and insights, giving us morbidly curious a long hard stare into the life and work of a man whose vision pushed well past conventional boundaries. An accomplished muralist and sculptor, Coye is fondly remembered for his vague, but suggestive black and white illustrations for Arkham House editions of Lovecraft's stories.
Ortiz describes the artist's influences, his parents, his upbringing, and his struggle to pay the bills while pursuing his artistic career. Coye's terrifying summertime experience at his grandfather's house, his strange encounter in the stick house in the woods that led to his motif of rough sticks in many of his drawings, and his morbid sense of humor are captured for posterity, along with his art. From the Great Depression, through a world war, and at five dollars an illustration for Weird Tales, Ortiz captures Lee Brown Coye's defiance of the mundane to become an American original.
Now I know it would be narrow-minded of me to say that the '50s and '60s were a wonderful time for everyone who grew up then, but I can say with certainty that there was one wonderful part of it that anyone could share in, whatever you were: Zacherley. In Richard Scrivani's book, Goodnight, Whatever You Are!: My Journey with Zacherley, the Cool Ghoul, he reminds us of a time when monsters ruled the nascent airwaves, and Zacherley reigned as the TV horror host with the most, and flaunted it to the horror of many parents and authoritarians.
Scrivani documents Zacherle's start as Philadelphia's WCAU-TV's host, Roland, and the ghastly business-side antics that led to his eventual move to ABC-TV in New York to become the nationally known ghoulish gagster, Zacherley. With lots of photos, and a clever interview format that continues throughout the book, this look at Zacherley's rise to notoriety provides a revealing look at early television, which was a roll-up-your-sleeves time when local stations created much of their own programming and broadcast live entertainment.
You know someone from Cleveland? Well then, pick up a copy of Ghoulardi: Inside Cleveland TV's Wildest Ride by Tom Feran and Rich Heldenfels. In the 1960's , the hottest show on Cleveland's WJW late-night television was Ernie Anderson's beatnik persona, bad horror movie put-down artist extraodinaire, Ghoulardi, jiving to an internal beat that rocked audiences, especially his younger fans, with his wacky shenanigans. As horror host to some of the worst films imaginable, he warned, "this movie is so bad, you should just go to bed." But his audience didn't go to bed, and instead tuned in as he turned them on with laughs by dropping into a film's godawful scenes by superimposing himself onto the film, hamming it up with his improvisations. Anything and anyone was fair game for his outlandish antics, and making with the boom booms (fireworks) was a highlight of the show until he almost burned the studio down. Comedian Drew Carey paid tribute to Ernie Anderson's Ghoulardi by wearing a faded Ghoulardi t-shirt on his sitcom, The Drew Carey Show.
It's the explorer, the discoverer in me that enjoys reading about creepy bumps-in the-night; Vampire Universe by Jonathan Maberry and The Cryptopedia: A Dictionary of the Weird, Strange, and Downright Bizarre by Jonathan Maberry and David F. Kramer, are filled with lots of these wonderfully creepy bumps and more.
Both books are filled with fascinating information that can be leisurely browsed through as you sit by the fire, or speedily referenced in case something horrible is rapping at your chamber door. For horror and fantasy writers, they are an essential source of inspirational material. Even if you're not a writer, any horror fan interested in well-researched information about the culturally significant supernatural beings that make up the mythology of a country will not be disappointed. To really know a people, you need to know what they're afraid of. After you read Vampire Universe, you'll be able to make an expert judgment whether to fight or flee. As for me, I'd probably just run like hell anyway; but at least I'd know what was chasing me.
Got an Aztec God problem? Need to know what an Apache Tear is? Crack open the Cryptopedia and find answers. From monsters, to gods, to New Age terrors, it's in there. Keep both books next to your copy of Dictionary of Demons by Fred Gettings, and you'll sleep more soundly at night for sure.
Nothing says you really care more to a horror fan than giving him or her those unwholesomely gruesome terror comics from the 1950s. The EC Archives: Tales From the Crypt, Volume One reprints the first six issues of the legendary EC Comics horror title that did more to scare parents than their kids who eagerly devoured each issue before the Comics Code Authority came along to ruin the fun. Between the hard covers of this oversized book, every wart, decaying zombie, freshly dug grave, and frightened victim is back for more in vivid color, as well as each issue's striking cover and Crypt-Keeper's Corner letter section. Pair it up with The EC Archives: The Vault of Horror, Volume One, and you'll be more popular than the yule log this holiday season.
For the zombie lover on your list, the ultimate gift is The Walking Dead, Book One. This continuing story of survival horror remains a nail-biting drama as writer Robert Kirkman, and artists Tony Moore and Charlie Adlard focus on the people living a nightmare that never ends. Waking from a coma, the terror is just beginning for Rick Grimes, who must be alert every minute of every day as the zombies prowl everywhere, ready to bite down hard. Meeting survivors along the way, his struggle becomes their's, and soon it's not just the dead causing problems. The black and white illustration is gory when it needs to be, but mostly tells the growing and failing relationships between the people constantly moving to find shelter, food, and a peaceful night's sleep with straightforward style and clarity. Between zombie attacks, heated arguments, lucky chances and bad choices, The Walking Dead is a continuing series that never slackens its pace.
I know what I'll be looking for under my Christmas tree this holiday season.
No, no, no, No, no, no, Hell no all the way, Oh what horror it is to get a tacky gift today, hey!
Are the ghosts of bad Christmas presents past haunting you? Is the dread of finding a delightfully thoughtful gift, instead of another frightfully awful one, dancing madly in your head instead of sugar plums? Why chance disappointing someone again with more of those darn Fandango movie gift tickets that say, "I gave up! Didn't have a clue!" Any one of these stocking-stuffers will electrify any horror fan more than the Frankenstein monster, and show them you really care.
In his book, Sundays with Vlad: From Pennsylvania to Transylvania, One Man's Quest to Live in the World of the Undead, journalist Paul Bibeau packs his lifelong fascination with vampires into his Gladstone bag and heads for the hills of Transylvania to find the true Dracula. What he finds along the way is hilarious, delirious, and never disingenuous. From the foothills of the Carpathians, to the wild woods of New Jersey and the wide aisles of Wal-Mart, his search for the real Dracula will leave you wishing you were along for the ride. Along the way you will meet Bela Lugosi Jr., fighting to protect his famous father's rights of publicity, enter the Goth world of eternal night, with or without fangs, and trip the light fantasy with LARPers, those cheeky-geeky live action role playing savants we all publicly deride, but secretly yearn to be.
In our never-ending quest to bring you the most fun apparel any zombie-lover -- that's you! -- can wear, Chindi spotted this chic t-shirt that reminds us of how much we love to eat fresh at Subway, and how much we love to watch zombies eat fresh, too.
I bet Jarred wears one. Though, after losing all that weight, he probably wouldn't make much of a meal for a hungry bunch of zombies.
So there you are. Yes, you; you waited and waited and — put down that tie set ! — unless of course you want it knotted around your neck. No self-respecting horror fan would be caught walking-dead in that thing. Nix the cuff-links, tie tac, scarf, funny hat, pen set, and sweater, too, and pay attention. This is your last chance to make that special horrorhead in your life devilishly happy for Christmas with one or more of these you-really-care DVDs and books.
So there you stand, scratching your severed head in dismay; what gifts to get that ho-ho-ho-so difficult horrorhead in your family? Why suffer the hordes of zombiefied holiday shoppers, overwhelmed store employees, and bargain bins of the damned when you can sail down the Amazon in shopping comfort while sipping your favorite frothy beverage? To help you with your gift buying, Zombos Closet presents the first annual list of bloody best books any fan of horror cinema would die and come back for, again and again.