November 25, 2010

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Fantagraphics Gift Guide

Fantagraphics is old-fashioned enough to still send out paper catalogs. It's kind of neat, actually. Reminded me of the days when I used to grab the toy listings at the various stores and circle all the things I wanted.

Just like in the old days, I won't get everything I want from this catalog, either, but since we're in the holiday season, I thought I'd share some things that looked good to me that I think others might enjoy. Consider this to be in the spirit of the Manga Gift Guide, except that most of what I'm recommending here are things that look good, not things I've already read.

With that in mind, let's turn a few pages and maybe help a good publisher pick up an order or two...

New Stuff

I really enjoyed David B's story in Mome 3, so I'm excited to learn he has a new book coming out, The Littleest Pirate King, along with co-author Pierre Mac Orlan. It's certainly a shift from the odd and creepy arc I liked so much, but variety is the spice of life. Plus---Pirates!

Earlier this year, Fantagraphics announced they were venturing into the manga world (again?), and the first result is A Drunken Dream by Moto Hagio. This one got some really good reviews from my manga-reading friends on Twitter, so I definitely want to get my hands on it as soon as I can. A collection of short stories from Hagio's career, it's even given a hardcover treatment.

Jason is of course one of my favorite comics creators working actively, so I'm thrilled that there are two new releases to check out. First is Werewolves of Montpellier, set in France and dealing with a rather unusual werewolf. (Hey, it wouldn't be Jason if it was a normal werewolf!) There's also a new omnibus collection of older stories, What I Did. Both would be excellent choices for people who like quirky storytelling on everything from zombies to Adolph Hitler.

Artichoke Tales caught my eye at the library, and I hope to read it soon. I like family drama stories, and this one promises a civil war, generational unrest, and a lot of personal thought. Definitely worth a lot for fans of this kind of comic, which of course includes me.

I'd like to point out that I was a fan of Linda Medley's Castle Waiting way back when I first started writing reviews, in 2006. The long awaited second volume finally gets collected in trade paperback, and you need to buy both Vol 1 and Vol 2 for the feminist comic fan in your life. He or she will thank you for it. A modern take on old myths, the series is one of my personal favorites that I think I will re-read together soon.

Anthologize Yourself

If you like anthologies, get yourself on the Mome bandwagon. It features a wide variety of artistic styles, from Jason Brown to Sophie Crumb to David B to Gabrielle Bell, just to name a few folks I like and get to see in the anthology on a regular basis. You won't like every comic (I certainly don't), but it's also a way to sample new talent and see if you want to try them out in book form. Fantagraphics does some nice bundle work with Mome, if you are so inclined.

Those looking for a looser definition of comic and a greater degree of static art that sits on the bleeding edge need go no further than Blab!, another anthology that probably doesn't get the attention it deserves. Not for the feint of heart, I liked the few issues I've been able to browse or actually read. It might make a nice gift for the avant-garde person on your shopping list.

Collect the Classics

Where to start on this section? There's Peanuts, which keeps chugging along, a few years at a time, and is now in the Carter Administration. Going back even further, you can pick up my favorite early 20th Century Strip, Krazy Kat and Ignantz, the Zippy the Pinhead of its day. (Heck, you can even get Zippy the Pinhead from Fantagraphics, too.) There's also a second volume of The Steve Ditko Archives, which I am eagerly looking forward to reading. Prefer to reach back to the start of Marvel? You can do that with a book on Bill Everett, Fire & Water.

That's just a small sample of the many good things Fantagraphics has to offer. This is truly an amazing time for those who like comics. We live in an embarrassment of riches. Let's keep it going by making a few orders to the publishers that make it happen. You can get started by going to Fantagraphics and having a look around. Happy shopping!