Here at Book Riot, we love books! Like, luuurve-love them. And how can you not?! Books are these freaking awesome vehicles that take you to amazing places and put you into the shoes of so many different kinds of people! Me? I luuurve comics for the same reason. I’ve said this like eleventy times, but I really do believe there’s a comic out there for everyone. But for you more skeptical literature lovers, I took some great books and paired them with some great comics. They’re also perfect for the book worms on your holiday shopping list because PRESENTS!!!
If you pull out the 80s pop culture references and future dystopian wasteland, a large part of what’s left in Ready Player One is a coming-of-age/romance story told through the filter of video games. And Bryan Lee O’Malley’s modern comics classic Scott Pilgrim is very much that. It’s a story of boy meets girl, boy defeats girl’s seven evil exes a la Mortal Kombat, boy– well, I’m not going to spoil the later volumes for you.
While Ready Player One is a love letter to the 80s, Scott Pilgrim pays hommage to early-90s video games. It’s about being young and stupid and learning how to level up. Written and drawn in a North Americanized manga style, the story of Scott and his fair Ramona is told in seven volumes, easily devourable by fan’s of Ready Player One.
I won’t lie. I really miss Harry Potter. All the anticipation between books, the speculation and excitement, the absolute needing to know what was going with Harry, Ron, and Hermione in this amazingly complex and enchanting world created by J.K. Rowling. If you’re looking to scratch that same itch, try out Mike Carey and Peter Gross’ The Unwritten.
In this fantastic series from Vertigo, Tom Taylor is the “real life” inspiration for a hugely successful boy-wizard character, Tommy Taylor. But Tom’s father, writer of the Tommy Taylor books, mysteriously disappears at the height of the books’ popularity, and a grown-up Tom discovers that the lines between his reality and fiction are rapidly starting to blur.
The Unwritten is an adventure through all of literature. What I think is brilliant about the comic is that it’s not only chock full of literary references, it explores methods of storytelling and literacy devices. It’s an easy sell for Potter fans, but it’s a fantastic read for hard-core book lovers.
There are so many, many reasons to love Nick Harkway’s Angelmaker. But one of the very big ones is Edie freaking Banister. The World War II super-spy turned disillusioned supervillain is just so amazingly cool, even as an octogenarian.
And speaking of totally awesome fictional British spies, let me introduce you to Tara Chace. This grizzled and coldly efficient agent is the lead in Greg Rucka’s Queen & Country comics series (which also spilled over into a few novels). Each arc of the comic follows Chace and her fellow minders on a mission. Chace could eat James Bond for breakfast, and I like to think that she would have completely looked up to Edie Banister.
The comic is definitely more hard-core espionage than Angelmaker, but as far as Women of Consequence are considered, Tara Chace more than delivers.
Both Half-Made World and The Sixth Gun are packed with possessed guns, secret societies, and mad generals, all set in the Old West. While Half-Made World is more steampunk and Sixth Gun is more supernatural, they’re both high adventure and a ton of fun to read.
The Sixth Gun follows Becky Montcrief, who’s accidentally gotten herself tied to a possessed gun, and the roguish Drake Sinclair, who at this point is just trying to keep them both out of trouble. The comic is full of demons and monsters and witchcraft. There’s always some ancient evil coming after Becky, Drake, and their six supernatural guns. It’s a comic I love recommending in general because it’s action-packed and has some really beautiful art.
burritos eaten: 12 (v. yummy), alcohol units: many, break-ups: 1
Emitown chronicles the misadventures of Emi Lenox is glorious comics form. The collected edition of Lenox’s online sketch journal, whatever Emi did or felt on a particular day is in there: from having a crummy day at work, to staring at a dead pigeon outside her window, to finding her book on the shelf at Powell’s.
Like Bridget Jones’s Diary, it’s charming and candid and full of those everyday things that end up being more surreal than mundane. Lenox is frank, truthful, and the slightest bit self-deprecating. Her honesty and earnestness make the book a joy to read.
Overall, v. good.
Remember what I was saying earlier about being young and dumb and learning to level up? Both High Fidelity and Phonogram: Rue Britannia are about being older and dumb and learning to man up, all told through the lens of pop music obsessions.
High Fidelity’s Rob and Phonogram’s David Kohl would probably hate each other’s taste in music, and therefore hate each other. But both are battling ghosts of girlfriends past (in Kohl’s case, literally battling ghosts), taking stock of what they’re life has become, and in the end, finally putting on their big boy pants.
Plus you can get more Phonogrammy goodness in the second volume, The Singles Club, which you can also pretend is the big party Rob DJs at the High Fidelity.