This post originally appeared on Panels, which is now Book Riot Comics
Ready it or not, the holiday season is upon us.
Personally, I’m a strong believer that the true holiday season does not begin until after Thanksgiving (give each holiday it’s fair due!), but, alas, capitalism. And thus, we are inundated with peppermint mochas, festive and frosted shop windows, and commercials for those God-awful Hallmark movies almost before you can get all the residual Halloween zombie makeup off your face.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m no Grinch, and I enjoy the holidays as much as the next girl. Ice skating, caroling, warm fires, cute scarves and mittens … I’m all for it. Just, you know, everything in its time.
But the holidays just come all too soon these days. And with it comes the dreaded, inevitable question: What to get for all the loved ones in your life?
It’s almost enough to make you wish you didn’t love so many people (No? Just me?)
Looking at that seemingly ever-growing list can be overwhelming. How will you ever find the right gift for all these different people?
Hello, with comics of course.
When I’m looking for gifts for people I care about, I look for something I know they will love—but also something that shares a little from my world. Something that will build even more connection between us, and perhaps even challenge a little.
Comics strike this balance perfectly. Though so many people still do not ever read comics on their own, there’s such a broad variety among comics that there truly is something for everybody.
Allow me to demonstrate—here’s a comic for anyone on your list:
For your cousin in college: The Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller
I read this intense graphic novel in college myself, as required reading for an honors course in the Communications department. It pretty much blew my mind, and turned me from mildly curious about comics to a die-hard fan.
And it’s no wonder—there’s plenty in The Dark Knight Returns to satisfy a hungry, sophisticated, questioning mind. Rich in thematic elements and visual symbolism, this comic challenges what we get from the media, as well as the integrity of government and the American dream itself.
Plus, it offers plenty of classic comic fun, featuring DC’s two biggest and recognizable heroes, and pitting them against each other for an epic face-off. Gritty, stunning, and utterly memorable, this Frank Miller classic shows this comics legend at his best.
If you ask me, there’s no better way to expose a growing mind to the beauty, power, and out-right fun of comics.
For your 8-year-old niece: The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, written by Ryan North with art by Erica Henderson
She’s a perky, easygoing student at Empire State University majoring in computer science and hanging out with her pet squirrel, Tippy Toe. Also when she was 14 she saved Iron Man from Doctor Doom while trying to persuade the hero to take her on as his sidekick.
All in all, The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl is a lighthearted and engaging take on classic comic book superheroes that offers up a strong and intelligent role model for girls.
Also, there’s robot dinosaurs. So there’s just no losing here.
Younger girls my not pick up on the savvy superhero metatext of Squirrel Girl yet … but hey, they’ll fall in love with comics through this endearing character, go on to explore more of the Marvel universe, and when they come back to Squirrel Girl again when they’re older and more widely-read, they’ll get a whole new take on the story.
When you think about it, it’s practically two gifts.
For your artist friend from school—The Sandman written by Neil Gaiman, illustrated by Sam Keith and Mike Dringenberg
This fantastical graphic novel is full of gorgeous, dreamy illustrations. But that’s just the beginning. And with the brand new installment of the series just released this fall, it’s the perfect time to pick it up.
The story follows the character Dream, also known as Morpheus, among many other names, who at the beginning of the series has been held captive for 70 years and finally breaks free into the modern world. Now, he must lift his kingdom from despair and rebuild it. Gaiman rolls together his trademark personification and mythological adaptations into a dark and wistful narrative.
This series is a deep well of content spanning from its launch in 1988 to earlier this year–start at the beginning with Preludes & Nocturnes.
For your bookworm sister—King Lear, written by William Shakespeare and illustrated by Ian Pollock
I’ve always hated reading Shakespeare plays on my own. Watch the actual plays? Absolutely. But sit down and actually try to plug through all that Middle English jargon on my own? Nope, nope, nope.
But if you can’t get thineself to a theatre, graphic novel adaptations lend a much-needed visual to the Bard’s work and bring the lines to life.
King Lear is often considered Shakespeare’s most dreaded work, but any bookworm will be able to appreciate it this tragedy when taken in through the lively illustrations of this graphic novel adaptation.
For your sci-fi/fantasy geek brother—The Walking Dead written by Robert Kirkman and illustrated by Charlie Adlard, Cliff Rathburn and Tony Moore
Because, seriously, who does not love zombies.
In my opinion, the comic book is even better than the show (which, undoubtedly, any sci-fi/horror fan is already familiar with). The comic is simultaneously darker and more optimistic about humanity’s potential—both for good and
Even better, watching the Walking Dead TV show doesn’t ruin the comic books with familiarity. Thanks to character and plot variations throughout, fans will quickly realize that nothing and no one is safe.
Your gal pal from work—Seconds, by Bryan Lee O’Malley
This is a little trickier. Likely, the coworker you grab a drink with after work to gab, gossip and vent with after office hours hasn’t spent much time with comics, like, ever. She may even have certain stigmas associated with them.
I wouldn’t slip this girl anything too weird to start—something like Sex Criminals or Preacher or even Saga could just be too much for a total newbie. But Seconds, O’Malley’s first graphic novel following the conclusion of the Scott Pilgrim series, is just the thing.
The story follows the tribulations of Katie, a young but ambitious chef, as she sets out to open her second restaurant—and also face her ex-boyfriend. But when Katie wishes for a second chance after a terrible day, everything starts to go awry.
Seconds explores the all-too-common struggles of work-life balance, pursuing your dreams, and taking down troublesome house elves.
For the Comics Fan—Comics Gift Box/Subscription
Give your comics fan the gift of discovery—there’s more out there than anyone can keep up with … but a pre-selected, hand-picked box of the latest and greatest keeps your comics friend on the cutting edge of what’s out there.
So help a fellow comics lover out and get them the gift of discovery with a whole box of comics goodies. Of course, if that’s not quite your speed, there’s plenty of other options out there, from surprise boxes to monthly graphic novel book clubs.
Personally, there’s nothing out there that would get me jumping up and down in my Xmas PJs more.
And that’s what the season is all about, right? That moment of glee when you’ve found a gift that connects for someone you love.
Comics stretch our imagination and draw into wild, wonderful, crazy worlds. I can’t think of anything better to give to the people I care about most.
What comics would you gift?