Being a comic book fan often means you are shoving comic books into the hands of others, desperately trying to spread your addiction like that little monkey in Outbreak spreads a virus. You would think that with the recent success of superhero films and television this task would become easier, but in many cases it is the opposite. The films and movies are so good and so plentiful, folks don’t need to go elsewhere for a superhero fix. So, with the holidays upon us, we must reach beyond the Captain Americas and Batmans to find the perfect gift to give a non-comic reader. If you want to hook them, you have to match the comic to who they are.
To ease you in this Herculean task, we’ve assembled a few handy suggestions of comics you can give those special people in your life. So break out the nice wrapping paper and put a bow on a few of these titles, because the uninitiated in your life will thank you for it. Or they’ll just continue to think you are weird and read weird stuff, but at least you tried, right?
Southern Bastards is the perfect gift for your dad who loves football maybe just little bit more than he loves you. Does your dad like the movies of Sam Peckinpah and Martin Scorsese almost as much as he loves the start of football season. Did your dad once forget your birthday because he had “important” stuff to do, like watching a UCLA vs USC game (I realize this is getting uncomfortably specific)? If any of these sound like the old man in your life, try passing him a copy of Jason Aaron and Jason Latour’s Southern Bastards. It’s violent, ugly, and filled with football. Maybe it’ll make him love you a little bit more? Probably not, but the first trade is only ten bucks so it’s worth a shot.
You know that uncle who dropped maybe a little too much acid back in the day and is always telling you the same story about the time he saw Black Flag in somebody’s basement? The one who has weird theories about the government (chemtrails!) and introduced you to the Cthulhu Mythos at an inappropriately young age? Well wrap him up a copy of Black Science this holiday and blow his mind. Rick Remender and Matteo Scarlera have been killing it on this series for a while now and it’ll serve perfectly as a gateway drug for those family members who your grandmother describes as “different.”
Locke & Key
You know that friend or cousin who obsesses over shows like Supernatural and has a fluid, ever changing ranking of all the seasons of Buffy the Vampire Slayer? The one who loves mythology, but only the weird, sad parts where everyone ends up dead at the end? The one who rolls their eyes when you thought the name of the main character in Doctor Who was actually Who (it’s not that big of a leap, jerks). Well, there is no way they won’t love Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez’s Locke & Key. This is not only one of the best comics series ever, it’s one of the best works of fiction ever. Period. Big claim, I know, bur read this thing and you will be sucked into this world faster than you can say “Omega Key.”
The Black Beetle
Grandpa only watches movies in black-and-white. He’s always telling you how movie stars these days can’t hold a candle to guys like Robert Mitchum. He still reads the same Dashiell Hammett novels and doesn’t like these new superhero movies where everything is CGI and nobody can act a damn (his words, not mine). Well, a beautiful, hardcover collection of Francesco Francavilla’s The Black Beetle is just what the doctor ordered. It’s so pulpy you’d swear it was printed decades ago, but don’t tell gramps this series is relatively new. Francavilla is probably one of the best working artists in comic today, so it looks amazing, too. It’s not in black-and-white, but it’s close enough.
She’s finally finshed grad school and she’s coming home for the holidays. She is constantly talking about James Joyce and Roland Barthes, telling everyone in the family about her 123-page thesis on the works of Rumi. You know you’ll get cornered at the a family dinner and have to hear about the state of American literature or why A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man is overrated (she has a point there, it’s pretty terrible). Buy her a copy of Daytripper by Fabio Moon and Gabriel Ba; its elegant beauty and rich story will win over even the staunchest of critics. It’s literature, anyway you cut it, a true work of art. She might not admit she loves it, but those last few pages will make her tear up. Guaranteed.
Plants Vs Zombies
Your nieces and nephews are the new generation of comic book readers. You know this in your soul but you can’t get them to look at your Spider-Man or Superman books. That’s where Dark Horse Comics’ superb Plants Vs. Zombies series comes in. It’s familiar — the game is popular beyond explanation — and the comic is actually really, really good. This could have been an easy cash grab, but Paul Tobin and Ron Chan have delivered some truly fun comics that youngsters will love. Dark Horse even did the smart move of printing these in durable, but reasonably priced, hardcovers, which makes them perfect for shoving into backpacks. Seriously, these are great comics that kids love, so buy them and convert those youngsters. Into comics fans, not zombies. It’s your duty.
Saga is the comic you can give to literally anybody. That person on your list you haven’t picked out a gift for yet? Get them Saga. Anybody and everybody will enjoy this book, assuming they are age appropriate, of course. Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples have crafted a modern masterpiece that transcends the comic medium while embracing everything that makes it great. This is a series that only works as a comic book, but is as relatable as any real-world TV show or movie. Awesome characters, heartfelt adventures, and the craziest science fiction world ever put to page, Saga has it all. Give it to anybody and everybody. Well, maybe not your grandma. She might freak out when she sees the giant ogre creature’s balls. Unless your grandma is cool as hell, in which case buy this for her now.
What other comics would you recommend for converting newbies into comic book lovers? Share your picks in the comments below!
Looking for even more comic book gift-giving ideas? Check out our holiday gift guide!