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Holiday Gift Guide 2012: Graphic Novels


The Walking Dad V1Comic books and graphic novels are quickly becoming a huge part of mainstream culture. Hollywood blockbusters and award-winning TV shows look to them for inspiration, while comic shops become hotspots for social gatherings and lively debates. If you are new to the scene, it might be hard to figure out which books to read, and even if you’re a big comic book fan, it can be hard to know which awesome books you might be missing. This holiday season, we have done the hard work for you and compiled a list of graphic novels you’ll want to make sure that you read. ~Jason Enright

Graphic Novels for People Who Do Not Read Graphic Novels
Recommended by Bryant Dillon

The Walking Dead
Published by Image Comics
Written By Robert Kirkman
Art by Tony Moore, Charlie Adlard, and Cliff Rathburn

One of the easiest ways to get a non-graphic novel reader to take the dive is to appeal to them regarding a story or franchise they’re already familiar with. Given how white hot AMC’s The Walking Dead television series has been recently, it should be a safe assumption that big fans of the show will be excited to explore the source material.

The Walking Dead has been an acclaimed comic series for some time, featuring some of the best, most surprising, and emotionally challenging writing currently in the industry. While the show and the graphic novels share some characters and situations, Kirkman has clearly created two different worlds that are uniquely distinct despite their shared origins. Not only will fans of the show be excited to see the various differences and surprises between the two mediums, but this is an easy way to open up conversation regarding “alternate timelines,” a common occurrence in the comic book world.

Fair warning: The Walking Dead is not for the weak-willed or weak stomaches. If you’ve watched the show, this should be clear, but readers may be shocked to see the depravity of the human condition and moral erosion that Kirkman seeks to explore. If your intended target has enjoyed the difficulties that have faced Rick Grimes and company in the live-action version, then these graphic novels are the perfect gift to start a comic book addiction with any lover of the undead!

Buffy S8 V1Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season 8
Published by Dark Horse Comics
Written By Joss Whedon (and many others)
Art by Georges Jeanty (and a few other guest artists)

With Whedon now reaching god-like status in Geekdom, these books should be a no-brainer for even the casual fan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Unlike most licensed comics, Whedon and Dark Horse Comics took the full plunge, creating an actual, confirmed canon season in comic book form that picks up exactly where the popular television show ended.

Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season 8 doesn’t simply rehash what fans of the show already know, and it doesn’t play it safe. Capturing the humor and excitement of the source material, Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season 8 features the characters that fans have come to know and love, epic situations that were never possible on the television screen, and the trademark loss that we’ve all come to expect from Joss. (Spoiler: you will cry at least once.)

Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Season 8 is a great example of the depth of storytelling that can be achieved by the sequential art form for those unfamiliar with the medium. It also features an array of talented writers (Brian K. Vaughan, Drew Goddard, Jane Espenson, Jeph Loeb, Brad Meltzer, and more) who are sure to thrill with the further adventures of the Scoobies.

Y The Last Man V1Y: The Last Man
Published by Vertigo Comics
Written By Brian K. Vaughan
Art by Pia Guerra, José Marzán Jr., and Pamela Rambo

What would happen if every fully developed mammal with a Y chromosome – with the exception of one young man and his pet monkey – were killed in a single day? This is the premise behind the extremely engaging graphic novel, Y: The Last Man. This intelligent and unpredictable book is sure to exceed the expectations of any first-time graphic novel reader!

Perfect for fans of epic, long-arcing television series like LOST, Fringe, or Revolution, this cerebral and character-driven series has been praised by multiple respected figures in Geekdom, including Stephen King, Joss Whedon, Time magazine, Entertainment Weekly, The Washington Post, and more! With its blend of real-world science fiction and well-written character drama, it has a good chance of winning over any comic book naysayer.

Y: The Last Man is also a great choice for those new to comics, because it’s one of the few original and complete series that hasn’t made it to the silver screen yet. While the forces in Hollywood are actively, if slowly, working toward a cinematic version of this tale, here’s a unique chance to allow a non-comic book reader to experience the purity of an untapped (in the Hollywood sense) graphic novel before it makes the transition to the film medium.

Graphic Novels for People Who Have Read a Lot of Graphic Novels
Recommended by Ben Rhodes

ParkerRichard Stark’s Parker: The Martini Edition
Published by IDW Publishing
Written by Darwyn Cooke
Art by Darwyn Cooke

My favorite comic right now is Darwyn Cooke’s adaptation of the Parker novels. The first novel in the series, by Richard Stark, was published in 1962, and the graphic novels feel like they are as much a part of the time as anything I have read. Think of these as the comic equivalent of the French New Wave, only about fifty years later. If that description makes it sound like these books are too artsy for you, then think of them as incredible crime novels. The pacing, art, and writing are as near perfect as anything I’ve read. They manage to do something else that really works for me; they are fun. The first two Parker comics are collected in one box set with lots of extra content. If you are shopping for a comic book fan or pulp-crime fan, this is the book to give.

The Compleat Terminal CityThe Compleat Terminal City
Published by Dark Horse Comics
Written by Dean Motter
Art by Michael Lark

Terminal City feels like a love letter to radio serials, with a 1920s Popular Mechanics futurism, and loaded with puns. The story is a twisty noir, set in a seedy town past its prime, and populated with the weirdest characters . .  and puns. Oh man, are there puns. There’s the washed-up boxer nicknamed “Kid Gloves,” the hotel bar called “The Elbow Room,” and the producer named “Talbot Short.” Seriously, this is like the cover of Highlights, but instead of dolphins and coffee cups, you find the most absurd puns in the middle of an engrossing mystery. The puns elevate what is already a fascinating and entertaining comic. The result is one that I can recommend to nearly anyone.






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