The holiday season can be a stressful time of year. Amidst the craziness of booking flights to visit your family, preparing feasts, or simply maintaining your sanity while maneuvering holiday traffic, the last thing on your mind may be finalizing your holiday gift list. Fanboy Comics is here to help with recommendations for the must-read graphic novels and books from the year as suggested by our staff and contributors. Give your friends and family gifts they can enjoy curled up by the fireplace, catching up or rereading their favorite comic series in trade. Or, perhaps, introduce them to a new title outside of their regular pull lists and give yourself someone to geek out with over your favorite series. ~ Kristine Chester, FBC Senior Contributor
Bitch Planet Volume 1: Extraordinary Machine
Published by Image Comics
Written by Kelly Sue DeConnick
Art by Valetine DeLandro, Robert Wilson IV, Cris Peter (Colors), and Clayton Cowles (Letters)
Recommended by Jason Enright
Bitch Planet is the book of the year for me. DeConnick, DeLandro, and their team have crafted a series that thrills the reader with a high-stakes, action-packed adventure but simultaneously challenges you to reevaluate the very systems that make up our world. This series questions the very nature of our system of incarceration, the way we treat women and minorities, and the way the media controls our lives and our perspectives. These creators have torn aside the curtains to show us the machine at work and just how disturbing it is. Follow the non-compliant women of the prison world known as Bitch Planet in the first violent, vicious volume of the Eisner-nominated comic series. This is one rebellious satire you’ll never forget.
Recommended for fans of gritty, grindhouse-style movies, social justice badasses, or anyone who loves mixing action with important messages, Bitch Planet is a comic series that will challenge readers to rethink their world and maybe just go out and try to change it for the better. Be prepared to laugh, cry, and get angry.
Bitch Planet is available in a graphic novel that collects Issues #1-#5 for $9.99. It can can be found in bookstores, comic book shops, digitally on ComiXology, or on the Image Comics website.
Lumberjanes to the Max Edition Hardcover
Published by BOOM! Studios
Written by Grace Ellis, Noelle Stevenson, and Shannon Watters
Art by Brooke Allen and Carey Pietsch Cowles
Recommended by Jason Enright
Lumberjanes is the comic book I wish had existed when I was 10 years old. It perfectly encompasses everything that all-ages comics should be in that it is positive, fun, hilarious, and yet still challenging. It may be appropriate for kids, but it doesn’t wear kid gloves. Be prepared to laugh, solve seriously challenging mysteries, cheer, and probably cry a bit but in a good, satisfying way. Lumberjanes follows five young ladies at an awesome summer camp who can’t help but get wrapped up in tons of crazy, supernatural trouble whenever they step foot outside their cabin.
Recommended for fans of adventure, silly puns, girl power, and stories where teamwork and friendship saves the day with just the perfect level of campiness, Lumberjanes is the perfect series for your 12-year-old cousin or for your own inner 12 year old who you sometimes don’t want to admit is still there.
Lumberjanes is available in a new To the Max Hardcover edition that collects Issues #1-#8 and a ton of special features for $39.99. Lumberjanes can be found in bookstores, comic book shops, ComiXology, or on the BOOM! Studios website.
ODY-C TPB Volume 1: Off to Far Ithicaa
Published by: Image Comics
Written by Matt Fraction
Art by Christian Ward
Recommended by Phillip Kelly
Gods twist and curl in ravishing colors in the heavens as they lock lips and meddle with their creations. In ’60s and ’70s-style explosions of purple, orange, pink, red, yellow, green, and blue – like galaxies so far away, the Gods become breathless starscapes for our hero, Odyssia, to voyage home through. It is the end of a great war and her ship, the Ody-C, will carry her crew home, or so she thinks. Inspired by Homer’s The Odyssey, Matt Fraction and Christian Ward have mingled and mashed a world of excess, hubris, adventure, and hints of melancholy for the reader with a gender-bending angle.
Zeus, a matriarch, has laid waste to all men in fear of being killed by her offspring. Her imprisoned daughter has then breathed life into a new being, a woman that can impregnate herself and other women, the sebex. Fraction has written in verse, words and images combine, giving the book a rhythm that empowers the reader forward just as Odyssia empowers her army to battle. But, Fraction and Ward do much more, by reversing genders, they have reversed the ingrained perception that men must be the center of myth. Women are not simply victims and prizes to be fought for and won, but helm the journey and battle great foes. Those that are transgender, in fact, have strength, too, to stand against the Gods themselves. To tinker with the core of mythology makes the journey that much more potent. The art, the colors, the lettering, the poetry, the vision, it is all something Alejandro Jodorowsky, the father of postmodern science fiction and graphic novels, would be proud of. So, if you really have no idea what to buy the person who has read every piece of classical literature, who has watched every piece of science fiction multiple times, or even if they haven’t . . . the collection of Issues #1-#5 is available now!
Preacher, Book 1: Gone to Texas Hardcover
Published by Vertigo
Written by Garth Ennis
Art by Steve Dillon
Recommended by Bryant Dillon
With everyone in geekdom highly anticipating the upcoming Preacher TV adaptation coming to AMC, the first volume of the this amazing and impactful Vertigo series written by Garth Ennis and illustrated by Steve Dillon will make the perfect gift for the geeks on your list. While the brutal violence and brazen sexuality may turn away some readers, Preacher is incredibly smart, layered, engaging, and also happens to be my absolute favorite comic of all time.
So, what’s the gist? Well, Preacher is the story of Jesse Custer, a Texan preacher whose life changes when he collides with a spiritual entity known as Genesis. Upon merging with Genesis, Jesse is bestowed with the power of “the Word” (the ability to force others to do whatever he speaks aloud) and discovers that God, the creator, has abandoned Earth. Pissed off and determined to make God answer for his actions, Jesse sets out to find the good Lord himself with the help of his girl Tulip and his best friend Cassidy (who also happens to be a hard-drinking Irish vampire).
Make this an unholy holiday and give the gift of Preacher this winter season.
For Mature Readers
Available here for sale.
The Wicked + The Divine Volume 1 and Volume 2
Published by Image Comics
Written by Kieron Gillen
Art by Jamie McKelvie (Pencils/Inks), Matt Wilson (Colors), and Clayton Cowles (Letters)
Recommended by Jason Enright
The Wicked + The Divine blends together the modern-day obsession with pop super stars with the classic concept of divinity in a brilliant exploration of fandom, religion, and the obsessive nature that infuses and invigorates both. Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie are no strangers to high-concept comics that experiment with the very nature of sequential storytelling while exploring concepts of human nature in new and exciting ways, but in The Wicked + The Divine, they have pushed even their great talents to the extreme and crafted a true masterpiece with the aid of Wilson’s incredible colors and Cowles’ inventive lettering. Simply put, The Wicked + The Divine is this generation’s best comics creators telling their first true masterpiece, after years of fine tuning their skills on a number of great books.
Recommended for fans of mythology, pop music, or just those who love a good murder mystery, The Wicked + The Divine is a beautiful series that like a good pop song seems to be all style on its surface and no substance, but if you peel back the layers, you will find a deeper and challenging story upon each additional reading.
The Wicked + The Divine is available in two graphic novel volumes. Volume 1: The Faust Act collects Issues #1-#6 and is available for $9.99. Volume 2: Fandemonium collects Issues #7-#12 and is available for $14.99. Both can be found in bookstores, comic book shops, ComiXology, or on the Image Comics website.
Published by William Morrow
Written by Neal Stephenson
Recommended by Claire Thorne
My recommendation for your book-giving needs this year is a title that should appeal to all of us who have been nerding out ever since The Martian hit bookstores, Kindles, and movie theaters.
Seveneves by Neal Stephenson is an epic story of survival in space that eclipses the scope of The Martian (and most other books, for that matter) by several millennia. The opening line doesn’t leave much doubt about the gravity of the story: “The moon blew up without warning and for no apparent reason.” It is soon apparent that humanity is in for an extinction-level event.
Without giving too much away, it is necessary to give you a heads-up about the structure of this book. Parts One and Two deal with the immediate effort to turn the International Space Station into a sustainable habitat for an achingly small number of selected survivors (along with all the nitty-gritty science required to accomplish this). Part Three jumps ahead 5,000 years to a very new “humanity” and an Earth on the road to re-habitation.
This means Seveneves is really two books for the price of one. This split requires a significant reinvestment in the overall story, a tightening of your seatbelt to pull through to the end, but, boy, is it worth it. Seveneves asks what place humanity has in our little corner of the universe and doesn’t attempt an answer without looking far ahead into a future shaped by extinction, evolution, science, and the ever-present politics of human interaction.
And, the moon blows up, which is just freaking cool. Happy holiday reading!
Shadows of Self
Published by Tor Books
Written by Brandon Sanderson
Recommended by Erik Cheski
The second book of Sanderson’s second “Mist World” trilogy is out now and continues the adventures of Wax and Wane. Okay, so that hurts a touch, but it’s such a good series! Taking place 300 years after Vin, Elend, and Sazed reformed the world, civilization has now advanced to a late 1800s cowboy era and makes the world quite fun. More importantly, we get to find out about that massive bomb dropped at the end of Alloy of Law, when we find out who Steeleyes is and what he wants!
I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the “Mistborn” Trilogy, and this second one looks very promising. Sanderson has become one of my favorite fantasy authors writing today; his storytelling has a maturity that isn’t always evident in the field. (And, hey, Bands of Mourning comes out in January, so if your gift list person already bought themselves a copy, then pre-order that one for them.)
Shadows of Self is available online now.