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. Fanbase Press 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 or a good book. 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, Fanbase Press Senior Contributor
Abigail and the Snowman
Published by BOOM! Studios
Written and drawn by Roger Langridge
Recommended by Travis Lakata
BOOM! Studios brings a story that I want to immediately share with my kiddos. I have two young ones, ages four and two, and I think they will absolutely love this story. Roger Langridge writes and illustrates this story filled with a lovable complexity that’s easily translated.
Abigail moves to a new town with her father, and she instantly endures childish taunts in her elementary class as the “new kid.” Abigail’s spirit doesn’t waver, and she lets her imagination guide her through her daily routine, even when she sees a real-life abominable snowman. The endearing friendship formed between these two will melt your heart. The reader will enjoy many of these characters and plot twists, including somewhat comical attempts to ensnare the snowman.
I will recommend this story for any parent, and even go further to recommend to anyone that loves a good, holiday-feel kind of story, because it also highlights how a young child can understand the difficulties of dealing with loss. The message is powerful and can endure year to year.
Dark Night: A True Batman Story
Published by Vertigo
Written by Paul Dini
Art by Edurado Risso
Recommended by Bryant Dillon
Given his connection to the critically-acclaimed Batman: The Animated Series, Paul Dini is no stranger to the Caped Crusader’s faithful following, but Dark Night: A True Batman Story is a graphic novel that will connect not only with hardcore Batman fans, but those readers who are just dipping their toe in the comic book genre for the first time.
Based on a real-life mugging and brutal beating that Dini experienced during his time working on Batman: The Animated Series and Tiny Toon Adventures, Dark Night uses Batman and his well-known rogue’s gallery to depict Dini’s struggle to recover from this world-shattering trauma, his introspective self-analysis of the value and purpose of his own life, and how one finds the strength to carry on after such a crippling psychological blow. Dini and Russo deliver an experience that is relatable, poignant, and engrossing on several levels and sure to stay with the reader for days after they turn the final page.
Don’t hesitate to introduce family and friends to the graphic novel Neil Gaiman calls “a powerful tale of healing and redemption” and Mark Hamill describes as “a masterpiece.”
Suggested for Mature Readers
Available here for sale.
Published by Dead Canary Comics
Written by C.S. Baker, Matt Fitch, and Paul Clark-Forse
Art by Krent Able, Charlie Hodgson, Will Robson, Scott Cooper, and Will Kirkby
Recommended by Michele Brittany
Nostalgia seems to be one of the common themes to some of my holiday gift ideas as well as unique and engaging visuals. The Fitzroy is a lovely, little graphic novel that germinated from an independent film idea of a 1950s post-apocalyptic Britain set on a beached submarine. The sub has been reappropriated as a hotel for some colorful, quirky characters. The filmmakers partnered with Dead Canary Comics in order to expand their Fitzroy universe and tell six additional stories. DCC writers and artists explore all facets of English society and mores, leaving no stone unturned. Charming, quaint, and utterly entertaining, this is an absolutely delightful read and should not be missed. To do so would be a crime!
From Hell – Hardcover Edition
Published by Top Shelf Productions
Written by Alan Moore
Art by Eddie Campbell
Recommended by Travis Lakata
If you love historical fiction, or the mystery surrounding the cases involving Jack the Ripper, or you’re just in serious need of BBC to release some more Sherlock, then this graphic novel is perfect. This story will have its readers wonder if it could be, in fact, an accurate account of one of the most notorious criminals in world history.
Not only do you – or the best friend you’re getting this for – get a truly magnificent story, but you’re getting an extensive appendix filled with notes regarding the research involved for this massive graphic novel. This story revolves around those living in London 1888. Eisner and Harvey Award winners Alan Moore and Eddie Campbell provide intense accounts of this horrifying time with a complex story and bold illustrations. The graphic content is definitely meant for adults – if you need more details on this story, please check out the Fanbase Press review.
Published by Image Comics
Written by Robert Kirkman
Art by Paul Azaceta
Recommended by Angie Martin
In the comic book realm, Robert Kirkman is known as the creator of The Walking Dead. While The Walking Dead deserves its place in comic book history, fans of horror comics should never overlook the value of Outcast, also a brainchild of Kirkman.
Outcast is a series of comics following Kyle Barnes who has been plagued by demons his entire life, starting with the possession of his mother. In the present, his small town is overwhelmed by them, with Reverend Anderson performing an increasing number of exorcisms. He seeks out Kyle’s help, and the two embark on a journey that unearths questions that are apocalyptic in nature, with everyone’s lives on the line.
The writing of Outcast is just as outstanding as anything Kirkman has done, and it takes horror fans on a journey of re-imagined demon mythology. All of the characters jump off the page, eliciting extreme emotion from the reader and bonding them to the characters, as Kirkman is known for doing. The artwork of Paul Azaceta brings the story to life in an incredible, brilliant manner. Each panel flows into the next with a disturbingly realistic manner that drags the reader into the terror that is Kyle’s life.
Outcast is available in both comic books and in volume collections, with three volumes released to date. It was also released in 2016 on Cinemax as a television series, which is a very well-done companion to the comics.
Romancing the Bridge
Published by Buzzy’s Press
Written by Ben Meares
Art by Meaghan O’Keefe
Recommended by Michele Brittany
Hailing from the City by the Bay (San Francisco), I was immediately drawn to Ben Meares’ Romancing the Bridge graphic novel. The pull of the Golden Gate Bridge for lost souls made for an interesting premise, and Meaghan O’Keefe’s unique mixed media approach to her visuals really set the somber mood. The locale – the Bridge – resonated for me given the countless times I have driven that route; however, Meares’ tightly written story and O’Keefe’s fantastic visuals pulled me in, and the twist at the end hooked me. In fact, I re-read the story immediately, so I could go back and catch all the visual clues that led up to the end. It’s a solid story – quiet, but one not to be underestimated.
Written by Rick Loverd
Art by Huang Danlan
Recommended by Travis Lakata
This is my favorite read of the year without any hesitation. This story has the basic human desire to explore, and in this case, it involves space exploration. As a fan of Star Trek: The Next Generation, this story involves a creative storyline and a strong, lead character. Commander Pauline Manashe makes decisions under dangerous circumstances and doesn’t flinch. She understands that lives are at risk after a crash landing at the beginning of the story, and she’s ready to do whatever is necessary to ensure the safety of her crew.
Venus is thrilling to read and when I finished, I immediately wanted more. This story provides balance – plenty of information about the mission, while providing a mystery that circles around the spaceship’s crash. My thought about this story is simple – if you love science fiction, you will LOVE Venus.
If you need any more convincing of this story, please feel free to check out my review for Fanbase Press.
The Fire Truck Who Got Lost
Written by Colin Eldred-Cohen
Art by Amber De Joya
Like getting books suggested by Fanbase Press writers? How about a book written by a Fanbase Press writer? The Fire Truck Who Got Lost was written by contributor Colin Eldred-Cohen for his nephew Atticus and enjoyed by children across the country. The story follows a little fire truck named Barnabus who lives with four larger engines and one truck-sized dalmatian. He gets to go out and help put out fires for the first time, but in his efforts to help, he gets himself lost in the big city. Small and scared, he has to find a way back home or help his home find him.
Reviews from Amazon are unanimously positive, praising the adorable art and engaging story. The story is aimed fairly young, probably about 0-5, but adults have found the title character to be rather lovable, as well. With the holidays just around the corner, why not give youngsters a new classic to sit next to Clifford, Curious George, and Winnie the Pooh on their shelves? Besides, you’ll be supporting the Fanbase Press family. That’s got to count for something!
Harry Potter Illustrated Editions
Published by Bloomsbury Publishing
Written by J.K. Rowling
Art by Jim Kay
Recommended by Claire Thorne
Loving Harry Potter means waiting by the front door for FedEx to drop off the latest book. It’s hibernating for hours while you read a whole book in one sitting just to turn right back to the first page and start reading your favorite parts again. Then listening to hours and hours of the amazing audiobooks narrated by Jim Dale. (He’s just best audiobook narrator of all time.) And finally, it’s dozens of hours of watching the movies, individually or in a week-long marathon.
Rinse, re-read, re-listen, re-watch, and repeat.
Now, there’s a whole new Harry Potter experience ready to be delivered to your doorstep. The first two releases of the Harry Potter Illustrated Editions have already hit bookstores…Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone in 2015 and The Chamber of Secrets in October of this year. The Illustrated Editions are gorgeous, over-sized, coffee-table masterpieces featuring the amazingly work of illustrator Jim Kay.
You will spend hours poring over infinitely detailed depictions of Privet Drive, Diagon Alley, Hogwarts, and all of the other amazing places J.K. Rowling has created. You will fall in love with all your favorite characters again, this time through full-page portraits that leap off the page and beg to be framed and put on display in a museum. And no matter how much time you spend poring over the hundreds of illustrations in each of these books, and you’ll never feel like you’ve seen it all.
Pete the Cat
Published by HarperCollins Publishers
Written by Eric Litwin
Art by James Dean
Recommended by Travis Lakata
For my family, Pete the Cat will always have a place in our home. Its rhythmic storytelling is fantastic for our kids to follow along, especially if they want to sing or shout. This story follows Pete the cat who finds himself on a fun adventure with his new shoes and provides a wonderful opportunity for the reader to learn how to cope with things that don’t necessarily go our way.
There are many books in this series that are a wonderful choice, but the way our kids laugh when we sing, “I love my white shoes,” brings this particular story over the top. Although this isn’t the most recent story in the series, it provides the same path of providing a fun story that tells us how to deal with predicaments or feelings of being different or left out. For more wonderful Pete the Cat goodness, check out Pete’s website that includes songs, videos, and printable activities for the kiddos.
Published by California Coldblood Books
Written by Robert J. Peterson
Recommended by Barbra Dillon
I’m a big fan of author Robert J. Peterson’s work and have been since his debut novel, The Odds. Through his publishing company, California Coldblood Books, Peterson has already published several incredible novels that span the sci-fi, fantasy, and speculative fiction genres, including When the Stars Fade and The Demon Within. His latest publication, Omegaball, is a fantastic YA adventure ride that was thrilling to read from cover to cover.
According to Fanbase Press’ Kristine Chester, “Omegaball is the story of identical twins Laurie and Helen Everett who not so secretly hate one another. Paralyzed at birth, Laurie is incredibly intelligent, inventive, and utterly isolated because of her disability and Helen’s bullying. Helen is pretty, popular, and green with envy for Laurie’s grades and all of the accommodations she receives because of her disability. That jealously gets worse when the girls make their way onto the Darknet, a virtual universe where anyone can be anything or anyone. In Laurie’s case, that someone is Susie Supernova, an able-bodied alias who becomes renowned on the Darknet as an omegaball player, a sport that takes the brutal smashing of football, the accuracy of basketball, and the utter carnage of giant robots beating the crap out of each other and wraps them together into a neat package. When Laurie is noticed and offered a spot on the team of real-life omegaball coach Glenn Booker, the girls’ story gets a whole lot more interesting.”
Peterson’s ability to craft new and compelling characters in a fully fleshed out and expansive world never ceases to amaze. Overall, Omegaball is an extraordinary thrill ride on par with Tron and Pacific Rim that will ignite the spirit of perseverance that lives within us all. You can purchase Omegaball, as well as all of California Coldblood’s books, through the CCB website and on Amazon.