Axel-In-Charge: "Secret Wars" Jam Session Talking "A-Force," "Ultimate End" and More
1. What comic-related gift or gifts would you recommend giving this year, and why?
2. What gift (comic or otherwise) is at the top of your personal wish list, and why?
Ho-ho-hopefully you’ve gotten the chance to check out the previous three installments. If not, it isn’t too late:
Part 1: Jim McCann, Matt Kindt, Daryl Gregory, Jim “Zub” Zubkavich, Jamie S. Rich, Ryan Cody
Part 2: Jeff Parker, Tim Seeley, Ross Campbell, Kody Chamberlain, Ian Brill, Jamaica Dyer
Part 3: Mike Carey, Kelly Sue DeConnick, Kagan McLeod, Kevin Colden, Thom Zahler, Van Jensen
And here is today’s round-up …
1. For the kids (or kids-at-heart): Okie Dokie Donuts by Chris “Elio” Eliopoulos – One of my favorite books of the year. Each page is crammed to the brim with kinetic artwork and fun comics!
For the art lover: “Behold! The Dinosaurs!” print by Dustin Harbin – Absolutely gorgeous print featuring one of my favorite subjects: Dinosaurs!
For the comic strip enthusiast: Mickey Mouse by Floyd Gottfredson – Super engaging strips that are full of life and very funny. I’m very glad that Fantagraphics is publishing these.
For the manga reader: Cross Game by Mitsuru Adachi – A recent series that I’ve been infatuated with after having it recommended to me by several friends. A manga with a very welcoming atmosphere and tons of heart.
For the indie-minded: A few comics from Blank Slate Books: Dinopopolous by Nick Edwards and The Survivalist by Box Brown – Two great-looking books from a publisher that might be off some folks’ radars at the moment. I haven’t even read these yet, and I feel confident recommending them!
2. Well, my dad has a long-standing tradition of giving me a volume of the Complete Peanuts collections for birthdays and holidays, so I’ve got that covered. Let’s see…
I suppose there are a few Japanese imported books that would make the top of my list of things I’ve had my eye on, but haven’t had the chance/extra cash to buy for myself. These fall under the category of “Things That I’m Not Likely to Stumble Across In-Person and Say, ‘Oh yeah, I’ve been meaning to get that!’” Two that come to mind are One Piece Green, a “databook” which contains a treasure-trove of sketches and notes from Eiichiro Oda from the years leading up to and during his epic manga series One Piece. I’ve also been eyeing some Shigeru Mizuki (Gegege No Kitaro, Onward Towards Our Noble Death) yokai encyclopedias that pop up on eBay. Those look Beautiful with a capital B!
1. I never met a kid who didn’t love Owly. Great, sweet all-ages stories told all in pictures, so perfect for youngsters learning to read. I love it, too.
2. Original comic art is always at the top of my list. Several artists I work with have already given me wonderful gifts this year, so I’m all set!
Television and comic writer Christos Gage has written GI Joe: Cobra, Numb3rs, The Man With No Name, Area 10 and Deadshot, among others. His current projects include Avengers Academy and Angel & Faith.
1. I think the best gift anyone could give any comic fan is a nice big stack of comics they haven’t tried before. When I was 12, one of my uncles went last-minute Christmas shopping at the local grocery store, and just bought me a copy of every new title on the newsstand, about a dozen in all. I was already a comics fan, but had only tried a handful of those titles, and in the end I became an ardent follower of at least a couple of them. And even though it only cost my uncle about seven bucks (this was 1982, after all), I still remember that as being one of the best Christmas presents I ever got.
2. I get to work in comics for a living. What more could I possibly want?!
New York Times-bestselling writer Chris Roberson is best known for his Eisner-nominated series iZombie (co-created with artist Mike Allred), the Fables’ spinoff Cinderella mini-series, and his work on Superman, Star Trek/Legion of Super-Heroes and Elric: The Balance Lost, all of which are available for digital download. His latest project is the modern fantasy series Memorial, which debuts this month from IDW.
1. All my picks are good for kids and adults. Also, I’m not super up to date on the comic world, so a lot of my picks may be old.
Cul de Sac by Richard Thompson. This is the best comic strip around right now, by far. It’s so far ahead of the rest of us, I lost track of Mr. Thompson’s footprints long ago. It focuses on four-year-old Alice Otterloop and her family and friends, and is crammed with whimsy, and multiple one-liners per strip. There’s three collections out so far, and a Treasury edition.
BOOM!’s Don Rosa Donald Duck volumes (two so far!) I grew up reading and collecting the old Disney Gladstone comics, and the issues where Don Rosa’s stories popped up were easily the most read between me and my brother. We used to fight over who owned each one! And now, here they are–not spread out over tons of single issues where you have to go looking for them–but in concentrated volumes of storytelling gold.
(Ditto to Fantagraphics’s Floyd Gottfriedson Mickey Mouse and Carl Barks Donald Duck libraries.)
Stardrop by Mark Oakley. Okay, I may be a little biased here because I know Mark, but if you all knew him too, you would buy his book, he’s just that nice. However, even if I never met the guy, I would love Stardrop. It follows a refugee alien princess who runs away from home to Earth, where she constantly challenges the way we humans have organised our world with her naive, yet ridiculously insightful, outlook.
Reed Gunther by Shane and Chris Houghton. I’ve been getting these in the single issues, but I believe the first volume just came out with issues 1-5 in it. Gunther, about a bear-riding cowboy, captures all the spirit of classic comics like Tintin and the aforementioned Barks, and is destined to sit alongside them. It’s funny, action packed, and even poignant sometimes when Reed the outdated cowboy makes it to New York City.
Loves and Capes by Thom Zahler. I’ve only read the first two, but there are three volumes of this brilliant superhero series. I know The Big Two have a monopoly on super heroes, but this series from IDW–while it trades on a reader’s knowledge of the tropes laid out by those Big Two–consistently does the genre better. Mostly by staying light and funny, and portraying fantastic characters with realistic relationships. ‘Will They, Won’t They?’ is such a tired drama cliche, so it’s nice to see stories where ‘They Will’ is enough.
Salt Water Taffy by Matthew Loux from Oni. 4 volumes so far, with one to come! It’s kinda like Enid Blyton, the Hardy Boys and all those great old kids adventure series, but this time, they’re comics. With a twist of the supernatural.
Cursed Pirate Girl by Jeremy Bastian. I can’t imagine what it was like being a kid, back in the day when things like The Wizard of Oz, or Alice in Wonderland were brand new to the world, but Pirate Girl at least gives us some idea. This comic is, quite simply, a work of art.
The Stuff of Legend by Mike Raicht, Brian Smith and Charles Paul Wilson III. There’s two volumes of this out so far from Th3rd World Studios, and if ‘Toy Story meets Lord of the Rings‘ isn’t enough for you, I’m not sure what is.
And lastly, an item that’s not a comic… The Secret of Kells on DVD (or Blu Ray, if DVD isn’t sharp enough for you and you want already rich studios to have more of your money.) This actually came out a couple of years ago, but was released a little more widely when it was nominated for an Academy Award earlier this year. It’s an Irish animated movie set in, I guess, the 6 or 700s, about an apprentice illuminator and his curiosity with the forest, his friendship with a woodland sprite, and also about invading vikings that offers up some of that slightly horrific vision that kids might be scared of, but secretly totally love.
2. I don’t have any one thing on my personal wish list. Just more art supplies so I can keep making comics.
Caanan Grall does the Eisner-nominated Max Overacts at occasionalcomics.com and has been published by DC Comics under their once-awesome, so-underrated-it-died, Zuda imprint. While Celadore may not be on anyone’s wish list, the first Max volume will be out next year, so maybe then Santa will fill out an order form or two.
1. I like giving gift certificates from my local comic shop. If the person getting it already buys comics, they love it and might try something new. If they don’t already buy comics, they might get a book, shirt, or such, while the shop has a potential new customer. A couple of caveats though, I have to know the person well, and I wouldn’t give a gift certificate to a less-than-pleasant shop. If a gift certificate seems too “commercial” for you, buy a friend a Tokidoki Marvel Frenzies Blind Box Figure. They’re adorable!
2. I’m eyeing an iPad to be included on my Christmas wish list. I’m not really tempted to read new comics on it, but I have hundreds of out-of-print 1940’s comics (non-DC, non-Marvel) in digital form with no comfortable way to read them. Plus, an iPad would make me one of the cool kids!
Kerry Callen is the creator of the indy comic Halo and Sprocket, and currently creates popular comic book spoofs on kerrycallen.blogspot.com.
Faith Erin Hicks
I always try and give graphic novels as gifts to my family every year (last year I gave my mom How to Understand Israel in 60 Days or Less by Sarah Glidden, and there were a bunch of other graphic novels whose names escape me right now … all I know is that I dropped $100 on a stack of graphic novels at my local comic store), but sadly due to work and distance I won’t be seeing them this Christmas. Nevertheless, here is my doozy of a suggestion for the open-minded, possibly comic appreciating reader in your family: the Fullmetal Alchemist box set.
Fullmetal Alchemist is my favourite manga, hands down. A taunt, funny, deeply moving, character filled story of an epic clash between good and evil, moral right and wrong, and family relationships. It’s beautifully illustrated; the author, cow-avatared awesome lady Hiromu Arakawa has an innate grasp of how to draw an exciting fight scene, as well as character emotions, both over the top funny and subtly sad. I heart this manga so much. And now Viz has released a convenient box set containing all 27 volumes (plus a light novel), all nicely packaged in a pretty carrying case that I’m sure plays heavenly music when you open it. I own all the FMA volumes already, but I kind of want this box set, just because it looks so cool. I’d recommend this gift not only for the younger reader in your life (maybe someone looking for a series to read after Bone), but also for comic creators, as it’s a masterfully crafted comic, well worth studying.
The gift I want for myself this year is a pair of proper jogging shoes. I started jogging back in April, and am still using the $4 sneakers I bought from the Salvation Army, because I wasn’t sure if jogging was something I was going to stick with, and didn’t want to shell out money for shoes that would sit in my closet. But now I’ve made running a part of my routine, so it’s time for some proper shoes. I hate exercise. I like that my career (comic drawing art monkey) lets me sit on my ass all day. But as I’ve started doing comics full time, and gotten older, well, it became a necessity to start some kind of exercise routine. I want to be in comics for the long haul; I want to be drawing them until I’m 90, and I know how bad sitting on my butt all day drawing away can be. I figure if I invest an hour a day on getting out of that chair and sweating a bit, I’ll be a much happier 90 year old, drawing comics in my hovering robot house in the clouds (in this future we all have jetpacks but that technology is slowly being replaced by teleportation).
1. I wish I had the time to give individual attention and say why I dug these comix but I don’t. Too busy meeting deadlines while developing the need for new ones and creating free content for me to express myself and for you to enjoy. I’m sure I accidentally left off a bunch of comix I loved this year but please trust that this list furnishes some of the very best comics published in 2011 that I actually found the time to read, admire, get energized by and enjoy.
Scalped by Jason Aaron and R.M. Guera [Vertigo]
Daredevil by Mark Waid, Marcos Martin, and Paolo Rivera [Marvel]
Godzilla: Gangsters and Goliaths by John Layman and Alberto Ponticelli [IDW]
Planet of the Apes by Daryl Gregory and Carlos Magno [Boom!]
Zegas #1 by Michel Fiffe [Copra Press]
The Mighty Thor [Omnibus] by Walter Simonson [Marvel]
MUSH! Sled Dogs with Issues by Glenn Eichler and Joe Infurnari [First Second]
Twisted Savage Dragon Funnies, curated/edited by Michel Fiffe, written & drawn by various [Image]
Strange Tales, Vol. 2, edited by Jody LeHeup, written & drawn by various [Marvel]
The Cardboard Valise, by Ben Katchor [Pantheon]
Richard Stark’s Parker: The Outfit by Darwyn Cooke [IDW]
Green River Killer by Jeff Jensen and Jonathan Case [Dark Horse]
Hera: The Goddess and Her Glory (Olympians) by George O’Connor [First Second]
The Wrong Place by Brecht Evans [D&Q]
Genius Isolated: The Life and Art of Alex Toth by Dean Mullaney & Bruce Canwell [IDW]
Mister Wonderful by Daniel Clowes [Pantheon Books]
The Someday Funnies, curated/edited by Michel Choquette, written & drawn by various [Abrams ComicArts]
Page by Paige by Laura Lee Gulledge [Amulet Books]
Night Business #4 by Benjamin Marra [Traditional Comics]
The Influencing Machine, Brooke Gladstone on the Media, illustrated by Josh Neufeld [Norton]
Animal Man by Jeff Lemire and Travel Foreman [DC]
All-Star Superman [paperback] by Grant Morrison & Frank Quitely [DC]
The Marvel Art of John Romita Jr. [Marvel]
Bored to Death, season 2 [HBO]
2. I’m nine pages away from finishing my current gig; drawing Godzilla Legends #5 for IDW. I have a bunch of pitches in editors and publishers hands and I hope to score new work for 2012. Wish me luck. Meanwhile, on Nov. 1, I helped launch TripCity.net, a new, Brooklyn-filtered literary arts salon, a place where I get to flex my multimedia muscles with a group of talented individuals. We just started, so, give us a chance and take a gander. Please give Trip City the gift of your time and attention. If you like it, please share it. It’s free and we hope you’ll pick up what we’re laying down. Be sure to swing by on Dec. 6 when I debut my new Billy Dogma comic, “The Last Romantic Antihero.” Thanks and Happy Holidays!