Today marks Black Friday – the unofficial start of the holiday shopping season across America. Many of our readers may still be sleeping off a turkey coma, and maybe some of you are just getting back from a first round of shopping that started with midnight openings. But no matter where you are in your holiday gift-buying scramble, CBR News is here to help!
Below, we're happy to present our Black Friday Comics Shopping Guide – over 50 new and popular items that you can get for the faboy or fangirl in your life (or maybe forward on to your family to avoid some embarrassing returns).
But before we get started, be sure to check out Robot 6's guide to the cyber deals hitting the web this weekend on items from digital comics to creator-designed T-Shirts. And keep in mind that those deals will continue through the weekend as Top Shelf Productions tipped us off that they'll have big deals in their Web Store starting Monday with a special promo code going out to e-mail subscribers Sunday night!
Now without further adieu...on to the items!
FOR THE COMICS E-CONSUMER
There's no denying it. We're living in a digital age, and comics are at the forefront of the hottest items on sale this holiday season. Of course, the reigning champ of the tablet market is still an option as Apple's iPad 2 is retailing for around $499. If you or one of your already has an iPad or tablet and you're looking for comics to download, there's no better place to start than Robot 6's round up of digital offerings outside the Big Two.
Then again if superheroes are your bread and butter, the two hottest eReaders of the season both feature their own comics content and some prices more friendly to the non-techie crowd.
Right now, Amazon's Kindle Fire is retailing for $199. Already one of the more dominant platforms for digital books, the full color tablet also carries 100 highly publicized DC Comics graphic novels exclusively throughout the holidays and into the new year and comes pre-installed with the Comics by comiXology app. For more on the Kindle and Amazon's DC storefront, see CBR's interview with DC SVP of Digital Hank Kanalz.
Not to be outdone, Barnes & Noble are offering their new NOOK Tablet for $249. The device is already getting strong reviews and has partnered with Marvel Comics for digital graphic novel offerings as the publisher ramps up to a full-on day-and-date release slate for its superhero comics in early 2012.
FOR THE LIFELONG SUPERHERO READER
Looking for some under-the-radar superhero comics to stuff your stockings with?
Start with BOOM! Studios "Irredeemable" Vol. 1 for $9.99. The trade kick-starting Mark Waid's ongoing superhero opus is something entirely different. Waid's story of a hero-gone-bad is great for introducing new readers to the flexibility of the superhero genre without trotting out the excellent but well-worn go-to books. "Irredeemable" is dark, dark stuff, but is also possibly more accessible than deconstructions like "Dark Knight Returns" and "Watchmen." Comic fans will enjoy seeing superpowers put to horrifying and inventive new uses in a series that subverts without mocking the standard superhero tropes.
For a more classic flavor, don't miss DC's "Tales of the Batman: Gene Colan, Volume 1" for $39.99 in hardcover. One of the great artists in comics tackling one of the great characters in comics...what’s not to like? And Colan's moody and expressive take on the Dark Knight is the perfect reintroduction to the character for longtime fans and casual Batman buffs, and provides a great refresher on Batman 101 before next year's "The Dark Knight Rises."
On the more recent end of the nostalgia hardcover market, you can't go wrong with Marvel's "X-Men: X-Cutioner's Song Hardcover" for $49.99. The tale of '90s X-Men madness as Stryfe attacks the team from the future, the volume presents a great, big action story that encapsulates everything that was good about that decades superheroes – gorgeously packaged with strikingly crisp colors throughout and entertaining and comprehensive backmatter.
For fans looking for items on the higher end of the collected market, DC has unleashed a new printing of Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely's "Absolute All Star Superman" for $99.99. It's a pricey present, but certainly one of the most beautiful and impressive Superman collections you'll ever get a chance to read. All done in a stunning over-sized edition.
And perhaps the biggest collection of the year (literally), Marvel's "Thor by Walter Simonson Omnibus" for $124.99 stands above the rest. It is amazing the world that we live in that you can actually acquire the entirety of Walter Simonson's Thor run in one giant comic book! Oversized with roughly FIFTY pages of bonus material, this comic is a delight for fans of the Thor film or really, for fans of comic books period. Plus, the updated coloring looks great.
FOR THE CUTTING EDGE COMICS READER
If you're leaning more towards the strange, independent and thought-provoking edges of the comics medium, there's plenty to be on the lookout for as well.
Start out with a comic for you or any of your smart, snarky family members with Drawn & Quarterly's collection of "Hark! A Vagrant!" for $19.99. Kate Beaton's hilariously offbeat look at history and popular culture will delight pretty much everyone...except, possibly, people too dumb to get any of the jokes. Do not get this as a present for people who are too dumb to get jokes.
For something COMPLETELY different from the same great art comics publisher, be sure to track down Brian Ralph's stunning zombie epic "Daybreak" for one of the scariest turns on the genre in recent memory. Only $17.56!
Grant Morrison and Sean Murphy's somewhat overlooked "Joe The Barbarian" is out in Deluxe Hardcover for $29.99. The series is great for new and old comic readers alike and contains mind-bending twists on childhood fantasy wrapped in a heart-wrenching story of a boy trying to cope with the loss of his father and a debilitating case of diabetes.
For more sci-fi madness, there's no better time to pick up either the first volume or the second installment of Matt Fraction's acclaimed "Casanova." At $15.99 a pop, the series spi-fi stylings make high concept genre fiction as personal and impressive as anything on the stands.
And finally, for the "Lost" fan who's still trying to get back to the island in your life, why not try the Deluxe Hardcover of Nick Spencer's "Morning Glories" for $39.99? One of the biggest debuts of the past year, the epic series of time travel, teenagers and school cults (at least we think that's what it's really all about) is just getting started.
FOR THE COMICS HISTORIAN
It's been said many times before, but we truly live in the golden age of comics reprint projects, and 2011 has seen tons of wonderful archival material hit the stands.
Fantagraphics is all over the legacies of some of the best artists ever to work for the Walt Disney company with Floyd Gottfredson's Mickey Mouse, vol. 1 ($29.99) and Carl Barks' Donald Duck ($24.99). Disney's most famous characters need no introduction, but their modern incarnations are so far from their roots that these collections will surprise anyone seeing these strips for the first time. Any of these volumes is a guaranteed smile.
From a more modern era of newspaper cartooning comes IDW's "Bloom County: The Complete Library Volume 5" for $39.99. The final volume of Berkeley Breathed’s classic comic strip is a can't miss event. Fortunately next year there will be collections of "Outland and Opus," so you won’t have to worry about withdrawal symptoms for a year.
For a more heroic offering, look into "Kamandi, The Last Boy on Earth Omnibus Volume 1 by Jack Kirby" from DC for $49.99. If you're a Kirby nut, a fan of the feature in "Wednesday Comics" by Dave Gibbons and Ryan Sook or just someone curiously excited to see Kirby’s madcap vision of this bizarre world, the collection can't be beat.
On a different nostalgia trip, it's hard to ignore "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Ultimate Collection, Volume 1" from IDW for $49.99. If you think about it for three seconds, you'll come up with the name of someone you know who grew up with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, but has never read the original comics that those insanely popular cartoons and movies came from. Here's your opportunity to fix that.
And of course, if you're interested in reading about the history of comics as much as you are in reading the comics themselves, don't forget that TwoMorrows Publishing holds a 50% off sale on items through December 5. The pop culture history rich books, Pierre Comtois' Marvel Comics of the 1960s and Marvel Comics of the 1960s can be had at the combined price of what you would normally pay for each individual volume. Also, fans of Frazier Irving (a group getting larger with every year, and deservedly so) would be savvy to scoop up the 26th installment in Twomorrows' Modern Masters Series – at $7.98 it is a bona fide bargain.
FOR THE FAMILY OF FANBOYS & GIRLS
For comic-reading families with little ones on hand, there are any number of totally rad kids comics on the market.
For a quick fix of classic comics reinvisioned for the 21st Century, stop by Ape Entertainments web store for single issues of their "Richie Rich" series for $3.95.
A great big chunk of family friendly comics at a great price comes in the form of "The Best of Archie Comics" for $9.95. From Bob Montana to Dan DeCarlo to Dan Parent, some of the best in the publisher's history are on display with stories of Archie, Betty, Veronica, Jughead and the whole Riverdale gang.
The comics-crazy Middle Schooler in your life will sing your praises if you're the first to buy them "Diary of A Wimpy Kid: Cabin Fever" for $13.95. The latest volume in Jeffy Kinney's comics/novel mash-up is yet another hilarious and clever tale – this time a perfect entry to crack open on Winter Break.
Kids and parents interested in some classic comics Americana can do no wrong with "Pogo: The Complete Syndicated Strips, Volume 1: Through the Wild Blue Wonder" from Fantagraphics for $39.99. Not to mention: you may not know it yet, but your parents or grandparents really liked Pogo and would love to read those strips again in a nice hardback.
Finally, don't forget the most acclaimed all-ages comic of the past 20 years. "Bone: 20th Anniversary Full Color One Volume" retails for $150.00. The beautifully designed hardcover slipcased volume collects all the full color books. The popularity of Jeff Smith's saga with both kids and grown-ups has proven that black-and-white art isn't an impediment to a lot of people's enjoying it. Now, the rest of them can enjoy it too. There's a child in your life who really needs to read this book. Worth every penny.
FOR THE TOY COLLECTOR
Looking to garnish some drab shelf space with a few plastic protectors? Well, there are tons of new toys aimed at comic fans on the shelves this season.
Tokidoki has Marvel keychain/zipper pull blind boxes for $5.95 a figure. They're super affordable, and they're super awesome.
Folks hitting Toys R' Us today can check out Diamond Select Toy's Marvel vs. Capcom 3 Minimates exclusively for $14.99 and recreate some cute little battles whenever they want.
On a similar note, the $8 Funko DC PoP! Vinyl figures have been selling pretty strong with fans. The Pop! line is fun and inexpensive, filling the gap left when Hasbro stopped making their Mighty Muggs. Right now, you can get Marvel and DC characters, as well as Disney, horror icons, rock and hip-hop artists, etc.
For a fun toy throwback, Mattel's Batman Legacy Wave 2 sports a Golden Age grinning Batman, Silver Age Batgirl and Catman! Retailing between $10 and $40 depending on which assortment you track down.
NECA's Gremlins figures are so cool they'll make you want to pour water on my Mogwai AND feed him after midnight with selections ranging from $14 to $20.
Finally, over at Hasbro they have a GI Joe collector's club you can subscribe to that have 12 awesome exclusive figures including Big Boa who was supposed to be the Rocky figure's enemy.
FOR THE COMICS LOVING GAMER
It seems like ages since we’ve had a good video game outing with the Man of Steel, but Chillingo manages to get it done with their suave "Superman" side-scrolling adventure for $0.99. Featuring a wide variety of Superman’s techniques, the game also benefits from a solid comic book style presentation and a killer price point – it’s currently on sale for just under a buck. Up up and away with you to the App Store!
Got an iPad or iPhone that’s in need of some Spidey justice? Gameloft has you covered with the extraordinary "Spider-Man: Total Mayhem" accessible for $2.99. Featuring a wide assortment of cool web-slinging abilities, great touch-screen controls and a number of classic villains to take on, Total Mayhem is a blast. And it’s currently on sale for just under a buck. Use your Spidey Sense and buy this immediately.
While the Thor game left us cold, Sega’s take on "Captain America: Super Soldier" fared quite well for PlayStation at $39.99. Featuring an original storyline centering more around a castle owned by Baron Zemo, Super Soldier has excellent gameplay, especially with close-quarters combat and shield throwing, and also has terrific production quality, particularly with the graphics and voicework. It’s good stuff.
Of course, the ultimate game of the year also comes in the ultimate package as "Batman: Arkham City Collector's Edition" is $100, but it comes with a kick-ass hardcover art book with an awesome Batman statute by Kotobukiya. The packaging is really, really slick and makes for a great display piece in addition to being possibly the best Batman game of all time.
FOR THE BOOB TUBER
With Warner Bros. "Batman: Year One" animated movie at $19.50, you can feel pretty safe that the person you're giving it to has not yet seen it, unlike DVDs for the comic book movie blockbusters like "Captain America: First Avenger" and "X-Men First Class." But if you're sure the person you're giving the gift to hasn't seen those two films, get them those DVDs too.
People who love "Doctor Who" loooooove "Doctor Who," and people who don't love Doctor Who probably haven't watched it. So getting them either Series 5 (introducing the current Doctor, Matt Smith) or the new Series 6 for $42.99 a piece will serve as a great introduction for new viewers. And, of course, regular fans will want to own the collections for repeated viewings.
FOR THE FAMILY JAPANOFILE
With "Drops of God" by Tadashi Agi and Shu Okimoto from Vertical for $9.79, you can get something for the wine lover in your life. Or, on the other side, if your other half likes comics but needs schooling on the finer points of tasting, "Drops" can be a valuable tool. This is an immensely fun series that will undoubtedly make the reader want to try every wine mentioned – or at least those "hidden gems" in the $20 range. Wrap it with a choice bottle for an added holiday treat.
FOR THE FASHION FORWARD NERD
While not completely comic related, but perfect for anyone who went to the movies this weekend: Threadless recently posted the winners of their Muppets T-Shirt design contest and the shirts are really cool.
And fans of general pop culture snarkiness can do well by a T-Shirt of gift card to We Love Fine where they can find everything from Cthulhu to My Little Pony to Marvel, Star Wars, and GI Joe!
FOR THE ART LOVER
Original art may be a bit pricey for some fans to shell out on at the holidays, but there are plenty of hand made or wall-hangable bits to pick up for friends and family alike.
Why not give to a good cause and give the gift of rad original comics with "Terry Moore's Echo: CBLDF Personalized Edition" for $100? Anything by Terry Moore is a gateway comic, and long-time comic fans can appreciate both the action and the character-driven heart of "Echo." Get a personalized book by ordering from the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund.
For some more public display-ready goods, check out these "Firefly" art nouveau prints to show off your Whedon love for $29.95!
For a final, amazingly strange holiday gift, You can have your face (or your kids face, or whatever) put into a superhero poster! The weird part is that the faces are all quite photorealistic, but the bodies are all fantasies, so they look oddly striking. Forget the holidays! Can you imagine how great this would be as a wedding present? Or for the birth of a new child? It gets much funnier if you can pick really inappropriate people to be superheroes, like your grandma or something.
Many thanks to CBR Contributors Brian Cronin, TJ Dietsch, Alex Dueben, Stephen Gerding, Sonia Harris, Shaun Manning, Michael May, JK Parkin, Tim O'Shea, Steve Sunu, Brett White and Robert Workman for contributing entries to this guide!