The holidays are once again upon us, and as we enter into this season of giving, we start to concentrate more on showing our loved ones how much we care. The holidays provide an opportunity to demonstrate to our friends how much we appreciate them and to our families how happy we are that they are there for us. We express that gratitude through the kind words we go out of our way to use with one another in this season, the cards and letters we send to friends we havenít seen in far too long, and the presents we give to those nearest and dearest to us.
So what better present can we give someone than comics? By giving comics as gifts, we can show our love for people, providing them with some entertainment that also has an enlightening message. At the same time, we are educating them about the diversity of the medium and the depth it is capable of by proving to them with these stories what comics are capable of. Finally, using comics as gifts supports the industry, giving a little something back to those creators and publishers who have so enriched our lives over the years.
Many publishers have lately started offering some very cheap collections of reprinted material that work perfectly as a fantastic gift during this holiday season. For example, if you have any children that you have to buy a small gift for, you could try one of the digest books that DC is releasing featuring their Cartoon Network characters. Both the Powerpuff Girls and Scooby Doo already have two collections released, although unfortunately the Justice League collections will not arrive until January. Gemstone is releasing several collections of Disney comics in digest form, and if you really are in a bind, there are of course Archie comics available at every grocery store in America. Archie digests usually cost under three dollars, even for the thicker double digests, while all of the others, which have a much higher page count, will only set you back seven bucks at the most.
Know anyone older who maybe read some Spiderman when they were kids years and years ago but have never picked up a comic since? Well you can help them get back in touch with their inner child by giving them something from Marvelís Essential line. The Essential books are black-and-white collections of classic comics from the Silver Age; a prime example would be the first Essential Spiderman collection, which contains Spideyís first appearance in Amazing Fantasy 15, the first twenty issues of his own book, and the first Amazing Spiderman Annual. Thatís over five hundred pages for just $14.95. While they may be printed on some very cheap paper, the Essentials are certainly worth every penny; I myself bought my wifeís uncle a copy of the Essential Howard the Duck book this year after he mentioned he loved that comic when he was a kid.
There are dozens of possible titles that could appeal to the average reader, and you can easily tailor your gift ideas to the interests of the person youíre buying for. Have a relative whoís a big Lord of the Rings fan? You could try giving him or her the new collections DC has released of the classic sword and sorcery series Elfquest. The first two volumes have been released in a smaller format for only ten dollars. Got a second cousin whoís taken to wearing dark clothes and heavy mascara? Well whoís more goth than Neil Gaimanís Death who appeared this year in a digest-sized book by Jill Thompson called At Deathís Door, again available for only ten measly bucks.
Two smaller companies seem to do fairly well at creating compact-sized, cheap collections of their works that range through a variety of genres. Oni Press is the first of these publishers, and they have dozens of digest-sized and regular-sized trade paperbacks that range anywhere from nine to fifteen dollars. You can buy the first two collections of Hopeless Savages for the punk fan (the second collection might especially appeal to folks who love The Osbornes), or you could give one of the two collections of Courtney Crumrin to any youngsters who love to get a fright from things that go bump in the night. If you know a teenage girl who likes romance, then any one of the three Blue Monday TPBs, all under twelve bucks, would be right up her alley, while the four Barry Ween TPBs, each priced at just nine dollars, might appeal to teenage boys with a penchant for the strange combination of sci-fi adventure and bathroom humor. Finally, one of Oniís best books is the spy thriller Queen and Country by Greg Rucka, which has five trades available that are all reasonably priced.
The other company Iíd mention that has a wide range of material for a low price would be Crossgen. Their Traveler editions only cost ten bucks, and these collections are currently available for almost all of their most popular titles. While many of these books would appeal most to the sword-and-sorcery set, several of their titles cast aside the sigils and have been trying something different. After years of reluctance, Iíve finally decided to try some of these titles myself after reading the Way of the Rat first issue on Free Comic Book Day last year, and I hope to find its Traveler edition, along with The Pathís and Ruseís, under my tree on December 25.
There you have a ton of great gift ideas for very little money, and thatís just American comics. If you expand your search into manga, there are tons of bargains there as well. With all of these affordable options available to you, you really have no excuse to not be advocating comics during this time of giving.