Collected Editions here, dropping in with a different kind of essential trade paperback and graphic novel top ten list: a list of gifts your favorite comics fan may not have but would want, and also some comics that might appeal to a non-comics fan. 'Tis the season for gift giving, and the following ten titles should start you on your way:
* Absolute DC: The New Frontier
This is a beautiful, over-sized volume, and really a nice addition to every fan's collection. More than your usual super-hero slugfest, this is a re-creation of the origin of the Justice League set against actual events of the 1960s, adding a thinking-person's historic bent to the series. Not to mention, every aspect of the book is done up in art deco style by writer and artist Darwyn Cooke. This is a slightly pricier book, but also a surefire winner.
* Crisis On Multiple Earths, Vol. 1
If you're buying gifts for a DC Comics fan, especially one who may have just started reading comics or who really likes DC's crossovers, this is the first volume of a series that reprints DC's Justice League crossovers from the 1950s and '60s. For a fan who wants to learn about older comics, but doesn't like some of the style differences between the modern and Silver Age, this can be a good starting point.
* New Teen Titans Archives Vol. 1
Whereas most volumes of the deluxe hardcover DC Comics Archives series feature comics from the 1940s and '50s, this volume collects the well-regarded 1980s beginnings of the New Teen Titans, written by Marv Wolfman with art by George Perez. This series was one of the foundations of the DC Universe in the 1980s, and might appeal also to fans of older X-Men comics, as the two series had similar stylings.
* Vertigo: First Taste
This is a collection, along with Vertigo: First Offenses, of the first issues of a couple of different Vertigo series, the mature imprint from DC Comics. If you're not sure what to get the comics fan in your life, or if you're trying to interest a friend or relative in reading comics, these reasonably priced samplers might help you out.
* Super Friends!: Your Favorite Television Super-Team is Back!
A little nostalgia for you: this is a collection of 1970s comics based on the old Super Friends Saturday morning television cartoon. A great small gift for a lapsed comic book fan or your favorite child-at-heart.
* Kingdom Come
This is a paperback collection of the dynamic, fully-painted mini-series about the DC Comics heroes in an apocalyptic future. This series is hailed for its complexity, full of comic book and biblical symbolism, and has been published in a number of more ornate versions, but if you're looking for something to interest the non-comics fan in your life, a simple version of Kingdom Come is often a good choice.
* Batman: Black & White
This collection is something every Batman fan may not have, but should. Some of the industry's top writers and artists have collaborated on Batman short comics drawn completely in black and white, highlighting the shapes and shadows of the character. A nice unexpected gift.
* Wonder Woman: The Hiketeia
This hardcover Wonder Woman tale, with appearances by Batman, launched a lauded Wonder Woman series run by novelist Greg Rucka. Here, too, is a nicely-written, well-drawn graphic novel that isn't bogged down by continuity, and may appeal to the non-comics fan in your life.
* Death: The High Cost of Living
An instant classic, this Vertigo miniseries written by novelist Neil Gaiman tells the story of the one day a year that Death (who turns out to be a pale girl with an umbrella) walks the world as a mortal. Well-written and deeply moving, if you know a Vertigo fan who hasn't read this yet, or a non-comics fan you're trying to interest in Vertigo, this is a must-have.
* The Complete Maus: A Survivor's Tale
Another must-read, and something that might interest non-comics fan, is Maus, a black and white graphic novel memoir written and drawn by Art Spiegelman. The two volumes of Maus (collected here together) tell both the story of Spiegelman's parents ordeal through the Holocaust, and also about Spiegelman's present relationship with his ailing father. A classic, and one of the books that's considered to have brought the graphic novel into the mainstream.
And one to grow on:
* Superheroes and Philosophy: Truth, Justice, and the Socratic Way
This is not a comic, but instead a collection of essays looking at DC and Marvel comics and how they relate to the major philosophers. Detailed and yet readable, look for mentions of Watchmen, Dark Knight Returns, Kingdom Come, Batman: The Killing Joke, JSA, Crisis on Infinite Earths, and more. A great stocking stuffer or something to go along with all the other comics on your list.
You'll be a hit this holiday season!
(Lots of bloggers, by the way, have Amazon links like the ones above, and when you buy anything after clicking on these links, that blogger gets a few cents. This holiday season, if you're buying gifts through Amazon, consider clicking on someone's link before you buy; I know I will. There are lots of hard-working bloggers out there, and this is a great, easy way to support them.)
Any other great gift suggestions? Post 'em here!