Let Fanta be your Santa with these great gift ideas! Every holiday season, we take the guesswork out of gifting with a thoughtfully curated list of present suggestions. We’ve got a gorgeous collection of titles with something for everyone on our list–this year, treat your favorite readers to some of the best graphic novels around!
Our Top Ten:
For the History Buff:
Monsters by Barry Windsor Smith
A 360-page tour de force of visual storytelling, Monsters‘ narrative canvas is both vast and deep: part familial drama, part political thriller, part metaphysical journey, it is an intimate portrait of individuals struggling to reclaim their lives and an epic political odyssey across two generations of American history. Trauma, fate, conscience, and redemption are just a few of the themes that intersect in the most ambitious graphic novel of Windsor-Smith’s career. Monsters is rendered in Windsor-Smith’s impeccable pen-and-ink technique, the visual storytelling with its sensitivity to gesture and composition is the most sophisticated of the artist’s career. There are passages of heartbreaking tenderness, of excruciating pain, and devastating violence. It is surely one of the most intense graphic novels ever drawn. Anyone who loves memoirs or WWII history will be awed by Monsters!
For the Emotionally Intelligent Cool Kid:
Stone Fruit by Lee Lai
At turns joyful and heartbreaking, Stone Fruit reveals through intimately naturalistic dialog and blue-hued watercolor how painful it can be to truly become vulnerable to your loved ones — and how fulfilling it is to be finally understood for who you are. Chosen as one of The National Book Foundation’s “5 Under 35 List” Honorees, Lee Lai is one of the most exciting new voices to break into the comics medium and she has created one of the truly sophisticated graphic novel debuts in recent memory. Get this for the loved one who isn’t afraid to wear their heart on their (impeccable) sleeve!
For the Person Who Always Gives the Best Book Recommendations:
No One Else by R. Kikuo Johnson
Why not rock their world with a graphic novella that will immediately go to the top of their towering TBR pile? No One Else is a story of great tender truth, as a family thrown into turmoil by the patriarch’s death learn to navigate life day to day with their plans, fears, and desires. Gorgeously drawn and set in the author’s hometown on the Hawaiian island of Maui, it is the long-awaited follow up to Johnson’s acclaimed debut graphic novel, Night Fisher, and a mature work of literary fiction that is certain to be one of the most talked-about books of 2021.
For Your Most Sarcastic Friend:
Unimpressed by Miranda Tacchia
Have you ever schemed with a friend? Stared at your phone screen well after you should have gone to sleep? Braced for heartbreak? Been told to smile more? Then Unimpressed will undoubtedly speak to you. In a book that bridges comics and memes, Tacchia uses her biting sense of humor and background in animation to create brilliant character portraits of women with only markers, Post-it notes, and tape. A master of expression, figure, and subtle (and other times not-so-subtle) comedy, Tacchia’s protagonists are usually “unimpressed women” — who all share the fact that “they don’t give a shit about you,” as Tacchia puts it. It’s the perfect present for your partner in crime!
For Anyone Who Enjoys Socially Conscious Sci-Fi:
Lure by Lane Milburn
Get them Lure instead of that Amazon gift card! In this sci-fi graphic novel, a group of idealistic young artists from Earth are commissioned to collaborate on a corporate art project for a planet that has been colonized for luxury living. The world’s elite use the ocean planet of Lure as a luxury vacation hub for a decade. But when climate change threatens Earth’s long-term habitability, many of those who can afford it move to Lure for good. When the opportunity to work there for a year is offered to visual artist Jo Sparta, as part of a group of artists collaborating on a large-scale installation of public art, it seems like the chance of a lifetime. But then, Jo stumbles across a nefarious plot by her corporate benefactors and feels compelled to go public. Lure showcases Milburn’s rich visual imagination, with the planet Lure itself an ever-seductive, otherworldly paradise against which he spotlights themes of climate change, the disparity of wealth, and the value of art — all in the service of a grippingly moral thriller.
For the Trickster Feminist:
Another History of Art by Anita Kunz
Have you ever awakened from a sleepy delirium one morning and imagined that you lived in a different and glorious world where all the recognized masterpieces in the Western pantheon of art history were painted by women? If not, no problem: the renowned and award-winning painter and illustrator Anita Kunz has imagined it for you in her hilariously inventive and masterfully executed Another History of Art. Kunz depicts the most iconic paintings in the history of art — as if they had been painted by women. Conceived with delicious wit, boundless humor, and an eye for the telling aesthetic detail, Kunz’s recreations are not only stunning paintings in their own right but a sly, revisionist social commentary on the male-dominated history of Western civilization. It’s just the thing for your favorite feminist who believes the classics can be improved upon!
For the Lost Generation:
Good Night, Hem by Jason
The latest graphic novel from beloved Norwegian cartoonist Jason is perfect for anyone who enjoys the classics–with a twist! Ernest Hemingway stars in three interconnecting short stories in Good Night, Hem, which Library Journal called “one of the best releases of 2021”. Mixing fact and fiction, Jason has imaginatively recreated one of America’s greatest and most controversial writers of the 20th century.
For Horror Fans Who Think “Hostel” is Too Tame:
Red Room: the Antisocial Network by Ed Piskor
This is it, your opportunity to *finally* gross out the un-gross-out-able! In this cyberpunk, outlaw, splatterpunk masterpiece from the New York Times bestselling creator of Hip Hop Family Tree and X-Men: Grand Design–aided by the anonymous dark web and nearly untraceable cryptocurrency–a criminal subculture has emerged. It livestreams murders as entertainment. Who are the killers? Who are the victims? Who is paying to watch? How to stop it? Red Room is constructed as a series of interconnected stories, shining a light on the characters who exist in the ugliest of corners in cyberspace. Piskor cuts the graphic horror with his sharp sense of humor, gorgeous cartooning, and dynamic storytelling. Red Room peels back the curtain on the side of humanity few of us knew existed, let alone understood. Fangoria says of it, “It is as brutal as you would expect, but lined with humor, satire, and masterful illustrations.”
For Alberto Breccia (and Dracula!) Fans:
Alberto Breccia’s Dracula is composed of a series of brutally funny satirical misadventures starring the hapless eponymous antihero. Literally defanged (a humiliating trip to the dentist doesn’t help), the protagonist’s glory days are long behind him and other, more sinister villains (a corrupt government, overtly backed by American imperialism) are sickening and draining the life out of the villagers far more than one creature of the night ever could. This is the first painted, full-color entry in Fantagraphics’ artist-focused Alberto Breccia Library, and the atmospheric palette adds mood and dimension. It also includes a sketchbook showing the artist’s process. This is a gorgeous and unexpected gift for anyone who loves Breccia or for new fans!
For Anyone Who Misses Watching Cartoons With a Bowl of Sugary Cereal:
Darkwing Duck: Just Us Justice Ducks: Disney Afternoon Adventures Vol. 1 by David Cody Weiss and Bobbi JG Weiss
For kids (or anyone who wants to feel like a kid again), here’s where the fun begins: awesome 1980s and 1990s comics based on the classic Disney Afternoon TV cartoons! From the pages of Disney Adventures and its sister magazines come much-requested feature-length thrillers! In “Just Us Justice Ducks,” Darkwing Duck and DuckTales’ Gizmoduck are called to action when the Fearsome Five — Negaduck, Megavolt, Liquidator, Bushroot, and Quackerjack — successfully take over St. Canard! Then Goofy and Max take a trip on the open road… far from Max’s beloved Roxanne, but into the clutches of a Bigfoot in the original comics adaptation of A Goofy Movie! Then in “The Legend of the Chaos God,” an evil spirit named Solego is trapped in a priceless gem… and wreaks havoc on Cape Suzette, Duckburg, and St. Canard. It’s up to the Chip ‘n Dale Rescue Rangers, Scrooge McDuck, Darkwing, and the TaleSpin crew to stop him! “…Everybody’s busy, bringing you a Disney Afternoon!” Wrap this up with a box of Fruity Pebbles for the perfect nostalgic gift!