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 Big Spender:
Love and Rockets: The First Fifty: The Classic 40th Anniversary Collection by Gilbert, Jaime, and Mario Hernandez
In celebration of the 40th anniversary of Fantagraphics’ flagship series, this prestigious box set presents bound facsimiles of the original fifty issues of the Love and Rockets comics magazines. Painstakingly recreated in issue-by-issue facsimile, this boxed set includes every cover, comics page, and letter column (even advertising!) in seven hardcover volumes. An eighth volume densely collates selected essays, reviews, and profiles that appeared in the popular (and unpopular) press between 1981 and 1996, along with over 100 pages of additional, rarely-seen comics from the period by all three Brothers, plus dozens of book and magazine covers – a virtual history of the growth of Love and Rockets and the simultaneous rise of the literary comics movement of which they were exemplars and trailblazers. If you’ve got $400 to spare, this deluxe box set will be the best–and heaviest–gift you can get for the L&R fan in your life!
For the Funniest Troublemaker You Know:
Below Ambition by Simon Hanselmann
Following Simon Hanselmann’s 2021 smash hit graphic novel Crisis Zone — which captured the zeitgeist of life under Covid and the New York Times Book Review called “the first great work of pandemic fiction” — things settle down, and Megg the Witch and Werewolf Jones get the band back together. Below Ambition is a meditation on youth, performance, and memory as only Simon Hanselmann, the best comedic writer in comics, is capable of. The book will also include a flexidisc single by Horse Mania, “Stick It In for the Ambient”, which will be tipped into the front cover of the book for easy removal and play. It’s funny, it’s dark, it’s perfect for the people who are always willing to “get weird with it”!
For the Readers Who Have Already Read Any Book You Recommend:
Who Will Make the Pancakes: Five Stories by Megan Kelso
Who Will Make the Pancakes collects five deeply social stories by the acclaimed cartoonist Megan Kelso, exploring the connective tissue that binds us together despite our individual, interior experience. These stories, created over the past 15 years — roughly contemporaneously with the author’s own journey as a mother— wrestle with the concept of motherhood and the way the experience informs and impacts concepts of identity, racism, class, love, and even abuse. Taken collectively, Who Will Make the Pancakes showcases Kelso’s unique voice in graphic fiction (one more in tune with writers such as Alice Munro, Sarah Waters, or Ann Patchett than most graphic novelists) and a stylistic command that tailors her approachable and warm cartooning style for each story’s needs. This collection is so funny, smart, poignant, and sweet–it’s a wonderful read, both for those who don’t read many comics and for those who have been following Megan’s illustrating career since the 90’s!
For the Romantic:
Keeping Two by Jordan Crane
A young couple is stuck in traffic, reading a book aloud to each other to pass the time. The relationship is already strained, but between the encroaching road rage, and a novel that hits way too close to home, tensions are running especially high by the time they arrive back at their apartment. When one of them leaves to get takeout and a movie, each of the young lovers is individually forced to confront loss, grief, fear, and insecurities in unexpected and shocking ways. It’s hard to describe in more detail without giving too much away–that ending!–but it’s stunning and precisely captures the joy and anguish of loving another.
For the Criterion Collection Devotee:
Slash Them All by Antoine Maillard
Two high school students are found dead, stoking fears amongst the student body and surrounding community of a serial killer on the loose. Yet summer is approaching, and the future is fraught with uncertainty—if only things could go back to normal for just a while longer. Instead, the heightened police presence prevents Pola from dealing at school while her best friend, the typically discreet Daniel, resists increasingly morbid impulses. News crews speculate about the Bloody Batter, triggering PTSD and fueling paranoia. Meanwhile, evil has its own plans… Slash Them All is cartoonist Antoine Maillard’s tribute to 1980s American horror cinema, skillfully absorbing the traditions and tropes of the genre, yet drawn in a gorgeous, grayscale pencil style that evokes 1950s film noir more than Jason or Freddy Kreuger. This singular work of graphic fiction is a story about adolescents thrust unexpectedly, unwillingly, and unpreparedly into adulthood, told with a graphic acuity and emotional depth that transcends its simple slasher inspirations. It’s the perfect gorgeously moody read for neo-noir and horror fans!
For the Emotionally Intelligent Cool Kid:
Men I Trust by Tommi Parrish
Parrish’s gorgeously painted pages showcase a graceful understanding of body language and ear for dialogue, brilliantly using the medium of comics to depict the dissonance between the characters’ interior and exterior experiences. Men I Trust is about not-always-healthy people attempting to make healthy connections in a disconnected world, and is one of the most moving and insightful works of literary fiction in any medium this year. It’s an absolute stunning collection that’s just the thing for anyone who appreciates stories about complicated relationships (and maybe has a few of those themselves)!
For the Artist:
One Beautiful Spring Day by Jim Woodring
“The effect is something like Doré meets Dalí: stories of pure dream logic rendered as reverently as an etching of the infant Christ. Every surface emits a kind of otherworldly specificity, both resoundingly weird and as reassuringly solid as a drafting table.” — The New Yorker
Jim Woodring has been chronicling the adventures of his cartoon Everyman, Frank, for almost 30 years. These stories are a singular rarity in the comics form — both bone-chillingly physical in their depictions of Frank’s travails and profoundly metaphysical at the same time. Not since George Herriman’s Krazy Kat has the comics language been so exquisitely distilled into pure, revelatory aesthetic expression. Anyone who appreciates art will enjoy this mind-bending, wordless 400 page comics odyssey by a contemporary master of the form–the illustrations almost seem to vibrate off the page!
For the “It’s Not Paranoia If They’re Really After You” Crowd:
Ultrasound by Conor Stechschulte
It all starts with car trouble: driving home from a wedding late one night during a heavy storm, out of cell range, Glen blows out his tires. He knocks on the door of the only house he sees and is greeted by an uncomfortably friendly middle-aged man, Arthur, and his attractive younger wife, Cyndi. The strange couple pours him a drink, and then more drinks, followed by odd confessions and an unexpected offer that Glen can’t refuse. Where Ultrasound zigs and zags from there is into a dizzying plot involving mind control, government secrets, gaslighting, and political intrigue that is always one step ahead of the reader. Stechschulte’s brilliant use of color and mastery of comics storytelling yields a breathtaking puzzlebox of a sci-fi thriller that’s perfect for people who prefer their entertainment deeply unsettling!
For the Cosmically Enlightened:
Sun Ra: Art on Saturn: The Album Cover Art of Sun Ra’s Saturn Label by Irwin Chusid and Chris Reisman
Considered the foremost exponent of Afrofuturism, Sun Ra mastered a wide array of styles that spanned jazz, R&B, exotica, Afro-hybrids, electronic, big band, solo piano, orchestral, experimental, and chamber works. In his 45-year recording career, he issued an epic number of albums and he was one of the first Black musicians to own an independent label, which he named Saturn, after the planet on which he claimed to have been born. The covers of Saturn LPs, issued from 1957 to 1988, are iconic—some rolled off commercial printing presses but many were hand-crafted. Sun Ra: Art on Saturn is the first comprehensive collection of all Saturn printed covers, along with hundreds of the best hand-designed, one-of-a-kind sleeves and disc labels, decorated by Ra himself and members of his Arkestra. Essays by Sun Ra catalog preservationist Irwin Chusid, noted Ra scholar John Corbett, and Glenn Jones, who in the 1970s signed Ra to a distribution deal that put countless homemade covers into circulation, add unique insights into the interplanetary life and work of Sun Ra and his Saturn partner Alton Abraham. It’s a beautiful book and would make a wonderful gift for anyone who knows that space is the place!
For Literally Everyone:
The Complete Eightball 1-18 by Daniel Clowes
“[The Complete Eightball] contains the seminal works of one of the greatest artists in modern comics, unexpurgated for the first time since they were penned in the ’90s.” — NPR Books
“If you’re new to Clowes, know that this is where Ghost World came from. Go lock yourself in your geek dungeon and read the whole thing right now.” — Entertainment Weekly
“A brutal, cock-eyed lampooning of the human condition, as searing and sensual now as it was then. Impeccably presented, as always.” — Simon Hanselmann
What can we say about The Complete Eightball that hasn’t already been said? Daniel Clowes is reliably amazing and this paperback collection is perfect for just about anybody!
Bonus: For Anyone Who Can’t Get Enough Totes
A sturdy, organic cotton tote featuring beloved characters from Love and Rockets, drawn by Gilbert and Jaime Hernandez! Big enough to carry all your favorite comics (although perhaps not quite large enough to hold Love and Rockets: The First Fifty: The Classic 40th Anniversary Collection) and it’s printed by hand right here in Seattle. Love and Rockets: still the greatest since 1982!
The Long List:
Social justice, “woke” culture, social media, gender dynamics, and insouciance intersect in this pandemic-inspired graphic novel about the repercussions of making mistakes.
A series of comic strips joined together by the theme of the author’s chosen profession — cartooning — reveals a funny and often poignant reflection on the human condition and the lives we choose to live.
Perverted, Insane, Degenerate, Brilliant. Artist Drew Friedman pays tribute to the great underground comix creators from Z (Zap) to A (Arcade).
Published in 1969, this Argentine graphic biography about Ernesto “Che” Guevara was an instant bestseller. Banned by a military dictatorship, and almost lost, it has never been available in English — until now.
A special companion to our New York Times best-selling classic reprint series, this collection features all the Ray Bradbury stories adapted by EC Comics (including the unauthorized ones!) for the first time in one volume.
A comprehensive chronicle of Comic-Con International and modern geekdom itself as told through countless intimate, hilarious, and often-thought provoking stories by nearly fifty of the most integral members of today’s convention and fandom community.
Award-winning French cartoonist/Disney animator Régis Loisel presents an amazing brand-new Mickey adventure — set in Mickey’s classic 1930s golden age!
In honor of the 75th anniversary of the Scrooge McDuck character: a Money Bin-sized collection of the greatest Scrooge epics by his creator, Disney Legend Carl Barks!
In the spirit of Calvin & Hobbes, Mutts, and Krazy Kat, Liniers (Ricardo Siri) uses a shifting cast of children, talking animals, imaginary monsters, sensitive robots, occasional elves, and anthropomorphized objects to perform gags, philosophize, muse on nature, and engage in surreal, artistic flights of fancy.