The past few years have been an amazing time for comics. So much so that there’s so much you can be getting your friends and family for the holidays this year, especially if they’re completely new to comics. Luckily, I have a few recommendations of where to start, both for newbies and passionate comic book fans.
Book Specific Recommendations
Comics for Lovers of Sword and Sorcery with Strong Women
- Princeless Vol. 1: Save Yourself, Vol. 2: Get Over Yourself, and Short Stories by Jeremy Whitley and various artists – Princeless is probably one of the most important comics I’ve read in the past year. Following a princess named Adrienne as she decides to rescue her sisters from tower imprisonment, the story is a fun adventure for all ages. Get caught up before the third volume The Pirate Princess debuts in January.
- Princess Ugg Vol. 1 by Ted Naifeh – If Princeless, the Lioness Quartet series by Tamora Pierce and Brave combined into one property, Princess Ugg would be it. Naifeh describes it as a barbarian princess attending Disney princess finishing school and he’s not wrong.
- Rat Queens Vol. 1: Sass and Sorcery by Kurtis J. Wiebe and Roc Upchurch – Oh Queens, my Queens! This series is definitely for your friend who’s D&D campaigns turn into a drunken mess more often than not. Following an all lady band of rough and tumble adventurers, this series is also a great example of lady friendships in comics. (Somewhat related for fellow fans, but it looks like we might be getting our new artist for Christmas too).
- Red Sonja Vol. 1: Queen of the Plagues and Vol. 2: The Art of Blood and Fire by Gail Simone – In the hands of most other writers, Red Sonja often gets turned into a sex symbol more than the fierce warrior that she is. In the hands of Gail Simone, the red devil herself is an uncompromising figure who might give the Rat Queens a run for their money in terms of alcohol consumption. Now if only I could get a print of Becky Cloonan’s cover for #5.
Comics for Lovers of SPAAAAAACE
- Saga: Deluxe Edition Vol. 1 by Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples – I don’t know what could be said about Saga that already hasn’t been said. If you have a fan of Star Wars in your life, shove this comic into their hands. Especially if it’s the new hardcover edition that collects the first three volumes with the gorgeous Fionna Staples cover that is also a huge middle finger to everyone who complained about Alanna breastfeeding on the cover of #1.
- Captain Marvel Vol. 1: Higher, Faster, Further, More by Kelly Sue Deconnick and David Lopez – What happens when Carol goes into space to be with the Guardians of the Galaxy for a while? Amazingness. Definitely a fun introduction to Captain Marvel in our post Guardians of the Galaxy world.
Comics for Teenage Girls
- Ms. Marvel Vol. 1: No Normal by G. Willow Wilson and Adrian Alphona – If you ever wondered what would happen if a superhero fangirl became an actual superhero, Ms. Marvel may be your answer. Focused on Kamala Khan of Jersey City, No Normal tells an origin story worthy of praise and love and reminds teenage girls of all types that they are capable of amazing things.
- Rocket Girl Vol. 1: Times Squared by Brandon Montclare and Amy Reeder – The most beautiful execution of a ridiculous concept I have ever read, Rocket Girl deserves to be read by all. ESPECIALLY teenage girls.
- The Amelia Cole Series by Adam P. Knave, DJ Kirkbride, and Nick Brokenshire – Maybe I’m biased because they were my first real interview, but Amelia Cole is a perfect companion for Harry Potter lovers. Based around the story of a young mage named Amelia Cole, the three arcs that are out now tell an awesome story of her learning how to adult while being a badass with magic and finding out more about her past.
- Young Avengers Omnibus by Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, and Matthew Wilson – Collected into one big book, the Young Avengers Omnibus features all 17 dimension hopping, totally not straight issues of Gillen and McKelvie’s run on the series. It’s the kind of superhero comic that I wish existed when I was a teen.
- Hawkeye Vol. 3: L.A. Woman by Matt Fraction and Annie Wu – Let’s be real, the entire Hawkeye comic by Matt Fraction has been a stellar ride and I both can’t wait and dread the last few issues. However, the L.A. Woman arc especially was a treat. Mixing Kate Bishop trying to find herself in Los Angeles with a noir mystery, this is a special Hawkeye story that might make the teenage girl in your life love Kate Bishop too.
Comics for Lovers of Kick-Ass Women Superheroes
- Captain Marvel Vol. 1: In Pursuit of Flight, Vol. 2: Down and Avengers: The Enemy Within by Kelly Sue Deconnick and various artists – If anyone wants to know why Captain Marvel is getting her own movie, give them these comics for the holidays.
- Batwoman: Elegy by Greg Rucka and JH Williams III – The DEFINITIVE Batwoman arc. Accept no substitutes. Gorgeous art. Stellar and powerful writing.
- Sailor Moon Box Set and Codename: Sailor V by Naoko Takeuchi – For many girls, the Sailor Senshi were the first real group of all women superheroes we had. Lucky for us, Kodansha republished and retranslated the manga a couple of years ago and translated the prequel series Codename: Sailor V for the first time ever. You can get the entire thing in box sets now.
Comics for Music Lovers
- Phonogram: Rue Britannia and The Singles Club by Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, and Matthew Wilson – Okay, yes, this category is only two writers, but for good reason. No one else manages to combine music and comics the same way Gillen and Way do. For Phonogram, it’s a story about music lovers and how it affects their lives…
- The Wicked + The Divine Vol. 1: The Faust Act by Kieron Gillen, Jamie McKelvie, and Matthew Wilson – …and for WicDiv, it’s what happens when you transition from the world of fandom to the world of making art. Gods are rockstars and we are their lowly worshippers.
- The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys by Gerard Way, Shaun Simon, and Becky Cloonan – Based on Danger Days, the final studio album by My Chemical Romance, Way closes the chapter by telling a story about the Girl who wandered the desert with The Killjoys along with a story about two robot lovers and a killer gone soft. It’s a moving story, especially if you were a fan of that album.
- The Umbrella Academy: The Apocalypse Suite and Dallas by Gerard Way and Gabriel Ba – I don’t know how to properly describe this book. It’s about superheroes, family, zombie Gustav Eiffel, and time travel to the Kennedy assassination. It’s brilliant and insane, just like Way himself.
Comics for Adventurers
- Shutter Vol. 1: Wanderlost by Joe Keatinge and Leila Del Luca – If Saga is the Image Comics answer to Star Wars, Shutter is the answer to Indiana Jones. Following former adventurer Kate Kristopher as she gets thrown back into the life with a million new secrets to uncover, Shutter is a fantastic new series and I can’t wait to read what happens next to Kate.
- Pretty Deadly: The Shrike by Kelly Sue Deconnick and Emma Rios – The best way I’ve described this series is, “Weird west by way of Neil Gaiman’s Sandman.” The haunting tale of Deathface Ginny and her hunt for revenge against her father was my first official introduction to the work of Kelly Sue Deconnick. If you have a fan of westerns in your life, definitely introduce them to this one.
- Lazarus: Book 1 by Greg Rucka and Michael Lark – If Game of Thrones is just a bit too medieval for your pals, throw this book their way. From 2/3rds of the same team that brought us Gotham Central (more on that in a bit), Lazarus takes the focus on families at war and shifts it to a post-apocalyptic society not too different than the one from The Hunger Games. It’s dark and kind of extremely messed up in some ways, but oh my god, is it good.
Comics for Sexual Adventurers
- Sex Criminals Vol. 1: One Weird Trick by Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky – There’s not much to say about Sex Criminals that hasn’t already been said by me. Just make it time to get your family on the Brimp Train. (Note: Do not literally do this.)
- Just The Tips by Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky – From the men who brought us sex positions like “The Candle in the Wind” and the “Crying Zdarsky” comes Just The Tips, a small, yet comprehensive guide on how to do sex right! So filthy it had to go to a second printer! Oh yeah, it’s going down like Peter McNeely this year for the holidays!
Comics for fans of Gotham
- Gotham Central, Book 1: In the Line of Duty by Greg Rucka, Ed Brubaker, and Michael Lark – Even though it’s not a beat for beat adaptation, Gotham owes a LOT to the award winning series by Rucka, Brubaker and Lark. Focused on the Gotham Central Police Department dealing with various members of the Rogues Gallery, the series gave us a more human look at the life of the police of Gotham. The republished books also collect the arc “Half a Life,” the famous arc where Renee Montoya is outed in the department.
Comics for fans of The Wolf Among Us
- Fables Deluxe Edition Vol. 1 by Bill Willingham and Mark Buckingham – Fables is one of those series that is a lot to jump into if you don’t have a proper introduction. However, if your friend has already played the prequel game The Wolf Among Us, I’d say they have a pretty damn good start. Start them on the deluxe edition that combines the first two story arcs and don’t tell them about “Storybook Love.” Not yet.
For Hardcore Comic Book Fans
Stuff for DC Readers
- Batman Fleece Robe from ThinkGeek – I am justice, I am the night, I… just got out of the shower! For the Batman fan in your life that likes to keep cozy (and maybe a little silly), this is the perfect gift. If they want something a little different, they also carry Harley Quinn and Wonder Woman robes.
- Wonder Woman Sleep Tank from Undergirl – Speaking of Wonder Woman, now you too can pull off your best Linda Carter impression with this caped sleep tank. Undergirl also carries tanks of the Robin, Batman, and Superman variety.
- LEGO Batman 3 – While not as epic as The LEGO Movie, the third installment in the LEGO Batman series does its best to get the series out of Gotham and put in some fan favorite DC characters in the mix. And also Kevin Smith for some reason. Hey, your guess is as good as mine.
Stuff for Marvel Readers
- Nearly anything from WeLoveFine – Seriously, whoever set up the deal with Marvel and WeLoveFine is a genius. While not every hero in the Marvel universe is covered, there’s a lot there for ones you may not usually find at Hot Topic. If you have a member of the Carol Corps and Team Hawkguy in your life, be sure to check out the curated collections from Kelly Sue Deconnick and Matt Fraction. There’s lots of good stuff in there and their entire curation commission goes to Girls’ Leadership Institute and Futures Without Violence respectively.
- Tickets to Marvel Universe Live – Yeah, it’s mostly meant for kids, but THE MOVIE AVENGERS AREN’T THE ONLY CAST MEMBERS AHHHHH. (Yeah, guess who wants to see this mostly to geek out about Carol Danvers?)
- Marvel Universe Encyclopedia – In collaboration with Marvel for the 75th anniversary, DK released a new and expanded encyclopedia of the Marvel Universe this year. So if you want to make that one Onion article to come true, now is your chance.
- FUNKO Pop! Dancing Groot – BYO ‘I Want You Back’ (or whatever you want Groot to dance to).
Stuff for Indie Readers
- Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab – While the independent perfumery doesn’t make exclusively comic themed perfumes, they do have extensive collections based on Boom! Studios, Pretty Deadly (the Big Alice scent is divine, btw), Kabuki, Hellboy, and Witchblade, among others.
- Optimystical Studios – Along with their fan made DC and Marvel collection of jewelry, Optimystical features an extensive Indie collection that features characters from Saga, Hopeless Savages, Stumptown and Sex Criminals, among others.
And failing all else, a Comixology eGift Card never hurts.