By Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)
Counting down the twelve days to Christmas is easy. Deciding on what to read on each day is tougher. In what I present is a list of what I’m excited about getting under the tree–should Santa be reading. This catalog is varied, as I have a lot of interests and a few are upgrades from the digital copy I have already.
I also have a few seasonal bits to get me into the spirit of the holiday, and the rest are not just for encyclopaedic reference.
Most are are available to order on Amazon USA for those interested in obtaining for the fussy nerd on their gift giving list. Disclaimer: sales made through the links provided go into maintaining this blog.
Harvey Kurtzman’s Marley’s Ghost
This Eisner Award winner of 2018 is simply described as holiday magic, according to New York Magazine, and I’m inclined to agree. It’s a posthumous completion of legendary creator Harvey Kurtzman’s adaptation of the classic Charles Dickens’ novel. The idea took more than a half century to realise, and the reason is perhaps lost to time. The reason why this work matters is that this creator of MAD Magazine is considered one of the most influential creators of the sequential art format, and no list can be complete without some work referencing this seminal classic for the season. Plus, it appeases the paranormal enthusiast in me!
Kamen Rider: The Classic Manga Collection
Any lover of the the tokusatsu genre will want to add this motorcycle-riding superhero to their shelves and enjoy how he roars to life! This series spanned across many television series and films. There’s far too many iterations to list, but for the epiomous bug eyed hero that’s spawned a tonne of merchandise since its inception in 1971, what’s not to love?
The book celebrates 50 years of this franchise (which was technically last year) because it’s the first hardcover of its kind presented in English.
Lost in Space Ultimate Collection
This volume begins easily enough, looking at the days prior to the Robinsons (Netflix era) getting aboard the Jupiter-six and getting Lost in Space. After dealing with a few mishaps along the way, this graphic novel builds to a story that brings the original cast from the Irwin Allen classic to the fore.
“When Worlds Collide Parts One and Two” are the chapters to pay attention to. This tale by Richard Dinnick (Doctor Who) and Brian Buccellato (Batman: Detective Comics, The Flash) takes its time to build the momentum of the meeting of two parallel worlds. What makes this book a must is because of the spectacular art by Zid (GVK: Kingdom Kong), Steve Stanley (Lost in Space: the Lost Adventures), and El Garing (Dracula). They bring the likenesses of the performers to glorious painted life, and it’s tough not to marvel at the effort put in to bridge the gap between fans of both versions.
Taken from Monkey Punch’s Lupin III and New Lupin III, these stories have been fully retranslated and are collected in one volume for the first time. Anyone who’ve followed this master thief throughout the decades Monkey Punch has been drawing it will find owning this collection a must.
It contains all the manga stories published in Japan as a tribute after his passing in 2019.
The Toys of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe
Dark Horse Comics
Officially licensed by Mattel, this stunning guide is a visual celebration of Masters of the Universe’s enduring legacy, including artworks, sketches, posters and merchandise from the official archives. Just when people thought Dark Horse’s previous voluminous collections weren’t enough, I suspect this book will be that icing on the cake to complete every He-Man fan’s shelf.
Masters of the Universe: Revelation TPB
Dark Horse Comics
In this mini-review of the finale of the Netflix series and the comic books released concurrently, Kevin Smith shows why he has the power. We learn about what drives Evil-Lyn, and having this knowledge is vital to understanding why she acted out in the series. We also get more of a fleshed out version of Skeletor too. I feel it is essential reading in order to appreciate the Netflix show more.
Although the timing of this trade paperback is months after the broadcast premiere, that’s only because the single issue releases just finished last month just prior to part two being released.
Pete Von Sholly’s History of Monsters
Pete Von Sholly is best known for having done a lot of work behind the scenes than in front of. He’s a storyboard artist who loves monsters, and he’s storyboarded many well known movies like The Mask and The Green Mile. The list is too long. When he’s not working on a film, he may well be on another comic book project. In his magnum opus, he presents a history of where the most famous beasts have come from, and why they are part of the lexicon of pop culture today. It’s a bold look from the perspective of a man who made a career out of loving the beast within.
Xavier Dollo’s The History of Science Fiction
To know this genre means making a lifelong study. Thankfully, author/historian Xavier Dollo has done that job and what he presents is an ideal read to recall the past, look at the present and consider the future of where this subject can go. Artist Djibril Morissette-Phan (All-New Wolverine, X-Men: Gold, Star-Lord) manages to include every cultural icon known in era that this work covers.
Jules Verne is one of the early masters, but we must note how Mary Shelley contributed. But was her work a product of pure horror or invention? It’s tough to say. We are presented with a boat load of information. It’s not an easy read for a weekend, and nor did I find flipping through a digital preview appropriate given the amount of info and detailing put into this work. I can spend months appreciating every detail put into this analysis, and decided owning a physical hard copy a must.
Lady Baltimore: The Witch Queens and Tales from the Outerverse Hardcover Edition
Dark Horse Comics
Technically, these two releases have to be lumped into one entry and together, they form a comprehensive tale about the Hexenkorps attempted takeover of Europe. I’ve reviewed them in the past year and just knew a compilation was inevitable. As finished tales, we have a better picture of what’s happening concurrently. As for what the reading order is, I’d do Lady Baltimore first, and Outerverse second.
Dark Horse Comics
Technically, this one-shot won’t be available until after the holidays, and I suspect the wait will be worth it as its rare to have a comic book about Winter Solstice than Christmas. From the Press Release, “On the night of winter solstice, the world was caught by surprise as every black person suddenly has superpowers for a day. As 2021 approaches, everyone anxiously awaits whether their superpowers will come back. Meanwhile, a group of siblings have conceived the ultimate plan to use their powers-which they’re sure will come back-for the greater good even as everyone else tries to stop them.”
Robotech Visual Archive: Macross, Southern Cross, Mospeada
No fan of Robotech will find Starblaze Editions Art of books enough to sate their appetite for this North American cartoon. More art exists here than essays. And for those fans who grew up watching this cartoon, it’s a must in any bookshelf collection.
This series of books may well make a dent in the gift-givers wallet but the look of joy from the recepient will be worth it.
Yummy A History of Deserts
Random House Classic
This illustrated look at the history of sweets is sure to have many readers smacking their lips and wishing they had honey flavoured ice cream or cake nearby. Not everyone knows the complete history of every confectionery, and what this book offers is comprehensive. What I’ve learned is enough to try recreating the sweet from scratch. After mastering the basics, it’s easy to vary things up so a new taste can be created.