Holiday Gift Guide 2014: Some Illustrated Reads For Almost All Your Needs!

IDW Mad Artist's Edition Variant Cover 

gift_guide_2014I should have done this post sooner, but I was busy catching up on a lot of reading. Ha and ha. Anyway, books galore came this way (most of them digital) and I still have a huge backlog of stuff to read into 2015 thanks to the crunch of reads of too many types. In case you’re stumped for a last minute gift idea or just want to know what I read when I’m not writing or reading about stuff to write about (it’s a damn vicious cycle, friends), here are a few titles you might want to sample in this somewhat hastily prepared guide…

The 100 Greatest Console Video Games of All Time 1977-1987The 100 Greatest Console Video Games 1977-1987 (Brett Weiss, Schiffer Publishing, $34.99 MSRP): You don’t need to be a gamer to appreciate this excellent and informative book. With a few great books on the hobby already under his belt, author Brett Weiss certainly knows his stuff about videogames. Each of the detailed reviews here is well written and shows someone who truly loves the medium and can relay that to readers.

You may not walk away wanting to buy an old TV and an Atari 2600 or an Intellivision after reading through this one. But you’ll definitely have an appreciation for the hard work that went into these early gems where limited memory and time still made for some outstanding entertainment which still holds up today in terms of replay value. Hmmm. Perhaps you SHOULD buy an old TV and a few classic consoles after all?

For classic gaming fans, the book is a must and will certainly spur debate as to which titles were chosen over those that didn’t make the cut. Weiss has wisely thought of that, including a long listing of close, but no cigar games that should make some of that nostalgic crowd happier. Hey, some of my favorites made his book and some didn’t. But that’s the great thing about games of that era. Every game in Weiss’ book is one that’s pretty much guaranteed to be an absolute classic as well as a total blast to play.


DHC Creepy Archives 20 HC DHC Eerie Archives 16 HC DHC Crime Does Not Pay Archive 8 DHC Forbidden Worlds Archive 3 HC

Dark Horse Comics Archive Hardcovers (Various writers/artists, up to $49.99 MSRP)

Okay, I’m showing my age here, but hey, so it goes (*creak*, *groan!*). Dark Horse Comics has been putting out these packed to the gills hardcover reprint books forma few years now and that’s a good thing for fans of these old books who want to collect but don’t want to pay collector’s prices for original magazines. Collections of Creepy, Eerie, Crime Does Not Pay and Forbidden Worlds come recommended if you want to see what “junk” some of us read back in the day. Dark Horse also publishes tons of other books in print as well as digital form, so feel free to poke around their site for everything from licensed comics, stunning videogame art books to amazing fan service works such as the upcoming massive The Art of He-Man and the Masters of the Universe limited edition (just announced earlier today).


IDW Jack Kirby New Gods Artist’s Edition HC IDW Jim Steranko’s Nick Fury Agent of SHIELD Artist’s Edition HC IDW Basil Wolverton's Weird Worlds Artist's Edition HC IDW Joe Kubert Enemy Ace Artist’s Edition HC John Buscema’s Silver Surfer Artist’s Edition HC Walter Simonson’s Manhunter and Other Stories Artist’s Edition IDW Best of EC Vol. 1 Artist Edition Limited Edition Signed Numbered Variant IDW Will Eisner’s The Spirit Artist’s Edition

IDW Artists Editions (Various writers/artists, prices vary): If you want more to your comics reading enjoyment, IDW Publishing’s many Artists’ Editions will do you up right and then some. Each oversize volume is the same size as the original art and pages are scanned in color so you see every line, flaw and corrected element on every page. These expensive books are well worth it for budding illustrators to see how their favorite artists composed pages, inked penciled art and how much effort it took to get out some classic to recent comics.  Seeing full-size art from the likes of Jack Kirby, Will Eisner, Basil Wolverton, Walt Simonson, John Buscema, Jim Steranko, Joe Kubert and others is certainly an education, particularly for anyone wanting to get into the field.

Of course, one shouldn’t learn to draw comics from comics, but in terms of sheer art appreciation, the only way to get even more influenced is to pay an arm and a leg for the original artwork.

To Live Forever CoverAs for actual “book” books, I did a ton of scanning of assorted tomes friends tossed my way, but I only read through a handful of books from start to finish. One of the better ones was Andra Watkins’ memorable To Live Forever: And Afterlife Journal of Meriwether Lewis, which combines history, biography, mystery and more in a nifty tale of a long walk through time and a little girl with a ghostly companion and an evil spirit on both their tails.

It’s also in writing the book that got Watkins inspired to walk the Natchez Trace all alone and document the trek on her blog in a series of posts where you can feel every blister and bruise she got (among other things). I think there’s a book coming out of that trip at some point in the near future, but can you believe I’ve been too darn busy to even ask the lady? Yikes. Hmmm, well… let me end here and post, as I’m a bit behind in pretty much everything thanks to this long kitchen reconstruction that’s been driving me slowly mad each day it goes on with nothing getting done. Go buy and read some of this stuff and more so I can at least be a tiny bit less stressed!

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