Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Holiday Gift Guide Part 2: Graphic Novels & HCs

Parker - Martini Edition HC

By Darwyn Cooke, IDW Publishing, 308 pages, $75.00

What would be one of the best books to get a comic book lover this Christmas (or crime lover, or film noir lover)? This book! If it's not under the Christmas tree for me this year, I will be sorely disappointed.
This oversized hardcover book collects the first two Parker graphic novels: "The Hunter" and "The Outfit", along with an additional 65-pages of content AND a brand new 8-page story by Cooke. Other extras include an art gallery section and bonus material by the likes of Ed Brubaker and Abbey Westlake (Donald Westlake's wife). It looks gorgeous too,  packaged in a slipcase edition!

If you haven't read them, the Cooke Parker books are very faithful adaptations of Richard Stark's (aka Richard Westlake) books, but they also work perfectly in and of themselves. You don't need to have read a Stark book or know anything about the Parker character (played by Lee Marvin in Point Blank and also Mel Gibson in Payback), before picking this up.

Cooke one of the modern masters working in comics right now. I'd put him right up there with Mike Mignola and Jaime Hernandez, and I think this is his best work. It's that good.
Check his work from the Hunter here.

Now don't delay, go out and buy this book for your favourite comic lover today!


By Rebecca Kraatz, Conundrum Press, 138 pages, $15.00

I picked up this book at TCAF (Toronto Comic Arts Festival) in the Spring. It was the release I was most looking forward to at the whole show - and that's really saying something, since the whole space at TCAF buzzes with energy, creativity and talent. Apprently I wasn't the only one, as Andy Brown from Conundrum Press said it the book his best seller at the show.

Her previous graphic novel - House of Sugar was so good that Hope Larson had to start a publishing company just to print it. It remains the only title that Tulip Tree Press ever put out. It won Kraatz the Doug Wright Award for Best Emerging Talent in 2007. The book remains one of my favourites - and Snaps is even better I'd say.

This book is a series of short stories - some connected some not. All the stories were inspired by 1940s photos that Kraatz has collected (mostly from flea markets). The photos gave her ideas for the stories and images.

Kraatz is also a visual artist in addition to being a cartoonist, and does a lot of her work as woodburns. This technique translates to pen and ink really well, giving a woodcut kind of look.
Snaps had stayed on my night table since the Spring, which is where my favourite books end up staying as I tend to look at them over and over again. It has a wonderful, ethereal quality to it, and it stays with you for quite some time.

The stories pack quite an emotional punch. I've lent this book to a couple of friends and the response tends to be "I never knew a book could be like that".
My only complaint of the book is that the cover isn't nearly as strong as the contents. I wouldn't want people to overlook it on the shelves because it is really subtle and doesn't jump out at you.

Don't judge the book by its cover though, pick it up today!

Hark A Vagrant

By Kate Beaton, Drawn & Quarterly, 160 pages, $19.95

What can I say about 2009 Doug Wright Best Emerging Talent winner Kate Beaton and her "Hark a Vagrant" comics that hasn't already been said?

Her comics (about mostly Canadian history) are witty, charming and hilarious! This NYT best-seller is a compilation of some of her best webcomics. This is a great gift for almost everyone you know - they don't need to like comics to enjoy it either. 

I want to add something that most people don't comment on - her cartooning skills. Don't let her style fool you - though the comics may look like they've been dashed off, Beaton has been getting more and more polished. It's very hard to do what she's doing and depict characters and situations with just a few lines. I'd say she's approaching Quentin Blake style, and she's only going to get better!

Over the past few years, Beaton has built up an ardent and loyal fan base who have quickly turned this online sensation into a best-selling book. See what all the fuss is about and pick it up today.
You can also check out the webcomic here.

Two Generals

By Scott Chantler, McLelland & Stewart, 152 pages, $19.95

Full disclosure: I'm a good friend of Scott Chantler's and I've watched him work on this book for years now. You know what though? It's been worth the wait as it's the best thing he's done to date.

Two Generals tells a story near and dear to Scott's heart about his grandfather - Law Chantler's experiences in the Highland Light Infantry of Canada, along with his best friend, Jack, a fellow officer, during WWII.

As mentioned, this book was a real labour of love for Scott and involved his going back through family history, his grandfather's diary and photos and a huge amount of research. In fact he's devoted a whole website to outlining his research process for the book here

Scott's toured the county speaking about this book at different book festivals and has picked up a boatload of awards nominations to boot: White Pine Award, Eisner Award, Joe Shuster Award.

This book would make a great gift for history lovers and graphic novel lovers. If you can, try to pick up the hardcover version that looks like a leather bound diary. It's gorgeous!

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