I wanted to do a helpful gift guide of my comic/graphic novel and book recommendations for 2013, buuuut I don’t have time. So here is the quick and dirty version! Below are all the comics and books I read this year (some not necessarily published this year) that I really enjoyed and I feel are worth purchasing and perhaps giving as a gift, either to friends, family or yourself. I tried to link to publisher websites when possible, but you can also find pretty much everything on this list on Amazon.
I try to give a graphic novel to most of my family members every Christmas, something they will hopefully enjoy and maybe will broaden their reading horizons a bit. Last year I gave my mom Aya, which she absolutely loved.
Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind: Hayao Miyazaki’s manga is even better than the movie (with a stunning conclusion), and available in a handy two volume set.
20th & 21st Century Boys by Naoki Urasawa: For the first and possibly last time (the way the US manga market is), Naoki Urasawa’s meditation on the failure of the future to deliver its promises is in print. Get it now or never! Urasawa is anti-digital and it’s unlikely the series will be published in another format. Although who knows? Next year brings the re-release of his serial killer series, Monster.
RASL by Jeff Smith: Jeff Smith is a comic god, and RASL is fantastic in a coloured single volume.
A Bride’s Story by Kaoru Mori: gentle (and occasionally weird/hilarious) slice of life comic with insanely detailed artwork about the Silk Road. Guaranteed to make you feel bad about your art skills.
Prince of Cats by Ron Wimberly: Shakespeare meets hip hop, a gorgeously drawn book. This is what kids should be reading in high school.
Avatar: The Last Airbender: The Search/The Promise: amazing follow up comics to my favourite animated show. Gurihuru and my bro Gene Yang knock it out of the park.
Bad Machinery: The Case of Team Spirit: why aren’t I British? I had a British internal monologue for weeks after reading this book, it is so amazing.
Superman: Secret Identity: Kurt Busick & Stuart Immonen make a Superman book, why aren’t you reading this RIGHT NOW?
Saturn Apartments by Hisae Iwaoka: a slow paced character-driven sci-fi story with great payoff. Great social commentary, too. 7 volumes.
Battling Boy by Paul Pope: Don’t make us wait another 5 years for the sequel, Paul Pope, don’t be that cruel. :(
Fullmetal Alchemist volumes 1-27 by Hiromu Arakawa: I re-read FMA again this year (probably my 5th time) and it remains a spectacular series. Read it, I cannot recommend it enough. The FMA: Brotherhood anime is super weaksauce compared to the manga. Read the comic it’s so much better. (Also the 3-in-1 editions are super cheap.)
Vinland Saga by Makoto Yukimura: gritty, moving, occasionally hilarious comic about vikings. So happy to have a new adult manga to follow since the wrap-up of 20th Century Boys.
Bad Houses by Carla Speed McNeil & Sara Ryan: There’s a lack of good contemporary young adult comics being published, this book fills that niche. More like it, please.
Boxers & Saints by Gene Yang: a brilliant comic, well written, well drawn.
Books Without Drawings:
Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein: The story of an incredible friendship between two World War II fighter pilots. PS: they’re women, and this book is amazing.
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn: The movie’s probably gonna suck, but the book is amazing. Twisty who-is-the-real-psychopath murder mystery.
The Assassin’s Curse/The Pirate’s Wish by Cassandra Rose Clarke: super enjoyable magical adventures set in a Middle East-inspired fantasy world, starring my favourite grumpy pirate girl, Ananna.
Fangirl/Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell: The best fucking books I have read all year. I bawled my freaking eyes out during several parts in BOTH books.
Going Clear: Scientology, Hollywood and the Prison of Belief by Lawrence Wright: Fascinating, balls out nonfiction expose of a very successful, very problematic religion.
Happy reading, guys!
Edited for a shameless promo: I had four (!!!) graphic novels published this year, and it would be fantastic if readers considering them for gifts as well. Here they are:
Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong (with Prudence Shen): For the lover of robot fights and frentic physical comedy.
The Adventures of Superhero Girl: For those who love superheroes but think there should be more hilarious failure in the genre.
Bigfoot Boy (with J. Torres) volumes 1 & 2: For young readers who like to imagine the forest is full of magic.
The Last of Us: American Dreams: For those that loved the game, and want to know more about Ellie.