In my last lesson, we covered buying your first comics – everything from picking them out to finding out what it is you like.
This one will be a bit different.
Today, my dear students, we look at buying a comic for someone else.
When working in a comic book store, too often would a parent or girlfriend/boyfriend/other family member walk into the store and be like “My son/boyfriend/girlfriend/sibling/other relative is into comics and I want to get them something for their birthday next week.” The conversation would usually proceed along the lines of:
Me: “Well, what do they like?”
Them: “I don’t really know hey, like they’re into Batman but they also really like Spider-Man.”
Me: “OK, so does they collect Batman?”
Me: “Detective Comics Batman or just regular Batman?”
Me: “OK, so they collect Spider-Man?”
Me: “Which one?”
Them: “What do you mean?”
Me: “Spectacular Spider-Man? Scarlet Spider? Miles Morales? Amazing Spider-Man? Spider-Gwen? Spider-Girls? There is a bit of a list.”
Them, internal thought: ‘I should have just taken him to that movie he wanted to go to.’
You’d think this wouldn’t be a challenge if you knew what it is the person liked, but you’d be surprised, for there is another difficult question that needs asking; here is how that usually plays out.
Me: “OK, so they read Spectacular?”
Me: “Do you know which issues they have?”
This is where the solution comes in.
A comic book reader or collector is usually at least somewhat on the ball with their collection, but unless you’ve been digging through it yourself, you probably don’t know what they’re missing. The solution? An issue #1, a variant or a graphic novel.
“But Jonathan, what on earth is a graphic novel? I thought we were talking comics here, why you bringing up novels?”
Calm down Angela, I’ll get there, but first, issue #1s and variants.
Everyone loves an issue #1, and while they may sometimes be a bit difficult to track down, outside of a series that just started, they are almost always appreciated.
As for variants, unless the person you’re buying for is an absolute hardcore collector, you can safely bet that they don’t buy variants. I recently helped a friend buy a Secret Santa comic for another friend of mine. The friend that we were buying for loves Spider-Man, and Spider-Geddon is a currently running event with Spider-Man and a wide variety of other spider-characters in the lead. I knew he was probably reading it, but he isn’t a hardcore collector, so I also knew he didn’t have the variant cover. We got him a variant of Spider-Geddon #1 and he loved it.
“Now will you talk about those graphic novels? I don’t see what books have to do with this.”
Angela, take a break, have a KitKat (#notsponsored), or a Cheetos-and-Mountain-Dew-break, whatever.
Now, regardless of whether a person is a hardcore collector or not, graphic novels are often your safest bet. For one, buying someone a comic from a title they don’t read is like asking them to dedicate themselves to something. While some people don’t mind it, many readers feel bad for not buying a second or third issue from that title just because they didn’t like the first one. With a game at least they’ll play it for a few hours, but a comic book is a fifteen minute read (if even), and you’re supposed to be giving them something, A graphic novel is a full story arc (a story arc is six comics, and a graphic novel is a whole arc in one book) – they can read the whole story in one go and if they don’t really like it they’ll probably still add it to their shelf. Plus, you aren’t asking them to dedicate to something they may not actually want.
There are some graphic novels that I personally would recommend, any DC or Batman fan will appreciate The Killing Joke, The Long Halloween, Batman: Hush, Batman: A Death in the Family and Gotham by Gaslight, each of which are acclaimed by the community. If your person is eagerly anticipating next year’s WW84, The Legend of Wonder Woman: Origins by Renae de Liz, Wonder Woman: Year One or Wonder Woman: The Lies – The Lies or The Legend of Wonder Woman will easily fill the void in the meantime. The Lies is arguably some of the best writing we’ve ever seen in a Wonder Woman comic and each of the others are highly rated by myself and other fans alike. For fans of Wolverine, Old Man Logan, which I mentioned in Part 1, is THE ABSOLUTE BEST Wolverine comic ever. Wolverine: Madripoor Nights is also a very good read, a little old-school, but that is definitely not a bad thing; the story takes place during Logan’s pre-X-Men days, so it’s just him in all his glory. If these aren’t characters your target gift receiver is interested in, just ask the comic store employees about which stories might cater to their interests.
That about wraps that up (although you have to do the gift wrapping yourself, can’t help you there). Even if you don’t know exactly what your comic-geek friend/relative likes, chances are, you’ll walk out of the store with something they’ll really enjoy.
Stay tuned for Part 3, next time we’ll look specifically at collecting comics as an investment.