Holiday Gift Guide: Deluxe & Limited Edition Comics And Art Books
If you’re like some of the ComicsAlliance staff, you’re a fetishist for expensive hardcover books that are available only in absurdly limited numbers and packaged in exquisite slipcases and loaded with supplemental material and artwork. With the gift-giving season rapidly winding down, people like us are looking for those last-minute gifts that are so expensive and so impressively large that they could never actually seem like you totally forgot to get your shopping (or blogging) done in a timely and responsible manner. The best sort of gift along those lines is of course the deluxe edition comic or art book, and I’ve put together a list of some great ones that you can still find at your local comics stores and online booksellers before the clock runs out on the season.
NOTE ON PRICES: We have included the list prices for each item. Because of holiday sales, you will very likely find discounts at your local comics shops, Amazon and elsewhere.
List price: Usually $99 per book
A perennial holiday favorite: comic book perennials! Few comic book packages match the luxury of DC’s famous Absolute Editions, which reprint beloved stories in a pristine, oversized format with thick, heavy paper and a handsome slipcase. The holidays is the best time to buy these books for your friends and loved ones or put them on your own wish lists, as most booksellers will offer the high-priced volumes (usually $99 per book) at a seasonal discount. The selection is far beyond what’s reflected in the images above, of course.
List prices: $125 - $495
IDW collects the original work of Judge Dredd creators in the most auspicious format imaginable. This is available in three variations (click the link to learn all the details). but some of the features include a custom-designed slipcase, mounted signature page signed by Carlos Ezquerra and John Wagner, hardcover portfolio containing twelve exclusive lithographs, cover in metallic ink, vellum overlay of the title page, brand new endpages designed to mirror the style of the slipcase and portfolio, is stamped with the IDW Limited Red Foil Imprint, and a red satin ribbon bookmark.
List price: Varies
There’s no better way to read the most essential Marvel comics titles than in the publisher’s high quality omnibus editions, reprinting a vast variety of stories from the Silver Age to the present. The majority of Ed Brubaker’s lauded and bestselling Captain America run is available in this oversized hardcover format, as is Walt Simonson’s legendary work on Thor. But in addition to those high profile books, Marvel also reprints fan-favorite titles like The Immortal Iron Fist and X-Statix in this extremely cool way. Marvel’s vast collection of omnibus volumes are the best way to introduce someone to a series or character they’ve never read before, so check out what’s available.
List price: $100-$150
When it comes to prestige, nothing beats the astonishing Artist’s Edition series from IDW Publishing. Each contains a complete story by one of comics' most beloved masters, and is made from high resolution scans of the artist’s original artwork -- including blue lines, hand-written notes and other artifacts unique to the actual page the artist worked on. Naturally, each volume is reproduced at the same size of the original artwork.
List price: $34.99 - $49.95
Take it from me, you haven’t read Hellboy until you’ve read it in the Library edition format. The cloth hardcover invokes the feeling some kind of ancient tome, and the crisp, oversized pages bring Mignola and his collaborators’ always brilliant work to life in a way single issues and trade paperbacks just can’t. Recommended for reading by candlelight in a study full of books and trophies from your adventures.
List price: $72 (box set), $24.99 (color), $100 (Evil Editions)
While it seems unlikely that ComicsAlliance readers haven’t collected all six volumes of Bryan Lee O’Malley’s indie comics opus, we wouldn’t want you to forget what a handsome gift Oni Press’ boxset makes for any friends and loved ones you’d like to introduce to comics. It’s hard to imagine a friendlier welcome to the medium than Scott Pilgrim, especially now that Nathan Fairbairn has been colorizing them in new hardcover volumes — also available in limited “Evil Editions” with loads of exclusives for each volume, such as the one seen below (look around for these, they sell out quick but can be picked up used).
List price: $39.95 / $59.95 (Limited Edition)
Available from: Steve Rude Store
A must-have for fans of ComicsAlliance’s Best Art Ever (This Week) feature, Artist in Motion features 200 pages of impossibly gorgeous artwork by the co-creator of Nexus. The book demonstrates Rude’s unmatched abilities and exquisite techniques in various media (including animation) and offers more than enough pretty pictures to justify the purchase, but Artist In Motion also comes with extremely personal insights into Rude’s life, shedding light on why the artist has found himself at the fringes of the comic book industry.
List price: $75.00
This luxurious 9″ x 13″, 334-page slipcased hardcover exceeds the size of even DC’s mighty Absolute editions, but mimics the gorgeous production techniques of the 1960s, where the story/contents/book is set. Besides Parker: The Outfit and Parker: The Hunter — two of my all-time favorite graphic novels, I should add — the Martini Edition comes with a massive assortment of supplementary artwork by Darwyn Cooke and a brand new eight-page story about Richard Stark’s legendary score-settler.
List price: $175
Over 1000 cartoons drawn by the master of the macabre in one incredible, beautifully designed 3-volume slipcased hardcover set, with an exclusive letterpress print, facsimiles of Gahan's holiday cards to Hugh Hefner, die cuts, embossing, and a plexiglass window in the slipcase, and introductions by Neil Gaiman (read it here) and Hugh Hefner.
List Price: $84.99
Available from: Fantagraphics store
This indie comics mainstay has been going for nearly 30 years, making Love and Rockets as intimidating to some new readers as even the densest superhero mythologies. Luckily, Fantagraphics has made the Los Bros Hernandez saga about a massive cast of startlingly lifelike characters digestible in the form of affordable reprint volumes published in chronological order. I can tell you from personal experience that even one of these books makes a fantastic present, but to give the gift of the complete Love and Rockets is to provide your friend or loved one with a reading experience richer than virtually any other. You can buy the individual volumes from Amazon or comics shops, but this convenient set is available exclusively from Fantagraphics.
List rice: $40.00
But what do you get for the seasoned Love and Rockets reader? Abrams Comics Art’s The Art of Jaime Hernandez is a fantastic gift. Often available for far less than the list price, this book details for art lovers just how Hernandez created the images and stories that have enthralled readers and his fellow cartoonists for 30 years.
List price: Varies
Jim Lee, Alex Ross, Brian Bolland, Adam Hughes, James Jean, JG Jones and Dave McKean are among the artists whose DC Comics/Vertigo catalogues have proven so popular and manifestly lovely that the publisher has seen fit to offer them up in these high quality hardcovers. Each features insightful commentary from the artists alongside unobstructed reproductions of some of their most famous and not-so-famous DC work. These books make great gifts for the superhero or Vertigo reader who wishes to delve much more deeply into the world of illustration.
List price: $325
Short of an actual transforming vehicle, it's difficult to imagine a bigger and more expensive gift for the Transformers fan than these collections of the IDW comic books. Available in several variations but limited to as few as TEN COPIES, some of the features include custom-designed tray case printed in silver metallic ink, original hand-drawn artwork, mounted signature page signed by five Transformers creators including Su, Musso, Matere, Furman and Guidi, exclusive-to-IDW Limited cover in silver metallic ink, vellum overlay of the title page, and brand-new endpages designed to mirror the style of the slipcase and portfolio.
List price: $49.99
For the last decade, Joe Quesada has guided Marvel and its characters back to prominence as the publisher's Editor-in-Chief and later Chief Creative Officer, but before his time as an executive he was simply, purely a comic book artist. Obviously dedicated to his work at Marvel, this book, which features commentary by Quesada, documents the kind of vision that helped redefine one of America's most storied comic book houses.
Price: $28.95 per book, $49.99 per slipcase set
Charlie Brown and the Peanuts gang are often associated with the holiday season (also with Halloween, and that counts), so there’s no better time to give to yourself or your loved ones one or all of Fantagraphics’ hardcover collections of Charles Schulz’s beloved cartoon strip. Reprinted in chronological order with the highest production values, any one of these books would make an auspicious addition to any bookshelf.
List price: Varies
While known primarily for its robust line of licensed series and growing slate of originals, Dynamite Entertainment has quietly been releasing a series of very fine comic book art books. The Art of Howard Chaykin serves as much as a page-turner of a biography as it does a showcase of the legendary creator’s innovative work. The Alex Ross book presents an eoeuvre of pulp adventurers and forgotten relics of the Golden Age of comics that will be entirely new to anyone whose Ross appreciation is limited to his DC and Marvel work. And the Sean Phillips book goes deep into the career of one of contemporary masters.
List prices: Varies
Arguably among mainstream comics’ most acclaimed duos, Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips have collaborated on hit after hit including Sleeper, Criminal, Incognito, Fatale and, back in print for the first time since (I think) the 1990s, Scene of the Crime (with Michael Lark). Helpfully, most of their work together has been collected in especially handsome volumes that make fantastic gifts for the longtime fan or new reader who wishes to get lost in the immersive worlds of these most gifted comic book creators.
List price: $95.00
Available: Fantagraphics store
Hailed by some of the greatest cartoonist of the century, George Herriman's work has been compiled ever so lovingly by the good people at Fantagraphics into a series of volumes that any comics devotee would be proud to have on his or her shelf. Spotlighted here is Krazy & Ignatz: The Complete Sunday Strips 1916-1924, a limited edition hardcover, covering the first nine years of Herriman's newspaper strip. Numerous other editions are available from the Fantagraphics store.
List price: $350
Believe it or not, some of the most exclusive and expensive items in our deluxe edition gift guide are My Little Pony comics from IDW Limited. Any publisher would be proud to offer an object as precious as the variations of this package, which include original sketch plates and sketch cards, custom-designed tray case, hardcover portfolio and exclusive cover all themed around Pinkie Pie, mounted signature page signed by Katie Cook & Andy Price, Rainbow Dash lithograph featuring artwork by Eisner Nominee Sara Richard, and other variations depending upon which one you get. For fans of My Little Pony, there could be no grander gift.
As far as I’m concerned, Tumblr proved its worth by providing fans of Italian master Milo Manara with an outlet to share images from his many beautiful works, precisely none of which I had read until a couple of years ago. These ongoing hardcover volumes from Dark Horse, collecting some of Manara’s most famous work like Indian Summer as well as his erotica comics, would make fantastic gifts for anyone who’s a fan of excellent comic book artwork from abroad. For more on this set, check out this very special episode of Let’s Be Friends Again starring former CA contributors David Brothers and David Uzumeri.
List prices: Varies
The many creator-owned series from Vertigo offer a special gift-giving possibility: a complete, finite series from beginning to end. Lauded titles such as 100 Bullets, Preacher, Y: The Last Man and Fables (which is ongoing) are available in this slightly oversized and high quality format, which reprints two or three trade paperbacks’ worth of material in each volume.
List prices: $175 (hardcover), $100 (softcover)
One of the best and most popular newspaper comic strips of all time, Bill Watterson’s Calvin and Hobbes is honored in this uncommonly elegant set from Andrews McMeel. Three hardcover books coming in at nearly 1500 pages — comprising every Calvin and Hobbes strip that was ever syndicated — makes for a holiday gift that won’t be soon forgotten, if only because it will take until next year to finish reading it. Now available in a less expensive paperback edition.
List price: $29.95
Available: Comic book shops, Amazon
One of this year's most acclaimed collections of classic work, The Passion of Gengoroh Tagame compiles ten English editions of short stories dating from the late 1990s to 2012, including an original story commissioned by comic book historian and graphic designer Chip Kidd. A legend in underground comics and gay comics in particular, Tagame's work is violent, visceral and provocative, and makes a fine gift for the discerning fan of erotic comics.
List price: $125 - $450
This is almost getting silly now, IDW. But here you've got the full run of the original Real American Hero, Special Missions, and Yearbook tales in a massive hardcover. Available in several variations (click link for details), some of the features include custom-designed slipcase, mounted signature page signed by Larry Hama & Herb Trimpe, exclusive canvas cover only available through this IDW Limited release, vellum title-page overlay, new end pages, stamped with the IDW Limited red foil Imprint, and a red satin ribbon bookmark.
List price: $60
Studio Ghibli founder Hayao Miyazaki’s breathtaking manga offers even more epic story and artwork than his classic animated film, and it’s finally available in a beautiful box set from Viz. This collection has been in demand for so long that now that it’s finally here, we can be sure it’ll go out of print before you can say “Teto.” Seriously, you want this.
List prices: Varies
If you didn’t know, DC Comics has for the last several years been diligently remastering and reprinting virtually all of Jack Kirby’s classic work for the company, including a chronological presentation of the lauded Fourth World saga in four volumes. The DC collection of Kirby omnibuses celebrates a particularly equitable period of the artist’s comics career, when he worked on more favorable terms with his publisher, resulting in some of the greatest ever superhero and adventure comics ever made.
List price: Varies
Available from: Brand Studio Press
Phil Noto, Humberto Ramos, Bill Pressing, J. Scott Campbell, Terry Dodson, Shane Glines, Mark Brooks, Frank Cho, Pascal Campion, Brandon Peterson, Robert Valley, Darwyn Cooke and Arthur Adams are just some of the artists who’ve produced art books through Alberto Ruiz’s Brand Studio Press. Anyone who enjoys our Best Art Ever (This Week) feature owes it to themselves to inspect the Brand Studio collection, where you’ll likely find several potential gifts for your aesthetically-minded friends.
List price: Varies
Available from: Essential Sequential
Tim Sale, Eric Canete, Paolo Rivera, Andrew Robinson, Dan Panosian and Mindy Lee are among the artists who’ve produced art books through Essential Sequential, the outfit which also represents and sells artwork and wares from Mark Chiarello, Dave Johnson, and Matteo Scalera, among others. Anyone who enjoys our Best Art Ever (This Week) feature owes it to themselves to inspect the Essential Sequential collection, where you’ll likely find several potential gifts for your aesthetically-minded friends.
List prices: Varies
From the classic collaborations of Moebius and Jodorowsky to the sexy fantasy worlds of Terry Dodson and all sorts of crazy eurocomics you've never even heard of in-between, it's tough to beat Humanoids for deluxe presentation. With some books measuring as large as 12"x16", the French publisher's catalog celebrates its typically gorgeous comics by making them beautiful objects in their own rights.
List price: $49.99
This is an item from my actual wishlist, a massive and particularly lovely looking edition of Fear Agent, the highly regarded sci-fi/action/adventure series created by Rick Remender, Tony Moore and Jerome Opeña years before they were Marvel Comics headliners. This massive 12.4" x 8.3" volume collects fifteen issues of the series along with supplemental shorts, pin-ups and behind-the-scenes material, and I can’t wait to read it.
List price: $24.99 per book
Available from: Your local comics store, Amazon
With Warner Bros’. ominous AKIRA adaptation seemingly lost to the painful places of our memory, now is a safe time to invest in Kodansha’s essential collection of phonebook-sized reprints of this most beloved manga series. Reading AKIRA will make you a better person.
List prices: $29.99 each
Available from: Your local comics shop, Amazon
These competitively priced and affectionately designed hardcovers chart the aesthetic journey of some of comics most popular characters, through covers and pages of pin-ups, comics and fashion features by classic creators including Dan DeCarlo all the way through modern day master Dan Parent. The books were overseen by Craig Yoe, whose work on archival comics material and essays and art books like Secret Identity: The Fetish Art of Superman’s Co-Creator Joe Shuster, have made his name a seal of true quality.
List price: Varies
Top Shelf has in print deluxe editions of some of its most recent and its most famous publications available in some very nice packages. The winner of Eisner, Harvey and Ignatz awards, Craig Thompson’s Blankets is out in a deluxe hardcover format that makes a great gift; and while the hardcover edition of Jeff Lemire’s excellent Essex County saga is out of print, Top Shelf offers a handsome softcover edition that will surely become your loved one’s new favorite graphic novel. Be sure to check out the Top Shelf store for more handsome editions of their large catalogue of perennials.
List price: $69.99
Fantagraphics' designers may have outdone themselves with this, a boxed set of the first and second volumes of Pogo - The Complete Syndicated Comic Strips. Packed in a sturdy custom box designed especially for this set, it's the perfect gift book item for fans of Walt Kelly's legendary drawing, humor and wordplay.
List price: Varies
Available: BOOM! Studios store
A deluxe, oversized presentation of the all-ages comic book hit based on the animated series, these Adventure Time hardcovers were previously only available at comic conventions. A presumably limited stock is on sale at Boom!'s website and would make excellent gifts for any devotee of the series.
List price: $120
Available: Oni Press store
This is a particularly impressive, oversized edition of the first 11 issues of the acclaimed Oni Press western-horror series, limited to 1,000 copies and shipping with a specially-designed coffin box, faux leather and gold foil cover, three full-color art prints, and is tip-in print signed and numbered by creators Cullen Bunn, Brian Hurtt, and Bill Crabtree.
Image’s most popular and addictive zombie series The Walking Dead is also available in the deluxe format. These oversized omnibus volumes collect more than 20 issues of survival inside a handsome slipcase. These are limited editions and can be hard to find, but there’s really no better gift for the dedicated Walking Dead fan.