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Holiday Gift Guide: ‘Deep Focus: They Live’

Deep Focus: They Live

When it comes to the holiday gift-giving season, comic book readers are notoriously difficult to shop for. I mean, most of us are down at the shop buying our favorite stuff every single week, so when the time comes for people who like us to get us something we want, well, a lot of times we already have it. That’s why we’re stepping in with a public service, bringing you comics-related items sure to make the season brighter, whether you’re browsing for a gift or just looking for something to drop hints about so that you don’t get stuck with a random assortment of back issues again.

Today, I’m putting on my magic sunglasses and thinking outside the box to bring you one of the weirdest (and best) gift ideas on my lift: Jonathan Lethem and Sean Howe’s Deep Focus: They Live.

ITEM: Deep Focus: They Live by Jonathan Lethem

CLASSIFICATION: Book

AVAILABILITY: $11.83 on Amazon

This might not be quite as “comics related” as some of the other gift ideas I’ve thrown into the gift guide, but I’m including it for a couple of reasons. For one thing, there is a connection: It was written by Jonathan Lethem, the novelist and lifelong comic book reader who wrote the critically acclaimed Omega the Unknown revival for Marvel, and edited by Sean Howe, author of the indispensible Marvel Comics: The Untold Story, my #1 pick for last year’s gift guide (which, incidentally, is newly available in paperback and still an awesome present if anyone you know doesn’t already have it).

More importantly for ComicsAlliance readers, this exactly what it says on the cover: an in-depth, scene-by-scene breakdown of John Carpenter’s They Live, the movie where “Rowdy” Roddy Piper and Keith David battle aliens who have brainwashed the entire human race through television. If you’re a fan of the kind of deep-cut analysis we like to do here at ComicsAlliance, well, you’re probably going to like this one.

If you’re familiar at all with 33 1/3, the series of books where writers go deep to examine classic albums — a series that produced Carl Wilson’s Celine Dion’s Let’s Talk About Love: A Journey to the End of Taste, legitimately one of the most important and engaging books on criticism, ever (seriously) — then the Deep Focus series is easy enough to explain. It’s just like that, but for movies. And not the big cinematic classics that have pages and pages of scholarly analysis, either; this is a series that tackled Death Wish, Lethal Weapon, The Bad News Bears: Breaking Training and, yes, a Roddy Piper movie with where two men beat each other up in an alley for minutes on end. It’s not dismissive, and there’s no joke to it. That doesn’t mean they’re not funny, but these are people who genuinely love these movies talking about what they mean in the context of film, in the context of the careers of the people involved, and in the context of media, andThey Live is right at the top of the list.

If you like in-depth looks at media that doesn’t always get the attention it deserves — and I hope you do because that’s a lot of what we try to do here — then you’ll enjoy this one. And if you haven’t seen They Live, well cripes, what are you waiting for? It’s got Roddy Piper fighting aliens!

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