I was in the malls on the first day of December. I knew what to expect so I’m not going to pretend to be surprised by the slow-ass-walking not-looking-where-they’re-going congregating-in-hallways stupid-asshole-consumers, not even for dramatic effect, but yeah. Forget that noise. (Seriously, these people were posing for photographs in the middle of busy mall thoroughfares. What is this shit, Anime North?). But it isn’t the first of December anymore, December’s half way done and you’ve got less than 9 days of shopping left. Are you gonna fight for parking? For elbow room? For the last whatsits on the shelf? I didn’t think so.

Now, more than ever? Comics For Christmas. Listen, you and me? Let’s be honest with ourselves. And Each Other. We’re going to the comic store every week ANYWAY. Sure, we’re broke and we’ve got gifts to buy, but Christmas be damned, we’re going to drop 15 or 20 bucks on funnybooks. For ourselves. Because we earned it.

So, and I say this with full knowledge that I am a comics pusher and probably not to be trusted, why not just give comics for Christmas this year? Graphic novels, manga, ‘artbooks’, even stuffing stockings with floppy little reads? Comics for Christmas. 2007 is a year where comics have legitimacy, whether you take the highbrow route and claim them as important works of literature, or the lowbrow route and demand that the Super Friends are our collective Modern Mythology, you’ve never been more entitled to share your hobby/addiction/choice of literate reading material with your friends and loved ones!

Tom Spurgeon put together a 200-item list of awesome comics and related items that make great gift ideas, and you should totally go check that out. But if you’re running in and out of the comic book store this week and you’re double-parked and you need 5 easy gift ideas for folks on your list that any well-stocked comic shop is guaranteed to have, I’ve got you covered. Here goes:

Male or Female, Adult, literary gift idea, a book:

1. The Acme Novelty Library 18 and a Half, $32.00
This issue of Chris Ware’s Acme Novelty Library is anything but, instead it’s a collection of his covers for the Thanksgiving issue of 2006’s New Yorker magazine. Featuring 5 beautiful prints on heavy stock and narratively inclined, these are gorgeous and not terribly well-known outside of comics circles; the tens of thousands of civilians who’ve read and enjoyed Jimmy Corrigan: Smartest Boy On Earth will likely enjoy and appreciate and even hang this fantastic, economical art collection. Recommended for: Men or Women, Adults, Literary gift idea, Not a book.

2. The Petit Livres, by Drawn & Quarterly, $10-$12 each
Drawn & Quarterly have been releasing a fabulous collection of little art books by comics creators for the past few years, called “Petit Livres” or “Little Books”. Weighing in between 80 and 120 pages, these little books feature comics and art in a beautiful presentation. Collections are available from well-known artists including Julie Doucet (Lady Pep), Guy Delisle (Alene and the Others, Albert and the Others), and Marc Bell (The Stacks), but the collections by young and cutting-edge cartoonists including Chris Von Szombathy (Fire Away) and Julie Morstad (Milk Teeth) are beautiful as well, and will impress any art lover on your list. Recommended for: Men or Women, Late Teens/Adults, Inexpensive but cool/’cool’.

3. The Dark Tower HC, by Stephen King/Marvel Comics, $25 or Buffy: The Long Road Home, by Joss Whedon/DH, $15
Don’t underestimate the power of either of these two graphic novels. Stephen King fans tend to read literally anything by Stephen King, right down to his book ABOUT writing books. The readers of the Dark Tower series tend to be the choosiest King readers as well, with Dark Tower being “The only Stephen King I read…!” While the Dark Tower graphic novel does cover ground that the novels have gone over, the perspective is fresh and beautifully illustrated, making this a solid gift for the billion-or-so Stephen King fans on the planet. Meanwhile, anyone who watched Buffy right up to the end of the last season will want to know what happens next, and with series creator Joss Whedon writing The Long Road Home chances are it’ll be a well received Christmas gift. Recommended for: Men or Women who are already fans of this author or character but don’t have everything… yet.

4. Owly Volume 4, by Andy Runton/Top Shelf, $10 or Amulet Volume 1, by Kazu Kibuishi/Scholastic, $10.
We know that the kids on your list have already read bone. Either they’re bang-up-to-date on the Scholastic series (which just dropped volume 7) or they’ve already tackled the massive 1300 page all-in-one edition. But what’s next? Scholastic is hoping that it’s Amulet, the new full-colour fantasy adventure series by FLIGHT ANTHOLOGY co-editor Kazu Kibuishi. It’s a rollicking good read with plenty of action and gravitas, the hallmarks of any good adventure story. Meanwhile, younger Bone fans should definitely be treated to the Owly series… Runton’s nearly-wordless graphic novel adventures are gentle, humourous, and affirming tales. While their wordless nature may make you think “under 5″, you’d be surprised to find how many 12 and 13 year olds enjoy the series too. Recommended for: Any kid under 14, and a few over 14 too.

5. Original Art
This is a pretty specific-to-The-Beguiling thing, but we’ve got tons of original art for sale, from $50 to $3000, and a variety of artists working in a plethora of styles. We can get it wrapped up for you in under 30 minutes, or have it waiting for you at the front cash register if you call ahead and give us an hour’s notice. Even if you don’t live near the store, we can have it shipped to you next day FedEx if you like. Check it out, here are 5 of my favs that are still available:

Kim Pine Painting, $300, by Bryan Lee O’Malley
http://www.beguiling.com/artproductview.asp?P_NUM=5296

King III P10-11 Panel 5, $100, Ho Che Anderson.
http://www.beguiling.com/artproductview.asp?P_NUM=5310

The Black Diamond Detective Agency Page 11, $220, by Eddie Campbell.
http://www.beguiling.com/artproductview.asp?P_NUM=5532

Somersaulting pg 49 panels 3, 4, & 5, $300, Sammy Harkham
http://www.beguiling.com/artproductview.asp?P_NUM=5100

L.A. Times: Graphic Novel Readers, $1500, by Maurice Vellekoop
http://www.beguiling.com/artproductview.asp?P_NUM=5175

There’s five (and a bit) quick gift suggestions that should cover more-or-less everyone on your list. Sure, there are amazing titles like Acme Novelty Library 18, Scott Pilgrim, Black Dossier, Exit Wounds, American Born Chinese, We Are On Our Own, Runaways, or I Shall Destroy All The Civilized Planets as well, but those sorts of things require thought, and searching. This? Just run in, pick it up, no fuss no muss and you’re all done until the bills come in January.

If you live near The Beguiling. If not? Well I’m sure your local comic store will have something to sell you, because even that’s probably a lot better than trying to fight through the crowds for the next few days…

- Christopher


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Kagan McLeod, author of the comic series Infinite Kung-Fu (coming from Top Shelf in collected form in 2008) put together this sweet little print just in time to make your holiday gift giving easier. THE HISTORY OF RAP is a 17.5″ x 30″ print on thick 100lb paper, featuring 469 portraits and tons of biographical info (printed on the back). So awesome you’ll wanna buy two. Now in stock at The Beguiling for just 20 bones. Recently featured in The National Post!

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Nowhere near Toronto and can’t drop by the store? Visit The Beguiling’s Online Art Store, specifically the posters & prints section, to pick up a copy. We can probably still ship it to you in time for Christmas too! While you’re there, pick up one of The Beguiling’s 20th Anniversary Prints by James Jean (also shown).

- Christopher


dramazombies-webcard.jpgHere’s the list of comics scheduled to ship to The Beguiling in Toronto, Canada on Wednesday December 19th, 2007. Please note that not all books ship to all stores at the same time, but if you see something on this list it’s probably at least worth asking about.

ALSO: The Beguiling is having a signing on December 19th! Hopefully you can drop by to meet Svetlana Chmakova and Faith Erin Hicks as they sign their new graphic novels, DRAMACON 3 and ZOMBIES CALLING. For full info visit The Beguiling’s website.

I have to say that not a lot is jumping out at me from the Shipping List this week… Considering how much product dropped on us this past week? I’m kinda happy for the break. I mean, Julie Doucet’s beautiful new diary comic 365 DAYS is shipping this week, but we’ve had that for a little while now. You should still pick it up of course :)
Full list after the cut:

Keep reading…


xtra-yaoi.jpgIf you head over to Xtra.ca, the website of Canada’s twice-monthly free gay newspaper, you can see my second article for the paper, a primer on Yaoi manga from a gay perspective. It’s actually based on a blog post I made here from 2 and a half years ago, which in and of itself was adapted from an article I wrote for a U.S. based gay newspaper, but which never appeared in print because they had weird rights issues. Anyway.

What struck me when rewriting it (and I think it only shares maybe 1 or 2 paragraphs with the original) was how much the yaoi segment of the manga market has changed in just a few years. Where once upon a time there was only Be Beautiful, DMP, and those guys that did Skyscrapers of Oz, there are now so many different publishers and imprints and sub-imprints producing more than 20 volumes a month! What was once an emerging category is now full-blown, and it was a real treat writing an introduction to the genre/phenomena for a gay male audience.

Even better? The story ended up as the cover-feature of the print version of the magazine! My name, finally in lights. My friend Eric Kim, illustrator of Love as a Foreign Language for Oni Press (amongst other comics work) was comissioned to do the cover illustration, and you can see it up on the right there. He did a great job (thanks Eric!) and the paper really pops in the newspaper boxes. You can click on the image to see a larger version.
So, yeah. I’m a paid journalist now, which means I’m Completely Entitled! I get _paid_ for these opinions of mine, which makes me fabulous and insufferable! Bwahahaha!

Love,

- Christopher


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Studio Ghibli, the animation studio behind classic animated films including Princess Mononoke, My Neighbor Totoro, and the Academy Award-winning Spirited Away, has been amongst the most prominent and venerated exports of Japanese culture to the west. The films of Studio Ghibli and it’s head, Hayao Miyazaki, were right there at the beginnings of my own awakenings into Japanese culture; Nth generation fansub VHS tapes passed from University student to University student through “internet”, and they somehow wound up in the hands of a bunch of 13 year olds in Brampton. Through the grainy, fuzzy, poorly-tracked screen we could see into a world that was beautiful and deadly and sad-but-hopeful, visions of our own world: Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind was a revelation.

What’s that you say? There’s a Ghibli Museum in Japan? And it’s easier for foreigners to get tickets through local Japanese cultural agencies than actual Japanese? Let’s go!

Continue Reading Behind The Cut:

Keep reading…


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Local #11: Toronto
By Brian Wood and Ryan Kelly
Oni Press
2008

- Chris


When last we left Harajuku, we were standing outside of the Peanuts theme store with our Gothloli friend:

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The Peanuts store is pretty damned awesome, what with it being a completely and thoroughly ‘themed’ shopping experience, meant to feel like the historical middle American past of the strip.

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By the way, in Japan it’s not Peanuts, it’s all about the Snoopy. Welcome to Snoopy-Town!

Continue reading this entry after the cut:

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I’m sure no one is coming here for my opinion on the Video Games Industry, but there’s a little bit of a hubub that went on over the last week or two at Penny Arcade. Basically, one of the proprietors of that fine site said that video game review sites were corrupt, slaves to the almighty videogame ad dollar.

Part One: http://www.penny-arcade.com/2007/11/14 – Second Post
Part Two: http://www.penny-arcade.com/2007/11/26 – Second Post
Part Three: http://www.penny-arcade.com/comic/2007/11/28
Part Four: http://www.penny-arcade.com/2007/11/28
Part Five: http://www.penny-arcade.com/comic/2007/11/29
Part Six: http://www.penny-arcade.com/2007/11/30

Also, video game reviewers are in themselves broken, terrible gamers because they play games the wrong way, to complete and rate them, and not to enjoy them.

Now I’m not saying I agree with the Penny Arcade fellas or anything, but I got to play the game that kicked off the whole to-do, Assassin’s Creed. All I did for 30 minutes was run around an giant, immaculately-rendered version of Jerusalem in the middle ages, stabbing people to death. It was beautiful and satisfying and complex, and man, I sure did like killing people.

So, yeah. The Penny Arcade guys are totally right. But the point is, it’s nice to know that reviewing is corrupt in every industry! I just wish there was more money in comics to justify the kow-towing to Marvel and DC.

- Christopher

P.S.: The Penny Arcade guys are raising money again for Children’s Hospitals across North America. Check out ChildsPlayCharity.org.