Do you need some help buying for others or don't know what to ask Santa for? Let this handy yuletide guide show you the best Image Comics to snatch this holiday season.
For the Dreamer
Here’s one for the foodies and the fantasists! In this culinary adventure, chefs are revered, and well-prepared meals are prized above all else. But something sinister simmers beneath the surface of the seemingly idyllic city of the Bowl, and our plucky young protagonist Xoo just might bring it to a boil. High-stakes competition, mouth-watering food, and the very best dog all feature heavily in this tale, and to top off all this goodness, renowned food scientist Ali Bouzari (Ingredient: Unveiling the Essential Elements of Food) provides culinary consulting and extra materials.
The Hchom Book TP, by Marian Churchland
Hchom: the sound of delicious food being devoured. This book, which collects posts and musings from cartoonist Marian Churchland’s beloved long-running blog, is easy to devour, but it deserves to be savored. Churchland’s entries encourage readers to celebrate their inner goblin, the part of ourselves that longs to hoard treasure—be it food, “shinies,” clothing, or home comforts. These pages contain savory visual feasts that will appeal to the speculative fiction-lover on your list.
The good Queen Olwyn suffers under a mysterious and terrible curse. But the Captain of her Guard will do anything to protect her—even if that means shepherding her to the land of the dead. A lush, vibrant, rhythmic book, Isola thrums with power, beauty, and raw emotion. Pick this one up for the Studio Ghibli devotee on your list. They’ll thank you.
This nearly wordless adventure tale is a glorious exploration of the power of visual storytelling. The artist—or aspiring artist—on your list will get a kick out of sussing out Wilkins’ wide-ranging artistic influences, but they’ll find plenty more to appreciate that’s totally original, from innovative panel layouts to expansive worldbuilding. Gift-wrap this one up with some fancy snacks and maybe even a beverage or two, because it takes a nice long sit in a cozy chair to get the full Mirenda experience.
Norroway Book 1 TP, by Cat and Kit Seaton
A thoroughly unique take on a classic Scottish fairy tale, Norroway is an adventure story steeped in mythology and folklore that features some of the most strong-willed and (in some cases, literally) bull-headed characters ever seen in comics. In this world, prophecies are shockingly literal, curses are unjust, and nothing is quite as it seems. Suitable for teens and enjoyable for adults, this beautiful little volume is perfect for the folklorist, the Scot, the fantasist, and even the romantic on your list—as long as they don’t expect a conventional happy ending.
Saga, Vol. 9 TP, by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples
Here it is—the latest installment of the star-crossed space opera that regularly breaks both records and hearts. For those who’ve followed Hazel’s journey from the beginning, it’s no surprise that this ninth volume hits the feelings hard, but that certainly doesn’t diminish the impact. This entry is an excellent excuse to get everyone you know hooked on Saga! Be sure to include a care package with this gift, perhaps filled with comfort snacks, packs of tissues, and promises of emotional support.
Skyward, Vol. 1 TP, by Joe Henderson and Lee Garbett
Skyward posits a grand metaphor for freedom through physics: what if Earth’s greatest restraining forces—gravity—suddenly faded? Would the world restrain itself in hermetic fear? Or soar gallantly into the atmosphere, risking the pull of the atmosphere? Writer Joe Henderson and artist Lee Garbett frame that conflict through Willa, an exuberant courier who was only an infant when G-Day struck, causing cars, people, and cows to careen heavenward. Willa’s scientist father, Nate, fears for her child’s health as she literally threatens to get her head stuck in the clouds. The plot and visuals prove just as swift as the premise, embracing high adventure and taut conspiracies in this delightful graphic novel. This is the perfect gift for teen readers who refuse to keep their feet on the ground.
For the Amorous Reader
Love gone right, love gone wrong, and everything in between—Alex de Campi (No Mercy, Bad Girls) and friends tackle it all with words, pictures, and words with pictures. A powerhouse slate of artists and writers from all walks of life guarantees there’s something for everyone in this collection, whether they’re avid romance readers or not.
A massive Kickstarter success story, Bingo Love has enjoyed an avalanche of support from readers. Earlier this year, the original graphic novel was rushed back to print before it even hit shelves, and it’s gone on to garner critical acclaim. This heartbreaking and heartwarming book chronicles the lives of two queer black women who continue to find each other against all odds. For the sweet-hearted romantic in your life!
For the Indie Punk
The chaotic teens of Deadly Class will leap from panel to screen on January 16th in SYFY’s new series, channeling the romance, danger, and drama of Rick Remender and Wes Craig’s neon-drenched comic. But anyone looking to enroll in Kings Dominion Atelier can start school now with seven volumes of the source material—including a media tie-in trade paperback of the introductory arc. This blistering odyssey follows homeless orphan Marcus Lopez Arguello as he finds a new home within an institute that trains students to be assassins. Marcus must fend off double-crossing classmates and toxic love triangles in this bildungsroman wrapped in barbed wire and power chords. For the rebel with the fearsome Black Flag vinyl collection.
In 2008, Mark Millar and John Romita Jr. evolved the superhero genre with Kick-Ass, featuring Youtube-baiting men and women who who dress up in DIY tights to punch bad guys. A decade later, the same creative team shifts its focus, using the same concept with a different hero. Unlike gawky, idealistic teen Dave Lizewski, Patience Lee is a veteran soldier with experience rooting out terrorists in Afghanistan. Unfortunately, her return to domestic life in Albuquerque, New Mexico is no less turbulent… or violent. Forced to shake down local gangsters to support her family and pay for college, Patience injects a new level of social gravitas into the Kick-Ass saga. For comic lovers who can’t get enough cinematic action.
My Heroes Have Always Been Junkies HC, by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips
Before Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips continue their masterful Criminal saga in January with a new debut issue, experience this original graphic novel tucked deep inside their noir universe. My Heroes Have Always Been Junkies follows Ellie, a teenager who’s perpetually romanticized the overdosed musicians who lived bright and burned quick. Ellie gets a different fix when she falls for a fellow patient at her rehab clinic, tipping off a domino stream of events lined with jarring surprises. A heady rumination on culture’s obsession with addiction and another air-tight drama from the most harmonious team in comics, My Heroes Have Always Been Junkies is a tragic tour de force.
Jesse “Street Angel” Sanchez has been snatching sandwiches and hearts since 2004, skateboarding through a gauntlet of multimedia comic adventures expertly crafted by cartoonist Jim Rugg and co-writer Brian Maruca. The lovable warrior scamp’s latest adventure pits her against a ninja cyborg factory after she's attacked by cellular assassins. The result? A joyous flurry of katanas, circuits, and donuts, cut with hilarious commentary on corporate culture. For fans of Depression Era-comic strips and extreme ‘90s satire. Also: everyone else.
For the Activist
In 2017, the Grenfell Tower fire of West London ended the lives of 72 people and sent an additional 70 to the hospital. In response, Kieron Gillen (The Wicked + The Divine, Die) and co-editors Steve Thompson and Rhona Martin enlisted a cache of the most talented sequential storytellers to collect 24 stories—one for each floor in the title tower. Talent including Alan Moore, Al Ewing, Alex de Campi, Antony Johnston, Tula Lotay, and many more make this singular work—whose proceeds go to the Trauma Response Network to support PTSD survivors—a salient reminder of comics’ power to unite communities and heal scars.
If you prefer your political outrage mixed with belly laughs, Mike Norton (Revival, Battle Pug) has the perfect comic to spice up dinner conversation after the presents have been opened. Norton transforms the current (and past) White House cabinet into a bumbling frat house of ghouls, banshees, and tyrannical toddlers. Lil’ Donnie pushes political commentary into the delightfully absurd: watch Mitch McConnell and Steve Bannon face off in a staring contest as their faces fall apart; witness Kellyanne Conway haunt the press with alternative facts; and as promised, watch a spray-tanned manchild attempt to govern a country. For the exhausted, exhausted citizen who’s cried so hard they have to laugh.
Pia Guerra joins the legacy of political cartoonist laureates Thomas Nast and Herblock in Me the People, a collection of cartoons that define the most rage-inducing moments of our current socio-political landscape in one panel. Targeting rampant gun violence, ICE and immigration, the rise of Nazism, and the blundering arrogance of a certain commander in chief, Me the People is a white-hot dose of civil disobedience. This hardback is just as likely to elicit anger as tears, pulling from Guerra’s contributions to periodicals including The Nib and The New Yorker. It’s the perfect gift for both the burgeoning and established political activist.
For the Thrill-Seeker
Rick Remender has traversed dimensions in Black Science and dove to the deepest ocean trenches in Low, but the Deadly Class scribe embraces the open roads of the west in Death or Glory. Alongside kinetic French artist Bengal, Remender unspools the heart-seizing tale of a woman, Glory, who embarks on four heists over three days to pay for her terminally ill father’s hospital bills. A perfect marriage of biting social commentary and relentless action, this comic breaks the speedometer. The perfect gift for the reader who likes their pulse and cars fast.
Madness and death follow the Black Barn throughout history. Now, it shadows two very different men: one, young and obsessed with tracing a conspiracy through the city’s trash; the other, jaded and newly arrived in a rural town to replace its late priest. Gideon Falls crackles with tension so thick it’s almost claustrophobic—perfect for fans of hard-boiled mysteries and chilling supernatural horror alike.
A potent cocktail of science fiction, mythology, and adrenaline-doused action, Injection offers the apex of storytelling from comics trailblazer Warren Ellis, cinematic artist Declan Shalvey, and colorist wunderkind Jordie Bellaire. The plot revolves around five thought leaders and experts who create an artificial intelligence imbued with magic. Their efforts return to haunt them years later, forcing the disparate personalities to unite and fend off a morphing threat to the 21st century. For fans of Dr. Who or anyone ready for another Warren Ellis mind-hijack.
Beautiful art, cheerful colors, and anthropomorphic characters belie the brutally regressive regime and dark history that drive this romantic thriller, lined with twists, turns, and shocking betrayals. Already a hit in Europe under the Italian title Contro Natura, Unnatural is in high demand in the American market as well.
For the Historical Fiction Lover
Intensively researched and lovingly rendered, Age of Bronze brings the Trojan War to life like never before. A fantastic addition to any collection of Greek mythology, historical epics, or graphic novel adaptations!
A gorgeous and deeply innovative vision of the thousand-year-old myth, Santiago García and David Rubín’s Beowulf is a blood-soaked meditation on heroism, legacy, and violence. Though it’s a faithful retelling of the classic epic poem, it also revitalizes the source material, finding fresh value amongst old, familiar elements. An excellent gift for the classicist on your list!
The Golden Age of Hollywood took on a darker sheen during the days of the Blacklist—a time when members of the film industry could be barred from work for alleged Communist ties. And though the glitz remained, exerting its magnetic pull on generations of dreamers, Hollywood was not exempt from shady dealings, scandal, or murder. A gritty mystery told against the gleaming backdrop of an iconic city during a bygone age, The Fade Out is noir at its best.
Perdy just got out of prison, and she’s ready to kick up her heels and rob some more banks. This sex-positive Western delightfully upends classic genre tropes and sprinkles in plenty of slapstick humor, making for a romping good time—particularly for those who enjoy the heck out of gun-totin’ heroines with a heaping side of satire.
Exorsisters #1, by Ian Boothby and Gisèle Lagacé
Paranormal investigators Kate and Cate Harrow are the ones to call for soul retrieval, infernal representation, and demonic troubles of all kinds. Exorsisters is a charming adventure that’s sure to fit the bill for anyone on your list who’s looking for Veronica Mars meets Supernatural!
In a war-ravaged world, one soldier gets the chance to see beyond the veil of her existence—and grapple with her place in the universe. Science fiction and philosophy are deeply intertwined in this introspective adventure. Excellent for anyone who’s binged Westworld and every other high-concept story with a secretive twist!