Another Wednesday, another H&V Gift Guide entry. Holiday shopping, for me, has been a series of small and carefully coordinated precision strikes designed to avoid crowds and spend a minimum of time away from my bunker. Staying the hell out of big box stores and utilizing independent retailers has been good for maintaining my health and sanity.
This week, I’ve got a couple of books (one I’ve read and one I’m going to read) that just may be perfect for someone on your list.
Longtime readers of this column may remember that I reviewed this book early on in the pandemic and absolutely loved it. Reading a book about a favorite show of mine when the world was just starting to go to hell was like being thrown a life preserver and provided a welcome escape for me.
Here’s what I had to say about it originally:
Invader Zim hit right around the time I was finishing college and was a show that was so absurdly funny that I couldn’t help but love it. I was a huge fan of the show’s creator Jhonen Vasquez and his work on Johnny The Homicidal Maniac, Squee, and Filler Bunny. I recall reading in a magazine (a thing that used to exist along with stores, restaurants, and hope) that he was working with Nickelodeon on an animated series. I was cautiously optimistic but knew that he wouldn’t be directing, writing, and animating all the episodes himself.
So of course, other creators were brought in to either supplement or contain Vazquez’s genius and a name that I often spotted in the writing credits was Eric Trueheart. If you want to go and peep his IMDb, I’ll wait…but it’s safe to say that he penned some of the best Invader Zim episodes out there…and now he’s written a book about the writing of those episodes! It’s an ouroboros of writing.
The great news is that now there’s a book all about the writing of Invader Zim AND that it’s Volume 1! That means that there could conceivably be a Volume 2! I’m currently in the process of devouring the book and it’s so much more than just a simple (boring) collection of scripts. It provides a nice behind the scenes look at the production of a show that I love. I’m amazed that it took almost 20 years and a Netflix movie before a book like this could be published. Maybe the world is finally ready.
I still intend on snagging a physical copy for my home library and I really, REALLY hope this book gets a Volume 2.
A writer that I’ve followed for, damn, probably about thirty years or longer has been Peter David. Starting with his Spider-Man work and then slowly realizing that he was the same guy that had written all of the best Star Trek: The Next Generation paperbacks I had been reading, I was more than ready when he took on X-Factor in the early 90’s. His work has always been a consistent joy to read full of action, adventure, and most important to me…humour.
The humour was the hook for me but it never came at the expense of the overall story. The marquee books Uncanny X-Men and the newly launched adjective-less X-Men were very much of the time in that they were gritty action books (and totally cool which is why me and everyone else was reading them) but the Peter David comics I was reading seemed more real to me. The team lineup from his X-Factor run was comprised of mutants that were barely more than background characters at the time and by the time he left the title they were fully realized characters, worthy of a spot on any A-list X-Men team. I would have never expected in junior high that Multiple Man would wind up being one of my favorite characters…but here we are.
As I mentioned above I was also a voracious reader of David’s work on Star Trek. In the late 90’s he created Star Trek: New Frontier, a series taking place in the TNG universe that DIDN’T follow the adventures of the Enterprise. The series ran for well over a decade and is an incredibly solid Trek story that’s sure to be loved by fans of any iteration of Star Trek.
So with all this being said I was incredibly pleased to see that David had penned a memoir. I’ve yet to order myself a copy (‘tis the season to shop for others first) but I am so looking forward to reading it. I can only imagine the tales that are awaiting me in the book…I mean, the title ALONE should be worth the purchase price (it’s my understanding that David and Takei are longtime pals, so I’m interested to hear more on that as well).