Biff Bam Pop!’s Holiday Gift Guide 2021 Presents Heroes & Villains: Books From IDW/Top Shelf, Image Comics/Skybound + More

The BBP! Holiday Gift Guide is here to provide the valuable public service of, well, being a guide to gifts for the holidays. As of this writing I feel like I’ve successfully crossed everyone off my list but I still have the nagging feeling that I’m forgetting something. If you’re still struggling with your shopping read on for some great comic book ideas!

This will ALSO serve as my annual reminder to support your local comic shop. I think we can all agree that while we collectively want these billionaires off the planet we shouldn’t’ make it easier for them to do so. Plus, by supporting your LCS you’re helping to keep them in business and their employees can take bathroom breaks whenever they want! No peeing in bottles there! Unless they really want to. No judgement.

The Labyrinth
Simon Stålenhag
Image Comics/Skybound

First off, I was completely blown away by The Labyrinth. When I received the advance PDF of the book I did not expect to be drawn in like I was, consuming the book in one go.

Here’s the blurb:

A world covered by ruins and ash, the remnants of an otherwordly phenomenon that has ravaged the earth’s atmosphere and forced the few survivors deep underground. Matt, Sigrid and Charlie leave the safe harbor of the enclave for an expedition onto the wastelands of the surface world. During their journey they are forced to confront dark secrets from the time before civilization’s fall.

The Labyrinth was quite a bit different from the stuff I usually cover and that’s exactly why I’m recommending it for the Gift Guide. Described as a “narrative art hardcover” the book presents fantastic pieces of art interspersed with bits of prose that move the story along. I’ve long been a fan of the “making of…” genre of books because of all the wonderful pieces of concept art they contain. Half the fun of those books was imagining what stories went along with the art and that’s what The Labyrinth gives the reader. The bits of art presented within are snapshots from the story which perfectly balance the prose portions.

If there’s someone on your shopping list that’s into speculative fiction or they’re fans of the great concept artists like Ralph McQuarrie and Syd Mead, The Labyrinth is one to snag for them.

Since it’s getting late in the year I’ve been ruminating on what exactly 2021 was about, maaannnn. I’ll save the introspection for a year end article but I’m no closer to figuring it out now than when I started pondering the last year back in October. In brief, I usually like to pick a Book of the Year but I’m spoiled for choice once again so I picked a couple of great ones for the Gift Guide.

Johnny Boo And The Silly Blizzard
James Kolchaka
IDW/Top Shelf Productions

First up, is James Kolchalka’s Johnny Boo And The Silly Blizzard, which I took a look at waaayyy back in March. Here’s what I had to say about it:

Michigan is solidly in the clutches of winter’s icy talons at the moment and a book about how nice snow can be is the perfect antidote for that. Especially when it’s enjoyed inside where it’s warm and preferably under a blanket or two… Johnny Boo and the Silly Blizzard is one of those “fun for all ages!” books that definitely made something click in my brain. Longtime readers of H&V may recall that I am new to the uncle game and while my sister’s kid isn’t quite old enough for comics yet, I’ve resolved to start stockpiling comic books for them. Since I have no children of my own, I feel the need to project my likes and interests onto my sister’s kid…to ensure they turn out as cool as me.

Better Place
Duane Murray & Shawn Daley
IDW/Top Shelf Productions

Next up is Better Place from Duane Murray & Shawn Daley.

Better Place perfectly encapsulates that odd period between being a kid and being a slightly older kid that realizes there’s more to the world. A lot of Better Place involves Dylan struggling to reconcile his own personal world view with how things can unfortunately be. Painful as that may be, Dylan never really seems to lose sight of who he really is.

Better Place certainly feels like a good book to pair with Johnny Boo if you’re giving gifts to a couple of siblings that are a few years a part. Kolchalka’s work is great for introductory readers whereas Better Place is better suited for the junior high and up age group. I enjoyed the heck out of both titles so check them out!

Advance Alert!

Blood On Sunset #1
Mark D’Anna (W)
Arjuna Susini (A)
Source Point Press

We now return you to our regularly scheduled programming…

Due out on 12/29 from our pals at Source Point Press is Blood On Sunset #1.

Here’s the blurb:

It’s June 20th, 1947. Former cop Clint Braddock is drinking at a bar on Sunset Boulevard when he gets a call from his ex-girlfriend, Beverly. Bugsy Siegel’s just been murdered, and she found the body. She’s terrified and needs his help. Fast. Braddock arrives to find the aftermath of a violent, sadistic murder. Not your typical mob hit. It almost looks like the work of…Eaters. Amidst the carnage, Braddock finds evidence that someone may be trying to pin the murder on him. Braddock is part Eater, and he’s spent years keeping his true nature hidden. But it looks like someone knows what he is, and is using it to implicate him in the biggest crime to hit Los Angeles in decades. Now, the seat of power in the criminal underworld is up for grabs, and rumors of a Vampire crime syndicate emerging as major players look disturbingly plausible. As Braddock is pulled deeper into the hunt for Siegel’s killer, he’ll find he’s either the ideal ally for the Vampire cause, or the perfect weapon to stop it. It all depends on where his loyalties lie.

I had been hankering for a good Noir-ish comic and as fate would have it the universe dropped one square in my lap! Bonus! It’s got supernatural elements to it as well! The gritty Noir tone of the Blood On Sunset’s opening is what really sold me on the title and the vampire aspects were something I was able to sink my teeth into. (Hey-oooo!)

This book will be out right AFTER Christmas so while I can’t count it as a Gift Guide entry you should for sure spend any holiday cash or comic shop gift cards and pick this up on 12/29.

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