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Book Buzz: The Top Gift Book Picks for the Holidays!

Some good holiday surprises on the book shelves.

By Tim Janson     November 18, 2008


The Tomb of Dracula Omnibus
© Marvel Comics

 

Welcome back to the Book Buzz after a two week hiatus for “re-tooling”. So what’s the deal? Well, there will be a few changes in the content of the column to hopefully make it more appealing to book fans. Rather than list every new genre release coming out that week, I will instead highlight my “Top Picks” of the very best or most important. There won’t be a set number of picks chosen. It will depend on how many new releases are coming out in a given week as well as, frankly, are they any good or worth mentioning.
 
I also want to leave more room in the column for features such as capsule reviews, opinion/editorial commentary, perhaps short comments or interviews, etc. This week, the new releases were extremely sparse and so it’s the perfect time to start thinking about your holiday shopping plans. I am spotlighting the best gift books for the holiday buying season. As you know, next Friday, sometimes called “Black Friday” is the traditional kickoff to the Christmas shopping season. So what makes a gift book? My criteria for these selections is that the book has to have been released during the last quarter of the year (But before December 24th) and have a price point of $30 or more.
 
You’ll notice some comic graphic novels included in the list. There’s lots of hardcover graphic novels and collections coming out during this period but I selected only a few that are truly special. I didn’t want to include just the run-of-the-mill Batman or Superman hardcover but those books that are special in some way. I’ve included the cover price of each of the books although you can certainly find them discounted at the usual online retailers. 
 
What am I most excited about? I’m definitely excited about “Rogue Leaders: The Story of LucasArts” and I’m hoping to bring you a review of that book very soon. I also would love to see the enormous, seven hundred page plus “Tomb of Dracula Omnibus” under my tree this year. So get your wish lists ready and dig into a sled full of great gift books!
 
 
The Complete X-Files: Behind the Series, the Myths, and the Movies Matt Hurwitz (Insight Editions) $49.95
 
The Complete X-Files is a declassified look at all nine seasons of the American Peabody and Emmy Award-winning science fiction television series created by Chris Carter. Delve into the mystery and myth of X-Files with in-depth looks at its entire television run, the first X-Files film, and the upcoming cinematic sequel. X-Files creator and producer Chris Carter takes us into the never-before-seen archives with explanations of unsolved plots, discussions of the FBI's paranormal investigations, scene by scene breakdowns of popular episodes, and insider information on both the previous and upcoming X-Files films. Discover the mystery behind Mulder's alien abduction, Scully's secret objectives, the designs of the shadowy "Cancer Man," and the full truth about the Mytharc episodes. Includes many bells and whistles, such as gatefolds, alien and monster charts, alien and monster cards, movie posters, a secret dossier, Mulder and Scully booklets , and more! The Complete X-Files will captivate fans and sciencefiction audiences, proving that nothing is what it seems and that "the truth is out there."
 
Rogue Leaders: The Story of LucasArts Rob Smith (Chronicle Books) $60.00
 
In 1982, Lucasfilm wanted to branch out into other forms of entertainment and formed an agreement where videogame pioneer Atari provided $1 million in seed capital with only the vague directive of "see what you can make." The resulting two games sold 100,000 units, twice as many copies as had been projected, and were a critical and commercial success. In 2005, LucasArts' Battlefront II game sold 2.1million copies and generated an estimated $200 million in revenue. In the past 25 years, LucasArts has cemented its place in videogame history though a combination of the two strengths of its parent company: master storytelling and innovative technology."The Magic of LucasArts" reveals its illustrious history, including more than 250 samples of never-before-seen art, including storyboards, concept paintings, and character developments from its cherished games, as well as art from cancelled projects that were never announced to the public. George Lucas contributes a rare foreword on his vision for interactive entertainment. Original interviews with key team members past and present make this book a must-have for gamers young and old.
 
Paul Blaisdel, Monster Maker: A Biography of the B Movie Makeup and Special Effects Artist Randy Palmer (McFarland & Co.) $35.00
 
Paul Blaisdell was the man behind the monsters in such movies as "The She Creature", "Invasion of the Saucer Men", "Not of This Earth", "It! Terror from Beyond Space" and many others. Working in primarily low-budget films, Blaisdell was forced to rely on greasepaint, guts and, most importantly, an unbounded imagination for his creations. From his inauspicious beginning through "The Ghost of Dragstrip Hollow" (1959), the construction of Blaisdell's monsters and the making of the movies in which they appeared are fully detailed here. Blaisdell's work in the early monster magazines of the 1960s is also covered.
 
Iron Man: The Art of Iron Man, the Movie Rhett Thomas (Marvel Books) $49.99
 
This comprehensive, behind-the-scenes look at the blockbuster Iron Man movie features exclusive content, from concept art and armor design, to unreleased stills and a glimpse at the creative process. It's everything you wanted to know about the making of the movie from all the key players, including Jon Favreau, Stan Winston, Marvel's Kevin Feige, and more!
 
The Complete Star Wars Encyclopedia Stephen J. Sansweet (Del Rey) $125.00
 
The Star Wars universe, much like our own, is constantly expanding. In the ten years since the publication of the Star Wars Encyclopedia, a lot has happened in that galaxy far, far away: four new feature films, a host of official original novels, comics, video games, and more. Now, thirty years of information on all things Star Wars–ranging from science and technology to history and geography, culture and biography to ecology and cosmology–has been supplemented with an entire decade’s worth of all-new material. Abundantly illustrated with full-color artwork and photos, and now in a new three-volume edition to accommodate its wealth of detailed entries, the Star Wars Encyclopedia encompasses the full measure of George Lucas’s creation.
 
80 Years of the Oscar: The Official History of the Academy Awards Robert Osborne (Abeville Press) $80.00
 
For the film industry, the Academy Awards is the most celebrated and most significant night of the year: everyone longs for the recognition of being nominated to win a little golden statuette. For most of us, however, even a walk down the red carpet is just a dream. 80 Years of the Oscar puts readers into those iconic plush seats for the thrill of the Academy Awards, from the first show in 1928, shortly after the introduction of the talking picture, to this year's eightieth anniversary. With hundreds of photographs and an informative text by Hollywood insider Robert Osborne, 80 Years of the Oscar is the official history of the Academy Awards. Organized by year, 80 Years of the Oscar chronicles the ceremonies themselves, as well as the accomplishments, trends, developments, and events that occurred, both within the Academy and for the film industry as a whole. Osborne comments on each year's most important films and shares the stories behind them. He also transports readers into the awards show, quoting from notable acceptance speeches and celebrity reactions, as well as regaling readers with anecdotes from each year. All award nominees and winners are included, with a special listing of Oscar record-holders. An indispensable and encyclopedic reference for the amateur and expert alike, from the struggling actor to the film critic, this book has been a popular favorite since its first edition was published twenty years ago, just after the sixtieth awards ceremony. The authoritative 80 Years of the Oscar provides a depth of coverage found nowhere else, and it is sure to please movie-goers around the world.
 
Science Fiction Television Series 1990-2004: Histories, Casts and Credits for 58 Shows Frank Garcia (McFarland & Co.) $59.95
 
This is a detailed examination, from creation to cancellation, of 58 science fiction television series produced between 1990 and 2004, from the popular The X-Files to the many worlds of Star Trek (from The Next Generation onward), as well as Andromeda, Babylon 5, Firefly, Quantum Leap, Stargate Atlantis and SGI, among others. A chapter on each series includes essential production information; a history of the series; critical commentary; and interviews with the creators, actors, writers and directors that reveal amusing, often provocative stories about the show's production. The book also offers updates on each series' regular cast members, along with several photographs and a complete bibliography. There are over 150 interviews in the book.
 
Bat-Manga!: The Secret History of Batman in Japan Chip Kidd (Pantheon Books) $60.00
 
The two hottest genres in comics gleefully collide head-on, as the most beloved American superhero gets the coolest Japanese manga makeover ever.
 
In 1966, during the height of the first Batman craze, a weekly Japanese manga anthology for boys, Shonen King, licensed the rights to commission its own Batman and Robin stories. A year later, the stories stopped. They were never collected in Japan, and never translated into English. Now, in this gorgeously produced book, hundreds of pages of Batman-manga comics more than four decades old are translated for the first time, appearing alongside stunning photographs of the world’s most comprehensive collection of vintage Japanese Batman toys.
 
This is The Dynamic Duo as you’ve never seen them: with a distinctly Japanese, atomic-age twist as they battle aliens, mutated dinosaurs, and villains who won’t stay dead. And as a bonus: Jiro Kuwata, the manga master who originally wrote and drew this material, has given an exclusive interview for our book.
 
The deluxe, expanded, and limited hardcover edition has a distinctly different cover, full-color printed endpapers, and an amazing extra adventure written by Jiro Kuwata (not included in the paperback), about a band of rogue alien robot art thieves at large in Gotham City. Guess who gets called in to save the day.... More than just a dazzling novelty, Bat-Manga! is an invaluable, long-lost chapter in the history of one of the most beloved and timeless figures in comics.
 
Frazetta: The Definitive Reference James A. Bond (Vanguard) $39.95
 
The work of Frank Frazetta, THE greatest fantasy artist of all time, has influenced generations of artists, fans, designers, and movie directors. Now, collected in Frazetta, The Definitive Reference, are essays and illustrated data in a one-of-a-kind volume tracing the entire arc of Frazetta’s career with more than 800 of his unforgettable images. From his early 1950s comics, to Tarzan, Pellucidar, and John Carter of Mars book covers; to his 1960s monster mags, Creepy, Eerie, and Vampirella; to his major movie posters, including After the Fox and What’s New Pussycat; to, of course, his revolutionary Conan paintings--it’s all here. Frazetta overflows with fantastic images, insightful commentary, and the most complete index of artwork ever compiled on this fantastic icon.
 
Jack Kirby's The Demon (DC Comics) $49.99
 
One of Jack "King" Kirby's most memorable creations returns in this title collecting the entire, original 16-issue series from the early 1970s! Part man, part elemental fury, Etrigan the Demon was bound to Jason Blood by Merlin to defend Camelot, only to become a demonologist in the modern-day DC Universe.
 
The EC Archives: Haunt of Fear (Gemstone Publishing) $49.95
 
More than fifty years ago, Al Feldstein, Bill Gaines and Harvey Kurtzman began telling “ghost stories” through The Old Witch, who narrated many of the tales between the pages of Haunt of Fear, one of EC’s creepiest horror stories. Now, Geppi’s Entertainment is pleased to bring back the fright experienced a generation ago through their EC Archives from Gemstone Publishing. The hauntingly spectacular artwork by legendary comic artists such as Johnny Craig, Wally Wood, Jack Kamen, Graham Ingels, Jack Davis, Feldstein and Kurtzman has been fully restored in this first volume of Haunt of Fear, which reprints the first six issues, twenty-four stories sure to scare your socks off!
 
The Marvel Chronicle Tom Brevoort (DK Publishing) $50.00
 
The definitive guide to the world of Marvel Comics. The Marvel Chronicle takes the reader on an incredible century-spanning voyage through seven tumultuous decades of Marvel Comics.
 
From the first appearance of the Apache Kid to the first time Spider-man dons his venomous black suit, this visually spectacular book chronicles the history and development of Marvel comics within the context of the real-world events that were unfolding at the same time.
 
This one-of-a-kind approach is coupled with the commentary of Marvel experts, and fantastic original artwork from early comics through today, featuring the work of Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko, Todd McFarlane, Jim Cheung, and many more, making the Marvel Chronicle the ultimate comic book adventure.
 
Tomb of Dracula Omnibus (Marvel Comics) $100.00
 
He rose from the grave in 1972, ushering in an Age of Horror like nothing seen before or since! Now behold the Prince of Darkness' first encounters with his most implacable enemies of the era, including legendary Blade the Vampire Hunter! With ghosts, mutants, mad scientists and more! Plus a tour of the Lord of the Vampires' earlier U.S. activities, with such stops as the Pool of Blood and the Devil's Heart! Featuring Werewolf by Night and Lilith, Daughter of Dracula! Collects Tomb of Dracula #1-31, Werewolf by Night #15, Giant-Size Chillers #1, Giant-Size Dracula #2-4.

COMMENTS AND RESPONSES

Showing items 1 - 2 of 2
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miket@jartrealestate.com_home 11/18/2008 5:55:41 AM

I will be getting the Dracula Omnibus. I used to have most of these books years ago and lost them in one of my moves. They had some great stories.

themovielord 11/18/2008 12:10:26 PM

Dracula is 40% on Amazon right now! I really want to get that as well. The cheapy black and whote ones doen't do it for me.

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