There really are a ton of great bands out there that you have probably never heard of. Rival Sons, Scorpion Child, Black Country Communion, Tyler Bryant & the Shakedown, Revolution Saints, just to name a handful. But there is one band that has absolutely overshadowed all others, and they only have eight songs recorded so far: Greta Van Fleet. The group of three brothers and a drummer released a 4-song EP earlier this year, and have added four more songs on their latest release, From The Fires,, which dropped in November. Apparently they are getting some radio airtime, and that’s great, because this is the most rock n’ roll band since Led Zeppelin.
I’m not even making a list with this post. It begins and ends with one band: Greta Van Fleet. Buy it for every headbanger on your Christmas list.
I am so pumped about Star Wars, Episode VIII: The Last Jedi. I’m doing my best to steer clear of spoilers, and I plan to go “radio silence” mode next Thursday night since I can’t see the movie until Friday morning. But there is so much awesome Star Wars-related merchandise out, from the classic trilogy to the awful prequels to the exciting new releases. Here are a few ideas for those Force-sensitive beings you love…
- Episodes I-VI on DVD or Blu-Ray
- Episode VII: The Force Awakens on DVD or Blu-Ray
- Rogue One (or Episode 3.95, if you prefer) on DVD or Blu-Ray
- Topps “Journey to Star Wars: The Last Jedi” Trading Cards
- Topps trading card books for Star Wars, Empire Strikes Back, or Return of the Jedi
- Hasbro action figures
- Funko Pop
- William Shakespeare’s Star Wars Trilogy (parody books of Episodes IV-VI in Victorian English)
- William Shakespeare’s The Force Doth Awaken: Star Wars Part the Seventh
The Shakespeare books are perhaps the most unique items on this list. I have the books for Episodes I-VI and absolutely love them. The only reason I don’t already have “Part the Seventh” is because I didn’t realize it was out! It has been added to my Christmas list, and if I don’t get it from someone else, I’ll buy it myself!
Many of you will be gathering around the dinner table tomorrow to devour some turkey and fixings. Chances are, some of your family members that will be eating with you will be fans of the phenomenal Stranger Things Netflix series. Perhaps you weren’t sure what to buy these people. Maybe you were thinking about something like a restaurant gift card, or cold, hard cash. And while those are certainly acceptable gifts for those you don’t know very well, a Stranger Things collectible might be a better option for fans of the Duffer Brothers series. Here are a few ideas:
- Stranger Things, Vol. 1 (A Netflix Original Series Soundtrack)
- Funko Action Figure 3-packs: Eleven, Lucas, and Mike, Will, Dustin, and Demogorgon, or Eleven, Will, and Demogorgan (similar to the old Kenner Star Wars toys)
- Funko POP figures (focus on season 1): Mike, Dustin, Lucas, Will, Eleven, Barb, or Demogorgan
- Funko POP figures (focus on season 2): Eleven, Max, Mike (as a Ghostbuster), Dustin (as a Ghostbuster), Lucas (as a Ghostbuster), or Will (as a Ghostbuster)
- Stranger Things Monopoly
- Stranger Things Eggo Card Game
Personally, I liked the second season much better than the first…and that’s saying something, because I absolutely loved the first season! So whether your friends/family members/neighbors/secret Santa partners are fans of the original cast or enjoy the additions of Bob, Max, Billy, and Dr. Owens, these gift ideas will hit the mark.
One of the most entertaining anthology television series in history is The Twilight Zone, hosted by Rod Serling, which first aired in 1959. The fantastical stories, many written by Serling himself, took the viewer on a suspenseful ride through science fiction and horror. There has never been another anthology series that has reached the same heights, but fans of The Twilight Zone are always hungry for more. With that in mind, I offer some lesser-known series that may appeal to fans of Serling’s finest work:
- Night Gallery (another excellent Serling series)
- The Veil (hosted by Boris Karloff)
- Thriller (hosted by Karloff)
- One Step Beyond
- The Outer Limits
- The Twilight Zone (1980s reboot)
- Tales from the Darkside
- Friday the 13th: The Series (full disclosure: there is no Jason Voorhees in the television series)
If you have a fan of The Twilight Zone in your house and you want to score some big points this Christmas, these titles are sure to help you out. Check your friend’s DVD collection and find out what is missing, and be the one to fill that gap.
Last week we looked at Christmas gift ideas for the DC Comics lover, so this week we’ll look at the competition: Christmas gift ideas for your aspiring Marvel Comics writers/artists. The first on the list is an all-time classic that is now over thirty years old, while the rest are more recent takes on the “Marvel Way” of comics:
- How To Draw Comics The Marvel Way by Stan Lee
- Stan Lee’s How to Write Comics
- Stan Lee’s How to Draw Comics
- Stan Lee’s How to Draw Superheroes
In addition to those volumes by Stan Lee himself, a number of licensed character-specific books are available:
- Learn to Draw Marvel’s Spider-Man
- Learn to Draw Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy
- How to Draw Iron Man
- How to Draw X-Men
Not quite as many selections as available for DC Comics, but that’s not too surprising. It seems that Marvel’s bread-and-butter is on the big screen now, while DC has faltered in that medium. But on paper, DC is still far and away the better comic book maker.
Now that Halloween is over, is it safe to start talking about Christmas gift ideas? A couple of years ago I did a series of posts highlighting some ideas that might delight fans of various topics, and one of the most popular posts in that series related to comic book art. That particular post continues to get hits today, so I thought I would follow it up with a more streamlined version: Christmas gift ideas for your aspiring DC comic book writers/artists. Take a look at these titles in this series of “DC Comics Guide” books:
- The DC Comics Guide to Writing Comics
- The DC Comics Guide to Creating Comics: Inside the Art of Visual Storytelling
- The DC Comics Guide to Pencilling Comics
- The DC Comics Guide to Inking Comics
- DC Comics Guide to Coloring and Lettering Comics
- The DC Comics Guide to Digitally Drawing Comics
I have not personally reviewed any of those titles, but they seem to be geared toward an older, more serious dreamer. If your aspiring artist is a beginner, or is just getting his feet wet with sketching, the following books may be more his or her speed:
- DC Justice League: Draw It
- How to Draw Batman, Superman, and Other DC Super Heroes and Villains
- How to Draw Superman and His Friends and Foes
- How to Draw Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, and Other DC Super Heroes
- How to Draw Batman and His Friends and Foes
- How to Draw the Joker, Lex Luthor, and Other DC Super-Villains
I became a Chicago Cubs fan in 1989 when my dad took me to Wrigley Field. Rick Sutcliffe pitched that day against the Montreal Expos; Jerome Walton, Andre Dawson, Ryne Sandberg, Mark Grace all played. And my favorite baseball player at the time, Shawon Dunston, was the shortstop. The vibe of the ballpark, sitting in the bleachers, just the whole experience enthralled me. I rooted for the Cubs through the end of high school, but the strike of 1994 soured me on baseball in general. I have since come back to love the game for what it is, and root for the Cubs when they make the playoffs. The Reds are my #1 team, but the Cubs are a pretty close second.
The Cubs will always be one of the more popular teams in baseball, and as such, there are a lot of choices when it comes to Christmas gifts. Here are a few suggestions for the Cubs fan in your life.
- Beyond Bartman, Curses, & Goats: 108 Reasons It’s Been 108 Years by Chris Neitzel
- Wrigley Field: The Long Life and Contentious Times of the Friendly Confines by Stuart Shea
- The Cubs Fan’s Guide to Happiness by George Ellis
- Wrigley Field: An Oral and Narrative History of the Home of the Chicago Cubs by Ira Berkow
- Essential Games of the Chicago Cubs DVD set
Most people don’t think of horror during the Christmas season, but for the true horror nut the genre is a year-round obsession. If you have someone on your to-buy-for list that thinks Halloween should be a month-long holiday rather than one day, here are some suggestions.
- The Stephen King Compainion by George Beahm
- Stephen King novels (classics like The Shining, It, Pet Sematary; newer titles such as Revival, 11/22/63)
- In the Shadow of Edgar Allan Poe: Classic Tales of Terror, 1816-1914
- Essential Horror Movies by Michael Mallory
- Pumpkin Cinema by Nathaniel Tolle
- Vuckovic’s Horror Miscellany by Jovanka Vuckovic
For nearly forty years, Star Wars has been a cultural phenomenon. I remember receiving Star Wars action figures and playsets as a child, from Jabba the Hutt to the Ewok Village. They were always my absolute favorite gifts. Whether your Star Wars nerd is four or forty, you can’t go wrong with books and merchandise from a galaxy far, far away.
- Star Wars: The Original Topps Trading Card Series, Volume One
- William Shakespeare’s Star Wars Trilogy: The Royal Imperial Boxed Set by Ian Doescher (there are also Victorian versions of the prequels, but suffer from poor source material)
- Star Wars Art: Posters
- Ultimate Star Wars by Ryder Windham and Adam Bray
- Star Wars Mad Libs by Roger Price and Leonard Stern
There are several titles being released related to The Force Awakens, and while I have not had an opportunity to personally review them, I have little doubt that they will be amazing. Most of these titles are available for pre-order only as they will not be released until Friday when the movies debuts.
- Star Wars: The Force Awakens by Alan Dean Foster (will not be released in print until January, but the Kindle edition will be available Friday)
- The Art of Star Wars: The Force Awakens by Phil Szostak and Rick Carter
- Star Wars: The Force Awakens Visual Dictionaryby Pablo Hidalgo
- Star Wars: The Force Awakens Incredible Cross-Sections by Jason Fry and Kemp Remillard
- Star Wars: The Force Awakens: Before the Awakening by Greg Rucka and Phil Noto
Again, if your Star Wars nerd isn’t a reader, you can’t go wrong with the soundtrack, action figures, or this sweet clock. And, of course, you can’t go wrong with a calendar. If you’re buying for dad, you can select from a wide array of Star Wars neckties. The possibilities are endless…there is Star Wars–themed merchandise for everything.