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.
Baseball is the one sport whose history is every bit as important as what is happening on the field. The record books are held in reverence, and the heroes of the past loom over the stars of today. With that in mind, here are some fantastic books that the baseball fanatic in your life will love.
- The League of Outsider Baseball: An Illustrated History of Baseball’s Forgotten Heroes by Gary Cieradkowski – This is at the top of the list for a reason. If you buy no other book for your baseball fan this holiday season, but this one. From the excellent illustrations to the entertaining articles, baseball fans the world over will absolutely love The League of Outsider Baseball. This is the most important and highest recommended book on this list.
- Pudge: The Biography of Carlton Fisk by Doug Wilson – Wilson has made a name for himself with some fantastic baseball biographies; his work on the life of Carlton Fisk is his most recent. Baseball fans will also enjoy Wilson’s The Bird (biography of Mark Fidrych) and Brooks (biography of Hall of Famer Brooks Robinson).
- 101 Baseball Places to See Before You Strike Out by Josh Pahigian – A good list of baseball meccas to help you plan your summer vacation.
- Baseball Myths: Debating, Debunking, and Disproving Tales from the Diamond by Bill Deane – A fun read with shorter articles that examine several legendary tales from the diamond. Stories about Derek Jeter, Pete Rose, and Babe Ruth are included.
- Tony Oliva: The Life and Times of a Minnesota Twins Legend by Thom Henninger – Tony Oliva is one of the most popular players in Minnesota history, and Henninger’s look at his life shows why.
Not everyone likes to read. I get that. Well, maybe I don’t get that, but I am aware of that fact at least. So here are some other ideas for the baseball fan on your list.
- OYO Sports Figures and Playsets – This LEGO-like toy is a great gift if you know your fan’s favorite player.
- Super Stadium Baseball Game – Kids (and kids at heart) can have hours of fun with this game.
- The Baseball Card Game by TDC Games – Not as involved as Super Stadium, but a fun way to pass the time.
- Classic Board Game – A great trivia game from the early 1990s, including 100 baseball trading cards.
- Baseball: A Film by Ken Burns – Ten DVDs chronicling the history of the national pastime. Originally aired on PBS in 1994; updated in 2010.
Writing and drawing for comic books is a true art form, and the skills needed to succeed are much different than what a short story writer or novelist might utilize. Here are some books to help those who are exploring their talents in the comic art form.
- Words For Pictures by Brian Michael Bendis
- Creating Graphic Novels by Sarah Beach
- Mastering Comics by Jessica Abel & Matt Madden
- The Art of Comic Book Writing by Mark Kneece
- Foundations in Comic Book Art by John Paul Lowe
- How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way by Stan Lee and John Buscema
Most writers who dream of working in comics love to read them as well, so they may also enjoy the books below.
There are innumerable books on the market targeted toward aspiring authors. Some are more worthwhile than others. Here is a short list of some books that writers might find useful.
- Jeff Herman’s Guide to Book Publishers, Editors and Literary Agents
- Editor-Proof Your Writing by Don McNair
- The Writer’s Devotional by Amy Peters
- Fast Fiction by Denise Jaden
- 500 Words You Should Know by Caroline Taggart
While those books can be very beneficial, there are three that are indispensable. Find out if the books listed below are on your friend’s bookshelf, and if not, you have a perfect Christmas gift.
- The Elements of Style by William Strunk Jr. and E.B. White
- The Writer’s Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers by Christopher Vogler
- Roget’s Thesaurus or The Merriam-Webster Thesaurus
Tomorrow: ideas for an aspiring comic book writer and/or artist.
Rock isn’t dead, and here are ten records to prove it. If the rocker in your life likes classic hard rock, there’s a good chance he’ll love some of these albums. They are not all brand new, but there are some hidden gems that even the most grizzled rockers have not heard.
- Bulletboys – Elefanté
- Hollywood Vampires – Hollywood Vampires
- Judas Priest – Redeemer of Souls
- Lynch Mob – Rebel
- Paul Gilbert & Freddie Nelson – United States
- Rival Sons – Pressure & Time
- Scorpion Child – Scorpion Child
- Scorpions – Return To Forever
- Triggerdaddy – Stereosonic Meltdown
- ZO2 – Ain’t It Beautiful
Of course, if your special rocker is into stuff off the beaten path, check out these bluegrass records that really rock:
And then there are books about music…