Comics are cool now. Well, kind of cool. Acceptable. But it's not all pasty nerds reading comics in the dark in their parents' basements anymore — lots of us have moved on to reading in the dark in our own homes and apartments. Here's how to buy for the comic fanboy in your life.
The iPad is to comics as the original iPod was for music. I know, right, yeah, digital comics are still sorta overpriced, and blah blah blah print will never die what about the local comic shop experience. Whatever. You can carry around hundreds and thousands of comics on your tablet, and thanks to cross-platform/publisher services like Comixology, you can sort your digital library just as obsessively as the meticulously ordered boxes in your mom's attic. $579. [Apple]
2. Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited Subscription
Catching up on comics is a humongously expensive undertaking, and the barrier of entry can be stiff enough to turn off an otherwise eager comic reader. If the iPad is the original iPod of comics, MDCU is Marvel's Netflix, giving you access to thousands and thousands of comics from its decades-old backlog. The catch is that you can't use it on your mobile devices, but still, it's hard to beat thousands of comics on your computer for a subscription fee. $US5/month. [Marvel]
3. Gerber's Walking Dead Survival Kit
Nerds love thinking about the end of the world, and so a million-zillion-huge-number of comics are written about just that. And a lot of them are good! There's The Walking Dead, DMZ, The Dark Knight Returns, Days of Future Past, Y: The Last Man. And in pretty much any of those realities, a portable little sack of knives is going to go a long way to getting you through alive and intact. $US350. [Gerber]
4. Drawer Boxes
Let's say your special nerd just won't give up his floppy copies in favour of digital, or even shelve-able graphic novels. You can at least you can help him get his collection a little more organised with these comic longboxes that slide out like drawers, instead of opening from the top like old-school comic cartons. $US50 for five. [Drawer Boxes]
5. Acid-Free Bags & Boards
So you've got the boxes taken care of — now let's talk bags and boards. Long gone are the days when you were collecting comics and keeping them in Mint or Near-Mint-to-Mint condition, hoping to retire on the suckers, but you may as well spend a few bucks and keep them in decent shape for down the road. Make sure to use acid-free boards, which won't damage your comics during long-term storage. $US27 for 200. [Amazon]
6. DC Universe vs. Mortal Kombat or Ultimate Marvel vs. Capcom 3
Would superhero_01 beat superhero_02 is pretty much the backbone of modern comic book fanboyism. And you can play out your universe-specific fantasy battles in these games. We all yearn for the day when the never-gonna-happen Marvel vs. DC games comes out, but these two games will be enough to tide us over until then. $US15, $US40 [Amazon, Amazon]
7. Arkham City
Well, comics aren't alllll about heroes and villains beating the crap out of each other. They're also about... uhh, OK, that's mostly what they're about, just with story and atmosphere and character. And Arkham City is a totally amazing interpretation of the Batman, to the point that you can stop obsessing over when The Dark Knight Rises comes out for the length of the game. $99.95 RRP in Australia.
8. Tickets to Turn Off the Dark
Marvel's ill-fated Spider-Man musical is a beautiful shooting star of a disaster that can't stop making a mockery of itself, even now that its cast and production setup is more or less stabilised. So you've totally got to see this thing, I'm saying, and who knows how long you've got left. TBA. [Ticketmaster]
9. Marvel's Wizard of Oz
Comics are pretty widely accepted as a fine and totally-not-irrevocably-embarrassing hobby for adults by many right-minded folk. But what about the kids? Marvel's interpretation of L. Frank Baum's Wizard of Oz books is one of the most consistently beautiful, fun and wonderful comics around that manages to be appropriate for all ages. $US20. [Amazon]
10. Asterios Polyp
Yeah, yeah, digital comics are a lot more convenient and practical for most mainstream titles, but there are some books that just can't be translated to the little screen. Asterios Polyp is a heartbreakingly smart graphic novel by David Mazzucchelli that uses the visual storytelling abilities of comics as well as anything out there. It's also a beautifully made, oversized hardcover that you can read on a tablet or computer, but really belongs on your shelf. $20 [Amazon]
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