For the Nice (and the Naughty): Best Graphic Novels to Give for Christmas

With the holiday season in full swing, you might be wondering what to give to friends for Christmas. Even as we take pride in being a website for geeks, allow us to suggest a few graphic novels for you that your friends will surely appreciate (whether they be geeky or not).

Your library can only be richer with the addition of Watchmen

1. Watchmen

Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons turned the comics world upside down in 1986 with this critique on the entire superhero genre. It was violent, graphic, and confrontational, words that at that time, no one had associated with comics. Introducing a dysfunctional team of characters including the god-like Dr. Manhattan, the psychotic Comedian, the insecure Nite-Owl, the seductive Silk Spectre, the self-righteous Ozymandias, and the paranoid Rorshach, not even the 2009 film has taken the sheen off this classic. You can purchase Watchmen here.

Neil Gaiman changed the way people viewed comics with his Sandman series

2. Sandman

Though we now live in a world where most blockbuster films have origins in comics, this wasn’t the case in the late 1980s. Back then, the word “comics” was associated with superheroes, kid stuff, or daily strips in newspapers. When Neil Gaiman created his landmark Sandman series that ran from 1989-1996, he helped open the floodgates for comics to be appreciated by more adults and, subsequently, mainstream society. Revolving around Dream of the Endless, the title character who rules over the world of dreams, Gaiman covered a wide range of literary genres and subjects as Dream (or Morpheus) dealt with characters both real and fictional.There are several versions of the Sandman books for you to choose from.”

A Batman in his 50s comes out of retirement to prove he’s still a badass in The Dark Knight Returns

3. The Dark Knight Returns

Imagine an older Bruce Wayne, retired, and not dressing up as a giant bat anymore. Imagine him being lured back into action in a Gotham City that is run by mutants and criminals. Now imagine Batman facing off against a Superman who’s become a stooge of the US Government. Writer/artist Frank Miller crafted this story of an aging Dark Knight, he dealt with Bruce Wayne’s mortality in the face of even more blatant criminality in the streets as well as a government that turns a blind eye to it. Nearly three decades since it was first published, The Dark Knight Returns continues to be a favorite story for Batman-fans of all ages. Batman deserves a worthy place in your geeky friends’ libraries.

Before catching next year’s X-Men: Days of Future Past, check out the comic that the film was based on

4. X-Men: Days of Future Past

Right on time for the 2014 release of the film based on this story, this collaboration by Chris Claremont and John Byrne helped set the tone for all time travel stories that followed. In a bleak future where mutants and heroes are hunted down by giant robots known as Sentinels, the X-Man Kate Pryde transfers her mind to her younger self, the present-day Kitty Pryde. In doing so, Kitty needs to convince the X-Men to help her prevent a pivotal event that would trigger the dystopian future that the older Kate had barely survived. Originally published as Uncanny X-Men # 141 and 142 in 1980, this, together with “The Dark Phoenix Saga” also from Claremont and Byrne, made Marvel’s merry mutants into comic superstars as they embodied the persecuted and downtrodden minority that strove to overcome overwhelming adversity.Give the gift of the X-Men’s doomed future here.

Snow White, the Big Bad Wolf, Little Boy Blue, and Pinocchio are just a few of the cast of characters in Fables.

5. Fables: Legends in Exile

What would our individual childhoods be like without fairy tales? These fantastic tales about beautiful princesses, magical beasts, evil witches, and forgotten realms are prevalent in every culture and have often allowed parents to teach a moral story or two to their children. Picture then a town, hidden from prying eyes but right in New York, where these characters and creatures all lived together as neighbors after they relocated from their original homeland. Writer Bill Willingham and the excellent artists he’s tapped (including James Jean, Mark Buckingham, Shawn McManus, and Steve Leialoha) brought all these elements together in an award-winning series that predates any current TV series or movies with similar concepts. “Legends in Exile” is the first of these editions and serves as a great starting point for any would-be reader. Bring your childhood fairy tales to modern life by buying this collection.

There are, of course, many other graphic novels in the market with their own great stories just waiting for you to read and share. We’ve even got ideas on what other stuff you can give right here: Gift Ideas for the Geek In your Life.

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