It is that time of year friends. The time when 1) gifts need to be bought, 2) kids are home from school, 3) we have a few days at home (see #2), and 4) your local comic book shop has sales. A savvy comic book shopper can wrap all this up with a bow in one step: Trade Paperbacks! These collections of comics are perfect gifts, particularly for the under-20s on your list. Portable, colorful, long enough to be a full story, but short enough that it isn’t an all day read.
They’re engaging for younger readers and can even be read to/read along with materials. For older teens, they can introduce a new favorite character and introduce some diversity of media into their lives. So what’s good this year?
Writer: Kelly Thompson/ Artist: Brianne Drouhard / Kaboom!
Age range: 5+
This 5-issue gem from staff favorite writer Kelly Thompson is a cute mystery, featuring Princess Max who’s looking for her baby brother. On her quest, she gains a goth fairy godmother (naturally) and a magical steed who gives her nothing but lip. She makes friends with a variety of mythical creatures and is reminded that sometimes listening to your parents is the best idea. Along the way she learns all of the usual Princess lessons along with one more: you don’t ever have to be just one thing. You can be *everything*. This one is perfect for when you can’t face one more Disney Princess story but your small one won’t tolerate anything else.
DC SuperHero Girls
Writer: Shea Fontana/ Artist: Yancey Labat / DC Comics
Age range: 8+
DC SuperHero Girls is the whole package: action figures, movies, TV shows, costumes, chapter novels, and comic books. There are 3 graphic novels in the series so far. Wonder Woman is the center of the action, as she should be, and the whole cast is here: Bumblebee, Poison Ivy, Bat Girl, Supergirl, Harley Quinn…oh, and there are some boys too. The franchise promises to have a long tenure, so it can grow with your younger reader and transition them into a DC fan for life. Send this one along with an action figure and you’ll be winning.
The Unstoppable Wasp
Writer: Jeremy Whitley / Artist: Elsa Charretier / Marvel Comics
Age range: 8+ yrs
I read the first few issues of this comic and let me tell you, this comic is fun. Jeremy Whitley brings his signature girl power (you’ve familiar with Princeless, right?) to the dour boys club at Marvel and establishes a new girl genius in the canon. Nadia is effervescently positive and endlessly encouraging of her team of girl scientists and thinkers. On the real-life point, each issue ends with an interview of a woman scientist — perfect for a little encouragement for the reader. I didn’t finish her first arc of adventures, but I’d love to get back and finish this one out. The trade collecting the 2nd half of the series dropped this year so giving this one now guarantees you have a follow-up gift next year.
Writers: Kurt Lustgarten & Kiwi Smith / Artist: Naomi Franquiz / Boom! Box
Age range: 10+
There’s a strong nostalgia pull to this one, so be warned you may want to buy yourself a copy. Set in the town of Cannon Cove, this tale is a throwback to The Goonies (Never Say Die), but this time, the crew is all girls and the pirate is Black Mary. It is wonderfully self-referential while remaining fresh, so the fact that the recipient has probably never heard of The Goonies won’t slow them down. The girl characters are plucky and sassy and punk-rock, and there’s a dog. Together they solve the mystery while hitting all the plot points you expect. For the kid who likes the unexpected, this is a good bet.
Writers: Brenden Fletcher, Cameron Stewart, Babs Tarr / Artist: Cameron Stewart, Babs Tarr / Image Comics
Age range: 15+
Domino Swift is my favorite kind of hero, self-confident but flawed, emotional but contained, sexy in a bad girl on a bike kind of way. Well, she is a girl on a bike, but is she bad? She’s definitely misunderstood. She’s the star of the comic, with a supporting cast of her ex-girlfriend, Lola, and her adoptive dad. By day she’s a motorcycle racer in a cyberpunk world. By night she does street races to score the drug she needs to stay alive, a substance called “Crush”. This comic has lots of commentary on modern life and the rise of 24/7 media stars, but also about human relations and how complicated it can be to just tell the truth. All of it. All wrapped up with imaginative bike races done in fantastic neon-colors. This one is for the girl who dreams of riding a bike into the sunset.
That’s our list of trades that would make the perfect gift for the holidays? Got any more suggestions? Let us know what Trade paperback you’re thinking of gifting your friends and family with this season in the comments below.
Looking for ideas? We got you with our variety of Gift Guides for all ages.