Holy crap! It's finally out! In my travels I haven't made it to a comic shop to pick it up, so I just might have to put my order in on Amazon. Their first batch of Alan Moore's return to the world of LEAGUE OF EXTRAORDINARY GENTLEMEN sold out, but they have more in stock November 27th. I absolutely can't wait to read this. $17.99 at Amazon.
This is another one I haven't read yet, but I've been reading Kevin Smith's online blogs years. In recent memory he's been using MySpace. While his blogs are never boring, as the title of his book suggests, they are filled with such intimate detail (and I mean intimate... the man is totally honest, even about his masturbation habits). Hilarious, frank and even a little illuminating on the process of working in Hollywood. You can get it for $10.17 on Amazon or, if you really want to give someone a good gift, head over to the Jay and Silent Bob Yahoo Sales page and get a copy autographed by Smith for only $14.95!
Joe Hill's debut full length novel hit this past year. He got a lot of press for being the Son of Stephen King, but honestly I think that's short-changing the great work he did here. Heart-Shaped Box is a great horror novel about an aging rock star who is being stalked by the eye-less ghost of an old man and it feels like one his old man would have written in the early '80s. I highly, highly, highly recommend this for any King fan or any fan of genre literature. $14.97 for the hardcover at Amazon.
I'm going to list off the complete three book series that Charlie Huston wrote about an average New Yorker named Hank Thompson who gets caught between the Russian mob, some dirty cops and a shit-ton of cash that he had no part in stealing. Huston's voice is one of my favorites in modern fiction. His Thompson is this era's Parker. He's pretty badass, but goddamn does Huston like to run this guy through the wringer.
Huston's series runs all over North America and in each novel we get new characters, all various shades of grey.
The most interesting thing for me in each book is seeing the progression of Thompson, seeing how each injury, each betrayal, each loved one lost hardens him and changes his soul. Fantastic character work here in three of the most fun books I read this year. A cheap $11.97 each. Click on each cover for each book.
I just finished Naomi Novik's fourth book in her Temeraire Series and I can state it's one of the best so far. It's called Empire of Ivory and it follows our heroic pairing of Will Laurence and his dragon, Temeraire, in an alternate history where Dragons existed and were used in battle during the Napoleonic Wars, as they race to find a cure for a disease that is essentially the black plague for dragons. All the books in this series are great reads and if you need any further vouchers, Peter Jackson has optioned the series to adapt into feature films. A cheap $7.99 for each book if you haven't read any of them. Book 1, Book 2, Book 3 and click the above cover for the latest book in the series.
Jae Lee's artwork in this series, based on King's fantastic book series, married with Richard Isanove's great color work has made this one of the more visually striking books to come out of Marvel. It's not what I had in my mind, exactly, but it's a fascinating interpretation of Roland's world. At $16.49 for the hardback, this one's a must have for any Dark Tower fan, casual or hardcore.
Let's keep the comic book wave going. The Walking Dead is my favorite book put out by any publisher. Black and white, with a strong emphasis on character work Robert Kirkman's series is like the zombie story George Romero never told. There are 7 Graphic Novels out now, with the latest (above) signaling the beginning of some very bad times for our group. All Walking Dead Books can be had for around $10 at Amazon. Book 1, $9.99. Book 2, $10.39. Book 3, $10.39. Book 4, $10.39. Book 5, $10.39. Book 6, $10.39. Book 7, $10.39.
I'm in the middle of reading this one right now, actually, and I'm loving it. Colbert's sarcastic humor and tempo of hilarity translate fantastically into the written word. This book is really nice, actually, complete with a big ribbon built in to hold your place and it even has stickers. Without a doubt one of the safest bets for a holiday gift on this article. $16.19 at Amazon.
This was one of the more suggested items when I placed my call to arms for help in building this guide, so I have included it here. It seems to be going for over $20 from second hand resellers, but if you click the above link you'll go to Barnes and Noble's website, which has it for $9.99. I've never read the original book, but I dig the flick so maybe I'll get around to it soon.
To round out the Cheap portion of the books section, I have a couple of suggestions for gifts for the younger geeks. The Encyclopedia Horrifica is something I never would have found on my own, but after my post announcing the Holiday Guide this year, I was sent a copy of this book and it awoke my younger self. I ate books like this up when I was a kid. Anything with monsters, especially "real life monsters" was devoured. This is a pretty full book, detailing everything from Giant Squid, Vlad the Impaler, ghosts, goblins and ghouls... and all their real life origins or at least where the myths began. Be the cool Uncle this year with this one. $10.19 at Amazon.
You'll be the coolest Uncle in the world if you bundle the Encyclopedia Horrifica with this awesome sounding Star Wars Pop-Up Book. Everything I hear about it makes me want to run out and pick it up. It's getting 5 star reviews everywhere and the idea of a great Star Wars pop-up book makes my inner child wipe away his scared tears and smile through his misery. $19.72 at Amazon.
There are a lot of cool books and a lot cool STAR WARS stuff on the list this year, but this is probably the coolest mix of the two. It's a massive book, absolutely huge, heavy hardbound book with thousands of behind the scenes pictures, many of them never-before-scene, and a detailed step by step of how the film came to be, complete with copies of original Lucas notes, treatments, etc. It's an amazing book. $47.25 at Amazon.
To Infinity and Beyond: The Story of Pixar was another big recommendation from you guys. I just finished watching the great Pixar documentary THE STORY OF PIXAR by Leslie Iwerks and their story is a great one. I can only imagine this book is a fascinating read with tons of great art. $47.25 at Amazon.
Another great overview book is THE MARVEL VAULT, giving a full history of Marvel Comics. No good geek should go without this one. Tons of reproduced memorabilia from the long Marvel history.$32.97 at Amazon.
I grew up on MAD Magazine. What, me worry? This is a damn nice set, that feels a little like the great Calvin and Hobbes hardcover books that came out a couple years ago, even if the humor within the nice packaging is going to be a little more... base. This set focuses on the great Don Martin's work at the Magazine, featuring every piece of art he did from 1957-1987 in over 1000 pages. $94.50 at Amazon.
We covered the kids with the pop-up books, now it's time to get something for pops... or that life-time bachelor Uncle or brother in law. Starting with Marylin Monroe they include every single centerfold in the history of Playboy, over 600 women. I haven't seen this personally, but it's gotta be interesting to see how sexuality progressed over the decades. It's not a cheap book, but it looks really well put together. $315.00 at Amazon.
CHEAP ($24.99 and under)
I played through RESIDENT EVIL 4 on the Wii earlier this year and loved the Wii controls. The aiming and reloading was so much easier than on the Gamecube. If you want an excuse to replay the game or if you haven't given it a spin yet, you have to grab it for the Wii at the cheap price of $24.99.
This game is a blast and a perfect fit for the 360. I've played the board game before, but this is the most fun I've had with a SceneIt game. Each game comes with 4 controllers and you get questions that run from super easy to really super tough. There are different games... ones where you watch a clip (everything from SOME LIKE IT HOT to Peter Jackson's KING KONG) and answer questions about it to games where you listen to an audio clip and pick the movie, etc. Great fun, especially with your movie geek friends. $59.99.
Bioshock is one of the best games to hit any console this year. Art deco/sci-fi-y/horror-ish... such a fantastically designed game. You get super powers, guns and ammo and you get to take out genetically altered flappers in creepy Kubrick SHINING New Years masks. How can you go wrong? $56.99.
I was a big fan of CALL OF DUTY 2 and not so much with CALL OF DUTY 3. The same creative team behind COD2 return for this. I must admit I miss shooting Nazis, but the graphics and gameplay on CALL OF DUTY 4 is spectacular. I tried to beat the game on Veteran for the 360 achievement points and got about halfway through before got my ass handed to me. I don't know if I'll be able to pull it out for my extra achievement points, but damn am I enjoying it. $59.99 for both Xbox 360 and PS3.
Stranglehold isn't the best game to hit, but it's pretty badass when you consider it's the official sequel to HARD BOILED and you get to play Chow Yun Fat. And the slow bullet time means you can shoot hundreds upon hundreds of Yakuza assholes in the nuts and watch them grab their package in pain. The game is out on 360 as well (for $58.99), but the cool thing about the PS3 version is it comes with HARD BOILED. The crappy thing is it's Standard Def and not Blu-Ray HD, but still. Not bad for $69.99.
Super Mario Galaxy was the most requested game by the readers. I'm really looking forward to playing it myself... hopefully I'll get the chance over the holidays. I've heard nothing but great word on the game... $49.99 only on the Wii.
Now to downshift from Wii to DS... I finally got a Nintendo DS this year and one of my first game purchases was New Super Mario Bros and it has been the game that has gotten the most play by me. The regular game is great, but what I really love are the side games, including a memory game, a sort of Super Mario poker game and (my favorite) the jumping Marios and you have to use the stylus to draw trampolines to bounce him at different doors. $33.99.
After playing Contra 4 for the DS I totally realized I suck just as much at Contra 4 as I did for the original Contra (without the immortality code, of course). However, this is totally a great addition to the Contra series, sidescrolling and as low tech as you can get to keep the trademarked Contra feel. $29.99.
Halo 3 Legendary Edition... this is an amazing set... the Spartan helmet is beautiful and all the extras are worth the money. $129.99 to get all that you see above and $69.99 for the collector's set, minus the helmet. But trust me, you want the helmet. However, the game itself is great, a true sequel to the original (and best) HALO.
I was going to include GUITAR HERO 3 on this guide, but it seems from Amazon to Best Buy and Target they're sold out of the wireless controller bundles, which is the best way to play, so I'm going to overshoot it and go directly to Rock Band, a game I have not lost sleep to (unlike GH3) yet. But it just came out, so give me a few days... Anyway, $169.99 and it's like Guitar Hero, except instead of just Guitar you play drums, bass and sing. This one is sold out most places, but you can put an order at Amazon and get in the queue if you don't want to bust your balls running around town looking for it.
CHEAP ($24.99 and under)
Young Jack Bauer with a mullet! Keifer Sutherland from LOST BOYS, from Neca. I have this sucker right by the computer. Great sculpt, much better than the crappy McFarlane 24 Keifer sculpts, unfortunately. $13.99.
It isn't Christmas for any geek worth his or her salt if it doesn't involve Ash. S-Mart Ash from Neca. Only $12.99.
Gary Oldman toy! It's Harry Potter, sure... but how cool is it to get a badass Gary Oldman sculpt? Looks really nice. I have a little collection of Character Actor figures and you better believe Oldman has a place of honor in there... Between $11 and $15 on Amazon.
Alan Rickman toy! Another proud place on my shelf for character actor toys. This is a great sculpt, too. Neca's kicking all kinds of ass at the moment. It's listed at $27.90 on Amazon, but click on the "Used and New" to get it for $19.75 or check out the Spencers and Hot Topics and Suncoasts in your area.
I love these Ralph McQuarrie concept toys. I have the above Vader one, the Comic-Con exclusive Obi-Wan and Yoda and Boba Fett. Such a great idea to put out these fascinating designs as toys. You can get Vader between $7 and $13 on Amazon.
Heeeeyyyy, yooooouuu guuuuuyyyssss! The best looking of all the Goonies toys that just came out... and yes, he does come with a Baby Ruth bar. $14.95-17.00 at Amazon.
12" David Bowie Labyrinth... and yes, they included his massive package. God Bless 'em. This is a really great figure for any child of the '80s like myself. I have one propped up under the lamp in the living room, complete with crystal ball clutched in his hand. Between $24 and $30 on Amazon.
Dude, nothing is fucked here. I know it's a preorder, but The Dude and Walter will be available this month. Get the pair for $33.99.
Kratos from GOD OF WAR... absolutely kick-ass figure. I don't have it yet, but I've looked upon it with my own eyes and it's fantastic. Between $24 and $30 on Amazon.
Remote Control KITT!!! It talks! So awesome! $49.95 at firebox.com. It's out of stock, but new stock comes in December 7th! Get 'em while you can!
12" Stuntman Mike from Quentin Tarantino's DEATH PROOF. Kurt Russell will laugh at you if you don't pre-order this (it ships January '08). He will laugh heartily. $34.99 at EntertainmentEarth.
Better than a bar of soap or a bowling ball to the nuts! Not as good as a Red Ranger BB rifle, but for $29.99 you ain't doin' too bad. I guarantee you this is a fun one to play with the fam around the yule log... and if you happen to flip the channel to TBS anytime starting tomorrow and ending January 1st, you're bound to be watching the movie while playing the special CHRISTMAS STORY Monopoly board!