Markley’s Fevered Brain: Post Hanukkah Blues or Merry Christmas!

Wayne Markley

Wayne Markley

by Wayne Markley

I would like to start out saying I hope all of my Jewish friends had a wonderful Hanukkah and received eight books I have discussed over the past year as gifts. For all of my non-Jewish friends, I would like to wish all of you a Merry Christmas and a happy holiday season. Since it is the holiday season, I thought it would be a good time to discuss books I would recommend for the holiday gift giving season. I am going to try and not mention any books I have recently discussed so I encourage you to go back to my past blogs and see if there is anything I have recommended that might appeal to you or your loved ones.

Richard Stark's Parker: Slayground

Richard Stark’s Parker: Slayground

The first book I would recommend id the fourth volume of Darwyn Cooke’s adaptation of the Parker novels, Richard Stark’s Parker: Slayground. Cooke does one of this adaptations a year and each year he seems to top himself. These are graphic adaptations of the Richard Stark’s classic Parker crime novels, set in the early 1960s. Cooke has an amazing ability to both capture the feel of the time period and to change his storytelling style with each new volume. Each book is black and white and another color, which changes from volume to volume. What I love is Cooke’s storytelling technique also changes from volume to volume while keeping a fluid style that ties all the books together. Cooke is not afraid to deviate from traditional storytelling as well as use new techniques, such as a page of collages or text or maps to help tell his story. While Stark’s Parker prose novels are great, and highly recommend to any crime fan, these graphic adaptations by Darwyn Cooke are just as good as the original novels and they are almost like reading a whole new interpretation (yet faithful) of the original prose novels. These books should be in every library. As an aside, these tend to be for mature readers due to content.

Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse Color Sundays Vol. 1

Walt Disney’s Mickey Mouse Color Sundays Vol. 1

I have spoken at length in the past about the complete Walt Disney’s Mickey Mouse collections by Floyd Gottfredson that Fantagraphics is doing. There have been four volumes so far reprinting almost the first ten years of the classic newspaper strip. Something I have not brought up is Fantagraphics is doing a separate collection of the complete Walt Disney’s Mickey Mouse Color Sundays by Floyd Gottfredson. These are beautiful full color hardcovers (in the same format as the daily collections) but they reprint the Sunday strips from the beginning. The Sundays are just as good as the dailies but the color really adds something special to the stories. Unlike the Mickey Mouse dallies which tended to be fairly long running stories, the Sundays are ether self-contained gag strips or much smaller adventure strips. It is a marvel how talented Floyd Gottfredson was doing Mickey Mouse and the Sunday collections really show off his talents. These are great reading for all ages.

Doug Wildey's Rio: The Complete Saga

Doug Wildey’s Rio: The Complete Saga

Doug Wildey was an artist’s artist. Unfortunately he never seemed to gain much acclaim in the comic world outside of the true comic historians and his fellow artists. He is best known for creating Jonny Quest, or at least in designing the character’s look and style. That alone would be enough to earn anyone a spot in the comics Hall of Fame, if there was one. But Doug Wildey also did a series of graphic Novels called Rio. IDW published a beautiful hardcover collection collecting all of the previously published Rio work as well as a new, never-before published, Rio story and the breakdowns of what would have been the next Rio story if Wildey had survived to finish it. Wildey is like a small group of artists, like John Severin, Russ Heath, Alex Toth, Dave Stevens (who incidentally based Peevey of the Rocketeer fame on Doug Wildey) whose art is so graceful and beautiful that you really do not realize you are reading a comic book. Wildey’s art has stunning landscapes of the west as well as the grittiness of city life in the world that Rio lived in. His style is very European in that he is not limited to a strict panel format or page count. His stories are like watching the best western ever made on a big screen in HD and in 5.0 Dolby. They are a sheer joy to experience. Doug Wildey’s Rio: The Complete Saga is an appropriate tribute to a highly underrated storyteller as well as spectacular stories all rolled into one. Even if this is not a gift, you should get a copy for yourself. Even if you do not like westerns, as Rio is far more than a western.

Vampirella Archives Vol. 1

Vampirella Archives Vol. 1

Vampirella has been published by Dynamite for a number of years now, and before that for many years by Harris Comics. While both of these companies have had some OK stories, even though they have had top notch creators at times, neither company has ever lived up to what Warren Publishing had been able to do in the original magazines. Thankfully, Dynamite has been publishing some very nice collection of the originally material from the 1960 and 1070s in a series of books called the Vampirella Archives. Volume Eight just came out and they are almost to the half-way point of reprinting the whole original series. These collections are lush, over-sized hardcovers with full color when needed (that is when there was color in the original magazine, such as covers, etc.). The original Vampirella had a rocky run, with both ups and down, but overall I think there were far more ups that downs. The lead story in each issue of the Vampirella Magazine was, of course, Vampirella, the super sexy vampire from another planet who constantly finds trouble and evil here on Earth. The stories are dark and gritty with a slight touch of humor. There were other ongoing stories, such as Pantha, but for the most part the rest of the magazines were made up of horror stories similar to those that ran in Eerie and Creepy. What makes this archive series so interesting to read is all the creators that worked on the magazines. You have work from everyone from Archie Goodwin to Richard Corben and everyone in-between. Each issue reflects the time period (early 70s for the most part) and the stories are actually very well told. The lead Vampirella stories build a world filled with danger and a beautiful vampire trying to stop all this evil. The short horror stories range from creepy to downright spine-tingling. It should also be noted how well the design and production are on these collections are. They are great looking in addition to being a good read and they look great together on a bookshelf. I think Vampirella is an interesting cultural icon that has been wiped from our memories with time and these archives are a great way to discover one of the more interesting characters and magazines from a time long gone.

There are hundreds of other great books out there that would make a great present. Everything from crime to western to adventure to even superheroes. While graphic novels are not for everyone, there is a much broader selection of titles and genres to choose from than most people think. I have always thought the idea behind a gift is to give someone something they would not think of buying themselves, and I think a graphic novel would fit this definition perfectly.

Everything written in this column is my opinion and in no way reflects the thoughts or opinions of Westfield or their employees. I welcome feedback both negative and positive at MFBWAY@AOL.COM. What presents are you buying this year? I would like to know.

Thank you.


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