WLG #390: "Better Than Scratch-Off Lottery Tickets"

A column article by: Brandon Billups

Let me start by asking you all to forgive me for robbing you of my digital presence last month. I know it must’ve been hard, but I’m back now and the Internet seems to have fared decently despite my absence, so I think we’ll all be okay. Now, how about those comic book things?

This is a pretty small week for me in terms of what I ordinarily read, so I’m branching out a little bit. I could tell you to read Batwoman #4 (J.H. Williams III & W. Haden Blackman; $2.99) or Frankenstein: Agent of S.H.A.D.E. #4 (Jeff Lemire & Alberto Ponticelli; $2.99) or Uncanny X-Force #18 (Rick Remender & Jerome Opena; $3.99), and make no mistake, I am telling you to read these books. But I’ve already talked about them. Instead, I’m going to talk about the meanin’ of the season folks. That’s right: Jesus.

Just kidding. Let’s talk about getting stuff for free from people who don’t really owe you anything! I’ve compiled a small list of holiday gifts suitable for the denominational celebration of your choice. They’re all out this week, and this is pretty much my holiday wish list, so take note if you have a loved one who is a great big baby or if you’re my mother; this list could be useful to you.

As serious funny-book fans, we know that the best presents don’t have softcovers. All our friends probably know too, because as fans we lack the ability to tell when someone wants us to stop talking about The Flash. People don’t like us. So don’t be surprised when somebody gives you DC Comics’ The New 52 Hardcover (Various Writers/Artists; $150; 215 lbs.) as a gift this year. It’s exactly what you asked for: a giant hardbound collection of comic books. But it has the added bonus of being enormous, heavy, and probably filled with content you’ve already read and will never read again. It’s the perfect gift for the person who’s trying to say “I want to hurt you in a way that leaves me immune to any backlash.” Or maybe your manic-depressive boyfriend has a huge spot on his already sagging bookshelf reserved just for this title. I don’t know. Either way, it’s a gift.

Now, if you’ve been smart enough to be discreet and drop the right hints without going into a nerd-rage about “The Great Barry or Wally Debate” you may find something strange happening. People listen subliminally even when they’re not paying attention, so when your friends and family are ignoring you they’re actually processing everything you’re saying, their brain is just filing it as junk. The key here is to notice when this is happening and mutter the titles, writers, and artists of books you want as rapidly, but quietly, as possible. The effect on the person’s inner mind will be enormous, believe me. They’ll be drawn to a local comic shop where they will stand in front of the hundreds of selections and think, “You know, I think [Nerd’s Name Here] would really like these Jonathan Hickman books,” or “Didn’t [Pejorative Nickname] say he his old issues of Secret Wars burnt down with the rest of his apartment?” This way you can own Hickman’s Nightly News Anniversary Edition Hardcover ($34.99) and Red Wing trade paperback ($14.99) without spending your hard-earned money. Or, alternately, someone may give you the new printing of Secret Wars (written by Jim Shooter, art by Mike Zeck & Bob Layton; $34.99) and Secret Wars II (Jim Shooter & Al Milgrom, $29.99). You can’t afford to buy this yourself because liking Secret Wars is like having a tattoo on your hand. Everyone can see it and you can’t get a job. It’s why I write this column for free.

What’s that though? The person you’re trying to buy a gift for doesn’t like super-hero comics? He refuses to read anything from a mainstream publisher? You’re actually in luck, because locating that one perfect gift for the serious sequential art aficionado can be so difficult that they’ll forgive you for only spending a few bucks as long as you found just the right item. I’m going to tell you what it is. Are you ready?

It’s called Tales Designed to Thrizzle #7. It’s by Michael Kupperman, who has an extensive pedigree in editorial cartoons and has been published by, you guessed it, The New Yorker. He’s also dabbled in TV comedy. You might remember his work on TV Funhouse or that Snake ‘n’ Bacon pilot he did for Adult Swim, but you were pretty stoned, so maybe not. The book is also published by Fantagraphics, and since you don’t know and I have to tell you: they have cred. It doesn’t hurt that it’s also funny as hell and only $4.95. You should probably read it before you just give it away for no good reason.

And that, my friends, is what the season of giving is about. Giving takes many forms. You can spend a small fortune on a cumbersome gift for somebody you can’t stand. This is a kind of gift to yourself. You can be thoughtless and rely on intuition and, with a moderate budget, feel confident that you’re giving the guy at work with the rat-tail a solid “Secret [Winter Seasonal Figment]” gift. This is a gift to both of you. Or you can rely on the advice of a stranger from the Internet and get them a single cheap issue of a goofy comic book and make them love you forever. This is a gift to nobody because it creates unfair expectations. It is a kind of vain, frustrated sacrifice to the spirit of charity. This is the best kind of gift.

Thanks for reading all my words and looking at all these pictures of comic books for the last few months guys. It’s been real. See you in 2012, hopefully the final year of human history, and have a happy Whatever You Celebrate!



Brandon Billups wrote a few comic reviews for Comics Bulletin a while ago, but then he was bitten by a radioactive sloth and didn’t for a long time. He has recently overcome his super-hurdles and is diving headfirst back into the world of comics to bring you the very best, and with a little luck poke fun at the very worst along the way. He has a bunch of blogs all over the internet that he can’t remember the login info for anymore. He tweets as @linguish, mostly about things that make him sound insane, but occasionally about comics too.

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