The Hidden S in Christmas

I know that there is no hidden S in Christmas. In fact there are two very apparent Ss in Christmas. But that's not the point. The point is, this week's The Hidden S in Phone Booth is a special look some wonderful gifts for the comic book fan in your life. Read on and enjoy. The Hidden S in Christmas- Here are the items at the top of my Christmas List: DC Vault: A Museum in a Box with Rare Collectibles from the DC Universe (Running Press) The DC Vault is a high end but affordable (about $33.00 at Amazon) collectible that assembles some of the fascinating ephemera relating to the creation of the DC Universe. Among the items reproduced here are a 1943 Batman mask that advertises the newspaper strip, a Junior Justice Society Decoder Wheel, a “History of the DC Universe” poster where artists drew there favorite characters (Neal Adams/Deadman, Carmine Infantio/The Flash,etc.) and a great preliminary Hawkman cover sketch by Joe Kubert. Ever richer material is here with reproductions of never been seen before artwork like Neal Adams’ concepts for the “Superman-land” amusement park. The delights here are not only visual as author Martin Pasko writes about the development of some of the artwork and puts the history behind some of the items in context. The Umbrella Academy: Apocalypse Suite (Dark Horse) The tale of a group of dysfunctional child superheroes with highly irregular superpowers gets the serous limited edition treatment with Dark Horse’s oversized edition which includes an exclusive sketchbook, concept designs and original artwork as well as analysis from the creators of this innovative comic. Watching the Watchmen (Titan) Have you got Watchmen fatigue yet? If so, this is not the book for you. Watching the Watchmen is a collaboration between Watchmen co-creator Dave Gibbons and the very fine graphic designer Chip Kidd. The book seems to be intended to bring some insight into the creation of the groundbreaking graphic novel. On this level, it falls a bit short. What is of interest is page after page of concepts sketches, drawings and notes about Mr. Gibbon’s artwork. The printing here is beautiful and Kidd’s method helps give the images the gravity they deserve. Again, despite the authorship and cooperation of Mr. Gibbons, there is little in the way of examination of the characters and the ideas behind the artwork and design. Watchman is a book that distinguished itself by transcending the usual themes in comics and the relative lack of analysis here is a mild disappointment. The Spirit Movie Visual Companion (Titan) and The Spirit Vol. 1 (DC) A couple of nice works to accompany the highly anticipated cinema adaptation of Will Eisner’s immortal (in more ways than one) The Spirit; The Spirit Vol. 1 collects issues 1-6 of Darwyn Cooke’s/Joe Loeb’s collaboration on the recent revival of Eisner’s character. This volume also has a fun team up between Batman and The Spirit. Cooke’s sensibility is particularly apt with regard to the character of the Spirit and his work here is a nice tribute to Eisner’s breezy sensibility. This particular volume is in TPB format which makes it a nice, affordable luxury. The Spirit Movie Visual Companion is merely page after page of gorgeous photos of the film production; comic porn at its best. Enjoy. Iron Man: The Art of Iron Man the Movie (Marvel) A volume that is curiously released at year’s end; The Art of Iron Man the Movie is another creamy work of geek hardcore that has very detailed layouts, drawings and descriptions of design in involving the Iron Man suits, and gear, as well as detailed drawings of Tony Stark’s house, workshop and even the yellow and red car that inspired the look of the newest Iron Man suit (Jon Favreau contributes as does Stan Winston). Jack Kirby's The Demon Omnibus (DC) It is rare that a superhero’s alter ego might be more captivating than his superhero persona, but such is the case with Jack Kirby’s creation The Demon. Jason Blood, the alter ego of Etrigan- The Demon, is a Demonologist who has lived since the time of King Arthur and who is able to summon his Demon in times of necessity. The character, a classic anti-hero from the 70s has been revived several times in his nearly 40 year history and is a cult favorite of comic creators like Kevin Smith. This volume collects the now legendary 16 issue run created from the vivid, one of a kind pen of Jack Kirby. This run was near the peak of Kirby’s powers and is a nice relic from an interesting time in DC’s history. The Hidden S