Well, it's that time of year again, when we slow down a bit and partake of the annual rituals of family gatherings, joyful celebration and feasts, and (hopefully) sneaking in some extra reading time. It's also a time of potential stress as the appreciation that motivates the gift-giving tradition slowly gives way to the panic over figuring out what to get family and friends. If the special people in your life are fans of science fiction, fantasy and horror…there's no need to worry. I've rounded up a selection of really cool books you can add to your gift list. Just follow this handy guide (started in Part 1) and you'll make this a holiday to remember.
FOR THE STAR TREK FAN
There are no less than four excellent new books that are perfect for fans of the Star Trek franchise. First up is Star Trek: Lost Scenes by David Tilotta and Curt McAloney, an undisputable treat for fans of the original series from the 1960s. This heavy, coffee-table-sized book is stuffed with a chronological series of behind-the-scenes photos—many of them previously unseen—that span the length of the original series, from the pilot to the final episode. The painstakingly restored photos come from deleted scenes, bloopers and behind-the-scenes special effects shots, all of which are accompanied by descriptions or dialogue. There are lots of great gems in this one, included a pic of the mostly-emotionless Spock (Leonard Nimoy) laughing and smiling.
Next up is Star Trek: The Art of John Eaves by Joe Nazzaro. Eaves played a pivotal role in defining the look of Gene Roddenberry's groundbreaking franchise. He has worked as a production designer, illustrator, and model maker across several Star Trek productions. That includes the films since Star Trek V: The Final Frontier (including the new films set in the so-called Kelvin Timeline) and television series like Star Trek: The Next Generation through the new Star Trek: Discovery. Not only will readers learn about this influential cog in the great Star Trek machine (an interesting backgrounder in itself), but they will also get to see tons of concept drawings and illustrations of ships, weapons, other props, and sets. Trekkers will love the behind-the-scenes descriptions provided with the artwork.
The final two gift choices for the Star Trek fan is the two-volume set of Star Trek Shipyards: The Encyclopedia of Starfleet Ships by Ben Robinson that serves as a chronological history of the Starfleet starships from the Star Trek television shows and films. These two comprehensive volumes—Starfleet Ships: 2151-2293 and Starfleet Ships: 2294 to the Future—include CG renderings of all the ships featured in various Star Trek stories across mediums, each with a full ship profile and history. (The first one included is S.S. Botany Bay, featured in the original series episode "Space Seed" and the film Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.) The books also include lots of extras like size charts and chronologies. It's a must for the serious Star Trek fan.
FOR THE BIOPIC FILM BUFF
The film First Man told the life story of astronaut Neil Armstrong (played by Ryan Gosling) and NASA's mission to land a man on the moon. The screenplay, written by Josh Singer, is based on James R. Hansen's book First Man: The Life of Neil A. Armstrong. Fans of that film—or even fans of space travel—will appreciate a new book that offers insight into the creation of that film. First Man: The Annotated Screenplay by Singer and Hansen offers readers not only the film's screenplay (or at least a near-final edit of it), but in-depth commentary on the challenges faced and overcome when dramatizing a fact-based historical event onto film. There are plenty of photos from the film and set as well. Taken together, they make First Man: The Annotated Screenplay a great companion the film.
FOR THE B-MOVIE AFICIONADO
Ask any fan of low-budget films to name their favorites and they will inevitably name films from Troma Studios. Founded by Lloyd Kaufman and Michael Herz in 1974, their independent exploitation hits often became cult classics. Some of their so-bad-they're-good films include The Toxic Avenger, Class of Nuke 'Em High and Surf Nazis Must Die. One of the major appeals of such films is the aesthetic and nothing embodies that more than the art associated with those films. The Art of Troma by Nate Cosby is therefore a treasure trove of B-movie goodness. While the text tells the story of how this underdog studio amassed a massive library of films—backed up by candid interviews with the main players—it's the numerous pictures of never-before-seen film stills and rare posters that will spark the nostalgic memories for B-movie fans.
FOR THE MARVEL FAN
Comic books are a visual medium and their appeal can be tied directly to the quality of the art they contain. By that measure, Marvelocity by Alex Ross may be the most appealing thing in this gift guide. Collecting the Marvel Comics art of Alex Ross, it covers his fascination with Marvel characters from when he was a kid (those construction paper superheroes are adorable) to present day (his realistic superhero illustrations are flat-out breathtaking). This is one of those art books that you pore over page-by-page and, when you're done, start looking at them all over again from the beginning. All of the well-known superheroes get their own sections—Spider-Man, Captain America, Iron Man, the Avengers, the Guardians of the Galaxy, the X-Men, the Fantastic Four, Black Panther—but the plethora of comics crossovers means you never have to say goodbye to any of them. An ingenious bit of design by graphic designer Chip Kidd allows readers to roll their own book cover, picking any one of the fourteen striking character portrayals included on the reversible, foldable book cover it comes with.
FOR THE DC UNIVERSE FAN
DC Comics: Anatomy of a Metahuman by S.D. Perry and Matthew Manning and illustrated by Ming Doyle is presented as a dossier written by Bruce Wayne (He's Batman!) to be used in the event that super-powered metahumans present an unstoppable threat. The dossier includes the anatomical makeup and physiology of a handful of heroes and villains from the DC Comics universe, including Superman, Cyborg, Aquaman, The Cheetah, Swamp Thing, Darkseid and more. Each section is adorned with cutaway views of the character in question, attempting to explain Batman's best assessment into what makes these super beings super.
FOR THE FAN WHO CAN'T STOP SAYING "I'M BATMAN"
Most of us know someone who goes around saying "I'm Batman" all the time. Some of us are that someone. (Looks at self.) True batfans will adore the 30th Anniversary edition of The Killing Joke written by Alan Moore and illustrated by Brian Bolland, which is often regarded as the definitive Joker story. In it, we learn of Joker's origins through flashbacks woven within his latest psychotic scheme to prove a point—using Gotham City's top cop, commissioner Jim Gordon, and his brilliant daughter Barbara (a.k.a. Batgirl) to do it. Absolute Batman: The Killing Joke features the original version of this seminal comic, a newly-colored version by illustrator Bolland (which gives the story a different overall tone), as well as some outstanding extras, like the original script for the story, and numerous pieces of art featuring the caped crusader and the clown prince of crime.
Also available is a deluxe edition of Batman/Catwoman: The Wedding Album by Tom King and Mikel Janin and a host of other comic artists to join in the celebration. This sleek new hardcover includes the story of how Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle finally tie the knot. It also includes more than 30 variant covers and exclusive behind-the-scenes design sketches and scripts, making it another high-valued item for Batman fans.
FOR FANS OF SUPERMAN
Fans of Superman need not be left behind. DC Comics has just released another collectible deluxe edition: Action Comics #1000: The Deluxe Edition by Brian Bendis, Scott Snyder, Geoff Johns, Tom King, and more. This is a celebration of 80 years of Superman in comics and features several stories featuring the man of steel, each depicting different eras of his life and the comic's publication history. This deluxe anthology also includes unpublished artwork by Curt Swan, who drew Superman for decades. Stories include a fateful chess match between Superman and Lex Luthor; a follow-up about the car Superman destroyed in his first appearance in Action Comics #1; and Superman teaming up with his cousin Supergirl to face the villain who claims to be the destroyer of their home world, Krypton.
FOR DYSTOPIA FANS
Speaking of 30th anniversaries and Alan Moore, another groundbreaking graphic novel gets the Deluxe Edition treatment. V for Vendetta, written by Moore and illustrated by David Lloyd, also has a stunning new 30th Anniversary Deluxe Edition. This 400-page treat collects all ten issues between a sturdy hardcover that collectors will love to have on their shelves. Written in the early 1980s, V for Vendetta is a near-future dystopia about an alternate United Kingdom in the 1990s, about ten years after a nuclear war has devastated most of the rest of the world. The predominant political party maintains a totalitarian police state. It is in this Dystopia that a hero emerges: an anarchist revolutionary dressed in a Guy Fawkes mask who goes by the name V. His goal is to bring down the fascist state and convince people to abandon democracy in favor of anarchy so that personal freedoms may be restored. This influential graphic novel was turned into a film in 2006, but the original contains layers you won't find there.
FOR THE HORROR COMICS FAN
One of the most popular and controversial dark comics is the Hellblazer series which features antihero occultist John Constantine. Constantine is a streetwise magician first created by Allan Moore 30 years ago. (1988 was a busy year for Moore between this, The Killing Joke and V for Vendetta!) Now, the best Hellblazer stories are collected in John Constantine, Hellblazer: 30th Anniversary Celebration by various writers and artists alike Alan Moore, Neil Gaiman, Dave McKean, Garth Ennis, Brian Azzarello, Steve Dillon and Mike Carey. It even includes Constantine's first appearance (in Swamp Thing #37) and is a must-have for fans of dark fantasy and horror.