Tomorrow will be Christmas Day, so the gifts will be given, unwrapped and enjoyed. But as a comics reader, I’ve often found this holiday to be somewhat disappointing. And I’ve often spoken with other comics fans, and many of you share my problem with Christmas (or even birthdays, for that matter).

NOBODY REALLY KNOWS WHAT I WANT LIKE I DO

Whenever someone buys me a gift, I often either already have it or don’t want it.

I’ve had family and friends go to comics stores and buy me “popular” titles to give me as gifts. I often thank them profusely, then see if anyone else really would like to have them. The intention is good, which is why I do that. But it’s rare when I actually am given something I’ve been searching for.

(This also happens with Star Trek. I wish I could count the number of times I’ve received Trek novels I either didn’t want or had just finished reading.)

I’M MAKING A LIST AND CHECKING IT TWICE

Batman, gift cards, comics shops, Visa, Santa, Christmas, comixologyWhat I’ve often done is give people a list of things I’d like to have. The problem is that my friends and family not into comics have no idea what it really is, so they try to “ballpark” my gift. That means if I want Batman #26, I’ll end up with whatever copies of Batman the store has, even if it’s #14 or #8.

Now, get me a #1 or even a #2, and we’ll call it even! Fat chance that’s going to happen, though!

I’ve even received Batman coloring books by someone who had no clue what a comic was. I smiled benignly, but I haven’t used Crayons in decades!

I’m sure the store they went to was thrilled to unload some of these books on an unsuspecting customer, but I’ve often taken those books back to them and asked for store credit. Please!

CONDITION? WHAT DO YOU MEAN CONDITION?

I also tend to be given comics by folks who don’t understand what the word “collectability” means. Often my gifts have been in multiple bags or fallen to the bottom of said bags, with heavy objects on top of them. (I can already hear some of you groaning right now!)

I know it’s “just a comic book,” but that doesn’t mean I want it with folds and bends all over the place, particularly if I like it!

I’ve received some comics that look like the family dog has slept on them for several days before they were gifted to me. (And some of them have smelled that way, too, by the way.)

I would recommend that if someone comes to a comics shop, whoever sells them the book ask if they want to buy a bag and board to go with it, then volunteer to assemble it properly! Believe me, it would be much appreciated by the person receiving the book on the holiday!

THE SOLUTION? GIVE GIFT CARDS!

I’ve said this before, but it bears repeating! If you have a comics fan/collector you’re buying for, let that person do the choosing by giving them a gift card. Many stores sell them for just such a purpose, so take advantage of that! And with the rising up of digital versions, you can get them at this very link! And you can still do it today, even!

This year, I did buy a present for myself – Richard Stark’s Parker: Slayground by Darwyn Cooke. Can’t wait to read it on Christmas!

I always worry what gifting like ones I’ve received does to the industry. If you give a gift to someone who doesn’t like what you’ve received from Santa (who actually would have a better idea of what I’d want, I think), that person is much less likely to go that route next year. And I’ve often discovered that people who won’t give comics-related gifts tend to completely avoid giving anything that could be used to buy comics, like a Visa gift card.

Do the right thing and let the fan do the selecting! Better for you (less time, fuss and muss), better for them (they get what they want)! Make the holidays happier for everyone this way!

The Author

Wayne Hall

Wayne Hall

Wayne Hall creates the Wayne's Comics Podcast. He’s interviewed Scott Snyder, Greg Capullo, John Layman, Kyle Higgins, Phil Hester, Jimmy Palmiotti & Justin Gray, David Petersen, Christos Gage, Mike Grell, and Matt Kindt. Each episode also includes reviews, news and previews. On this site each week, he writes his "Comics Portal" column (general comics comments and previews) and reviews comics.

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2 Comments

  1. December 24, 2013 at 9:59 am — Reply

    I’ve usually been quite lucky in getting comics as gifts, usually in the form of things I’d not really buy for myself or are outside my budget range (such as those nice hardback graphic novels or collected editions, like “The Complete Frank Miller Batman”), graphic novels or TPB that are of a series I’ve mentioned wanting to try (my friends and siblings seem to have a knack for remembering those even if I only mention it in passing once in June) or just a subscription to a title or from a setting they know I like.

    But I’m on a limited budget due to med costs, so that broadens the range of things they can be almost guaranteed I won’t have.

    I’m also pretty easy to please. Get me anything with an in-continuity logo on it (Green Lantern patch, Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters sweatshirt, Hogwarts coffee mug, Starfleet Academy Flight Training barf bags, etc) and I’ll be thrilled.

  2. Oldcomicfan
    December 25, 2013 at 8:04 am — Reply

    I tell my friends and relatives to give me gift cards. Nobody ever bought me comics, which still aren’t considered mainstream enough to catch the attention of non-fans, but as a model railroader and avid bibliophile, I have been plagued by decades of books I already own or toy trains I don’t want or model railroad bits that are completely the wrong gauge or scale. Gift cards are the ideal solution. Yes, sir, please give me some plastic thing I can use to buy something I really want or need, rather than some cheap plastic thing that will either get re-gifted next year or shoved into the back of the closet. (Speaking of re-gifting, I’ve found that giving Uncle Aunt back the same Old Spice set he/she gave me the year before is the perfect way of discouraging such generic gifts).

    But sometimes, my father did surprise me with gifts I hadn’t wanted or asked for but have greatly enjoys – an iPod, of all things, and another year, a Nintendo DS – which I have enjoyed so much I have upgraded to better and newer models since.

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