SHENZHEN and WALT & SKEEZIX 2: Holiday Gift Guide

“Framed” / San Antonio Current / John Defore / November 28, 2006

We know that not everyone on your shopping list this holiday season is a comics fan. But you might be surprised — especially after checking out the range of options on bookshelves now. Let the mind-expansion begin with these stocking-friendly new releases.

For the geo-politically curious: Shenzhen by Guy Delisle (Drawn and Quarterly); To Afghanistan and Back and Silk Road to Ruin by Ted Rall (NBM): Readers of altweeklies know Rall’s work quite well. His smart-ass, authority-questioning voice uses these two volumes to go beyond armchair critique and try hands-on journalism for a change, in some of the world’s most dangerous places. Delisle’s memoir, on the other hand, risks boredom instead of beheading; this chronicle of one tour of duty in a Chinese animation studio captures the mixed emotions of having too few skills to engage with an exotic locale.

For the newspaper-strip enthusiast: The Complete Peanuts 1961-1962 by Charles Schulz (Fantagraphics) and Walt and Skeezix 1923-1924 by Frank King (Drawn and Quarterly): No surprises here. If your loved ones care about the history of strip cartooning they’ll want to dig into these beautifully reproduced tomes, which leapfrog past mere nostalgia to focus on the brilliantly idiosyncratic authors.

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