It's been a long time since being a comic fan was a shameful thing. Comics are cool now! Kind of. But buying for a comic fan can be tough, since you never know what they've read, and what's any good. Here are some good bets for the comic fanboys and fangirls in your life.
FROM HELL. Buy them From Hell. Alan Moore is the most revered writer in all of comics, and From Hell is, to a lot of people, his best work. It's a thoroughly researched piece of history writing about Jack the Ripper, with a few literary liberties taken, that is as informative as it is gripping. £19 from Amazon.
You've probably heard of Scott Pilgrim, even just in passing as a Michael Cera vehicle. But it's really one of the most important comics of the past 10 years or so, and it's being republished in colour (the original was black and white). It's hilarious, well done, and about as accurate a portrayal of the video game generation as you'll find. Volumes 1 and 2 (of 6) are in colour now. £10 from Amazon.
Comics are going digital. Not all the way—not yet at least—but enough so that you can get all of your favourite comics on a tablet the same day they're in stores. And if all you're interested in a tablet for is comics, then the Kindle Fire HD 7" is probably your best bet. The smaller screen isn't so small that it makes the comics unreadable, and it's the cheapest and more comfortable of all the full-size tablets. £159 from Amazon.
Comics are a distinctly visual medium. And understanding what looks and feels and is good is an art in itself. This isn't a strictly comic-based gift, but anyone who appreciates the craft of assembling a comic book page will find something to like in Tufte's Visual Explanations. £28 from Amazon.
More than most fan bases, comic fans love getting into the nitty gritty of the craft of creating. And there few better sources than Will Eisner, one of the most respected comic creators ever. £12 from Amazon.
Buying a comic nerd any specific comics can be tricky, since of course they have read that, and how could you possibly think they'd be interested in that--you know? Sean Howe's meticulous history of Marvel Comics is an easy alternative. About comics, but not a comic. £10 from Amazon.
For the indie comic fan, maybe check out Same Difference by Derek Kirk Kim. It's about Korean-American 20-somethings in San Francisco. Kim is good on observational writing, but the strongest stuff is about race, stereotypes, and identity in a way that hits home with anyone who feels a half-outsider. £11 from Amazon.
Know someone who loves comics, but doesn't have time for a ton of continuity? This re-imagining of Batman by Geoff Johns is a great place to land, since it's totally self-contained and has just as many surprises as the very first Ultimate Marvel books. £15 from Amazon.
Yeah, you've probably played the game, but the original graphic novel by Grant Morrison from 1989 is as graphic, gory, and dark as any Batman story out there. It's a decent bet for a casual Batman, who has probably read the mainstays like The Dark Knight Returns and Year One. £7 from Amazon.