It’s a bit weird being a fan of comics in 2013.
Thor and Superman are all over our cinema screens, and Netflix's next big project is four Marvel superhero series that will build up to a massive crossover event. Comic-book heroes are more popular than ever – with people who'd never pick up a paper comic!
But there’s some creeping acceptance of the medium – and comics' increased profile means two things: first, any hobby of what is a fantastic medium is no longer seen as being really strange (finally!); and secondly, there are absolutely loads of great books, toys, gadgets and games available for anyone who’s into anything from Batman to The Beano (and that’s just the Bs).
Apple iPad Air (from £399)
For some comic fans, the thought of straying from paper is sacrilegious, but digital does provide convenience and access to a huge number of titles. Apple’s tablet isn’t the cheapest means of reading comics digitally, but it is the best. The screen’s aspect ratio and size is suitable for US comics and also larger titles such as 2000 AD. Additionally, there’s a huge range of apps, including Comixology, CBR reader Comic Zeal, and indie store Sequential.
Lego Arkham Asylum Breakout (£130)
You can’t really go wrong with Lego, and this Batman set contains a whopping 1,619 pieces. Along with a suitably gothic asylum, you get a motley crew of minifigure villains, along with the heroes of the hour, Batman and Robin. The asylum itself includes all sorts of nods to the comic, including a Poison Ivy cell with transparent doors, and a cold room for Mr Freeze — who’s oddly not included. Still, maybe it can be used to chill out the angry Penguin.
UDReplicas suits and jackets (from C$400 to C$1545)
When you think of officially licensed merchandise, two things spring to mind: a standard piece of clothing with a logo or emblem awkwardly attached, or a movie-style costume, fine for Comic Con, but not much use for anything else. UDReplicas has a different approach, often working with source material props, but constructing “fully functional works of art” for anyone who’s come over all superhero. Products range from Batman-themed leather street jackets through to a full biker outfit of jacket, trousers and boots based on Man of Steel. Delivery for items is now into 2014, but we’re sure the recipient won’t mind if they know the gift that’s coming for them!
Magic Words: The Extraordinary Life of Alan Moore (£20)
Alan Moore is one of the most significant names in comics, having co-created the pioneering Watchmen, V for Vendetta, From Hell, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, and many more titles besides. He’s also no stranger to controversy, whether by arguing in favour of artistic pornography, taking on the movie studios adapting his work, or damning the comics industry (if not the medium itself).
Lance Parkin’s literary biography delves into Moore’s life and thinking, aided by interviews with collaborators such as David Lloyd, Dez Skinn and Dave Gibbons. Unusually, it started life as an unauthorised biography, before Moore himself agreed to be interviewed – making it an unusually even-handed account. As Alan Moore says, it "belongs on the shelf of any halfway decent criminal profiler." Can't get a better endorsement than that.