Save Yourself

The winter holidays are fast approaching. Expect Christmas stuff in stores the day after Halloween — Kwanzaa and Chanukah, which comes early this year, too, depending on where you live. So let's help each other out.

I'll share some great Amazon deals perfect for the pop-culture fan in your life, including yourself, if he/she/you is anything like me. When you purchase them, or almost any other item that you place in your cart, through the links provided in this post (or the standing link over in the sidebar) I earn a small fee. It's the perfect way to thank me for alerting you to the deals and/or for providing whatever little bit of entertainment you get from my posts, while reinforcing my decision not to clutter up the blog with any other advertising.

How great are these deals? 

Abrams ComicArts' Shazam!: The Golden Age of the World's Mightiest Mortal is marked down from $35 to $7. I got this 2010 hardcover, lovingly curated, designed, and photographed by Chip Kidd and Geoff Spear, with a gift card shortly after its release.  The way the pair presents vintage comics, merchandise, and promotional material in their books isn't to everyone's liking, but I generally enjoy seeing that stuff in pulpy verisimilitude, at once abstracted and totally in context; for me, this is a delightful look at the classic era of the original Captain Marvel.

The 2004 special-edition DVD of Warner Bros. Animation's 1999 film The Iron Giant can be virtually stolen for under $6. [Don't forget that you need at least $25 worth of eligible products to take advantage of free Super Saver shipping.] One of my favorite movies — in fact, one of my favorite things ever [now written up] — The Iron Giant was directed (from a script based on Ted Hughes' 1968 novel The Iron Man) by future Incredibles mastermind Brad Bird. It's a genuine triumph of old-fashioned "2D" animation, an action-packed tear-jerking love letter to both another era and to the perennial delights of childhood in any era, and it's quite possibly (for reasons you'll discover when you see it) the best Superman movie ever made.

Far less brilliant by any objective measure but a beloved staple of my childhood is Hanna-Barbera Productions' 1977-78 All-New Super Friends Hour. This incarnation of the long-running Saturday-morning cartoon replaced the original's Wendy, Marvin, and Wonder Dog with the alien Wonder Twins, Zan & Jayna, and their "space monkey" Gleek. Part of why this series was/is so fun, to 7-year-old me decades ago and present-day me watching along with my sister's kids, is that each episode presents much shorter, more exciting adventures than the largely plodding earlier run, mixing up an exploit of the full core Super Friends roster of Superman, Batman, Robin, Wonder Woman, and Aquaman with a brief Wonder Twins segment, smaller team-ups among individual Super Friends, and team-ups between Super Friends and special guests — either lesser-known DC Comics superheroes or minority/international characters created specifically for the program. Vol.1 and Vol. 2 of Warner Home Video's 2008 DVD release can be had together for a skitch under $15. Other Super Friends sets are discounted as well; the final two outlier seasons, when the show tied in to the Super Powers merchandising line, are at this writing cut from $27 each to $7 and $8.50.

Not yet absorbed by me but added to my library thanks to prices impossible to pass up (and thanks equally to a birthday gift certificate) are a pair of 2009 Abrams ComicArts publications: The Art of Harvey Kurtzman: The Mad Genius of Comics, written by Denis Kitchen & Paul Buhle, marked down from $45 to $18 at present, and The Art of Osamu Tezuka: God of Manga, written by Helen McCarthy, marked down from $40 to just over $11. Amazon's prices fluctuate often, bargain books not excepted, as evidenced by the fact that those two books are respectively $9 and $5 more right now than I paid for them not long ago. Both tomes are chock-full of examples of and insights into the brilliance of their subjects, with copious archival material. The Kurtzman book includes his celebrated story "The Grasshopper and the Ant" from a 1960 issue of Esquire, his and Wally Wood's 1953 "Superduperman" parody for Mad, and a fascinating series of vellum overlays showing the creation of a 1978 Little Annie Fanny page for Playboy from Kurtzman's initial roughs to his color guide through tighter layouts to the final product painted by Will Elder. The Tezuka book offers hundreds of designs, covers, and comics pages from projects like Astro Boy, Kimba the White Lion, and Black Jack, accompanied by a DVD containing a documentary titled The Secret of Creation about Tezuka's career.

Universal Studios put out a pair of DVD box sets to mark its centennial in early 2012 under the Classic Monsters Spotlight Collection rubric. Amazon has the first volume, comprised of 1931's Dracula and Frankenstein, 1935's The Bride of Frankenstein, and 1954's Creature from the Black Lagoon, for just over $12, and the second volume, combining 1932's The Mummy, 1933's The Invisible Man, 1941's The Wolf Man, and 1943's Phantom of the Opera, for $15, both marked down from $20; eight vintage horror movies for a few bucks apiece sounds frighteningly good to me. You can stay home, turn off the lights, and have a daylong personal film festival on Halloween — just remember to get up when the doorbell rings that night.

I need to reiterate that all of the prices listed above are subject to change, daily or even moment to moment, but I've had my eye on most of these products for a while and they seem to be discounted consistently within a certain margin. Please feel free to note any great deals on Amazon or elsewhere that you've come across in the comments — and remember that I only find out what's being bought through my Amazon Associate links, not who's buying it, so if you're sheepish about what you've ordered or you're getting me something off of one of my own Amazon Wish Lists (broken down into assorted new stuff, CDs, DVDs, graphic novels, and other books), worry not. I won't get credit for anything purchased from my Wish Lists or otherwise being sent to me, anyway, so if you're a friend or family member moved to do that I recommend you click on over to News from ME or Comics Worth Reading and give those sites the commission instead.

Enjoy your shopping!

All images and their contents are the intellectual property of their respective rightsholders.

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