The final phone-booked sized anthology of genre literature by two industry titans is as crammed with great stories and—best of all, obscure ones—as its predecessors. Browsing through the author blurbs alone will generate a reading list that will keep you busy for years. I’ve said that the VanderMeers’ Big Book of Science Fiction is the best $25 you can spend as a fan of the genre, and this volume fulfills that role for those who prefer dragons to spaceships.
“SLUGGO IS LIT!” With these words Olivia Jaimes's Nancy: A Comic Collection (Andrews McMeel, $14.99) fully transcended its origins as a 1930s comic strip and became something even more horrifying: a meme. Ernie Bushmiller's original run is beloved by comics fans for its creative gags and sense of economy. The mysterious Jaimes (a pseudonym) doesn't so much reinvent the wheel with her take on the character as wrest the original from the clutches of Bushmiller's mediocre successors. Once more, Nancy is headstrong, greedy, and self-obsessed—and she’s all the better for it. But now she and her friend Sluggo have smartphones, Fritzi is devoted to the Marie Kondo ethos, and a new but already long-suffering teacher at school has started a robotics club. There are jokes about the difference between liking somebody's post and commenting and sharing on somebody's post on social media; there are jokes about badly drawn strips being the result of Snapchat filters; there are jokes that don't so much smash open the fourth wall as remap it. The result is a strong collection of distinctly modern comic strips that remain wholly in keeping with the anarchic original. The volume also includes essays and interviews for die-hard Nancyphiles.
So you're a fan of “Mister” Fred Rogers and his classic TV series, Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood. You've read Maxwell King's Rogers biography The Good Neighbor. You saw the documentary Won't You Be My Neighbor and likely have already bought your tickets to the reportedly very good film A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, starring Tom Hanks. Maybe you've even read every profile on the man available on the AV Club, and scoured the internet for interviews, analyses, and clips. What do you do now? Or even worse: what if you are trying to buy a gift for the Mr. Rogers fan who has everything? What then? Well, why not a coffee table book that features a photo breakdown of every single one of Fred Rogers' ties? Why not a coffee table book that features input from luminaries like Melissa Wagner, who has collaborated with Rogers himself on books in the past, and Tim Lybarger, creator of the Rogers fansite The Neighborhood Archive? That is, Mister Rogers' Neighborhood: A Visual History (Clarkson Potter, $35), a massive compendium of interviews, photos, and behind-the-scenes information. A worthy gift for those starving for kindness in these dark times, and a monument to a historic television production.