Today, here in the U.S., we are celebrating Father's Day. It's day to say, basically, "Thanks for being my dad." Generally, cards and gifts are given and there's often joking about barbecues and watching sports all day. Plenty of beer drinking and not-infrequently, there's obnoxious displays of testosterone.
My pop, though, doesn't really like sports all that much, doesn't really drink, and is just far enough away that I can't really barbecue some slabs of meat with him. He also has a tendency to buy things he wants as he sees/finds them, so gift selection is often difficult. His birthday, too, is only a week away, so I generally justify (to myself at least) spending more money on him than I otherwise might provided I just lump the two events into one.
Dad is a magician. Literally. Tuxedo, linking rinks, color-changing scarves, etc. (He used to even do white rabbits and doves, until he realized the travel between shows was inordinately harsh on them.) He has a special interest in children's magic. Both magic performed for children, and magic tricks marketed and sold to them. That interest led him to magic comics.
I know what you're thinking, "But comics aren't just for kids!" True, but the ones he first found were. Those old Blackstone comics from the 1940s are a prime example. And then he kept finding odd links between magic and comics. There are a host of magician characters in comics, including Mandrake, Zantana, and the unfortunately named Super-Magician. Jim Steranko was, of course, a famous illusionist before Stan Lee gave him a job. Which was later the inspiration for Jack Kirby's Mr. Miracle and Michael Chabon's Escapist. Rudy Coby made his act on-stage look like it was a comic book, and later created a Labman comic based on his act. Paul Dini is married to professional stage magician, Misty Lee. Harry Houdini has been the frequent subject of comic books.
So Dad has a decent sized collection of comics relating to magic. The trouble, not surprisingly, is that none of them were ever terribly popular so finding information on them, much less the comics themselves, can be difficult. So last year, for Father's Day, I spent some time doing some research. One of his presents was, as best as I could generate, a complete listing of every comic that the villainous Abra Kadabra appeared in. I included cover scans since many of the issues were from multiple volumes of The Flash and noted when some of those appearances were in the guise of another character. Some of the issues he already had in his collection, but I got a few of the more recent ones I was fairly certain he didn't have. And now he's got a complete listing of everything he knows to be looking for, and a fair amount of data to work from.
It's absolutely a gift that only works coming from me and going to my father. But I mention it here in the hopes that it might spark you, as a comic book reader (which I have to assume you are if you're visiting my blog), to come up with an interesting and unique gift idea for your friends and relatives.