Today we don’t have a theme for The 2021 PopCult Gift Guide. We just have five cool gift ideas for the folks on your holiday shopping list.

T Shirt In Disguise!

I’ve recommended books by my friend, Thomas Wheeler, in past PopCult Gift Guides, but now Thomas has turned his hand toward T-Shirt design, and I’ll be telling you about a few of them over the next couple of weeks.

First up we have a funny spin on the beloved Transformers franchise that cracked me up.

It’s Optometrist Prime, the eye doctor in disguise!

You can get this design on a variety of different quality T-Shirts from Small to 3X and it’s also available on a tank top, hoodie, mug, sticker and more.

Check it out at Thomas’s Threadless store, and keep watching for more of his designs in The 2021 PopCult Gift Guide. This is the perfect gift for the toy-collector on your shopping list who has a healthy sense of humor.

Death in Mud Lick: A Coal Country Fight against the Drug Companies That Delivered the Opioid Epidemic
by Eric Eyre
ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1982105327
$17.99 (paperback) $28.00 (hardcover)

Eric is one of my former colleague’s at the Charleston Gazette whom I actually never got to meet in real life (such is the life of a freelancer). Always a top-notch reporter, Eric won the Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Reporting for his work covering the the Opioid epidemic in West Virginia. Death in Mud Lick: A Coal Country Fight against the Drug Companies That Delivered the Opioid Epidemic details that story.

We go to the pubisher’s blurb:

Death in Mud Lick: A Coal Country Fight against the Drug Companies That Delivered the Opioid Epidemic is an urgent, and heartbreaking account of the corporate greed that pumped millions of pain pills into small Appalachian towns, decimating communities.

In a pharmacy in Kermit, West Virginia, 12 million opioid pain pills were distributed in just three years to a town with a population of 382 people. One woman, after losing her brother to overdose, was desperate for justice. Debbie Preece’s fight for accountability for her brother’s death took her well beyond the Sav-Rite Pharmacy in coal country, ultimately leading to three of the biggest drug wholesalers in the country. She was joined by a crusading lawyer and by local journalist, Eric Eyre, who uncovered a massive opioid pill-dumping scandal that shook the foundation of America’s largest drug companies—and won him a Pulitzer Prize.

Part Erin Brockovich, part Spotlight, Death in Mud Lick details the clandestine meetings with whistleblowers; a court fight to unseal filings that the drug distributors tried to keep hidden, a push to secure the DEA pill-shipment data, and the fallout after Eyre’s local paper, the Gazette-Mail, the smallest newspaper ever to win a Pulitzer Prize for investigative reporting, broke the story.

Eyre follows the opioid shipments into individual counties, pharmacies, and homes in West Virginia and explains how thousands of Appalachians got hooked on prescription drugs—resulting in the highest overdose rates in the country. But despite the tragedy, there is also hope as citizens banded together to create positive change—and won.

“A product of one reporter’s sustained outrage [and] a searing spotlight on the scope and human cost of corruption and negligence” (The Washington Post) Eric Eyre’s intimate portrayal of a national public health crisis illuminates the shocking pattern of corporate greed and its repercussions for the citizens of West Virginia—and the nation—to this day.

This is a very important work that should be required reading for every politician who thinks it’s a good idea to cut healthcare funding, let big business run wild and reduce Harm Reduction programs. It’s also a great gift for people who appreciate quality investigative journalism.

Available from any bookseller using the ISBN number, or from the evil empire at a considerable discount. Also available as an Audio CD.

Game of Thrones: The Complete Series
Available on DVD and Blu-Ray

One of the most talked-about TV shows of recent times, Game of Thrones has wrapped its run, but just in case you didn’t have HBO, or don’t have HBO Max, or if you just want a hard copy you can hold in your own hands, you can now get the complete series of Game of Thrones to watch over and over again.

As they say in the blurb:

Trouble is brewing in the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros. For the driven inhabitants of this visionary world, control of Westeros’ Iron Throne holds the lure of great power. But in a land where the seasons can last a lifetime, winter is coming…and beyond the Great Wall that protects them, an ancient evil has returned. Based on the bestselling book series ‘A Song of Ice and Fire’ by George R.R. Martin comes this epic HBO drama series set in a fantastic realm where noble families engage in a deadly fight for control.

It’s a fairly epic boxed set, with 38 DVDs in a slipcover package for $169.99 (you can find it for under a hundred bucks), or 31 Blu Ray discs for $204.99 (again, usually marked down to around a hundred-twenty bucks). It’s also available in an even pricier 4K set, but the point is, if you want to give somebody a hard copy of the whole set, either because you know they’re a fan, or you think they’ll love it, here’s your chance.

This will make a great gift for any fan of the show who doesn’t already have all the episodes, and it’d also be great for fans of the book who somehow managed to avoid the show until now, or fans of epic fantasy of all kinds.

Available anywhere you might find boxed sets of DVDs or Blu-Ray discs, or at Amazon.

O, Mountaineers! Volume II: Noted (or Notorious) African-American West Virginians
by Danny Kuhn
ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-1737295303

This is the follow-up to O, Mountaineers, Danny Kuhn’s 2019 book that collected quick biographical sketches of notable West Virginians. O, Mountaineers! Volume II: Noted (or Notorious) African-American West Virginians, as the title proclaims, points its focus as Black West Virginians from history, entertainment, folklore and politics.

As with his first book, this is a lively read, and one that doesn’t need to be consumed in one sitting. In addition to pulling back the covers on the many contributions that West Virginia has made to the world, this book uncovers the often-overlooked stories among the overlooked, as Black folks don’t usually get their due in American culture, and West Virginia is no different.

As with the first volume, O, Mountaineers! Volume II: Noted (or Notorious) African-American West Virginians is a brisk and engaging treat for anyone with any interest in West Virginia. With our current political landscape it’s really easy to feel down and depressed about the state of our state. O, Mountaineers! Volume II: Noted (or Notorious) African-American West Virginians reminds us that greatness can spring forth from the most dire of circumstances, and that’s a message that we really need right now.

O, Mountaineers! Volume II: Noted (or Notorious) African-American West Virginians should be available to order from any bookseller, using the ISBN number above, or you can take the path of least resistance and get it from Amazon. This is a wonderful gift for anybody interested in West Virginia history, and anybody who wants to learn more about the contributions of Black people in our state and country.

Final Faction Action Figures

For the cheapskates among us, here’s a great gift idea for kids who love 4-inch sci-fi and supehero figures, or adult collectors who might have their minds blown when they find out where you got these.

Final Faction is a line of Science-Fiction, alien-fighting action figures in the popular 1/18 (roughly four-inches tall) scale. Most of the figures have five points of articulation. Most come with at least one accessory. The paint detail is above-average. There is a backstory and accompanying nine-minute CGI cartoon on YouTube, and most importantly…they only cost a dollar each! These are Dollar Tree exclusives.

For a mere buck, you get a hell of a lot. Quality-wise, the figures are just a notch below ReAction’s line of licensed five-point figures, but those sell for fifteen to twenty times as much. If you are a 1/18 scale hobbyist, these figures are great customizing fodder. At this price you can try all sorts of things–from total repaints to attempting to add joints.

The backing cards are printed in full color on both sides and include Power Ratings and a bio for each character, along with this intro to the series…

In the year 2050, a large asteroid collided with our moon. Among the debris, we discovered a hibernating alien mothership. Now, the Kharn are awake and they want to plunder our precious natural resources. So, we recruited teams of special operatives to defend Earth from their alien threat.

They are the…


There you go: A cool space-opera premise with well-sculpted figures that sport decent (if limited) paint detail, and a computer-animated short. And they cost a buck apiece. You can collect the entire first series of figures for eight bucks (fourteen dollars if you buy all six extra accessory packs). For less than the price of one ReAction figure, you can own the entire line (if you can find them–in some stores the first series has long been sold out). These are great stocking stuffers, for the toy collector on your shopping list.

You may not find these in stores now, but you can still order them online, and late news is that a second series, which includes vehicles for the good guys and the bad guys, is starting to hit stores, but hasn’t shown up online yet.