Batman, Spider-Man, Superman and Captain America are all household names, but they can’t hold a candle to the real estate that Santa Claus holds in the hearts and minds of people around the world. And although superhero comics have been known from time to time to take public domain characters and turn them into big franchises, Santa Claus has been more of a guest star than a comics mainstay. But when he shows up, you’re in for something special.
Here are six appearances and incarnations of Kris Kringle that’ll warm up any fanboy’s fireplace:
Last week’s solicitation roundup included the prediction that “Death of the Family” would kill young Damian Wayne. As most of you know, Damian is supposed to be about 11 years old, was raised by the League of Assassins, and has served (for the past “year or so” of comic-book time) as the latest Robin, the Boy Wonder. The solicitations were strangely silent concerning him, and thanks to the peculiarities of comic-book deaths, I figured he could take it.
That was last Thursday.
Since last Friday, I have rolled around that morbid prediction in my head, along with countless other real-world doomsday scenarios and nightmare moments. I am a fantastically lucky individual, and that is not meant as any kind of boast. I mean it simply to say that nothing remotely horrible has happened to me — no broken bones, no extended hospital stays, no natural disasters; and certainly nothing as devastating as my child’s death.
Here at Robot 6, we’ve been strong supporters of the notion of Mike Maihack’s (Cleopatra in Spaaace!) doing a Supergirl/Batgirl comic. It all started with a fake cover, turned into a strip that begat a Christmas strip last year, which is now (hopefully!) an annual tradition. If Maihack keeps this up, we’ll have ourselves a full issue in 17 years. Fingers crossed that DC Comics doesn’t wait that long to hire him.
Even the mob can get into the spirit of the season.
Today sees the release on on comiXology of Masks and Mobsters #5 , the latest issue of the digital series by Joshua Williamson and Mike Henderson. Not only does it feature a special holiday story, but the creators are also being awesome and donating everything they make off the issue to charity. Henderson and Williamson (who shared with us on Sunday what he’s been reading) were kind enough to answer some of my questions about the series and their plans for this special issue, as well as reveal a whole bunch of art.
The DC Women Kicking Ass blog is running through its own 12 Days of Christmas, with a twist. Each day, Sue adds a new, superhero-related gift (like autographed comics, clothing, rare action figures, etc.), but the best part is that readers have the opportunity to win all 12 by simply donating to Toys for Tots.
Participants can email Sue (with “Toys For Tots entry” in the subject line) either a receipt (for credit card donations) or a picture of them dropping a toy into a donation box. She allows up to three entries per person, but needs a separate receipt or photo for each entry. At the end of the 12th day (she started Dec. 5, so that’s Dec. 16 by my calculation), Sue will pick a grand gift-winner and one runner-up and ship out the prizes. It’s a clever and cool contest for a great cause, so please consider joining in.
I’m sharing this mostly because I just like holiday cards from comics publishers, whether I get them in the mail or see them on someone’s blog. But I also appreciate that this one includes three comics incons and the reminder that Fantagraphics has Christmas-related books featuring each of those characters. I’ve already mentioned Charlie Brown’s Christmas Stocking a couple of times (I have a copy and it is indeed as sweet and lovely as it looks), but didn’t realize that Nancy Likes Christmas and Walt Disney’s Donald Duck: A Christmas for Shacktown are also things that exist. Gonna need at least that Donald Duck one.
Hello and welcome to What Are You Reading? Today our guest is Salgood Sam, who has just relaunched his independent personal anthology series Revolver. He is also completing the last chapter of a graphic novel called Dream Life after a successful Indiegogo funding drive to finance it. He also publishes the Canadian-centric comics blog Sequential. As he told me, he “usually has too many projects going on and does not get enough sleep.”
To see what Salgood Sam and the Robot 6 crew have been reading, click below …
As explained on the Fantagraphics website, most of Charles Schulz’s creative energy went into the daily Peanuts comic strip, but he also made some special side projects featuring his famous characters. This month, the publisher is releasing a collection of two of those projects, both Christmas-themed.
The title of the collection gets its name from the earlier project, 1963′s Charlie Brown’s Christmas Stocking, a collection of 15 one-panel cartoons for Good Housekeeping. Each features Peanuts characters offering a joke or reflection on the season. The other piece is a story from a 1968 issue of Woman’s Day in which Linus and Lucy explain the meaning of Christmas to Snoopy, with the beagle offering his own opinion at the end.
Fantagraphics has created one of those cool, flip-through videos for the book, which you can see below.
It’s Christmas Eve, and we’re winding down here at Robot 6 to go spend time with family and friends. Before heading off to celebrate, though, you’ll find a collection of holiday-themed links after the jump, along with this year’s collection of holiday cards we received.
On behalf of all of Robot 6, have a great holiday and stay safe. We’ll see you next week.
(Above: a Christmas showdown by Matthew Petz)
It’s okay to hate the holidays.
Really, no secret Santa brigade will beat you into being jolly. In fact, it’s perfectly natural to get a sort of dread around this season. The sun doesn’t shine as much, the weather outside is frightful, it’s the end of a year and the approach of a new one that we can only hope is better. As much as festive decorations, carols and family dinners might say otherwise, this is the season for frustrations.
Dear reader, I understand this feeling. I work retail. It’s perfectly fine to hate the holidays, and it’s perfectly normal to wish things were better. Charlie Brown Christmas Specials are all well and good, and it’s great to aspire to that Rockwell painting of a warm Christmas dinner, but let’s face it: that’s not reality. Reality sometimes is that a roast is burnt, the family just bickers and drinks, and all those Peanuts kids dance like idiots.
We can’t get the perfect Christmastime we want so badly, but sometimes we can be Avenged. We can take Christmas into our own hands, show some Scrooges what for and make them kinder. We can look at all the little things that make this time, if not perfect, uniquely special. And we can rocket a perverted uncle around in a frilly brassiere once we’ve shrunk him to the size of an action figure.
Folks, this is Ant Man’s Big Christmas.
Laura Lee Gulledge has an interesting double life: She’s the creator of the graphic novel Page by Paige, which was published by Abrams earlier this year, but like many others in the field, she also has a day job. It’s a very unusual day job though: Gulledge is a scene painter for store window displays, and she worked on the holiday displays for several big New York department stores. She has posted some fascinatingly surreal videos and photos of the windows she worked on at her blog, It Needs More Glitter, and she told me that she painted all of the Saks windows herself, rather than working with a group, adding, “so you can recognize my inking style in the finished work.” Gulledge is working on a children’s picture book concept that is inspired by her Christmas-window work—a book that she would love to see as the starting point for a real store window, thus bringing the whole thing full circle. I was curious how she mingles her two careers in real life, so I e-mailed her a couple questions.
Robot 6: How do you integrate your graphic novel work with your store windows–do you have to set everything else aside when the holidays draw near?
Laura Lee Gulledge: Anyone in comics can tell you that there isn’t a lot of money in it, especially when you’re a new author building an audience. So working as a “holiday elf” for 4 months of the year has been a good way to supplement my income over the past couple years while working on my comic projects. Unfortunately, taking away time from a book when you already have a deadline (just so you can pay the bills) can be hard. With Page by Paige I gave myself only 7 months to draw it all out because I worked a season on Christmas windows, which was insane. For my next book I’m giving myself more time to draw it, so I might not be able to fit in another season of windows. It’s been a great learning opportunity to be a scenic artist, but ultimately I’d like to be drawing full time.
… [T]here were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
And lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
And the angel said unto them, “Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.”
And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”
– Luke 2: 8-14 (King James Version)
If you are inexorably compelled to top off that passage with “And that’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown,” join the club. As well, if you’re wondering how this relates to DC Comics’ superheroes, fear not — we’ll get there. (And if you don’t celebrate Christmas, don’t worry — I’ll try not to prosletyze.)
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A couple of weeks ago, I got to thinking about the holidays and comics. More exactly, I started wondering what some creators might say if i asked them for their favorite comics-related memory. As I got into contact with some creators, they did not have a favorite story per se, but those recollections were definitely memorable. Bottom line, these storytellers not surprisingly had some great stories to share. My holiday memory is an odd one, as a kid in the 1970s reading the Doonesbury comic strip where Rev. Scott Sloan had opening remarks before the Christmas pageant, where he noted that the part of the Baby Jesus would be played by a 40-watt light bulb. A lifelong Doonesbury fan, there are few strips that have made me laugh longer than that one. Told you it was an odd one. Now on to the storytellers with far better tales. My thanks to everyone that responded. Once you’ve read them all, please be sure to chime in with your most memorable comics-related holiday recollection in the comments section.
Every Christmas, comics would show up in my stocking. They’d be rolled up, which I’m sure breaks the heart of every collector out there, but it didn’t bother me much. Comics were for reading. For some reason, my mother thought I liked Thor. I wasn’t a Thor guy, except when he was hanging out in the Avengers. I was, and still am, a Captain America super-fan. How could my Mom not know this? But every year I’d get a couple more Thor comics.
Fast-forward 35 years. I’m the official stocking-stuffer in the household. My wife is the queen of holiday organization, but the stocking assignment has always been mine, primarily because it’s the kind of job you can give to a procrastinator. I can run out on Christmas Eve and grab everything I need: gum, iTunes gift cards, candy bars, extra batteries… and comics. See, my son is 15, and he IS a Thor guy, so I usually try to round up something Asgardian for him, as well as a something with Atomic Robo or Axe Cop. I don’t understand the clothing my daughter is asking for (an “infinity scarf” sounds like something Dr. Who would wear), but by gum, I do know my son’s taste in comics.
Last year, around this time, a Christmas comic caught my eye: Scrooge and Santa, by Matthew Wilson and Josh Kenfield. I liked it a lot—it mashes up a lot of Christmas traditions but still has a fairly original story, and the kinetic art made me think of an animated cartoon. So this year, I fired off some questions for Wilson and Kenfield about their story—which is back in comics stores this week, just in time for Christmas.
Robot 6: What was your favorite Christmas special (or movie or book) when you were a kid? (I see a lot of shout-outs to It’s a Wonderful Life—was that one of your favorites?)
Matt: Definitely It’s a Wonderful Life! It’s not only my favorite Christmas movie, but one of my favorite movies of all time. I love the honesty. It’s known as a feel-good movie, but people forget how dark it is. George Bailey spends most of the movie frustrated and angry. His life is so hard and difficult that he’s ready to kill himself. But in the end, when all his family and friends show him the impact a lifetime of doing the right thing has made, that joy is real and the feel-good moment is earned. That’s something I hoped to do with Scrooge and Santa, give everyone a feel-good Christmas moment without cheating and manipulating emotions.
Last year around this time, Calamaties of Nature creator Tony Piro posted a pointed parody of A Charlie Brown Christmas. It was well received, but, imitation being the sincerest form of flattery, it was also copied, altered and posted all over the internet without attribution.
Yesterday, Piro noted the problem:
My use of the Peanuts characters, in a comic that I drew and wrote myself, is allowed as a parody. But when people grab my art, change a few words, and label it as their own, it amounts to theft. Of course people are free to make their own parodies, but they should use their own art and writing. I could attempt to police these copies, but ultimately this is impossible to do on the internet, especially once images start spreading on social sites like Facebook.
Of course, if his appropriation of Charles Schulz’s characters is allowable as parody, couldn’t some of his imitators claim the same thing about their appropriation of Tony Piro’s comic? Semantics aside, Piro realizes the futility of trying to stop the appropriators, so his solution is to ask his readers to post his version of the comic, with attribution, in a sort of good-information-crowds-out-bad strategy. To show that he’s no Grinch, Piro will donate $1 to Doctors Without Borders for every 500 extra page views the comic gets.
And to round out this Christmas story, someone popped up in comments to apologize for unknowingly using an altered version of the comic. Of course, the trolls were there too…