In a recent essay, I posited that rather than being the villain of Christmas as he is popularly understood, the furry demon known as the Krampus is actually the Batman of Christmas. This got me thinking: who would play which role if we were to build an entire Justice League of Christmas? If you are wondering, yes, this is what it's like inside my brain all the time. And so, I propose to you this roster for the JLXmas.
Christmas - Page 5
When it comes to Christmas comics, you can't really get around the fact that some characters lend themselves to holiday stories a little easier than others. Superman is essentially built around peace on Earth and goodwill to men anyway, Batman's themes of family and sacrifice are perfectly suited for a bittersweet Christmas tale, and Spider-Man shopping for presents is almost always a good recipe for seasonal comedy.
And then there are the characters that don't quite fit. Like, say, the Punisher, whose tendency to run around brutally slaughtering murderers and other criminals doesn't exactly fit well with good cheer and eggnog.
Listen, I'll be the first to admit that I'm a complete sucker when it comes to Christmas comics. I love 'em, and the more heartwarming they are, the better, whether it's a thoroughly predictable ending where someone does a good deed for the less fortunate or a passionate, starry-eyed speech about peace on Earth and goodwill to others. I love that stuff, and as a result, I've never been a fan of Christmas stories that go dark. Call me a sap if you will, but in most darker Christmas stories, there's a cynicism that I just don't find all that appealing.
Every now and then, however, I run across a holiday story that's not just dark and not just cynical, but so utterly, shockingly grim that I end up completely fascinated by it, and this week, that is exactly what has happened. Everyone who has ever tried to make a jaded, pessimistic holiday story needs to step aside, because I have found the darkest, most shockingly violent Christmas comic of all time -- and it's a six-page Archie story from 1958.
Last year we collected 150 classic comic book covers celebrating the Santa-ier aspects of the holiday season and it was so popular, we dug into even more covers. Seriously, there's at least 200 now. There may even be more! Our fingers are covered in tape and bows and whatever from wrapping presents and cats are knocking over trees and there's a Tofurkey feast burning in the oven. It's chaos, man. Distract yourself from the season of giving with 200+ holiday comic book covers after the cut.
Q: Merry Ask Chris-tmas! What's the weirdest version of the Santa Claus origin story? -- @prograpslady
A: You know, it wasn't that long ago that I wrote about two different version of Santa's origin that were done as stop-motion TV specials from Rankin-Bass, and as much as I love them both, they're not exactly what you'd really expect. I mean, Santa Claus Is Coming To Town is essentially the story of a revolutionary who brings down a corrupt European government through illegal toymaking and is then hunted until he has to relocate to the North Pole, and The Life And Adventures of Santa Claus has him raised on the milk of a lioness and taught about Japanese samurai by a twelve foot tall druid who shot laser beams from a silver axe in a war against child-hating goblins.
I guess what I'm getting at here is that even for someone who's spent a lifetime getting used to origin stories with nonsense words like "bitten by a radioactive spider" and "inhaled hard water fumes," Santa's beginnings are pretty weird.
Q: What's the worst Christmas comic you've ever read? -- @franzferdinand2
A: Folks, I have read a lot of Christmas comics. For a while, they were the only thing I actually "collected." I'd buy any Christmas story I could find, any comic with Santa Claus in it, anything that had the requisite number of sleighs and trees with lights on 'em, and as a result, I have seen some genuinely terrible Christmas stories. Don't get me wrong, there are plenty of good ones too, but when you're reading every Christmas story out there, you run across plenty that are overly cynical, mean-spirited, or just plain not very good.
And every now and then, you read the two-part Krampus story in Tarot: Witch of the Black Rose, which is a piece of work unto itself.
The Christmas season is upon us once again, and that means that it's time for children all over the world to kick off the annual debate about the existence of Santa Claus -- despite the fact that we've already settled that in court, twice. I mean, yes, it was a court in a movie, but this is America, and if there's anything more binding than a fictional courtroom scene in a beloved classic that's upheld in its '90s remake, I'd like to hear about it.
In any case, the Santa Question has provided the inspiration for a new short comic from Kyle Starks. The infuriatingly good creator of one of the year's best graphic novels, Sexcastle has given us the gift of ten new full-color pages, decorated in the spirit of the season with a whole ton of cusswords. It's a Christmas miracle!
Over the past 40 years, Tom Batiuk’s Funky Winkerbean has transitioned from a gag-a-day comic strip about a high school to an ongoing chronicle of pure, abject misery. Thanks to the ongoing commentary on Josh Fruhlinger’s Comics Curmudgeon, I am now completely obsessed with it, which is why I spend a little time every month rounding up its finest examples of crushing despair.
One of my Christmas gift this year came from devoted FunkyWatch reader and radio DJ Evan "Funk" Davies, who gave me a year-long membership to King Features' Comics Kingdom website. Not only does this give me access to an archive of high-res Funky and Crankshaft strips, but it also means that I can have those strips emailed to me so that they're the very first thing I see when I wake up every single day for the entirety of 2014. Maybe "gift" is not the right word, but "Christmas horrifying curse" doesn't really sound right. Either way Batiuk and Chuck Ayers closed out this past year with all the uplifting joy you'd expect from a month marked by bitter cold and seasonal depression. Let's get to it!
Happy Holidays from ComicsAlliance. Enjoy some links on what's hopefully your day off, after the jump.
If you aren't familiar with Mike Maihack's Supergirl and Batgirl comic strips, you're missing out. Best known for his creator owned Cleopatra in Space, as well as his contributions to Archaia's Jim Henson's Storyteller, Maichack started his Supergirl Batgirl strips in 2011, and they're pretty great. While they've recently taken a back seat so that Maihack can focus on his creator owned projects, he does make a return for special occasions, including this year's Christmas strip, which you can check out below.