Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Evolution vs. Creation of a Christmas Card!

Christmas is just around the corner. The first bit of snow and cold weather are a reminder to me that I haven't even started to think about my annual Christmas card yet. This year I managed to come up with an image pretty early on, sketched it out in a day and was finished by the following afternoon.
This first sketch had everything I wanted in it and would have been my card were it not for a distinct moment of clarity. I was working on another view of the same scene when a carol of bells rang loudly in my head. The bells said "BORING!" The bells were right. What a boring scene. Boring Santa. Boring kid. Boring everything. 

So I started sketching up a tighter shot. One with just the kid and a bigger, fatter, beardier Santa. I thought of all the talented cartoonists I know and how embarassed I'd be if I sent them the really boring card this Christmas. I thought about Christmas specials on TV and how the best ones have a distinct look. Santa in each show has a unique appearance. You'd never mistake the Rudolph Santa, for example, with the Santa from Nightmare Before Christmas. So I imagined what Santa would look like if I made a Christmas Special.  

In my Christmas Special Santa is just a little bit weary of kids bringing him gigantic lists of things they simply MUST have. He's tired of them not saying "Please" and "Thank you" when he gives them a candy cane. He's tired of dry cleaning his beard to wash out the sticky stains from their grubby little chocolate covered fingers and wearing extra padding on his knee to soak up the pee from their urine soaked trousers. 
He's especially tired of not being asked what he'd like for Christmas. Is it too unreasonable that someone might bring HIM a gift for a change. 
And the little tot will cry, because he doesn't understand why Santa is being mean to him. The mothers in the line would glare at Santa and "tsk tsk" his rudeness, snatching their children away from the "worst Santa they've ever seen". One of them might even call Santa a nasty name. They might suggest he find another line of work, one that doesn't involve terrorizing children. They'll file complaints with the store manager, exaggerating the experience with suggestions of "alcohol on his breath" and "he called my son a snot-trough!" 
Meanwhile, Santa (who just so happens to be the REAL Santa) will take off for Africa where he'll build houses for Habitat for Humanity and the people who live in those houses will share their food with him and thank him for all of his hard work and he'll be appreciated. 
In my Christmas Special Santa might just call the whole thing off and leave the parents with the job of filling up stockings and putting presents under their trees. Maybe then they'll see what it was he did for them year after year. By the time they realize their mistake it'll be too late. 
So have a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Feliz Navidad and a Jolly ___________! (fill in the blank with celebration of choice). 

all the best,
j.bone :)


Andrew Murray said...

Hey J,

Love that card, Love seeing the thought process, and that second last one of Santa is my personal fav.

Merry Christmas,

j. said...

Andrew - Thanks. I would have also like a more jolly Santa on the final...but he tended to look a little frightening given the message. In the end the gag needed a world-weary tired Santa. Now that I look at it I should have added dark circles under his eyes.

Anyway, best for the holidays.

Ben said...

That kid is TERRIFIED! Happy Xmas, also.

j. said...

Ben - Well, he's faced with his own selfish greed. I pity the Wii Generation. In a few years they'll be staring into an abyss of unfulfilled needs!

Merry Christmas!


Paul Conrad said...

I totally agree with your thoughts here. I'm doing my best with my own kids, trying to make them more informed, to help them see the bigger picture and to hopefully be truly thankful for how good they have it. It IS tough though in this "wii" generation as you say.
I guess the proof will be in the pudding...

Great image and sentiment.
MERRY CHRISTMAS to you and yours buddy!

Ho, ho, ho,


j. said...

Paul - It's gotta be tough being a parent. I don't envy anyone the task. My own nieces have a each personal dvd players, video game machines and digital cameras. Cell phones are sure to follow.

Merry Christmas, Paul! Hope you and your family had a good one!


Andrew Murray said...

hey J,

I just got the Spirit that you Cooke and Stewart worked on for Christmas. and I just busted a nut over the artwork.

have a happy!


Joakim Gunnarsson said...

Really nice design on the final santa! Your "staging" of the image made the gag so much better than it would have been if you had settled with the first version.
And good choice of colors too.
Used it as a desktop background during the christmas week. :)

j. said...

Andrew - That's quite a compliment. I hope you were successfully able to repair your busted nut.

Joakim - Many thanks. Sometimes it seems like a lot of extra work to re-stage drawings but is often worth it. Even for something as briefly viewed as a Christmas Card.

warmest regards,

Levitra said...

I agree, the times have changed and we have to accept the evolution and learn some new things.