Review by C.J. Bunce
“The waters speak the truth, that they do. Only now have you lived long enough to know the child that you shall always remain. That which dwells in the heart can never be lost to the spirit.”
Some artists’ works are so brilliant, so evocative, so memorable, and so successful, that whenever they draw, sketch, or paint, it turns heads. One of those artists is Bill Sienkiewicz. His 1980s comic book artwork changed the way comic books are approached by artists and readers, forever. His trademark abstract works and his recurring sketches of people making the news are regular features that can make you happy to open your social media application for the day. Put Sienkiewicz together with a Santa Claus story? It’s as good as it sounds, and it arrives in stores beginning this week.
We’ve seen some incredible work on Christmas stories in the comic book medium before. Take for example the modern Batman opus, 2011’s Batman: Noel by Lee Bermejo (we reviewed it here). Now this year we have Santa: My Life and Times, An Autobiography, a lavish, updated edition to a 1998 project. It features a holiday story written by Jared Green (and Santa, of course), with vibrant and festive watercolor art, cover to cover, by Sienkiewicz. As are all good storybooks, this is a shiny, over-sized hardcover. You will get lost in the details of every page of art. Marvel at all the wintry critters. Peek inside windows. The beauty of nature’s magic is everywhere. By my count there are not only more than 100 illustrations by Sienkiewicz in this book, there are 100 poster-worthy illustrations.
The storytelling is very Victorian and grand, neither modern nor silly. This is the same voice found in the classic 1823 Clement Clarke Moore holiday staple, A Visit from St. Nicholas (aka ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas). Green’s voice of Santa is like a conversation in a good Dickens hero’s friendly voice. Think Bob Cratchit. This is a deep, rich, well-thought out fantasy. The story spreads pure goodness and joy, the kind you’ll want to read to little kids (or adults, or cats), complete with Dr. Seussian sound effects peppered about. No doubt this is the same Santa that influenced the likes of Mr. Rogers, Bob Ross, Steve Irwin, and Jim Henson. The look and feel matches the spirit of the Rankin/Bass Christmas classics perfectly.
Here are some pages of the interior art and story from Santa: My Life and Times: An Autobiography, courtesy of Titan Comics:
Pair this with David Petersen’s edition of Kenneth Grahame’s The Wind and the Willows for your next storytime. The art is gorgeous, the story charming. Pick this up for anyone and everyone, comic book fans of the artist, and anyone who loves Santa (or needs a push in that direction). Santa: My Life and Times, An Autobiography, is available for order now here at Amazon and Elite Comics, or order it from your local comic book store, in stores Wednesday.