Thursday, December 24, 2015

shorts SHORT Review: A Kidnapped Santa Claus

A Kidnapped Santa Claus
By L. Frank Baum
Adapted by Alex Robinson (Writer & Illustrator)
itbooks, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers

Welcome to another shorts SHORT Review for the winter season where we look at the odd life and times of Father Christmas. Santa Claus bounces back and fourth between this being of distress and a hero (sometimes villain). It's interesting to see him as these different lives. Especially the tales that have him being helped by a hero that he'd know about, but didn't know of the evil that would attack him. This is seen in the films Nightmare Before Christmas and Santa Claus Vs the Martians, both films intended to steal Santa away and keep Christmas for themselves. And this is the theme of the comic A Kidnapped Santa Claus, a tale about dæmons that want children to walk their caves, so they can enjoy their specific and individual suffering, plot in a nutshell, though there's so much more to it than this little summary.

Santa Claus in this story is an impossibly tall man, though this is because of the helpers and workers that invest their time and desire to give back to the world. We follow over the shoulder of Wisk a Fairy that works side by side with the Jolly Red Man himself. The Workshop has more than Elves, since this is a L. Frank Baum story, and this is a 1900's story, so the fey have a wide interpretation, since the elf is a broad term. It's more defined today, though it was a general expression for magical creatures, mostly humanoid, but not always. There's a lot of helpers in the Workshop at Santa's, but these are the main ones. We have Faries (who work in the office and hand in hand with the Knooks) that help in all departments,  there's Pixies (which are like boy fairies, though without wings, closer to Brownies) that help in the stable, Ryls (the one's who make the toys, gift wrap, and pack) a bit grumpy and goat-headed, and Knooks (they are literal pug faced beings, so adorable) who tailor and organize the workshop. It feels a bit like a Role Playing Game's Bestiarium, since they talk about each dæmon's too. It's a wonderful introduction of all the characters in the book, within 5 pages, all the information that's needed to complete the comic. The plot is a joy, personally an improvement to the original work, though this is with help to the author and his contemporary writing.

Professor Steeping, Gom, and Tea Steeping all trading gifts and warm thoughts.

Speaking of contemporary skills, from the character designs to the inking, adept talent was spread through out this short story. I loved Wisk's design and the warmth I felt from Santa, even though he's a drawing, it felt like the man was beaming with positivity. Also the dæmons' human forms to trick Santa into their specific trait was wonderfully executed. Subtle uses of weight within the hair and clothes, also the wonderful expression of negative space and pacing was excellently projected. The expression of emotion and visual emotion is amazing, poses and panel use was superb and immersive.

My favorite part is the classic L. Frank Baum, where someone gets their head lobed off and it's reconnected later. I love that about his stories, it's interesting that weapons aren't deathly, though they're still dangerous. One of my favorite missing head moments of L. Frank Baum is The Magical Monarch of Mo, that mischievous purple dragon and his appetite for kings' crowns. Don't worry the King is fine, though it's just annoying more then the end for him (and I think a few other characters in that story). Anyhow, Alex Robinson is an alumni of the School of Visual Arts and has made a wonderfully illustrated tale of the Flying Postman and his airborne platoon. If you're like me and love heavy use of ink and full detailed shorts then you're in for a treat of a visual tale.

I trust you enjoyed the inspection, thank you for reading.
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Keep well and Stay well.

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