Sunday, December 7, 2014

Xmas Cards/Books

Last year when I finished my 2013 Xmas Card/Book, I swore it would be the last one. And I've kept that oath— there won't be a card/book this year. 

It's not that I don't enjoy making them, you understand. They're fun to draw, but they're an enormous amount of work. Every year they take longer and longer to create. I started last year's book in August and worked on it virtually every day for five months and still barely finished it in time for the holiday. I just don't think I have another one in me.

One of these days I ought to look into selling a collection of these stories.

Since there won't be a card/book this year, enjoy this look back at previous efforts.



This is the first card I did, way back in 2008. This one actually is a simple greeting card rather than a book, consisting of a single sheet folded in half.

Obviously the front is based on vintage boxing posters, the kind you'd see in the early 1900s. I had a lot of fun writing the old-time copy. 

Anti-Claus' choice of weaponry still bugs me. Why a crowbar? I still don't know. Maybe I was trying to find a weapon that kind of looked like a candy cane? I should have painted stripes on it to sell that idea better. As you can probably tell I'm never satisfied with my own work.

I guess the aging effects were successful. I sent one to my boss at the time, and when he saw it he accused his wife of bending the corner when she took it out of the envelope!

Gronkoor, The Monster Who Hated Christmas And Stomped On All The Shoppers He Saw

A terrifying tale of man vs. nature in the style of Gozilla and other kaiju films. Or maybe it's just a story about a monster who's not all bad, I don't know.


This was the first card/book that I did, in the style of Little Golden Books. It's the shortest of all of the books, consisting of a scant eight pages. 

Originally it was going to be just a card like the Anti Claus one, and I was going to draw the cover only. Then I thought up an actual story and it grew into an actual book.

I burned off a week of vacation days at the beginning of November 2009 (I always end up with a surplus of time off at the end of the year) and spent the whole time working on this card/book. Those eight pages took a long time, mostly because I didn't know what I was doing. I learned to streamline the process in subsequent years.

Gronkorr Paper Craft Model

I also made a paper model of the Gronkorr character, which you can print and assemble. This was my first attempt at such a thing.


An unsettling and unflinching look at body horror and mutation, as Santa Claus transforms himself into a half human, half reindeer chimera.

This is my favorite of all the cards/slash books I've done. The story and art really came together this time, if I do say so myself. 

Looking back, I honestly have no idea how I was able to finish this one in time for Xmas. I didn't even start on it until midway through November! This one was bigger than the previous card/book, clocking in at twelve pages. It was also much more complicated, featuring more characters and detailed backgrounds. 

And to top it all off, I had a second job in 2010 and was working around sixty hours per week. Somehow I managed to write and draw the entire thing in a month! 

Maybe it came out well because I didn't have a lot of time? I couldn't afford to screw around and had to make art and writing decisions quickly. Quite often stress fuels creativity.

I wish I had the time and resources to make an animated holiday special of this story, like the Rankin-Bass shows.


It's Xmas meets technology in this wacky story of irresponsible science nerds run amok!

Like Santataur, this one started out life as a drawing, and I later wrote a story around the characters and turned it into a card/book.

Unfortunately I had way more story than space. The original version clocked in at twenty pages. I had to do a lot of slashing and condensing and rewriting to get it down to a more manageable twelve.

I was also going through a downsizing trauma at the time, which kind of put a damper on my enthusiasm for the project. But I started on it anyway, and it turned out to be good therapy. Working on the Space Dweebs kept my mind off my job woes.


An apocalyptic account of Man vs. Nature, as the Earth is doomed by one man's hubris.

I sound like a broken record, but this was another card/slash book that was finished at the last minute. It's a well known law of graphic design— a project will always expand to fill the available time. 

Adding to the lengthy production time was the fact that I went on a family vacation in the middle of it, in addition to working on a massive freelance project at the same time.

I remember I started drawing the pages before I had all the details nailed down, so a lot of elements were created on the fly. Things like the hot young version of Mrs. Claus, the violent Elf names and the Yetis' ability to shoot ice rays.

It's dangerous to work that way, but it all turned out OK this time.


A sordid saga of revenge and brinkmanship as two powerful titans battle to the death as the rest of the planet looks on helplessly.

Last year's card/book was a massive twenty four pages, the longest I'd ever attempted. I knew it was gonna be a whopper, so I started extra early. Didn't matter. I still barely finished it by Xmas.

This story is based on classic Looney Tunes cartoons, the kind where the characters try to kill one another in an ever-escalating series of attacks. Even with the extra page count I still had more ideas than space, and had to pare down the number of attacks. Ah well.


I also made a Dr. Killdeath paper model. It's probably the most complicated one I've done so far. I'll probably make one of Count Gothula one of these days, as soon as I figure out how to construct a decent round head.

So there you go, a rundown of all the Xmas Card/Books I've made the past few years. Apologies to anyone who was expecting a new one this year. Who knows, maybe after I've had some time away from them I'll get the itch to create some more.

1 comment:

  1. Most excellent!

    I wish I had had known about these before I ordered cards this year. Oh well, next year!

    ReplyDelete

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