Wednesday, December 23, 2015


Conceived and used with the permission of Matthew Constantine and Brad Gullickson, the original dorks.

Everyone has a “Top 5.”  But Brad and Matt, choosing to walk a different path, amended that to “A Fistful…” over at their blog, In the Mouth of Dorkness.  A film-centric blog where they also discuss comics and books and TV, these two regularly share their top 5, ranging from “Heroic Kids” to “Spies” to “Summer Movies” to “Punches” to all things in between.  Always fun, often insightful, and something I hope to regularly pilfer for Warrior27.  As they say:  If you’re going to steal, steal from those you know relatively well, who will not sue you.

Christmas is my favorite time of the year.  I love the decorations, the packages, the treats, the general good cheer, but most of all I love the fantasy that surrounds the whole endeavor.  I love the idea of Santa Claus, of one person traversing the Earth in order to bring joy to little girls and boys.  It’s magical, and that hits me right where it counts.  And a big part of the joy comes from all the stories that have been crafted around this time of year—whether those are television specials, films, books, or theatrical dramas.  Here are five of my favorites:

5. The Father Christmas Letters by J.R.R. Tolkien

Tolkien was the first author I actively collected, and I collected everything.  I have three different editions of these letters to his children, written by Tolkien with accompanying drawings, which recount adventures in the North Pole with Santa, his elves, and the North Polar Bear, among other characters.  They’re lively and fanciful and a whole lot of fun to read.  They made such an impression on me that I’ve taken it upon myself to do something similar, writing letters to my own boys, from Santa, for quite a long time now.  It’s one of my favorite things to do at Christmas time.

4. The Life and Adventures of Santa Claus, by L. Frank Baum, adapted by Michael Ploog

This is one of my favorite comics, all time.  A tale recounting the early life of Santa, how he came to be the “man in the red suit,” and the adventures and challenges he faced in becoming the immortal and benevolent saint that he is.  Based on L. Frank Baum’s novel—yes, the man behind The Wizard of Oz—with breathtaking art from Mike Ploog, who had been working in film for a number of years before returning to comics with this and a few other projects, at the time, it is a masterful lesson in adaptation and the craft of comics.  For the art alone, this book is worth it, but the narrative holds its own, as well, and provides an exciting tale for sharing during this holiday season.

3. Miracle on 34th Street (the original, black-and-white version, please)

My favorite Christmas movie, by far.  The story of the real Santa Claus, living among us without our knowledge, who returns the holiday to its joyous and charitable roots through taking a position as the Santa Claus at Macy’s Department Store.  Put on trial, through the machinations of a relentlessly horrific “psychologist” at Macy's, a lawyer Kris Kringle has befriended must prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that this man is, indeed, the one, true Santa Claus. And he does that, while Kringle’s generous nature also helps to instill in the young woman who hired him, as well as her daughter, a faith in humanity and life they had both set aside.  It's smart and funny and fantastic.  I Love it!

2. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

There’s a reason (or many reasons) why this is considered a classic.  Dickens crafts a wonderfully imaginative and magical narrative that deftly gets across the aspirational core of the holiday season without shoving it down readers’ throats.  If you’ve only ever seen the television or film adaptations, do yourself a favor and read the original.  The writing is beautiful, and any questions of internal logic you might have from those adaptations, as I did, will be answered through this definitive text. 

1. Christmas Eve on Sesame Street

Nothing even comes close to this Christmas special, for me.  I love every single thing about this special—Oscar teasing Big Bird with questions of how Santa gets presents to everyone, the kids surprising Bob with their use of sign language when singing the holiday song he taught them, the tomfoolery (yeah, I used “tomfoolery”) at the ice skate rink to open the show, and the final revelation of the magic of Santa, as Big Bird awakes, icicle dangling from his beak, to find himself alone on the roof of the apartment building—and I never miss a chance to watch it every year.  On Christmas Eve, natch.

Happy Holidays! 


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