Tag Archives: Christmas

Marvel Holiday Special 1991

I’m sure that there are a variety of ways to measure the outsize place of Christmas among contemporary American holidays. Spending, obviously. TV specials perhaps. Holiday-specific music.

Personally, at least, I could also add the amount of once-per-year paraphernalia that I pull out of storage for a while, then put back away for 11 months before repeating the process, year upon year. The lights. The little tree. Christmas music CDs. Santa hat.

And Christmas comics.

This may be the least typical of my various personal Christmas traditions. I have as many as two dozen Christmas-related comics, either as individual floppies or as part of collected editions. It seems like I may as well pull them off the shelf at Christmastime, if ever. In recent years it has begun to feel a bit like I’m doing so mainly for that reason, more than for enthusiasm to read the stories again; I have read most of them so many times, and Christmas seems to roll around again a little bit sooner each year at this point.

Still, like the little tree, like my 20-year-old string of colored lights, it’s now part of Christmas to bring them out. Perhaps especially in the case of one Christmas comic, which I have had even longer than those lights… I realized this year that the first of several Marvel Holiday Specials released in the 1990s is now a full quarter-century old.

Cover of 1991 Marvel Holiday Special

Wraparound cover art by Art Adams. Purely decorative; no such scene appears in any interior story.

Good lord.

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Charlie Brown Christmas thoughts

Christmas time once more. I’m still working on getting completely into the swing of things. A week of chaos related (but not exclusive) to changing ISPs has not helped. On the other hand, I’m organized; I’m well along with most of my shopping, lights and decorations are up, Christmas Ale is purchased, my brother’s latest drawing commission is (finally) done, and my cards are underway. Though that last was a trial this year. May post more about this at my design blog, later…

For the moment, though, a thought or two about the timeless Charlie Brown Christmas special. I do like this little cartoon, certainly. (In fact, I may actually buy the DVD just because ABC positively butchered it this year with how many scenes they cut to squeeze in more ads…) Mostly because of tradition, and the inherent endearing character of Peanuts in general, I suppose. I wouldn’t call it brilliant, but it has been around for generations now, really, and it feels like it never gets old. So many scenes and lines and images feel like solid, reassuring cultural reference points.

That said, there are… one or two points of interest, as the great one would say. Particularly related to the last act. For years, now—probably ever since I resumed viewing the CBC after a sort of hiatus from Christmas in my 20s—I have puzzled over Charlie Brown’s disappearance from the stage just before the final scene. Chuck moans “I’ve killed it,” etc., walks offstage, his peers amble up and perform their miracle with the Saddest Christmas Tree Ever, start caroling, and he returns for the big finale. What does he do in the interim? Obviously, this is trivial as can be, and yet every time I watch now, it feels as mysterious and tantalizing as the 18-minute tape gap.

It isn’t difficult to come up with a simple explanation. Chuck goes inside, slumps down in a chair in despair for a moment… then sees and/or hears activity outside, and goes to investigate. But… does he take off his coat and boots, then put them back on, in that short time? More to the point, does anything else happen? He sees the day’s mail, maybe? Catches something on TV? Grabs a snack? Ponders the meaning of life? Stands on the porch listening to his parents argue (wa-wa-wa)? It just feels like there is something missing here. Maybe it’s poignant, maybe not, but the way the star of the show vanishes at that crucial moment without explanation just haunts me. I suppose “the world may never know.”

This year, meanwhile, another little oddity struck me for the very first time.

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