It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Why? Because it’s time to break out your long boxes filled with Holiday comics for their yearly reading! Holiday specials have an interesting history in the comic book industry. In the Golden Age of comics, there was practically a Christmas-related issue of any given title once a year, like clockwork. That tradition fell by the wayside during the 1950s and 1960s, at least in superhero titles; DC released a Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer holiday comic special every year throughout the 1950s (ending in 1962) and Walt Disney Comics routinely put out Christmas specials as well during this time period. Stan Lee generally believed that holiday-related stories distracted from the universal feel of his Marvel stories, so it wasn’t until the late 1960s that Marvel Comics had its first notable holiday comic. The 1970s saw DC and Marvel begin to tell more holiday-themed stories in their comics and that decade saw the release of the first superhero holiday specials from both companies (with both releasing them as Treasury Editions).
The late 1980s saw DC return to the holiday special game and Marvel followed suit in 1991. Throughout the 1990s, both companies routinely put out a multitude of holiday specials. Things died down around the turn of the century, but then there was a brief resurgence from 2006-2011. DC has continued there tradition in recent years (check out the DC Universe Holiday Special 2017 featuring Denny O’Neil’s return to comics with an all-new Batman story!) and if history shows us anything its that Marvel will soon join back in! Until then take a look at some of the favorite Christmas/Holiday themed comics (and one TV show!) from the comic team at Dave and Adam’s.
Without further ado and in no particular order:
The Batman Adventures Holiday Special #1 (1994) – Paul Dini writes and Bruce Timm supplies the art along with BTAS alums Kevin Altieri and Glen Murakami. This is a classic from legends – but don’t take our word for it…this book won the 1995 Eisner Award for Best Single Issue/Story.
DC Batman: The Long Halloween (1996/97) – Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale’s classic mixes beautifully the themes of film noir and murder mystery set to the backdrop of Gotham City. It won the 1998 Eisner Award for Best Finite Series/Limited Series and perhaps mixes Batman and Bruce Wayne’s lives as well as anyone has and brilliantly demonstrates the bond shared by Batman, Jim Gordon and then District Attorney Harvey Dent.
“This is the ultimate holiday book. I’ve read through this story a dozen times and I still love it; however, nothing will ever match the sheer joy of reading this while it was an ongoing series. An epic, mystery caper that transcends an entire year? Unheard of. Our attention spans–in this ‘binge culture’ age–wouldn’t stand for it.” – Eric Mowery, Comic Book Buyer
Clerks Holiday Special (1998) – Kevin Smith writes and Jim Mahfood draws this snoochie boochie holiday special. And as a bonus the cover is drawn by Art Adams! Jason Mewes will be coming to Nickel City Con next year so maybe keep your issue out and bring it with you to get signed!
DC Batman: Noël (2011) – Lee Bermejo writes and illustrates a unique take on the Charles Dicken’s classic novel A Chistmas Carol and features characters from both the novel and Batman lore. The story is narrated by one of the Clown Prince of Crime’s henchmen.
Marvel Comics Spider-Man’s Tangled Web #21 (2003) – The late Darwyn Cooke writes and draws this issue of the short-lived, overlooked series. From Eric: “I have to give this book a nod because this series (comprised, mostly, of one-shots) is criminally underrated. CRIMINALLY. UNDERRATED. And I get it. There were so many Spider-Man titles in the 90s/2000s that many get written off as over-saturated cash grabs; however, ignoring this series is ignoring some of the best, wall-crawler yarns around. Cooke’s tale isn’t anything groundbreaking, but it’s wonderfully illustrated and involves the Inhumans, Macy’s, The Fantastic Four, sad kids, and The Puppet Master. Which is–as everyone knows–the exact recipe for a great Holiday comic.”
Boom! Studios Klaus (2015) – Two fan-favorite creators Grant Morrison and Dan Mora, what’s not to love? From our retail comic and toy specialist Virginia Carrigan: “It’s sort of a reimagining of the origin of Santa Claus, set in medieval times. He looks more like a Viking than the Santa you see on Coke bottles, a trapper who lives off the land with his white wolf Lili. He travels to a familiar town to trade only to find it’s been taken over by this crazy Lord and his dysfunctional family, who are trying to strip every last ounce of joy from the town. Klaus despises the injustice he witnesses and sets out to make things right with his faithful wolf, becoming something of a superhero to the townsfolk. Boom! released a follow up series, Klaus and the Witch of Winter in 2016. I’m a sucker for origin stories, and this one has such a perfect slant to it. Dan Mora’s art can be breathtaking at times, and Grant Morrison is Grant Morrison. Plus there’s a giant white wolf, how could you not love a big old puppy dog?”
Batman: The Animated Series – Episode 38 Christmas with the Joker (1992) – While not a comic book this episode is always great to watch around the holidays. Who doesn’t like hearing Mark Hamill voice the Joker who then is voicing his hand puppet Laughy the Elf?! DC Collectibles even released a Christmas with the Joker action figure last year around Thanksgiving complete with Christmas tree and Laughy alternate hand!
The Lobo Paramilitary Christmas Special #1 (1991) – Keith Giffen, Alan Grant and Simon Bisley create this epic tale of the main man himself. It’s a classic and definitely worth the time to track down in the back issues section.
So what are some of your favorites? Let us know on our Facebook and Twitter pages! From everyone here with the Dave & Adam’s Comic Team we wish you a Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and a Happy New Year filled with wonderful comic books!