Every Christmas, I lurch wearily to my drawing board with the help of Plumtree's Wintertime Blend Nerve Tonic (a tasty blend of 100-proof whiskey, mint extract, and cocaine-infused seltzer water), and drag a scribble-stick across paper in the hope of staving off depression for another week. In previous years this exercise in illustrative masochism was usually compressed into a few days of manic back-to-back storyboarding, inking, and coloring, interspersed with spilled ink and muttered profanities.
This year, I decided to distribute the madness across two weeks for reasons that now elude me. I'd like to fancy that my choice was informed by practical considerations or out of a desire to cultivate discipline, but, as is the case with so many personal projects, it probably came down to something almost wholly arbitrary and/or compulsive. Despite the lack of a unifying theme beyond Father Christmas himself, I actually did invest a good chunk of thought into each entry's concept and execution. Some entires were inspired by something I saw/heard that particular day. For instance, Saturday's illustration (013) materialized after I listened to an excerpt from David Sedaris's SantaLand Diaries on This American Life, and Tuesday's (009) popped into my head after killing some time on the Vintage Ad Browser.
001: Sinterklaas & Krampus
I left out a depiction of Zwarte Piet for obvious reasons.
002: He's Made of Elves!
Straightforward gag; references the series of Calvin & Hobbes strips where Calvin's father provides him with misleading characterizations of how things like ATMs and garage doors work.
003: Long-Haul Trucker Santa
I remember being worried about how this one would be received. It's not really a reference to anything in particular (though "Ice Road Truckers" did come to mind after I'd finished it).
004: 8-Bit Santa
This one started out as a smaller pixel portrait of Father Christmas, which I decided was boring. The illustration was built pixel by pixel, and took about five episodes of "How I Met Your Mother" to finish.
005: Dalek Claus
I saw this photo of a Christmas-themed Dalek on Gizmodo, which informed this particular illustration. I guess the whole "Christmas Dalek" thing felt flat if it wasn't ex-ter-mina-ting anything.
006: Mr. & Mrs. Claus, [Late-]80s Pop Sensation
Who doesn't love glitter pop? "David Bowie Claus" was the germinating idea, but I really wanted something with Hammer pants, hence the result shown here.
007: The Claus Group -- Annual Report 2011
This is the only entirely digital illustration of the entire batch. Everything else is hand-inked. I'd planned on doing a spoof graphic identity guide for a similar yuletide corporation last year, but didn't get around to executing it.
008: North Korean Propaganda Santa
Kim Jong-il might be dead, but ridiculous DPRK propaganda will live on!
009: The Three S's of Christmas
I wanted to do a Mad Men-esque Santa, but thought it'd look stale and unimaginative. I decided to do a faux-period piece after wasting time on the Vintage Ad Browser.
010: Basil Wolverton ClausBasil Wolverton was a longtime cartoonist for MAD and a master of grotesque appeal (also of really trippy/disturbing Bible illustrations, the Book of Revelations in particular). This is less homage as an excuse for me to try something stylistically different.
011: Exit, Eaten by a Bear
This one was really, really last-minute. I must've finished it at eleven o' clock. The original is only 1.5" x 1.5".
012: 2011: A Santa-Themed Odyssey
My original idea was to draw Santa visiting the Int'l Space Station, but it felt a bit less awesome than a Kubrick reference. The background is a screen grab from the film, hastily photoshopped.
013: Mall Santa Fiasco
Thank you, Mr. Sedaris, for working as a mall elf so I can have material for this illustration, the penultimate one in the series.
014: Christmas Day at the Jade Dragon
This one speaks for itself.