Fourteen Days, Fourteen Santas

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.

Anyhow, you probably didn't come here to read about me pulling ideas out of my rear the ether. The collected illustrations are available below for your perusing pleasure.

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 Claus
Basil 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.

1 comment:

Yanan Huai said...

Man, you really love pixel! I have never try this before, might be fun. I heard there is a popular game called Minecraft will allow you to build the whole 3D world pixel by pixel, a little like Lego.