Tom Spurgeon's Web site of comics news, reviews, interviews and commentary

Home > CR Reviews

The Great Treasury Of Christmas Comic Book Stories
posted December 10, 2010

imageCreators: Walt Kelly, Mo Gollub, Mel Millar, Jack Bradbury, HR Karp, Klaus Nordling, John Stanley, Mike Sekowsky, Charles Dickens, Richard Scarry, Elsa Jane Werner, Irving Tripp, Dan Gormley, Frank Johnson, Clement Clark Moore, Al Fago, Dan Noonan, Alberto Giolitti, St. Matthew
Publishing Information: IDW, hardcover, 180 pages, 2010, $34.99
Ordering Numbers: 9781600107733 (ISBN13)

This is the latest volume from Craig Yoe's book line at IDW. It's one of the latest, anyway; they come out with a frequency that outpaces my ability to keep track. Unlike most of the other Yoe-edited books, where it seems like a book just like it is either imminent or has been published concurrently whether or not this is actually true, The Great Treasury of Christmas Comic Book Stories not only lacks a same-season cousin I can't remember any book quite like it. Why hasn't this been done before? This seems like the kind of idea that should have been done a dozen times by now, only I don't think it has. It's the 30 Days Of Night of archival comics projects, for pity's sake. So good for Yoe on that count. As a reward I'd invite him to put his name on the cover in a bigger font and above those of Walt Kelly, Richard Scarry and John Stanley, but he's already done that. I kid -- Yoe's made perfectly clear a dozen times now and with multiple publishers that he approaches his books the way an old-school local television host might, walking us through what he's found out there and occasionally turning to us with a smile and a nod. On a book like this one, he can pretty much put his name wherever he wants. No one out-bills Santa.

I'm a bad audience for art direction in archival books. I pretty much have to be shown a poor capture of a comics page next to a great one with arrows pointing out which is which for me to notice a difference. I get the same looks from my publishing acquaintances that I used to get from my audiophile friends as they stood over their stereos ready to plunge me into the wall of sound one more time hoping I'll come out on the other side less useless. So whether or not Yoe and his team of elves did a good job with this material, you'll have to ask someone else. It's all readable. Some of panels seem to contain shadows and smudges; others are fading on the thinner lines the way images do at times when I try to fix them in PhotoSuite before posting them on this blog. One encouraging thing about the haphazard look to some of the pages is that if you figure the relative number of Stanley and Kelly stories there's room for a more meticulous reprinting of some of these works in different books, for a different audience. For now, I imagine most interested parents and any comics-focused little kids (they do exist) will be fine with what they open across their laps here.

As for the comics themselves, nothing surprised, and little distinguishes itself although it's all of a reasonably high quality. The Kelly works read mostly flat to me but the Stanley and the Scarry shimmer and shake a great deal of energy, that weird, fussy manner that Christmas stories always seem to have when told out of the corners and margins of better-remembered tales. I liked the look of the Klaus Nordling pieces most of all. I wish there had been a greater range to the stories included -- the adaptations in particular seem like orphans from a second work rather than complementary partners within this one. Then again, who gets exactly what they want for Christmas?