Thursday, November 29, 2012

Santa vs. Bits and Bytes

Adventures in Cartooning: Christmas Special, by James Sturm, Andrew Arnold and Alexis Frederick-Frost, First Second, $9.99, 6 and up, 64 pages, 2012. When Santa's elves stop making gifts to write game codes for girls and boys, the jolly man in red concocts a plan to entice kids back to the printed page. In this funny cartoon for the digital age, three comic makers imagine how Santa would react if kids only wanted digital gifts, and his elves no longer packed his sleigh with books and toys. Being a traditional fellow, Santa isn't happy that children only wish for electronic games, so he calls on his Magical Cartooning Elf to save Christmas from being all about bits and bytes. He asks the Elf to summon a knight who's had great adventures and work with him to write a comic book that no child could resist. On first try, the knight writes about being captured by a yeti in a blizzard, then waking to find the yeti greeting him in a peculiar way, eating his arm like spaghetti. A curious tale -- but Santa and the elf want, "Something inspiring! Something redeeming!" So, the knight writes instead about riding a rocket to space to get a real star for a child's extra-tall tree. Sounds perfect, says Santa. But after the book has gone to print and they go to load the sleigh, they learn that Santa's reindeer have been set free. Since the elves switched to uploading gifts, they no longer needed them. How will they ever carry all those books to good girls and boys? They need a hero, a knight, to save the day! But what could a knight supply that would fly and light the way? This is a silly, delightful tale of how a comic book saves Christmas from the being overly digitalized. Best part: Santa, the elf and knight blazing across the sky on a green, fire-breathing "sleigh."

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