Tagged: Santa Claus

Dennis O’Neil: Santa

Let us forego our consideration of the green unicorn problem and, obeying the dictates of the season, direct our attention to that jolly old elf, Santa Claus.

First, we’ll follow that which is not exactly required but is nonetheless highly recommended and seek to link the elf to comic books, this allegedly being a column devoted to the aforementioned magazines.

So: is Santa a comics character?

Yes and no. Research indicates that he and his cohort of elves and reindeer have never been awarded their own regular title. You could never find, tucked into your Christmas stocking, something like “The Adventures of Santa Claus” or if the comic was published by Disney, “Santa’s Funnies and Stories” or, if it appeared in the 60s and bore a Marvel colophon, maybe “The Stupendous Santa.” Santa has made – I’m taking a shot in the dark here – tens of thousands of comics guest appearances; I may have written a couple-three myself. But he has never been a regular at a comics shop near you. It’s almost as though he didn’t…exist?

And thus, finished with squirming, we come to it and dare ask: Is Santa real?  (You might consider sending the children out of the room.)

Again, and please forgive me: Yes and no.

Begin with yes. There is a mythic/fictive entity whose existence was inspired by legendary folk who were probably real humans and whose lore has been augmented by uncounted artists, writers, actors, maybe dancers… anyway, a lot of creative folk. The first of these was an educated New Yorker who lived in what is now Chelsea, in lower Manhattan (and later in Newport) named Clement Clark Moore. He wrote what he titled A Visit From St. Nicholas, never intending it to be published. But it was, in 1823, by The New York Sentinel and it’s been with us ever since. (Some have disputed Moore’s authorship, but let’s not go there.)

To continue: Are you certain you’ve shooed away the young’uns? Then let’s dare to face the no. So: no, there has never been an actual living human with sorrows, joys, aches and pains, a genome – none of that baggage. He was fiction, just like Spider-Man or John Galt or Hoppy the Marvel Bunny. But that’s not what many of us tell children. We say Santa is real and brings gifts and eats cookies and drinks the milk if we leave snacks out for him. We lie. Tsk

But for much of my life, I thought that the Santa fib was essentially harmless. I’ve changed my mind. What do we gain by teaching kids that adults perpetrate senseless lies that continue for years? That adults, and especially authority figures, are not to be trusted? That the world is full of uncertainty and that the people you love will, just for the heck of it, lie their asses off?

Maybe our final answer is yes Let the urchins learn to be careful and cynical and suspicious. Because look at the world we’re handing them.

Ho ho ho.

Dennis O’Neil: Wither Santa Claus?

Santa ClausLet us begin with a happy Christmas tale.

Once upon a time, Santa Claus came down the orphanage chimney with a sack full of comic books for all the boys and girls who had just murdered a meter reader. The children enjoyed the comics very much.

Part of the foregoing was a remedy for a mistake I made last week. What I didn’t do was mention comics, or anything closely related to comics or the vast domain of popular culture. And this is a website devoted to Things Comicish and so it seems only proper that comics/comicishness be at least mentioned … and, to fix firmly the relevance to the holidays, which seems to be the custom hereabouts, and avoid accusations of Scrogeiness, to end happily. All done now. Mea culpas finished. (This last is a shout out to the Catholics of my generation, who still remember the Latin Mass and has nothing to do with what comes next.)

While we’re in the neighborhood, let’s visit a house near the orphanage, the one at the end of the cul de sac. The Smith home.

First see the family baby, Janey, age six. She’s traumatized by something told to her by that snotty kid next door, Willie. He said that there was no Santa Claus. Janey thought he was fibbing until she caught Daddy unloading a Toys R Us bag from the station wagon. Daddy slipped on the icy driveway and dropped the bag and toys spilled out, all over the place and Daddy muttered something about visiting the North Pole on the way home from work and then Mommy, who had been standing on the front porch, said, “Oh for pete sake, how dumb do you think the kid is?”

“Plenty dumb” Daddy mutters, almost too quietly to hear.

It is as though there was an explosion in Janey’s head and suddenly she understood everything – daddy thinks I’m dumb! Santa isn’t real! – and before she opens the door to her room she is sobbing and has embarked on a lifetime of mistrust and disillusionment, Next Christmas, if she’s lucky, Santa will bring her an appointment with a therapist.

Meanwhile, Daddy has locked himself in his den and is at his desk, bent over stacks of papers and big, flat books, a pen in one hand, a calculator by the lamp. There is no way the figures offer redemption. When he factors in what he’s spent at the toy store, he cannot avoid bankruptcy. And foreclosure, probably.

At that moment, Mommy is behind the wheel of the station wagon, speeding toward the mall. If she can get there before the stores close, she will exchange the sweater she bought for her sister-in-law for something … different. Better. Classier and how the hell does she know what the old bitch will like, what kind of gift will forestall the snide remarks, the barbed whispers, the yearly humiliation?

Ten minutes ‘till mall closing. Does she have time for a quick stop at the liquor store?

Oh, before I go … Did something happen in San Bernardino last week?