There's a guy you don't see much of in the comics this time
Well, at least the
Santa thats kind of portly, with red cheeks and rides a
sleigh. Superman or Batman, or even Captain Marvel, had helped
the jolly Santa along in his quest of dropping of toys and good
In the modern age, well, poor ole Santa is either a victim
of crime or is doing the crime. Or he's something a little different,
like the current release Klaus by Grant Morrison, who devised
a rough-and-tumble, Conan the Barbarian type of Santa for Boom
Studios. He stalks the wilds with barely tame canines dispensing
justice in a Nordic way. But those versions are not of our concern.
A few decades ago, St. Nick popped up in the four-colour
world quite regularly come December. More often than not, the
jolly, roly-poly with red cheeks was a staple in give-away comics
in the mid-20th Century.
Santas biggest boosters in the comic publishing world
were Dell and Western Publishing Company. Christmas as an over-arching
theme was also big with other publishing houses and companies
such as Disney.
A number of Christmas and Santa books were published in the
March of Comics series, by K.K. Publications and Western Publishing
Company, and were given away as promotional items through sponsors.
The first of the
Christmas-themed titles was #2 with How Santa Got His Red Suit,
by Walt Kelly of Pogo fame, which was a reprint of Four Color
March of Comics #10 was Out of Santas Bag; #11 Fun
With Santa Claus; #12 Santas Toys; #13 Santas Surprise
and #14 Santas Candy Kitchen.
The line continued with #30 Here Comes Santa; #31 Santas
Busy Corner and then #33 with the grandest Christmas story of
all, A Christmas Carol.
There are a number of later issues of March of Comics with
tales of Santa, his reindeer and his workshop.
Dell, a company that never printed a book that could be considered
offensive or controversial, plunked Santa into Santa Claus Funnies,
which were part of the Four Color series.
The Dell Four Color Santa books - #1 (1942), #2 (1943), #61
(1944), #91, #128, #175, #205, #254, #302, #361, #525, #607,
(oh, no) #666, #756, #867, #958, #1063, #1154 and #1274 (1961)
- contained art by Kelly.
Kelly also inked wonderful covers and stories with a seasonal
motif in Christmas with Mother Goose (Four Color numbers #90,
#126, #172, #201 and #253), issued between November 1945 and
I say no matter whether Christmas is important to you or
not, the Kelly books - indeed any Kelly art - are a find in any
Santa Claus Funnies can cost a few hundred dollars each in
top condition. A # 61 graded 9.6 out of 10 by a third-party sold
at auction for $956 U.S. in 2013. A #91 graded 9.6 out of 10
sold for $717 at auction, also in 2013.
Christmas title is Walt Scotts Christmas Stories, Four
Color #959 (December 1958) and #1062 (December 1959), starring
the Little People.
The Cleveland-born Scott (what is it with Cleveland and comic
book artists?) earned his chops at the Newspaper Enterprise Association
syndicate and at Disney, working on animation including Bambi,
Dumbo, Fantasia and Pinocchio. A chunk of his original Sunday
comics of The Little People strip is archived at Syracuse University.
A #1062 graded at Near Mint Plus sold in auction for $251
in 2013, but prices for this book range widely as another in
the same grade sold for $155 in the same year.
Ziff-Davis published two issues of Santa Claus Parade in
1951 and 1952, with a reprint of the 1951 edition published by
St. John Publishing Company in 1955. In top shape, they can each
retail for a few hundred dollars each.
While Charles Dickens wrote the grandest story, what is arguably
the most popular Christmas tale was a department store promotional
Robert L. May was assigned to write a Christmas story that
was published by Montgomery Ward in 1939. That red nose glowed
its way into the hearts of millions through Mays poem,
colouring books, a song written by Mays brother-in-law
Johnny Marks for western crooner Gene Autry, a television show
and a film.
Comics published Rudolph annual comics beginning in 1950 until
1962. A decade later, DC released a treasury-sized edition of
the story, the first of a total of seven oversized comics.
Expect to pay in the hundreds for Mint condition annuals,
while in the teens for Good.
Probably the goofiest Christmas comic is Santa Claus Conquers
the Martians, based on that 1964 film classic starring
Pia Zadora, with prices ranging between about $15 in Good to
$250 in Near Mint.
Let's Talk Comics with Rob Lamberti, who started collecting
comics when the going price was 12 cents an issue and Peter Parker
really was a teenager. He dabbled in the comic convention circuit
in the Toronto area for a while, but stopped to concentrate on
his career as a not-so-mild- mannered crime reporter for a great
metropolitan newspaper, where he hoped he managed to record a
little bit of history the past three decades.