It could generate sympathy for the rebellion in the senate!
Chapter 85: A little holiday... cheer?
A gift offer if you are in need!
A little Dead Biker for your Holiday Reading!
The Mixtape! Some non-X-Mas tunes for you to enjoy!
We’re going to open on a bit of a bummer and then move on. Bear with me.
I know the holidays are really difficult for a lot of people for a lot of reasons. One of those is often the pressure to spend money and buy things for people you care about. For the past 5 years I’ve asked people to reach out if they were having money troubles and could use my comics as gifts. I then mailed out comics to these people who needed them for loved ones, or even just needed nice things for themselves, but couldn’t afford them. Sadly, I couldn’t really do that this year and it really kind of broke my heart. But I realized the other night that what I can do is make the offer for “digital gifts.”
If there is someone in your life you would love to get comics for this year but can’t, you can reply to this email and we can figure out getting them some digital comics of mine or even a gift subscription to this newsletter (which will get you digital comics throughout all of next year.) I can either email the person directly and explain that it’s a gift from you, or send the comics to you and you can pass them on. Your call.
It’s tricky for me to send my DC, Marvel, or Archie work, but not impossible. It would just have to be through Comixology. Otherwise, if they want digital issues of WHAT’S THE FURTHEST PLACE FROM HERE?, 4 KIDS WALK INTO A BANK, WE CAN NEVER GO HOME, 12 REASONS TO DIE, or a paid subscription here, I can make that happen.
This is all on the honor system. You don’t need to explain yourself or anything. I trust you. Happy holidays.
In “I also have to try to sell things to pay my bills” news, it is my sad duty to remind you that if you are totally and completely out of gift ideas at this late stage in the game, first of all, kinda not great. But it’s been a hard year and I get that you don’t always want to leave your house. Second of all, I got you! You can give the gift of this newsletter to friends, loved ones, coworkers, and enemies!
You know it must not be a horrible idea because they made a button for it! And they wouldn’t make a button for just anything, right?
Enough of that. Let’s talk about demonic bikers and the totally 100% legal use of parody.
Growing up, every Christmas Eve my family would make me read A Visit From St. Nicholas a.k.a. The Night Before Christmas by Clement Moore (or is it?) as we drank cocoa and then went off to sleep. Or, in my case, laid in bed for hours trying to divine what comics and G.I.Joes I was getting the next morning. It’s a tradition I still keep, in fact. Reading the book that is. I got all the G.I.Joes.
You’re back? Let’s continue. Years later, when I was an aspiring comic writer, I was obsessed with trying to break in at Marvel Comics. I knew I would never get a shot on a series without some published work under my belt but I dreamt that maybe I could charm my way into doing a short story in an anthology. (Spoiler: I couldn’t for a lot of reasons, the main one being my complete lack of charm.) And my favorite anthology they published was the semi-regular Holiday Special. So I worked up a bunch of pitches for holiday stories that ranged from very strange to wildly disturbing. I never got the chance to even show them to an editor which is probably for the best. But I have held onto them all these years because I don’t let go easily.
I recently revisited them and they are… not the best. But one did make me chuckle. It was a “pitch” for a Ghost Rider story told in the style of A Visit From St. Nicholas. I guess my idea was they could do it as a one shot with spot illustrations, and make it feel like a children’s book. And it would all be legal because not only is it parody, but the poem its parodying is in the public domain. Now I’m not saying any of this made it a good idea, but there was a logic to it. As I said, I never showed it to Marvel beyond mentioning it to one of my editors in passing years later. But their loss is your… gain?
Without further ado, here is my Ghost Rider parody version of the A Visit From St. Nicholas, with apologies to Clement Moore… And Marvel. Sorry guys.
The Fight Before Christmas
A Visit From Zarathos
Twas the night before Christmas, when all through our safehouse
Not a creature was stirring, not even Mickey the Mouse;
The shotguns were stacked by the chimney with care,
Cuz we were kinda worried that something soon would be there;
The children were tied and gagged in their beds,
While cries for their parents died in their heads;
And Manny with his Kevlar, and I with my Flak
Had just settled down for a long game of craps,
When out on 7th Street there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the table to see what the @#$& was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like The Flash,
Pried away the boards and tucked away my stash.
The moon on the breasts of the street walking ho,
Distracted from view what evil lurked below,
When, what to my terrified eyes should appear,
But a flaming motorbike, fueled purely by fear,
With a demonic old driver, so furious and quick,
I knew in a moment I was gonna be sick.
More rapid than a bat, his bike didn’t seem tame.
And he cackled, and shouted, and screamed out our names;
"Run, Donny! Run, Diego! Run, Mickey and Nixon!
Go, Carlos! Go, Christos! Go, Manny and Christian!
Out the back porch! Over the neighbors wall!
You can’t get away! Won’t get away! I’ll kill you all!"
As tiny insects, trapped under a glass will still fly,
We tensed for what was coming, knowing we’d die.
When up to the house-top, the Demon, he flew,
With his bike full of chains, and spikes, and flames too.
And then, to my terror, I heard on the roof
The straining of each chain link, grinding of each tooth.
As I drew out my glock, and was turning around,
Down the chimney The Spirit Of Vengeance came with a bound.
He was dressed all in leather, from his head to his foot,
And his skull was ablaze, but my fear kept me put;
A spiked chain he suddenly pulled off of his back,
And I knew he had escaped when Hell opened a crack.
His eyes -- how they burned! Like a cigarette’s cherry!
Nothing like this should walk the earth, no thing so scary!
With each step he took his size seemed to grow,
And his head, just a skull, was as white as the pure blow;
a low growl escaped his mouth, or rather his teeth,
And the fire it encircled his head like a sheathe;
Over broad shoulders his jacket covered him like a shell,
it shook as he laughed, a sound escaped from hell.
I wondered if he remembered being human, his old self,
And I peed when he approached, in spite of myself;
A flicker of his eye and a twist of his head,
Soon gave me to know, there are things better off dead;
He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
Dismembering my associates; he went berserk,
Then with his fist he smashed in my nose,
I started to fight back, but then I… I just froze;
Staring in his eyes, like falling in a bottomless well,
I felt all the pain I had caused, a brief glimpse of Hell.
I came to, all alone, but a distant voice gave me a fright,
"All who hurt children will be visited this night."
Art taken from the Marvel Holiday Special #1 by Howard Mackie, John Hebert, Al Milgrom, Evelyn Stein, & Michael Heisler.
Marvel Holiday Special 1993 by Ernie Chan.
Marvel Holiday Special 1994 by Ann Nocenti, Tom Girindberg, Bob Almond, Joe Rosas, and Brad Joyce.
I believe you can read them all on Marvel Unlimited. Or dig around in your local comic shop’s back issue bin.
I spent a lot of time talking about Christmas stuff here, and I know not everyone who reads this celebrates or cares. So this is for all of you with love.
That’s it for me.
Stay safe. Take care of each other. Merry Friday!