I’m not sure about you, but when someone writes that “THIS IS THE GREATEST UNTOLD STORY OF THEM ALL” (pg. 1), I expect a LOT. And I know a LOT about many stories told concerning Christmas. Christmas is my gig, and as such, I was thrilled to learn that Grant Morrison and Dan Mora were doing a comic entitled Klaus. I couldn’t wait for an original origin story surrounding the man we all know as Santa Claus.

Needless to say, I was at the comic store when it opened this morning, and of my extensive pull, this comic made it to the top in the reading order. I have to admit though, when I read “greatest untold story of them all” I feared they were setting my expectations too high. Still, I turned the page and immersed myself into the story, letting myself be drawn into a time before life was easy, a time when people lived in castles and bartered for their wares. It wasn’t until page nine that my heart began to sink. “Wait a minute,” I thought, “I HAVE heard this story before!” and indeed I have.

As a lover of the yuletide season, I’ve read books and watched nearly every Christmas special ever broadcast on free tv. As such, one of those Claymation (called Animagic) type stories along the lines of Rudolph came to mine. I could see the show in my mind (even though it’s not one of my favorites) but I couldn’t place the name of it. Needless to say, that sent me on an IMDB/internet search to find the name of the show. It only took a minute to have it: Santa Claus Is Coming to Town (1970).

I’m going to quote extensively here from Wikipedia and in the brackets [ ] are the correlations I see in the comic. Let’s see if Klaus tale is really as original as we’ve been set up to believe. From Santa Claus Is Coming to Town:

The story begins in the gloomy city of Sombertown [Grimsvig], ruled by the ill-tempered Burgermeister, Meisterburger [the Baron] . . .  Meanwhile, after tripping on a toy duck, the Burgermeister [the Baron, although we have no idea why he is the way he is] has been forced to outlaw all toys in the town, and declares that anyone found possessing a toy [in Morrison’s tale even a rock is considered a toy, and a boy is beaten for possessing one] will be arrested and thrown in the dungeon, until his injured pride recovers.

Other similarities exist but I do not wish to belabor the point I’m making. The. Story. HAS. Been. TOLD. Sure, there are differences, lots of them, and we all know that there is really nothing new under the sun when it comes to stories. But Morrison set us up for original, and original did not happen.

Does that mean I don’t like the comic? Hardly. I actually love it, so now that I’m done with my rant, lets talk about what I love and why without spoiling the story for any who have not read it. First, there’s the story. I know, I know, I’ve already ranted long enough about the fact that it’s not an original story, but it has a lot of original content. The only reindeer we see is the one that provides food for Klaus’s survival. This doesn’t mean he doesn’t have a companion. In fact, it’s Lilli, his companion wolf, that actually saves his life from the guard of Grimsvig. Unlike many tales of Santa’s origin, our Klaus feels bad for the children of Grimsvig, but, as he tells Lilli, “IT’S NOT OUR CONCERN, I KNOW, I KNOW. THERE’S NOTHING WE CAN DO” (pg. 23). He’s a caring man, but knows when control is not in his hands. So yea, the story is really, really good and I can’t wait to see where Morrison takes this one.

The art work of Mora makes you want to read the book again, and again, and again. There are four two-page spreads and each one is done purposefully, and each adds to the overall feel of the comic. As I’ve said before in reviews, two-page spreads can be overkill if used too often, and one might think that 8 pages of a 30 page book for two-page spreads might be too much, but it’s not.

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In the spread above, the composition is perfect. We, the readers, are immediately immersed into the city of Grimsvig. The perspective gives us a full view of the city and gives us a sense of gloom before we even step inside.

This sense of dreariness is accomplished through the use of light (or the lack thereof) and shading. Mora has created a atmosphere of depression that seems counter intuitive for a story involving Santa. The story carries this mood through until near the end. Again, I don’t want to spoil the story for anyone who wishes to read it, but I do want to share one more layout that reverses everything we’ve been feeling up until this point. As seen below, color can make all the difference in the world of comics.

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So now you have to ask yourself, “why this psychedelic turn of events, why have we gone from dreary to rainbow?” The only way to determine the answers to these questions is to pick up a copy of the comic yourself and give it a read through.

Klaus can be purchased at your local book store or on Comixology.

Overall Score
90 %

The origin story of the man we all know as Santa Claus is now told in the medium of comics. Grant Morrison's story telling combined with Dan Mora's art makes for one of the best new releases in a while.

Originality of Plot 50%
Story Telling 100%
Art 100%
Use of Color for Mood Setting 100%

About The Author

My name is Dianna, and I hail from the land of the lakes, aka Michigan. My full time job has me running a writing center, teaching writing classes (hopefully soon teaching a comics course), and doing all sorts of techy things, since that’s what I did in a previous life.

At this point in my life, comics are both my passion and my research. I am lucky in that I get to combine my passion into my everyday work. But here at Destroy the Cyborg I get to have fun and chat about what I'm reading. Feel free to chime in on my post, even if it's to tell my how dead wrong I got something.

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