Aardman Animations' holiday cartoon "Arthur Christmas" comes up with a clever answer to the question, "How could Santa Claus deliver all those presents around the world in a single night?"
Turns out the role of "Santa Claus" has been played by multiple generations of single family, and they've ramped up their operation over the centuries to keep up with technology and population growth. Where a sleigh pulled by reindeer levitating on magic dust once did the job, now it's a large-scale military operation involving a massive hovercraft, cloaking devices and tens of thousands of paramilitary elves. The film opens with a giddy, extremely funny set piece in which presents are deployed over a major city with soulless, Tom Clancy black-ops efficiency.
"Arthur Christmas" loses much of that zip (but retains much of its charm) after it settles into its main story -- which involves three generations of the Claus family bickering while the youngest, Arthur (voiced by James McAvoy), tries to deliver a single overlooked present, aided by his barmy grandfather (Bill Nighy) and an overeager elf (Ashley Jensen).
Arthur is sort of a dull hero, but the grandfather is classic, hilarious Aardman -- a thoroughly British eccentric prone to weird nostalgic/fatalistic utterances. (For example, talking about how he used to deal with kids when they'd wake up and see him: "Just give 'em a knock on the head with a sock full of sand and a bit of whisky on the lips!") If they make a sequel, they should just partner ranty old Grandsanta with the peppy elf and leave Arthur at the North Pole. ______
The final leg of the textbox farewell tour ends as it should -- with multiple things breaking, falling apart and catching on fire. Mike Russell is on hand to relay his tale of triumph at Comics Underground, and Fatboy relays his minor breakdown during rehearsal for The 3rd Floor’s “The Shame Company.” A large chunk of the show is spent reminiscing on the cascadia.fm era of the show, and the memories are sweet, bittersweet, inappropriate and highly questionable after awhile. Other topics include: British Predators; The Juggalo respawn point in Portland; BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH; and -- as part of the grand finale -- the textbox itself lurches to sentient life and meets its horrible fate thanks to Boyz II Men. Maybe the show fell down and bumped its head on the last day, but all that means is come Monday, you know what mode we goin'. See you then. So long, cascadia.fm. You were a good ship -- thanks for letting us stow away on it for a couple years.
Mike Russell has fried his brain preparing for next week’s Comics Underground presentation. Fatty is slowly losing all of his mental faculties preparing for next week’s premier of The 3rd Floor’s “The Shame Company.” Only Cort and guest Ryan McCluskey manage to secure some semblance of a grasp on sanity -- and even then, McCluskey tells tales of being an American lost in '80s London, failing at slang and suffering in acting class, before sharing a 20-minute long blind-item story about a world-famous celebrity having maybe the worst night never told. Also discussed: "Sabertooth" merchandise, the secret origins of Hawaiian cuisine, milk intestines, and the tier list for Pixar movies.
• On Sunday, Nov. 13, I'll be signing books from 12 noon to 2 p.m. at the PDX Browncoats table at Orycon, held in the Lloyd Doubletree Hotel. The Browncoats will have both "Sabertooth Vampire" books for sale during the rest of the conference (Nov. 11-13).
• And finally, on Thursday, Nov. 17, I'm part of the lineup at "Comics Underground" -- alongside Dylan Meconis, Ron Chan, Sean Kelley, and Ryan Alexander-Tanner. Marvel as I attempt to set "Sabertooth Vampire" comics to music onstage in the Jack London Bar! (I'll also share some other short comics stories. A surprising number of them contain head trauma.)
The best surprise that's come from making "Sabertooth Vampire" comics? The fan-art -- much of it textiles-based.
After the jump: A sampling of the drawings, dolls, clothing, and needlepoints (among other things) that I've gotten from readers since starting the comic in January. Click on any picture to enlarge. Thanks so much. It's hugely gratifying.
On my Twitter feed, I occasionally post odd photos of my cat Hellboy -- an animal who wandered into our lives during a snowstorm about eight years ago (pictured, right) and basically refused to leave.
Odd photo opportunities abound with this cat. He has a what you might call a "vivid personality." I probably should have paid more attention when his previous owner, once contacted, had no problem whatsoever with him deciding to move in with us.