Posts Tagged ‘Christmas’

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 23rd, 2014

Christmas like most holidays is time for everyone to sit back and remember the things that are important to us. This is when family, friends, and community come together, caught up in a spirit of mutual peace, love and joy. If only it could stay that way.

Unfortunately, as much as we like to celebrate the things we all have in common, we also are driven to fear the things that make us different. Some differences are as obvious as the color of our skin and others much more subtle like the nuances of our personal opinion.

How we respond to these differences is what motivates all storytellers. It is the basis of conflict  in search of a resolution. We are all storytellers. Our history is the story of our lives told from our own unique perspective.

We all have different ways of expressing our stories. Gossip, music, words, film and paint are just a few methods of telling a story.

Some of us have chosen to tell our stories with comics, combining words and pictures to best communicate our ideas. Those that do are part of a community that shares an understanding of at least an attachment to this quirky medium.

Some of us prefer to experience stories told this way. Comics, unlike any other medium, rely on the interaction of the audience and their imagination to fill in the blank spaces that exists between panels. The story can only be made complete by the reader.

So, to all the comic creators and fans of the medium, we at CO2 Comics wish that you may all come together as a community and celebrate all that makes you alike and different this Christmas. Let us all tell wonderful comic stories as we move into 2015.

Merry Christmas to all!

Gerry Giovinco

The Weather Outside is Frightful and Comics are so Delightful…

Tuesday, December 17th, 2013

Christmas is just a week away and Mother Nature is doing her part to set the mood for the Holiday Season ’cause, “baby, it’s cold outside!”

Growing up, I had a sure-fire remedy for “cabin fever” or “winter blues” when the snow was piled high and it was too bitter to spend an entire day outside sledding on the slopes, building a snowman or engaging in a raucous snowball fight. I would just hunker down with a big pile of comic books and bask in the warm glow of mind-bending, four-color adventure.

Back in the 1970’s comics offered a different sense of comfort than they seem to do today. Maybe it was the newsprint that they were printed on. It had a different texture than the glossier, bleached-white paper stock of today’s comics.

Chemical Color Chart

The ink was absorbed into the surface of the more porous paper, softening images against an écru background, delighting the eyes with a loud yet, limited palette of just 62 colors (64 if you counted black and white) laid flat in each field of the dynamically drawn images they filled.

The soft touch of newsprint, as satisfying on a cold day as a fuzzy, heavily patterned, acrylic sweater, was complemented by a distinguished odor of pulp that is still easily conjured by memory alone decades later.

Comic books were more wholesome then, bound by the editorial constraints of the Comics Code Authority.  A cold  afternoon of reading stacks of assorted comics and sipping hot cocoa  left the heart, body and imagination feeling as stoked as a flame dancing in an open hearth.

I can’t imagine that experience being the same for readers of comics today as temperatures plunge into the teens and below to kick-off another long winter. Happily though, comics are still the answer to many on a frigid day.

Contemporary comic readers sit nestled under warm blankets often reading comics in the dark, illuminated by the electrons on the screen of their tablet or computer instead of the glow a crackling fire.

Those that prefer their comics on paper, handle them gingerly and slip them into the sterile confines of a mylar sleeve before tucking them away into an indexed long box instead of lovingly tossing them back into a  pile.

Stories that were delivered complete in one 32 page issue are now rare. An afternoon reading dozens of random comics is now spent engages with just one lengthy graphic novel or several issues of a collected “event.”

“Wholesome” is no longer a word to describe comics in general, but delightfully it has been replaced with “diverse.” Comics are no longer relegated to just fans of superheroes and funny animals. Comics have come of age and finally tackle so many subjects that there is assuredly a comic out there for nearly everybody.

Comics are delivered in books, magazines, pamphlets, websites and apps. They can be accessed anywhere at anytime. Comics are everywhere for everyone.

A reader could easily spend a winter reading just the comics posted for free here at  CO2 Comics or lounging with the several graphic novels and two volumes of COMICS INTERVIEW The Complete Collection that we have available on our Christmas Wish List.

So, if you go to your window and discover that the weather outside is frightful, remember that comics are still delightful, there’s really no place to go, “let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!”

Gerry Giovinco

Santa Gets a Reboot

Tuesday, December 25th, 2012


My apologies to those of you that have been following Making Comics is Risky Business and were expecting Part 4. I will continue with that series after the holidays.  Those of you that would like to play catch-up on that series can read the previous posts here.

But it is Christmas Day, today, and it just wouldn’t seem right if the holiday wasn’t addressed somehow. Christmas, after all, is the one holiday that is most closely associated with tradition. Every family, town, culture, ethnicity, has particular traditions associated with Christmas. Ironicly, though Christmas is a very religious holiday celebrated by Christians commemorating the birth of Jesus, much of the tradition is highlighted by pagan practices and influences from other religions in an effort to assimilate into popular culture.

Twas The Night Before Christmas

The Christmas tradition that children the world over look forward to most is the arrival of Santa Claus as he delivers toys to all the good little boys and girls. The tradition of Santa has fourth century roots reflecting the exploits of a generous Greek bishop now known as Saint Nicholas. The more contemporary version of Santa, however, has been popularized by the Clement C. Moore poem best known as “Twas the Night Before Christmas” which was first published in America in 1823.

Moore’s poem defined the mythology behind Santa, describing in detail, his fur-lined outfit, airborne sleigh, the names of each of the eight reindeer, his agile descent and ascent of chimneys, his friendly demeanor, chubby appearance and his terrible habit of smoking a pipe.

Twas the Night Before Christmas Edited by Santa Clause

This year, in a brazen move, Pamela McCooll of Vancouver, B.C. decided it was time to edit this classic poem, which is arguably one of the most famous works of American literature that has had a tremendous impact on popular culture. She chose to effect the work, long in public domain, by removing the two lines that reference his pipe smoking, “The stump of a pipe he held tight in his teeth, And the smoke, it encircled his head like a wreath.” She changed the title to “Twas the Night Before Christmas: Edited by Santa Clause” and added info on the back cover as to why Santa, “himself,” chose to make the change to the classic poem.

This enforcement of political correctness now opens the doors for those that will argue against Santa’s use of fur, humane treatment of reindeer, and obviously poor diet. Why not update the poem to reflect the interests  of contemporary children? Who dreams of sugar plums? Let’s replace that with iPads. What is a sash or a kerchief? let’s change them too! Who really has a chimney anymore? Why can’t Santa just use the front door?

Give me a break!

Does this classic poem about the arrival of Santa on Christmas Eve really need a reboot? Changing the original source material deprives our culture of a piece of our history and lies to us about who we really are. Why can’t the original be left alone and a new story be added to the rich mythos of the character. Would that require too much creativity?

Rankin Bass Christmas Specials

Rankin Bass did an incredible job of creating incredible Christmas stories that embellished on classics. Rudolf the Red Nosed Reinedeer, Frosty the Snowman, Santa Claus is Coming to Town, A Year Without a Santa Claus and many more titles fill our holidays with joy and add to the mythos.These stories injected details, answered questions and adapted the characters. They were new works that became as beloved as the original songs and poems they were based on.

I would have much rather seen a new story about why Santa quit smoking. Maybe Santa responds to listening to so many children asking for their grandparents back because they lost them to lung cancer. One day a small child looks deep into Santa’s eyes and asks, “Why do you smoke, Santa? I don’t know what all the children would do if you died like my , Grandpa?” Santa makes a commitment right there to quit smoking to fulfill that child’s Christmas wish and discovers just how hard it is to do. With the help of all his friends and family he manages to quit smoking just in time for Christmas and embarks on a mission to make a difference in the lives of others by sharing the message that smoking is not healthy.

Santa Claus smoking pipe

Isn’t that more effective than removing the lines that told us Santa was a pipe smoker and pretending that he never smoked in the first place? Do we need to to sterilize our culture? Maybe it cleans it up and turns a blind eye to a negative part of our history and culture but it deprives us of important lessons and great art. It deprives us of our heritage. Should we remove, slavery, child labor, women’s suffrage, and the Holocaust from our “story books”  because they are uncomfortable. Let’s just pretend they never happened.

I’m sensitive to this issue because I see the origins of comic book characters rebooted all the time. I understand that it is mostly a marketing attempt to keep the characters “current” but I always find it an insult to the originals that should be held as the timeless classics that they are. Leave them alone! Create new stories and new characters! Define a new era with new art that reflects the times instead of bastardizing a classic because it is easier than creating something original.

Regarding original, let’s not forget the real reason we celebrate Christmas. Now, that’s a story!

Everybody, please have a very, Merry Christmas from all of us here at CO2 Comics!

Gerry Giovinco

It’s a Bird, it’s a Plane, It’s…Santa Claus?

Monday, November 28th, 2011

This past Thanksgiving weekend, while in front of the television, I caught myself getting a little giddy watching Santa arrive in both the Macy’s Parade and the Philadelphia Thanksgiving Day Parade. It’s always a special moment that, somehow, officially ushers in the Christmas season.

Santa Claus was the first hero that I ever idolized. This is probably true of almost any kid brought up in a culture that endorses his mythology. Santa has a lot in common with superheroes, a simple origin story, unique abilities, a specific costume, and an honorable mission. The only difference is that Santa is real…sorta.

Most kids know that their favorite superhero is just a character created for their enjoyment, but it takes a while to convince a kid that Santa might not be real. In fact, most of us adult types put a lot of effort into insuring that our children buy into the reality of the jolly old elf, in part, because it rekindles the joys we remember having in our own childhood and we want to make sure our children have the same, if not better, experience.

Santa gives us  insight to the subject of accessibility which has been a recent topic for discussion about comic books and the characters found within. The overriding position being that most comic characters that are now decades old, some with seventy years of adventures offer no simple jumping-in point for new readers who may be intimidated by the tremendous burden of trivia laden continuity.

Comic characters over the years have bounced around  alternate universes, infinite realities, and been subjected to aberrations instigated by time travel. Some story arcs are just a fresh approach by a new creative team with a different perspective of the character.  Do all these alterations make the characters any less accessible?

Ask Santa!

Santa Claus or some variation of the character has been around for hundreds of years and has been the subject of many a cultural makeover effecting everything  including his name, his costume and his adventures.  Country to country the concept of Santa is similar even though the details may differ, he is a benevolent being who brings toys to all the boys and girls of the world on Christmas. Santa Claus is almost universally accessible.

Here in America the concept of Santa is most clearly defined by Clement C. Moore’s 1823 poem A Visit from St. Nicholas better known today as T’was the Night Before Christmas. Santa is a jolly old elf dressed in a fur trimmed suit that drives a sleigh pulled by eight tiny reindeer and he comes down the chimney to deliver toys while we sleep.

Many stories have added to the lure of Santa, establishing his home at the North Pole, his most famous reindeer, Rudolf, and adventures from battles with Martians to tussles with Mother Nature and her boys Heat Miser and Snow Miser.

Children even learn to accept that Santa has “helpers” that dress like him to find out what kids want for Christmas and those helpers come in all shapes sizes and colors.

The iconic superheroes, like Santa, all share the ability to be simply defined. For most of them their name says it all, combined with a simple colorful costume, there is no doubt what the character is about. The creators of the major comic heroes gave us classic origin stories that define the characters into perpetuity just as Moore did for Santa.

Those origin stories are the root that every other story featuring that hero derives from. Readers will always have accessibility provided the characters uphold the most basic canon established in the origin.

What makes good comics about superheroes work is the creator’s ability to generate a willing suspension of disbelief on the part of the reader. All heroes give us something that we want to believe in like truth, justice and the American way. We want to believe that good will always triumph over evil just as we want to know that, if we are good, Santa will always deliver. Our desire to believe in these qualities allows us to believe that a man can fly and so can those eight, tiny reindeer!

Making Comics Because I Want To

Gerry Giovinco

Give Thanks to Bill Mantlo

Monday, November 21st, 2011

Another Thanksgiving is gaining on us and this year there seems to be less and less to be thankful for. The economy sucks, the world is in turmoil, and everyone is miserable. Boy, I can’t wait for Christmas! I think I’ll ask Santa for a “happy pill.”

I am generally an optimistic person and have often been accused of living in “Gerry World” by my family and friends for my unwillingness to be dragged down by life’s burdens. I am a firm believer that everything is relative. I have a hard time complaining about life in our country  when I compare it to the standards of living in an economically devastated place like Darfur.

I remember a time when I was having a particularly bad day, the car had broken down and I was stranded in the middle of nowhere with my son who was getting very upset by the situation. I shared with him two fatherly bits of advice: “shit happens” and never say, “it can’t get any worse.”

Years later we look at that experience and laugh, both at how we managed to get through that micro-crisis in one piece  and  at how many times since we have needed to refer to those two particular life lessons.

My theory of relativity was tested when I read the recent web post Tragic Tale, a lengthy, nine-page, article that details the tragedy that has befallen legendary Marvel Comics writer Bill Mantlo whose most notable works were The Micronauts, Rom Spaceknight, Cloak and Dagger, and The Incredible Hulk along with a huge array of other titles. Mantlo was struck by a hit-and-run driver while rollerblading in New York in 1995. He has been left, brain damaged and stranded by the system in a nursing home, forgotten by the legion of fans that for many years found joy in his work.

Many people were shocked and devastated by the news which was delivered with an agenda to illustrate, through Mantlo’s experience, how the Health Insurance Industry and Federal Healthcare Reform does not work in America. The story was embellished a bit to accentuate the author’s point but none of that changes the fact that Bill Mantlo’s life has been ruined by a tragic accident and his existence has been reduced to a pale shadow of his former boisterous self.

Ladies and gentlemen, anyone who has ever enjoyed a Bill Mantlo  comic, anyone who has ever worked with Bill Mantlo and anyone who has ever considered themselves a comic creator or enthusiast, please, this holiday season, please, remember that one of our own, a member of the comics family, needs us. Bill Mantlo needs to be remembered, not just for his contribution to comics but for still being human. Bill Mantlo’s body may be broken, his brain may be damaged, but he is still a person with rights to dignity and a need to be loved and respected.

Like many people who call themselves comic creators, I have a need to work a full time job to pay the bills and provide health benefits for my family while I pursue my interests here at CO2 Comics. I have worked in a long term healthcare facility for  a number of years as an Activity Professional. It is my job to ensure that people like Bill Mantlo enjoy whatever quality of life they are capable of. I put smiles on their faces and help to make their existence as bearable as possible. I do this by respecting them for who they are, today. Though I do not know Bill personally and have never had the opportunity to meet him, I know from my own experience what kind of life he is currenrtly living.

Not everyone is as lucky as Bill Mantlo to have had the opportunity to entertain an adoring audience around the world with his writing. While we can all be sad that Bill may never write again or enjoy the life he once had we can all give back to him a sample of the joy that his work gave to us simply by sending him a greeting card this holiday season or writing him a short note of friendship or a thank you. This may sound trite but in a healthcare facility something as simple as mail is a big deal.

Mail is required by law to be delivered immediately to residents. For someone like Bill, who may not have a lot of personal interaction with staff, an extra visit a day by a warm bodied person delivering mail has a big impact. It becomes an even bigger deal when someone, wether it be staff or a family member takes the time to help him read his mail. I personally enjoy delivering mail to my residents because I know that it is another opportunity for me to impact their day and get to know them better.

Bill Mantlo and his sister-in-law Lizbeth

I have been in contact with Bill’s brother, Michael Mantlo, and he is excited about the idea of Bill getting mail sent to him at the healthcare facility. Michael stresses that there be NO requests for autographs, correspondence, or art from Bill since it would be difficult and frustrating for him to respond to them, also he asks  to please send nothing legal, financial or solicitous. A simple short note of appreciation and well wishes will go a long way!

Please DO NOT send money, clothes, gifts,  original art or anything of value as they may be stolen, damaged or destroyed. Photocopies of fan art or comic covers would be fine and encouraged since Bill seems to respond very positively to images of comics, especially ones that he worked on.

Please send any mail to the following address:

Bill Mantlo

c/o Queens Nassau Nursing Home

520 Beach 19th Street

Far Rockaway, NY 11691

It is important to note that although  the Tragic Tale article painted a devastating picture of Bill’s existence at the nursing home, his brother wrote me, “the facility is not really as bleak as the writer of that article made it out to be.  Bill’s room is pretty basic, but that is by both necessity, and choice.  Bill has “trashed” his room (sometimes severely) many times, and wants no part of a radio, TV or phone.  I had provided all of those to him, at one time or another, and all have either been destroyed by him in a fit of rage, or he has demanded that they be removed.  After 19 years, I have learned that it is far better to acquiesce to Bill’s demands than to enrage him.  No one benefits from his angry explosions, least of all Bill.”

Michael has also sent me a few recent pictures of Bill that show him smiling and happily enjoying the company of family members who had come to visit.

Nobody likes nursing homes, they can be a depressing place that people envision you go to to die. The reality is that nursing homes are where people that cannot take care of themselves or whose family are not adequately equipped to care for them properly go to live. The facility is their home and they are protected by the same rights that we all have. Some facilities are better than others but all are made better when people step up to the plate and show the residents that someone cares for them.

My wish for Bill Mantlo this holiday season is that he has a reason to smile everyday and that he knows that he is not forgotten. So please, send him mail, if you are religious, pray for him and maybe, just maybe, Bill will experience a miracle and at least feel a little bit more human everyday.

Thanks, Bill, for the happiness you gave me as a young comic reader. The Micronauts was one of my favorite comic books!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Making Comics Because I Want To

Gerry Giovinco

The Gutter: A Christmas Wish for Comics

Tuesday, December 21st, 2010

Dear Santa,

That’s how they all start, the wish lists of children all over the world.
Dear Santa…

I’ve been lucky enough to have read a bunch of these letters because I’ve been dressing up as Santa since I was fourteen years old and visiting the children on my paper route to brighten up their Christmases.

Over the last 35 years I’ve performed as Santa in malls, department stores, hospitals, nursing homes, schools, private houses, and even in casinos in Atlantic City.

I have heard the wishes of thousands of children. Thousands!

This year I heard a request from a six year old boy that I had never heard before and I almost fell off of my Santa chair with excitement.

What could this little kid ask for that sent the Santa in me into such a tizzy?

When I asked him what he wanted for Christmas, he looked me in the eye and, with genuine enthusiasm, he asked for… comic books!

In Praise Of Classic Comics on

That’s right, COMIC BOOKS!!!

I asked him why he wanted comic books and he said he wanted to start a collection.

I asked him what kind of comics he wanted and he said he wanted all kinds of comic books.

I hope he gets them.

Honestly, in 35 years I never remember a child asking for comic books before this youngster and then I started to wonder how he was going to get them.

Will his parents know to go to a comic shop and if they do will they be able to find comics that are age appropriate for this little guy? When I was a kid you could find comic books anywhere, especially ones that a kid could enjoy.

Are there enough comics out there in the market today to maintain the enthusiasm of a six year old? Sadly, probably not.

What have we done. What have we done to comics.

Hey, I am as proud as the next guy that the comics industry has elevated the standards of the medium, extended creative freedom, and made comics that adults can enjoy. I’m thrilled that we no longer have to bear witness to headlines like, “No Funny Business, ” or “Not Just for Kids” But at what expense did we do it?

What about the little kids that that loved comics because they knew that they were made just for them.
That was part of what made comics special to me when I was a kid. They were made for me.

If I had a comic laying around my house I didn’t have to worry about anyone else besides me and my brothers looking at them. Nothing was in them that would attract my parents or a sister if I had one.

The world inside most comic books was a special place that was a boys only club. There were comics for girls of course but it was easy to identify which ones were girls only and which ones appealed to both genders.

I feel lucky because I am part of a generation that got to experience the growth of comics as a medium as I grew as a reader. Now that I am an adult I can still find exciting comics to read but when I look at my son or little boys like the one I’ve been discussing I feel bad because I know that they will never have the opportunity to enjoy comics the same way I was able to as a young boy.

Comics have become a bit self important and in the process the market has shrunk. The doors of the boys club have been flung wide open but instead of inviting in legions of converts, the already initiated got up and left.

In the wake of the exodus are the hardcore comic book enthusiasts who’s role as protectorate of the medium is as exclusive and solemn as that of a Templar Knight.

The comic industry needs to look at other entertainment mediums and recognize that there is a place for all levels of sophistication and interest. The diversity of the product and its general accessibility broadens the market base and offers an entry into comics that will allow new readers to seek their own level of comfort as they become more educated and aware of the idioms of the medium.

Look at sales figures of other entertainment media whether it be books, music, film, theater. Products that sell well and appeal to the masses usually are not the most highly rated by critics. With few exceptions, as the level of sophistication rises, the audience begins to shrink.

The commercial success of the popular form of any medium insures the opportunity for the creation of the more critically acclaimed work.

Comics have grown to be worthy of critical acclaim but that does not mean that the medium must abandon what put the POP in its status as part of pop culture.

Michael Chabon’s keynote speech at the 2004 Eisner Awards does a much better job of eloquently analyzing this idea. His entire speech can be found here but the summation of his thoughts are neatly defined in this quote:

“Children did not abandon comics; comics, in their drive to attain respect and artistic accomplishment, abandoned children. And for a long time we as lovers and partisans of comics were afraid, after so many long years of struggle and hard work and incremental gains, to pick up that old jar of greasy kid stuff again, and risk undoing it all. Comics have always been an arriviste art form, and all upstarts are to some degree ashamed of their beginnings. But frankly, I don’t think that’s what’s going on in comics anymore.
Now, I think, we have simply lost the habit of telling stories to children. And how sad is that?”

This year I have my own list for Santa..

Dear Santa,

Check out The Nostalgia League

I wish that comics can be fun again.

I wish that I could enjoy at least one or two entire stories in a single issue.

I wish that comics were cheap and printed on newsprint that I won’t mind rolling and stuffing in my pocket.

I wish I could find comics at the local convenience store on a spinner rack.

I wish I didn’t have to be willing to invest a year waiting for a story arc to conclude at the cost of $48.

I wish I didn’t feel obligated to preserve my comics in mylar bags and be fearful of leaving fingerprints on the glossy print job as I read them.

I wish I could open up a comic and see action on every page.

I wish my kids could enjoy comics the way I did.
I’ll leave cookies and milk by the mantle as usual.

Merry Christmas!

Making comics because I wanted to ever since I was a kid.

Gerry Giovinco

Comics Interview On Sale

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