REVIEW: Creepshow: Holiday Special #1

Last Updated on July 9, 2024

Way back in the late 1980s there was a UK gaming magazine called GM – The Independent Fantasy Roleplaying Magazine that somehow wended its way to Australia for your reviewer’s grubby little hands to paw over.  It featured a lot of roleplaying material, plus interviews with fantasy/horror/science fiction writers who were big at the time.  It also included fiction from some of the big names at the time (Gemmell and Pratchett amongst others), including my first exposure to a Christmas themed horror story.  The character of Santa Claws featured, and you can tell where a story like that ended – blood on the mistletoe, that’s for sure.

Creepshow: Holiday Special #1So it’s wonderful to read Creepshow: Holiday Special #1.  Daniel Kraus opens proceedings with the deliriously outrageous ‘Christmas Man.’ where the power of imagination comes back to devour the unwary.  On Christmas Eve, young Esme, a true devotee of all things Santa Claus, is baited by her bored older cousins who tell her a shaggy dog story about Christmas Man and his monstrous efforts to topple the empire Santa has built across the world.  As the cousins’ story becomes more outrageous, the artwork by Jonathan Wayshak doubles down on the exaggerated atmosphere, to brilliant effect.

‘Christmas Man’ is a balls-out hilarious story of over the top excess being repaid in kind.  The artwork is never what you would call subtle, full of close ups of gurning faces to ram home the impact of the story on Esme’s tender psyche.  The way the cousins are depicted telling the story, with their bodies contorted and filling the frame, adds to the impact of their tale.

When the lights are out and the household is asleep, Kraus launches into a truly twisted version of ‘The Night Before Christmas’ depicting how the true horror of the cousin’s taunting comes to vicious and bloody life.  Big shout out to colourist Adriano Lucas, without whom the story would lack its visceral impact.

Creepshow: Holiday Special #1 leaps into its second story, ‘Package Thieves.’  Watch enough videos on social media and eventually you’ll come across a genre devoted to those lovely people who steal packages left on the householder’s front porch while they’re away from home.  Written by James Asmus and illustrated by Litizia Cadonici (that’s a name that rolls off the tongue in a really festive way!) ‘Package Thieves’ features Holly and Joy (get it?  It’s Christmas, people!) who have a nice sideline in porch piracy.  Except…this festive season, they’ve stumbled across packages that contain, shall we say, more personal items?  Like, an eye to begin with, and later…a heart?

Holly’s friend Joy is that person who always has a reason to excuse their actions.  ‘The online retailers will replace what we’ve stolen’, or ‘we’re sticking it to the MAN’ or…’I just want to make money without earning it!’  Creepshow: Holiday Special #1, if nothing else, is designed to strip away the pretensions of those of us who think the holiday season is just one long jolly joke.  Behind the platitudes and festive imagery, linger darker, more noisome facts about the world and the people in it.

It then comes as no surprise then that Joy and Holly get their comeuppances in a truly grotesque, and indeed, earned way.  Ho ho ho!

Creepshow: Holiday Special #1 is an excellent issue, filled with just the right amount of festive frights to get you into the mood for this season of thrilling…errr, giving.  Down here in Australia, Christmas is blue skies, hot weather, and time for a dip in the pool after devouring a groaning table of food.  But for our Northern Hemisphere compadres, as the nights grow longer, as sun rides lower and more feebler in the sky, as the darkest of dark myths and legends emerge to stalk the world, Creepshow: Holiday Special #1 is the perfect accompaniment.  Buy now, or pay later!

5/5 stars

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Robert Mammone

Robert Mammone

Robert Mammone reviewed comics for two years for the Major Spoilers website and has reviewed DVD and blu ray releases for Impulse Gamer since 2013. Reviewing aside, Rob dabbles in writing genre fiction.

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