Most people are familiar with Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. Ebenezer Scrooge is a stingy, cranky miser who is visited by spirits on Christmas Eve. They show him the error of his ways, and he wakes up Christmas morning with a change of heart and an appreciation of his fellow man. Well, Wilson and Kenfield pick up with Scrooge’s several-greats grandson who says that Ebenezer only changed his ways until the following year when he got all the bills.
So, Marley and the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future have haunted each Scrooge every year since in an attempt to recreate the original transformation. However, the current Scrooge is one of the worst in the bunch. He not only takes advantage of his workers and makes profits from shady and less-than-legal sources, but he has also concocted a plan to take over Christmas. He has kidnapped Santa and will only let presents be delivered to houses where the parents pay a hefty sum.
Enter the FBI and a power hungry agent determined to take Scrooge down. Although they seize all his assets, Scrooge himself escapes and is on the run. However, the only way he can escape is with the help of his assistant Bonnie Cratchit who demands that they first rescue Santa. With the FBI catching up with them at every turn and Santa getting arrested for vagrancy, is there any hope they can save Christmas?
Wilson’s interpretation of a modern day Scrooge is funny and imaginative with some background commentary on today’s corporate business practices and the values people place on what others have. While Scrooge and his story of Christmas magic is well-known, this tale offers some exciting twists that elevate the book above many other interpretations. I was worried that the story would follow predictable patterns and wrap up like a cheesy after school Christmas special, but some poignant moments and clever additions gave it a satisfying depth.
Kenfield adds another layer with his fun, cartoony drawings. Scrooge looks like a crazed, money hungry lunatic (which he is), and Marley’s ghost is absolutely terrifying. While Christmas Past and Future resemble their classic counterparts, Christmas Present is contemporary and changes with the times. I could almost see the motion of each character from panel to panel. The bright colors and character focused drawings help move the story along while remaining accessible to the younger crowd. However, with characters like the well-tattooed and pierced prisoner, the art would still be interesting for tweens and teens on up.
Scrooge and Santa is a well-paced, quirky new tale that fits right in with the Christmas collection. While the size and depth might make it too much for the youngest elementary kids, the older elementary students will love the irreverent nature of the book. With a fun story and great artwork, it strikes just the right note for a holiday tale.
Scrooge and Santa
by Matthew Wilson
Art by Josh Kenfield
Arcana Comics, 2010
Publisher Age Rating: All Ages