I promise, this will be my last tribute to the holidays, but I didn’t want to hold this story until next year. It has been documented a few places, but most people probably don’t know that I wrote the first comic book that was illustrated by superstar artist Mike Deodato Jr.
I’ve already mentioned that my original career choice was comic book writer, even though I’ve never written a complete comic story that was published. While my love of comics and the industry has never wavered, my time at Fantagraphics Books showed me that my talents could best be put to use on the business side instead of the creative side.
That fact didn’t keep me from getting the itch to write occasionally. So at an editorial meeting at Malibu, I pitched my idea for a little horror story for the holidays called SANTA CLAWS. The editors liked it enough that it got a green light and I sat up nights at home coming up with a plot. Clearly a one-shot idea, it had no real hope of going to series or selling huge numbers.
Malibu already had a few contacts with Brazilian artists that were doing quality work. These guys worked fast, met their deadlines and were reasonably happy with the meager budgets Malibu could afford. So we sent the script to the studio head in Brazil and he sent us samples of a few artists. We picked the promising and stylish work of the artist that the industry would come to know as Mike Deodato Jr.
For our purposes here, I’m happy to ruin the ending and explain all the spoilers for this story which was originally released in 1992. The concept was this, a monster in a Santa suit was stalking and killing people after hours in a shopping mall. As the heroine of the story was about to meet her end at the hands of the monster on the roof of the mall, the REAL Santa Claus shows up, with huge automatic firearms, and kills the monster.
The real Santa goes on to explain that he is such an overwhelmingly powerful entity on the side of GOOD that each Christmas Eve the cosmos produced a entity of EVIL to keep the cosmic balance. The untold story of Santa Claus was his quest to kill this monster each Christmas Eve before he could begin his rounds. I guess that concept could have produced sequels, but it didn’t.
After I got the art pages, I worked and worked and worked on the script, but what I produced was incredibly lifeless and the deadline clock was ticking. So I turned to old friend and longtime Malibu writer R.A. Jones to punch up the script. He did a great job, made it read better than it had any right to, and pulled my fat from the fire.
While rough around the edges, the art for this story definitely showed the promise of its young artist and as Mike has said, after working on SANTA CLAWS, he has worked steadily ever since.
As holiday stories and horror stories tend to have enduring life, SANTA CLAWS was even re-published by Thorby Comics in 1998. An obvious attempt to cash in on Deodato’s popularity.
That’s my version of the story.
–Dave Olbrich (DWO) Sat. Dec. 27, 2008
NEXT: Miscellaneous Monday and based on what I already have in the can, it should be a doozey. (Does anyone say “doozey” any more?)