“A Christmas Carol” has long found home in comic books
Batman mixes with Charles Dickens in this year’s graphic novel “Batman: Noel,” but that’s not the only time the classic “A Christmas Carol” has been remixed into comics. English author Charles Dickens’ novella, first published in 1843, features the transformation of the miserly Ebenezer Scrooge after he is visited one Christmas Eve by the ghost of his business partner, Jacob Marley, and the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Yet to Come.
More than a century after the original was published, George R. Lipscomb and Henry Kiefer were the creative team for the 1948 adaptation of the story in “Classics Illustrated” No. 53, an abridged but faithful version of the classic.
Doug Moench (“Deadly Hands of Kung-Fu”) joined a team of artists for “Marvel Classic Comics” No. 36, which brought a slightly more Marvelized feel to the Dickens classic in 1978.
In 1967, a group of teenage superheroes starred in a version of the story, reprinted in the collection “DC Universe Christmas.” In “Teen Titans” No. 13, by writer Bob Haney and artist Nick Cardy, The Teen Titans — made up of teen superhero sidekicks Robin, Wonder Girl, Aqualad and Kid Flash — encounter the hardhearted Ebenezer Scrounge and his put-upon employee Bob Ratchet. When Scrounge’s business partner Jacob Farley escapes from prison, seeking revenge, the Titans see a chance to put their knowledge of Dickens to use. The dialogue is particularly dated, but the artwork of Cardy is charming throughout.
Mike W. Barr and the Outsiders visited the theme in the 1980s with “The Outsiders” No. 5, cover-dated March 1986 but on sale during the 1985 Christmas season. (The story was reprinted a year later in “Adventures of the Outsiders” No. 43.)
The Outsiders — Geo-Force, Black Lightning, Halo, Katana, Looker and Metamorpho — use their powers to re-create the Dickens classic story of three ghosts in an attempt to convince gangland accountant Eben Mudge to testify against his boss. The story is drawn by longtime “Batman” artist Jim Aparo, who had previously drawn “Batman and the Outsiders.”
In Marvel Comics’ 2004 Holiday Special, Daily Bugle publisher J. Jonah Jameson steps into a Scrooge-like role in a story by writer Tom DeFalco and artist Takeshi Miyazawa, “Jonah’s Holiday Carol.” The grumpy Jameson is visited by visions of Marvel heroes to rethink his stance on holiday spirit.
In 2009, Rod Espinosa (“Courageous Princes”) released a version of “A Christmas Carol” — with Scrooge as a woman — online. It can be read free at www.antarctic-press.com/html/version_01/viewgallery.php?id=994 or downloaded for $2.99 at comixology.com. Espinosa’s manga-style art makes for an energetic adaptation.
Also in 2009, the Ghostbusters found themselves called in by wealthy Woodrow Wainwright Fraser III, who has been haunted by the spirits each Christmas Eve who seek to make him change his ways. Fraser, however, has resisted their entreaties and now calls on the Ghostbusters to get rid of these specters. An interesting take on the story, with a few fun twists, the “Ghostbusters: Past, Present and Future” one-shot is collected in the “Haunted Holidays” trade paperback from IDW.
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