Saturday, November 07, 2009

The Krampus and Nyssa (comic)

I recently completed a comic script for a first issue I plan to produce in 2010 2012. I've kept this mostly under my hat - it'd ruin the story to share the script with everyone, and this one takes a much more sparse approach than some of my past work anyhow. The story will be told as much with picture as word, if not more so. No spoilers, I want to tell the story the way it is meant to be told.

But I did want to talk a little about some of the inspiration for this story. Maybe it'll help to continue to show what I'm talking about in terms of how myth informs art- especially when you get around to actually checking out the comic, if you do.

My first thought with this script was that I wanted to tell a dark Christmas tale. I wrote it around Halloween, and it seemed that doing something moody for Halloween was just too damned easy. But I didn't want to use any of the Santa Claus cliches, nor did I want to participate in that Hallmark figure. Christmas has a darker past, and Saturnalia has a certain warm fuzzy place in my heart (especially after several absinthe saturnalia parties...) However, the Saturnalia festival is too similar to the Dioysian festivals of the Greeks, in many ways they serve the same cultural function, and I'm already doing enough with that in the Fallen Nation material. So where to start?

As you may or may not be aware, Saint Nicholas was originally said to be accompanied by an Incubus. This in itself is a bit peculiar- an Incubus is a male Succubus, though in many cases it is said these beings can change gender, and are one and the same. What an odd consort for a gift giving saint! It gets stranger. This being, called the Krampus, is said to torment young boys and girls, beating them with a switch, chase them, and otherwise terrify them half to death. He is generally personified with a long, almost snake-like tongue, black, white, or red skin and fur, and a face that isn't even fit for radio.

Even more interesting, there is a day, December 5th, which is commemorated in some places by the "running of Krampus," when men dress up as this horrific creature, and run around whacking children and maidens alike. I'd like to mention that the possible sexual overtones in the latter case are fully evident in more recent (1950s- ) Krampus art. So yeah, one day a year, Uncle Bobby or whatever dresses up like the devil and beats girls with a switch.

At the same time, I had been playing around with a story about a loner that works at a video rental store, and who makes up fantasies about the store goers- and who eventually becomes obsessed with one particular girl. These two blended together nicely, I think. I won't ruin the story for you with any spoilers, but this is where the story began.

I hope you check it out when it finally becomes available.

Update: See Mythos Media. This appears in the illustrated collection Words of Traitors, and Nyssa #1 to be published December 2012!

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