Klaus and the Life & Times of Joe Christmas (#1) – Grant Morrison

4 out of 5

I admittedly gave up on Grant Morrison’s Klaus after its first arc.  The whole pitch of it being ‘All-Star Superman for Santa’ seemed like a reach, and Grant’s name was everywhere at that point, leading – for me – to saturation with the writer’s work.  Dan Mora’s art, which felt more suited to pinups than sequential work, was sort of the proverbial nail in the coffin; I stopped reading Grant’s stuff soon after.

But, as it goes, time and happenstance allowed for me to reappraise Grant’s stuff from this era, and while I haven’t gotten around to rereading Klaus, this new one-shot came out and it seemed like that would be an okay place to start again.

I mean, maybe.  Because I’m missing context on who Joe Christmas is.  But then again, I hardly think it matters: Klaus and the Life & Times of Joe Christmas is a wordless comic, done in landscape format to mimic a calendar, as each page is a count up of the December days toward Christmas, and a countdown from present day into the past – skipping years through Joe’s life back to his birth.  Each image can be interpreted on its own, and for those that maybe can’t, you get the context while “reading” the book – you see when animals join the fray; you see Klaus ‘adopting’ Joe from an orphanage as a youth.  And this kind of big picture imaginative stuff, in which every page feels like it has a whole story behind it, is prime Grant.  Note also that the style of this means that my feelings towards Dan Mora are of no matter, ’cause we are looking at pinups now.

While the book encourages taking time to flip through to soak up its details, I do think it’s cover price of 7.99 is a bit of a tall order.  Maybe in part because it’s wordless (although Grant is certainly capable of telling a tale without words), but moreso because the concept is rather simple, and I can’t imagine it moves the “narrative” of Klaus along significantly, so it more feels like you’re paying an overpriced premium for a bonus book.

That gripe aside, it really is a gorgeous little production.