Sunday, December 22, 2013
'You Wish to Be Anonymous?' | Campfire’s A Christmas Carol (2010)
Index of other entries in The Christmas Carol Project
Re-reading my posts on this adaptation from the last couple of years, I see that I was presumptuous about the parts that writer Scott McCullar was responsible for and which parts were by artist Naresh Kumar. One of the things I've been reminded of this year is that it's difficult to know what kind of collaboration an artist and writer have. I know that Jason's made suggestions that have changed the script of Kill All Monsters and I've had input to some of the visual elements, so it's not always as clear as it first appears. I should have known better, so from here out I'm going to quit blaming Kumar for all the visual flaws of the Campfire edition and simply write about the work itself.
There do continue to be major flaws in the scene with the solicitors, but it opens with something that I mentioned last year that I like. As Fred is leaving Scrooge's office, Scrooge insults Cratchit for celebrating Christmas on his miserable salary. That's straight from Dickens, but in the original text Scrooge is muttering it to himself. In the Campfire comic, he's saying it out loud and the word balloons spill into the next panel where the solicitors are greeting Scrooge. What that suggests is that Scrooge is badmouthing his clerk - and revealing his salary - in front of potential customers. That's a bold, dickish action and I kind of love Scrooge for it.
I also like the perturbed look that the lead solicitor (on the right) gives Scrooge in the first panel above. Rather than seem confused by Scrooge's comments, he appears to get it. Sadly, that doesn't make sense with the rest of the scene when the same character (inexplicably white-haired in the next panel) continues to press on with his pitch. There's also some awkwardness with the balloon placement in that third panel, making it look like Scrooge's "Nothing" is a response to the offer of anonymity.
There are a couple of other oddities in the next two panels, but like Scrooge's jerkiness at the scene's opening, they can be read in a way that enhances the story. When Scrooge dismisses the men, he waves a friendly goodbye while talking about decreasing the surplus population. He's not just mean; he's cheerfully mean.
And then there's the end of the scene with Scrooge seated, thinking, "Good afternoon, gentlemen." Like the stuff above, we can either read that as a mistake (which I imagine it is), or accept it as the way this version is told and just read it as it is. The second option is way more fun and what that does is create a Scrooge who is so pleased with his own meanness that he's savoring the idea that he's just ruined the rest of these guys' day. Read that way, McCullar and Kumar's Scrooge goes beyond just being miserable and mean; he's actively evil. That should make his redemption - if he is redeemed - very interesting.