The seven-issue mini-series is set in the town of Grimsvig, a Medieval settlement ruled over by a cruel baron. He has made virtual slaves of the men and forbidden toys, merriment, and the Yule holiday. Sound familiar? The baron’s name isn’t Burgermeister Meisterburger. It’s not Santa Claus Is Comin’ To Town, the 1970 children’s special written by Romeo Muller. Morrison begins in the same place then deviates into a power struggle between toymaker and baron that is closer to Game of Thrones than kiddie cartoons. We learn about the character of Klaus, who lives alone in the woods with his pet wolf Lilli and uses the magic of the forest, and how he was framed for murder by the baron who has also stolen his love, the beautiful Dagmar.
Morrison describes the comic thusly: “Klaus is the story of our hero’s greatest challenge and how he overcame it. This is the tale of one man and his wolf against a totalitarian state and the ancient evil that sustains it. Part action thriller, part sword-and-sorcery, part romance, part science fiction, Klaus has given us free rein to revamp, reinvent, and re-imagine a classic superhero for the 21st century. He’s making a list and he’s checking it twice. This Christmas it’s all about psychedelic shamanism, anti-authoritarian guerrilla gift-giving, and the jingle bells of freedom!”
Now the idea of writing Santa’s back story is not new with Morrison. L Frank Baum did it in 1902, and pulpster Seabury Quinn was much closer to Morrison’s version with “Roads” in Weird Tales in January 1938. What Morrison does do is write an adult story worthy of where Quinn leaves off. He gives us a hero to cheer for, an underdog with a righteous cause, a love story, and good villains who may at first seem cardboard, but become more interesting as we learn their objectives and struggles. Unlike Romeo Muller’s cartoon, Morrison hints at some origins of Christmas, but isn’t bound too tightly to it. This isn’t really a Christian tale so much as a Yuletide one. There is more of Robert E Howard than Saint Nicholas here: a celebration of love, family, hope, and light that can be enjoyed by anyone, regardless of religious belief; something comic book publishers are more sensitive to today.
GW Thomas has appeared in over 400 different books, magazines and ezines including The Writer, Writer's Digest, Black October Magazine and Contact. His website is gwthomas.org. He is editor of Dark Worlds magazine.