Saturday, December 09, 2017

“Your Reclamation, Then” | Campfire’s A Christmas Carol (2010)



Scott McCullar and Naresh Kumar skip the build-up to the Spirit's appearance and just have Scrooge wake up at the stroke of one. Frankly, that's fine with me. I don't think that the weird passage of time adds to the story and I prefer versions where everything is happening in one night anyway.

Kumar draws the Spirit as feminine and vaguely young. Maybe in her twenties? She does carry holly and a cap, but they both appear and disappear from panel to panel. Maybe that's intentional in lieu of a flickering affect. I doubt it - Kumar's art is sloppy in general - but Mike Collins' version did the same thing so I'll cut Kumar some slack, too.

Scrooge's reaction to the Spirit is hard to get a handle on. Kumar has a tough time maintaining consistency in facial expressions (or even in just the way he draws eyes), which has created a malevolent, sociopathic version of Scrooge who may be hallucinating all of these ghosts. He's positively horrifying when he asks the Spirit to cover her light with her cap, but thoughtfully complacent when apologizing after she takes offense. He's so all over the place that - like in the Marley scene - the general impression is that he's struggling internally with how to deal with all this. There's no sense that he's actually interacting with real beings.

Which makes the Spirit's hand on Scrooge's heart all the more fascinating. This is my favorite depiction of that so far. Other versions have only implied or outright changed it, but Kumar has the Spirit's hand firmly on Scrooge's chest with bright light passing from her to him. If I haven't stated it outright yet, I will now that this is a big deal.

I believe that Dickens' intention is to show the power that memories have to shape our character. Specifically, that dwelling on positive memories (like of Christmas) can lift our spirits and make us better people. The Spirit's putting its hand on Scrooge's heart is a metaphor for that, but as a thing that literally happens in the story, it also means that Scrooge's transformation isn't entirely his own choice. There's a direct, supernatural influence over his heart that at the very least makes him more receptive to what the Spirit's about to show him.

Reading this version as all being in Scrooge's head gives him back the power to change. I still really like this as an alternative reading. The weakness with it though is that there's no obvious reason for Scrooge start struggling with this. I can imagine that it's just something that's been building for a while and is now bubbling over, but that's not satisfying. Maybe there is a supernatural force at work - and maybe it's even Marley's ghost - but it could be triggering this war in Scrooge's mind rather than literally visiting him.

1 comment:

Caffeinated Joe said...

The spastic art bothers me, but that is just a personal thing. It is interesting to think of the ghosts as not at all real, but hallucinations that are just Scrooge's mind's way of deal with his inner turmoil. Interesting to me, since I never thought of it as anything other than "real" spirits coming to show him the error of his ways.

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