I realize now is the time of year where I ought to recommend some Halloween and/or horror books, but here in Wyoming the windy plains have blown all the leaves off what few trees we have in town and we’ve already had our first snow so I’m jumping ahead to winter! I know a lot of folks look forward to reading over the summer, but this summer I was so swamped I barely had time to sleep let alone read for pleasure, so I’m looking forward to a winter in my new frozen home as an opportunity to flip through some books, new and old, that revel in the drawn snow.
Greg Rucka’s Antarctic crime-thriller is about as winter as it gets. I still haven’t seen the movie nor have I read the sequel, both of which I should probably rectify, but I think it’s time to give the original a reread. I actually have a few friends in Antarctica right now, and it’d be fun to get them to recreate some panels if the locales actually match up right? But seriously, for those who haven’t checked out Whiteout yet it’s very much worth your time. Joss Whedon gets a lot of well-deserved praise for writing strong female characters, but Mr. Rucka is no slouch and this is one of his earliest books showing us all just how hard he could flex his feminine muscles.
This book is here because a lot of it takes place in winter and some of the most poignant scenes involve snow, so it sticks in my head as a winter-time reader. However, I’ve written about how much Blankets meant to me when I first read it when I covered autobiographic comics, and that being said I haven’t really reread it in a while. I’m slightly nervous about returning to it because of how much I know I’ve changed since reading it in the first place. Maybe this winter I’ll bite the bullet and give it another go. Or I could get Habibi and read that instead. Good to have options.
Jack Knight might not be the character you expect to come through with a strong Christmas issue, but writer James Robinson and guest artist Steve Yeowell craft tale old golden age charm but modern age talent. Robinson is at his finest exploring themes of heroism, tradition, and family as he tells the tale of a Santa helping out a superhero, and getting some Christmas cheer of his own in return.
This one is basically in here as a joke. But I do kind of want to reread it.
This book is a bit of a cheat because it’s more illustrated prose than pure comic, but since it’s written and drawn by my friend Rich Koslowski, and also damn good, I feel justified in including it. Without revealing too much, a corporation kidnaps Santa Claus because a list of everyone who’s naughty or nice is actually quite a powerful thing. Koslowski’s portrayal of Kris Kringle is far more Tolkein than Coca-Cola, this is a jolly old man you’d lose to in a fight. The story feels at just the right level that a teenager maybe having a hard time getting into the spirit might get something out of it, but it is certainly well-written enough to be enjoyed by an adult. And there is a mythic twist sure to delight anyone who appreciates the obscure references peppered throughout Fables. And if you didn’t already know, you should take any opportunity you can to get your hands on Koslowski art, because it’s very nice.
Like Blankets, I wrote extensively about Calvin and Hobbes after finishing the entire run. Bill Watterson captures seasonality better than almost any cartoonist I can think of. It’s not just his art, but Calvin’s reactions to the freedom of summer, the color of autumn, and possibilities of winter. There are so many great strips of this comic that revolve around a simple sled jump and the discussions had whilst in mid-air. And then there’s the endless inspiration for horrific snow men, but I’ve been told the snow here is too dry for much in the way of snowman construction. Regardless, it doesn’t take much to convince me to go back to that crazy kid and his tiger.
Listen, I hate the promotion of Christmas before Halloween as much as the next guy, I really do. That’s not what this is about. These books are books that make me think of snow, and cold, and curling up with a good book on days when you just don’t want to brave the icy blasts and frozen roads. But I also know I’ve only scratched the surface, and these are all books I’ve read before, so suggest some new stuff in the comments, because I’m pretty sure Amazon will still deliver things to me even in a blizzard.