When I was a kid and thought that I wanted to work in comics — basically, my entire teenage years, if I’m honest — I found myself utterly fascinated with the idea of newspaper comics. I’m not entirely sure why that was the case; there really wasn’t much of a tradition of newspaper strips in the UK by the time I was a teenager, beyond the obvious American imports, but over and over, I imagined scenarios where I’d be responsible for writing and drawing a newspaper strip on a regular basis. (To the point where I almost submitted a package to my local paper, surreally; the ego I must have had to even consider that!)
I mention this because one of my fascinations with the newspaper comic idea was a very particular part of that: the Christmas supplement. Again, looking back, I have no idea where this came from, as I’m not sure it was a thing at the time I was growing up, but I was obsessed with the possibility of a pull-out section where I’d have multiple pages to just play with for the holidays and do whatever I wanted with, for an audience, as long as it was appropriately festive.
Cut to my third year in art school. By this point, I’d been doing something akin to newspaper comics for the student newspaper for a year or so with my then-best friend, Andy Barnett; we’d kind of fallen into it and been successful with it, much to our surprise. By the holiday season of that third year, though, we’d fallen out of favor with the new editor of the paper, and had resigned ourselves to maybe focusing on our studies instead.
And then, we found out that the editor had quit, and that the old editor was panicking to try and get the holiday issue out in time. A call came in: could Andy and I possibly fill up, say, eight issues of the issue by ourselves? We were on the way out, obviously, but if we could hit this deadline, it would really help everyone out…
I knew immediately what we needed to do, and thankfully Andy agreed. And that was how, in my early 20s, I got to fulfill a teenage dream I’d long since forgotten: a Christmas supplement of our own to play with. Think of it as a Christmas miracle with admittedly low stakes, but a miracle nonetheless. ‘Tis the season.