Among all the trimmings and tidings of Christmastime, there’s one holiday tradition that Grant Morrison has been observing for years - returning to work with artist Dan Mora on another chapter of their Santa Claus superhero series, Klaus.
This year is no different for Morrison, as BOOM! Studios is releasing Klaus and the Crying Snowman on December 19, again featuring Mora’s art. This time around, Klaus is not only fighting for the survival of Earth amidst another Ragnarok, but he’s also helping a rascal-turned-snowman redeem himself before he melts away.
Klaus first launched with a 2015 one-shot that first introduced Morrison’s re-imagining of the Santa Claus mythology.
With the fourth chapter set for release in a only a couple weeks, Newsarama talked to Morrison to find out more about the evolution of the Klaus mythology, how this ties into a real-world explanation of Norse mythology’s Ragnarok, and how the transience of life plays a central role in Klaus and the Crying Snowman.
Newsarama: Grant, this is your fourth year coming back to Klaus. Was it always the intention, to come back to this as something you could do every year?
Grant Morrison: Yeah, I kind of always figured we’d try to do one every Christmas. For me, it’s just an excuse to work with Dan.
There are a ton of stories - a whole bunch I haven’t gotten to, and all slightly different takes on it.
So yeah, it’s something we want to do as long as we can, as long as Christmas survives.
Nrama: It’s actually surprising that there hasn’t been this type of exploration of Santa Claus mythology before. Even though there are real people associated with our culture’s Santa Claus, it’s had a lot of elements added to it over the years that are rich with storytelling possibilities. Is that what drew you to this mythology?
Morrison: Yeah, as you say, it has roots everywhere, going into Siberian shamanism or to, you know, the Lapland reindeer herders. So there’s a lot of stuff about Santa Claus.
The basic idea was just to do it as a superhero story. So suddenly all that Christmas stuff became superhero power-familiar, like the crystal caves or the sleigh as like the Batmobile. Like I’ve said before, Batman has bats and Klaus has Christmas.
So it was very much me using all those trappings and kind of reinterpreting them as a superhero.
Nrama: He’s even got a sidekick! A white wolf!
Nrama: OK, so this new chapter is called Klaus and the Crying Snowman. How is this issue different from other Klaus stories?
Morrison: I think it’s a bit more intimate story, in the sense that it’s a little bit like Scroogein that there’s a bad man at the center of it.
It really became about the difference between Klaus and other superhero characters - he’s a giver of gifts. He’s about second chances and all that sort of stuff.
It seemed like an interesting Christmas redemption story.
And having the Snowman in there - you know, this image of the transience of life, and how soon before you melt away do you actually realize what you’ve been doing and correct your mistakes.
So there’s a lot of that stuff going on. And it came from that.
So I think it’s a bit more focused on the central character, even though there’s a bigger, wider, more cosmic kind of element to it. It’s really all about the forgiveness that Klaus displays.
Nrama: And this story is also tied to Norse mythology, right?
Morrison: Yeah, that was the idea for the bigger story, because there always has to be a wider canvas story. It was the idea of going back to those great initiators of winter terror — you know, the creatures of Chaos that rose up and cast the Earth into winter for three long years and bring about the Ragnarok.
Interestingly enough, I’ve been reading that a comet actually crashed on Earth, they believe, and was what caused those three terrible winters and became the actual physical manifestation of what became known as the Ragnarok.
So again, I’m just tying in a bunch of stuff like that. So it became about a comet coming back.
And I thought, what if those monsters survived and they were coming back for a second go?
And that was the start of the superhero story in it.
Nrama: You specifically said you like returning to working with Dan. What is it about his art that you enjoy, particularly for the mythology you’re building in Klaus?
Morrison: Yeah, yeah, I could go on about Dan endlessly, because he’s just one of my favorite collaborators. And I do this every year so that we get together at least on this one thing.
He totally understands what I’m looking for; he then transcends that. He’s capable of the most beautiful images on every single page. You know, everything that comes in, there’s no wasted panels. There’s no easy panels. And the characters are constantly acting. And in sense of the composition and the scale of things and the color choices - everything about it is brilliant.
He does these fabulous, evocative snow scenes in this book, in Klaus, and it’s so beautiful. The color palette - everything about it — and Dan has never actually seen snow.
Nrama: It’s interesting — you were talking about the transience of life. I’m certainly getting older, and I know you’re getting older too. With this chapter of Klaus, are you speaking a little bit from personal experience?
Morrison: Well, of course! I mean, I’ve never been anything like the central character, thank God, because he seems like a complete bastard.
But yeah, we’re’ certainly – the sense of the snowman, it just seems like such an image, especially as you grow older. It becomes … yeah, you know, the sun is rising, and you’ve enjoyed the view for as long as you can. And then you melt.
So we really want to make a little fable out of that.