There are many tales about Jolly Old St. Nick — but Grant Morrison is telling a story that not many people have heard before. In his new book, Klaus, out Nov. 4, the acclaimed comic writer re-imagines Santa Claus, weaving a tale that is grittier and more sinister level than we’re used to. Along with artist Dan Mora (Hexed), Morrison tells the origin story of Santa Claus…with a few twists that include the character’s Viking lore and other dark characters such as Krampus. EW spoke with Morrison to find out what inspired him to take one of the world’s most beloved icons and turn him on his head.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: You have a reputation for putting a “spin” on iconic characters…and Santa Claus is certainly iconic! What intrigued you about wanting to dive into his story?
GRANT MORRISON: That’s exactly how I felt! It’s since been brought to my attention that there have been a couple of literary attempts to provide an origin story for Santa Claus and at least two animated films — all of which I’ve made a point of avoiding on the grounds that I don’t want to be influenced — or put off — by anyone else’s take. What’s unique about this one, I think, is that no one has approached Santa Claus as a superhero origin story, or deliberately applied any of the other familiar superhero tropes to his story.
How far back will the story go in terms of diving into Santa Claus’ roots before he became the person we know him as today? How much of his past will we be seeing, when it comes to stories in this book?
When we first meet him he’s around 30 and he’s a wild man, a solitary shaman who hunts reindeer and lives alone in a hut on the edge of a gigantic frozen lake. Later in the series, we find out just what happened to drive him far from civilization, so we get to see him as a baby, a kid, and as a young soldier. What we don’t see in this origin tale is his final transformation into a white-haired, fat and jolly old man — although it’s obviously implied but we do get to see how he puts together the traditional red-and-white “Santa” outfit. These are the adventures of Young Klaus!
Can you talk about your collaboration with Dan Mora, and how that came together? What was it about his art and style that made you think he was the perfect fit for your story?
The guys at BOOM! suggested Dan to me. A few names were thrown into the hat but when I saw Dan’s work I was completely sold and couldn’t imagine anyone else doing the book. As I’ve said before, in addition to his mastery of framing, scale and composition, he’s coloring his own work in a very lush and assured style that reminded me of some of my favourite early Disney movies, somewhere between Sleeping Beauty and The Sword and the Stone, which is exactly what I was looking for. And he’s a steady and dependable worker, which means a lot in these days of often-delayed comics! I hope this book raises his profile and elevates him to the superstar status he deserves.