Thursday, December 20, 2007

Christmas or Holiday

I just found out that Deadworld: Requiem for the World is sold out. The overprinting of this collection of the Image series was about 60% of the original orders so it was a surprise that it sold out. Furthermore, I found out that quite a few other of my graphic novels that came out from Image/Desperado sold 100’s of copies since the original order. I have to assume that most of the orders came from the Internet retailers such as Amazon. I don’t know for sure because getting exact numbers from the Diamond - Image - Desperado liaison is hard to get.

The reason I think they sold mainly outside of comic shops is watching the numbers in stock at Amazon and seeing the choices of “buyers of this book also bought this” and there seems to be quite a diverse and wide range.

But it does give me hope that there is a healthy life outside of comic shops because they’re simply not in a position to push all the titles coming out.

The other day, my high school daughter was hanging around some of her friends and the subject of comics came up and she explained that I wrote comics. I ended up meeting her friends and they were into comics but they wouldn’t be classified as the normal comic readers. They didn’t visit comic shops but instead bought comics either online or at conventions or bookstores. They were solidly behind many independent publishers and seemed unaware of the Marvel and DC talent and titles. It just seemed odd that they had accepted comics without buying into the whole “superhero” mythos and simply bought what they thought looked interesting and not at the traditional venues. I don’t really know what that all means but again, it does show that there is an audience out there that may not be served by the contemporary system.

That is a similar situation with my sister in law who buys certain comics. She can’t go into a comic store because it is so saturated with the superhero stuff, it just becomes a mind-numbing search. So, she buys online. The titles she has picked up include 300, From Hell, Sin City, Sandman, and a few other titles. Just another case of a non-traditional fan who accepts comics and enjoys them but finds the selection lacking in diversity.

CHRISTMAS TIME AGAIN

It’s that time of the year again and the debate of Christmas versus holiday pops up again. There seems to be an equal number of fanatics on both sides of the issues and I find the arguments and political correctness not only wearisome and tiring but also divisive.

A lot of people are upset when the Christmas season is referred to as the “holiday” season and greetings of Merry Christmas are converted to Happy Holidays. The crux comes from this nation being founded under the principle of “one nation, under God” and that the Christmas season is rightfully the celebration of Jesus Christ’s birthday.

Uh, no. First off, this nation wasn’t founded on Christian beliefs. Some of the founders were certainly Christian, others were deists, and some were unknown. Of course, many had Christian beliefs and tried their best to interject those views but the norm was to avoid the sanction of any particular religion. I find it funny when people claim that the founders set up the Constitution on Christian beliefs yet there is not one single mention of God in the U.S. Constitution except for the date (in the year of our Lord…which was a common way of notating the date). To surmise that single designation was establishing a Christian nation (by the date) would be suggesting anyone that uses the modern calendar that dates back to the death of Christ is entrenched in belief of Christ as the savior. Just because something has Christian roots (and more so, Roman roots) doesn’t carry the entire belief system with it. The only mention of religion in the Constitution is when the framers say that no religious test shall be required for qualification to serve office. Hardly a proclamation of religion being part of the government.

It’s a bit ironic when people claim that we should celebrate Christmas “like we used to” which usually means in celebration of Christ. After all, Christmas is the birth of Christ and the shortened form means Christ Mass. The move to secularize it by reducing it to “holiday” moves away from the long honored tradition of the more serene and less commercial exultation of Christ’s birthday.

Uh, no again.

Christmas was an invented holiday some 300 years after the date assumed for the death of Christ. It was structured around the many pagan festivals that occurred at the end of the year (celebration of the Winter Solstice, Saturnalia, Mithras, Sol Invictus, Yule and many other winter celebrations. Christians leaders moved the birth of Jesus to coincide into these other festivals and most of the trappings of Christmas (outside of Jesus, that is) have their basis in these ancient and pagan rituals. Mistletoe, holly, Christmas trees, Santa Claus, all are derived from non-Christian celebrations.

In fact, the early days of Christmas celebration had much stronger allegiance to the pagan aspects than the birth of Christ and in England and early colonial America (even the Puritans had banned the celebration of Christmas), the holiday was outlawed. The precursor to carolling was the act of visiting houses and singing a song to embark on a drunken party.

When did Christmas take on it’s modern approach? Most give credit to Charles Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol” as developing Christmas into a holiday of cheer and one that was meant to be a time for family and friends.

Even the date of December 25 is accepted by virtually all experts as NOT being the actual date of Jesus Christ’s birth. Biblical readings (which by the way, never mention a manger or cute animals surrounding him) indicate that Jesus was born in late summer or fall. The Catholic Church, the largest of all Christian religions, says that Christ’s birthday was not in the winter.

An odd outcome of all the debate about the birth of Christ is that the Bible does not give birthdates to any of the major characters and warned followers not to get caught up in the pagan celebration of birth dates. Perhaps the people pushing most for the celebration of Jesus Christ and his birth are actually the major violators of their God’s wishes?

Bill O’Reilly and many others claim that there isn’t a separation of Church and State and that the U.S. is a Christian nation because the of the federal holiday of Christmas. In his logic, he associates the official holiday with an acceptance by the government as being a religious holiday. But the government stated its case with the note that "the establishment of Christmas Day as a legal public holiday does not violate the Establishment Clause because it has a valid secular purpose." In other words, they recognized that Christmas has transcended a religious holiday into a national holiday celebrated by many different people in many different ways for many different reasons.

Like me.

I don’t believe in Christmas for the celebration of Jesus. I do believe in the spirit of Christmas…or Xmas…or Holiday…whatever you want to call it. Like the government, I see this time of year with all of its rituals, celebrations, events, and themes all tied together into this arbitrary thing we call Christmas. That’s fine with me. If some people want to celebrate Santa Claus and his reindeer…or hit their maximum on their credit cards to ensure everyone gets a good present…or finds comfort in sharing the time with family…lighting the menorah….or going to Church to sing hymns….all that is okay with me. It’s part of the package. Doesn’t mean you have to do it all. You can still celebrate Christmas without believing in Santa…and you can still celebrate without believing in Jesus. Now some people will say that you can’t…after all, the holiday is called Christmas. Well, that’s right to a certain point…and maybe that’s why other people want to get rid of the name Christmas….so they can celebrate the season without having to ignore the name that was tabbed by the Roman ruler at the time.

I have no problem with the religion of the holiday being part of the whole celebration. I love Christmas songs (but please, not until at least after Thanksgiving) and it bothers me not one bit when someone interjects the “new born king” or “holy child”…you know, its all part of the game. But I do think some people resist it primarily because they’re being told they can’t celebrate the season without accepting what the season is (the birth of Christ). But see, we know that’s not true and just saying so won’t make it true.

So, I wish people would just enjoy the holidays and not try to force others to follow their particular view. You don’t like something, then don’t celebrate that part. After all, a lot of people don’t celebrate Kwanzaa. It may be because that holiday was totally made up about 20-30 years ago. Yes, made up. It has no history behind it but it does celebrate the right things. But you know what, 100 years from now, people will be celebrating Kwanzaa as a fully established holiday…just like we do some of the Hallmark holidays such as Sweetest Day.

Just drop the angst…enjoy the season…for whatever reasons.

7 comments:

sphilipjones said...

I was going to mention some things like Jefferson calling Americans "the new Hebrews" and that the beliefs behind the Constitution are founded on many things but primarily Judeo-Christian traditions (not strictly Christian)and...then I thought, it's Christmas. Let's argue facts later. Be well, my friend, and congrats on that sell out! :-)

Gary said...

You're right..it is the holidays so I won't mention how there were many moralistic writings and teachings BEFORE the Judeo-Christian and so not all morals, laws, or even the Constitution was set up necessarily on what came only from Judeo-Christian "traditions". Lots of other sources there as well.

And Jefferson, wasn't he the one that also said, "Christianity is the most perverted system ever shone on man..." Yes, it was him.

But as you said...it's the holidays (specifically the Solstice) so why argue?

Hope you, Lisa, and Katie all had a great Christmas and have a great New Year.

sphilipjones said...

You mean like Hammurabi's Code? Yes, I am aware of that. ;-)

Ray Palmer Jr said...

Hi from Italy Gary,
I am posting this one here (wiht some corrections also) so I hope you can reach it easily!
It's great to have found you here, I was (and still am of course!) a fan of the greatly missed Caliber Press of the nineties, I still have dozens and dozens of them and even an original Deadworld t-shirt!
I searched for your name again after having seen the Transfuzion listing in Previews for two months, I never heard this name before but there was something very familiar in those descriptions....!
Of course there were the Image/Desperado comics these years but it's not the same thing IMHO.
For example, the original Negative Burn was missed and absolutely great!
I have been a customer of Mile High Comics for 20 years and I have ordered your first Tpb's through them as usual, here in Italy we don't have a local Amazon and we use the main site usually for special books like the Black Dossier.
Do we have to expect a lot of output from Transfuzion next months? Can you tell us something about them?

Cheeers,
Ray!

Gary Reed said...

Ray,
Thanks for the words on Caliber...yeah, I miss it too sometimes.

Transfuzion will attempt to have a steady and consistent output and we should stay on track.

You can always see what's going on at the website, www.transfuzion.biz

WCG Comics said...

Hi, Gary, hope you remember me, but we briefly were "in business" together many years ago for my comic-book series ROB HANES ADVENTURES, though we had to abort it. Believe it or not, I'm still at it--see http://wcgcomics.com.

I bookmarked your site awhile ago, but while I was cleaning up my list stumbled across it again and took some time to read your posts. Your comments about the comics industry were informed and insightful, so I'll be checking in more regularly!

I also wanted to compliment you belatedly on your well reasoned comments about the "Christmas" vs. "holiday" debate. I'm Catholic, but I don't see why people need to have their faith externally validated by government or their institutions. That's what the church and religion is for. Otherwise, we are a theocracy--which we are not. -- Randy

Gary Reed said...

Rob,
Yes, of course I remember you and the book. Glad to see you're still at it. I thought Rob Hanes was (and is) a great book and deserving of much wider attention.
Your comment on the Christmas/holiday is appreciated, especially from your perspective.
I don't think the polarization started happening so much until the religious fanatics (which are NOT most of the religious people) started to push for religion to become part of people's everyday lives in ways it shouldn't be (i.e.- school prayer, teaching creationism in science classes, etc.).
One of the schools I teach at has about 30% Muslim students so you can see the problem there and another school has a large Indian population.
The problems are understandable.

 
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