Author Simon Cross has just launched his Refugee Christmas cards project, offering designs that include work by British comic artists.
On offer are packs of four Christmas cards, produced to raise money for refugee charities. The first profits from this project will be donated to Safe Passage UK which works with child refugees.
So far, Safe Passage have helped more than 1800 children.
Each card sports a picture from a different illustrator, who are Manga artist Siku, Dean Rankine (The Simpsons, Futurama and more), Steve Beckett (BEANO, Dandy and others), and Stu McLellan, who is best known for his standalone and book illustration work.
Each is a limited edition work of art in its own right, and each in its own way gives a simple but compelling take on an aspect of the nativity story.
Behind the Scenes on Refugee Christmas
By day researching and writing at the intersection of spirituality, well being, mental health, social science and theology, Simon explains he loves Christmas, “but when you read the Nativity story, it becomes very clear it’s about much more than a baby in a stable.
“In part it’s a tale about a massacre, and a family who have to flee for their lives,” he tells downthetubes. “The fact that so many families are doing the same today haunts me, I don’t feel good about celebrating one refugee story while ignoring thousands more.
“I think there are lots of people who feel the same way, so my mind turned to a way of linking Christmas back to the plight of refugees today, and this seemed like the simplest and most effective option.
And how did he come up with the project?
“Although I’ve done lots of Christmas projects before, I’ve never done something quite like this,” Simon reveals. “Commissioning works of art from talented artists which tweak the tail of the establishment a bit is something I have greatly enjoyed.
“I always find that people are open to looking at Christmas in unconventional ways,” he adds, “and are often surprised to find that the traditional story has so much ‘blood and guts’ in it.
“I know all of these artists – some better than others, and have admired their work for a long time. I wanted four very different pieces of art, so I chose carefully to ensure that the artists would compliment one another, while still creating very special pieces of work.
“It’s important to say that although this is a Christmas project, these artists aren’t all ‘religious’ – but they’re all people who think deeply and carefully about life, and recognise the impact that art can have on the human mind.
“They’re also all people who were up for a challenge and keen to do their bit to support an excellent cause.”
Steve Beckett is a cartoonist whose work appears regularly in the Beano and other comics. His stark drawing is a reminder of the excuses that are used to cover up atrocities.
Dean Rankine is an Australian artist who draws for a range of publishers, including The Simpsons Comics, and offers his subversive take on one of the classic Christmas images.
Stu McLellan is a sought after artist and illustrator with a highly detailed but subtle and whimsical style. His art finds a home for Mary’s ‘magnificat’ song in a contemporary refugee camp.
Siku is the celebrated Manga artist who created The Manga Bible, among various other works. He offers a compelling reminder of one of the key Christmas stories.
The Refugee Crisis
There are more than 70 million refugees in the world, a number that’s growing by tens of thousands every day. According to the United Nations Refugee Agency, more than half of the world’s refugees are children.
Many of these children have already witnessed the sort of horrors most of us would never want to imagine. They’ve seen men emerge from buildings with bloody blades. They’ve slept fitfully in makeshift camps and longed for the simple comforts of a warm and safe home. They’ve seen soldiers acting out brutal orders. Many more of them will never see their families again.
Thousands of children around the world know what it is to flee in darkness, in fear of their lives, often becoming separated from their families and love ones. And having fled, they are still often unsafe, in danger of becoming the prey of abusers, of being trafficked, or of becoming child soldiers.
You can help refugee charities make a difference by buying these cards, as well as raising awareness of the issue among the people you send them to.
• Simon’s book The Good Life is also available now