Despite Marvel US having already adapted A Christmas Carol in 1978, Marvel UK editor Tim Quinn was given the go ahead to create a new version with master illustrator Mario Capaldi in 1993… but the project was, sadly, another that was cancelled as the company’s ambitions began to founder.
These five pages were as far as the planned re-telling of Charles Dickens Christmas story got, before intimations of a downward swing to Marvel UK’s American titles such as Death’s Head II and Motormouth and Killpower caused a drastic rethinking of all new books in the works.
“We had a lengthy meeting in the Cheshire Cheese,” Tim recalls, referring to one of the pubs popular with the MUK team close to their then base at Arundel House in the capital, “and even wandered round London choosing certain buildings to feature in the story.”
Mario Capaldi (1935-2004) was a full-time professional British artist who enjoyed an extensive art career spanning 44 years, from 1959 to 2003. Due to his reclusive nature, he never publicised any of his work, but his comics work encompassed a huge range of titles, including boys comics such as Battle, Eagle, Hurricane, Roy of the Rovers and Tiger, girls comics such as Bunty, Jinty, Judy, Misty and Tammy, and Marvel UK titles ranging from Barbie, Care Bears and Sesame Street to Captain Planet, James Bond Junior, ThunderCats, Zorro, and more.
Mario would have been well suited to this planned Christmas Carol project. He loved to paint Victorian, historical and biblical scenes in oils and watercolours, and illustrated many children’s books, fairy-tales, comics and nursery rhymes, such as Enid Blyton’s The Little Bear’s Adventures and the Famous Five, Ladybird’s Princess and the Frog, Rupert Bear and Disney’s Aladdin.
Other Christmas Carols are available…
Marvel US own take on A Christmas Carol in 1976, was adapted by Doug Moench, for Marvel Classic Comics #36, with a cover from Bob Hall and interiror art credited to “Diverse Hands”, but now known to be Ken Landgraf. Inkers included Tom Sutton, Armando Gil, Dave Simons, Frank Giacoia, Mike Esposito, Francoise Mouly, Mario Sen and Diana Albers.
This version was reprinted in Marvel UK’s own Marvel Classic Comics (#3) in 1981, a reprint title that ran for just 12 issues, also reprinting Marvel’s War of the Worlds, Frankenstein, Treasure Island, and more.
There have, of course, been several comics adaptations of A Christmas Carol by other companies, not least of them the beautiful adaptation with art by Joe Matthews, told in verse by Dave McCluskey; and the version created by Sean Michal Wilson, Mike Collins et al, published by Classical Comics in 2008.; and a version from Indian publisher Campfire, too.
Later this month, Dark Horse Comics release the Disney take on A Christmas Carol, starring Scrooge Mcduck, by Guido Martina.
In this version, Scrooge McDuck is a grumpy old business owner with a heart of stone, who shows no regard for his fellow man, for whom the mere utter of the word “Christmas” causes him to shudder in disdain. Then, on the eve of Christmas, Scrooge is visited by the ghost of his business partner, Rock Marley, who shows what a life of greed and selfishness can lead to and shares a caution that he will be visited by three spirits: the spirits of Christmas Past, Christmas Present, and Christmas Future.
Just like Dickens original, the spirits take Scrooge on a journey of reflection, truth, and redemption. Share in the wisdom and inspiration of Scrooge as he learns to make amends and open his heart on Christmas night–and all nights to come!
• You can find Tim Quinn online at mightyquinnmanagement.com
Addendum: In 1973, an unusual Shiver and Shake Christmas Holiday Special featured a wonderful battle wits between the scary inhabitants of “Scream Inn” and Ebenezer Scrooge. As Irmantas Povilaika notes over on the Kazoop! Blog, Summer Specials were a norm back then but a Christmas Holiday Special was something out of the ordinary. Here’s the first page, with art by the brilliant Brian Walker, who passed away earlier this year.