Christmas Gift

One of the great gifts to me this year has been Golden Age Comic Book Stories, a treasure trove of illustration, some whimsical, some magical. Here is a small sampling of the Christmas wonders that appeared this week:

From “The Night Before Christmas,” by Arthur Rackham (1867-1939), the children all snug in their beds.

Santa relaxes with a Coca-Cola, by Haddon Sundblom (1899-1976)

Frank Kelly Freas (1922-2005) for the cover of Mad magazine

Charming People

“It was pleasant and peaceful there among the trees, around the little grave-like pits that we had dug for shelter from the long-range stuff. All of us were older by a dozen years than we had been a dozen days before.

“Some of the fellows slept away the drowsy June-time afternoon or lay at ease to watch the little summer clouds roll overhead between the branches.

“Some sat about in little groups and swapped experiences or tried to engage our old-timers in talk, hoping they would tell about the first attacks, which we recruits had missed.

“A few came in for lots of kidding because they read their pocket Testaments for hours on end. We called them hypocrites and pitied them. They were so damned sincere.

“We remembered times they hadn’t been, before we reached the front.

“It wasn’t funny.

“We all had Testaments.

“A loving people back in God’s country had issued them to us with many blessings, and then had sent us out to fight the Germans.

“They had not cared to see that we had tools of war. We borrowed most of those.

“Here were men who tried to make their peace with God before they kept a rendezvous with Death.

“The Germans had Gott Mit Uns stamped on their belt buckles.

“Christians are such charming people.”

— Elton E. Mackin in Suddenly We Didn’t Want to Die: Memoirs of a World War I Marine


Treasure


“We were three days taking out even what gold and gems we could load on ourselves and our beasts, the treasure of three queen’s pardons.”

— A painting by N.C. Wyeth, illustrating a story by Stephen Vincent Benet entitled “Snake and Hawk,” which appeared in Ladies Home Journal, March, 1923. Benet wrote a letter at the time in which he said, “N. C. Wyeth is doing two color illustrations to ‘Snake and Hawk’ … which makes me both joyous and very sore at myself that it isn’t a better story.”

A Bachelor Reconsiders

‘What business has an old bachelor like that to marry?’ said Sir James. ‘He has one foot in the grave.’

‘He means to draw it out again, I suppose.’

— An exchange between Sir James Chettam and Mrs. Cadwallader in George Eliot’s Middlemarch (1872), a book that is, among other things, quite funny.