Adapting a Christmas Classic to a Comic Book

Dec 19, 2013

Classic stories are often updated to fit modern times and this year a Des Moines family has adapted an old holiday tale to a digital comic book.  

During a monthly drink and draw at the Des Moines bar Goodsons, amateur and professional artists sketch, share ideas, and discuss projects over beers.  During this month’s drink and draw, Sean Eike is sharing his new comic “The Night Before Christmas at the Comic Book Shop”.  In the opening panels, a rocket ship led by 8 smaller rocket ships land on the roof of a comic shop during a Christmas party.  “Then, bamf!  Just like Nightcrawler he pops into the shop and it’s Captain Nick, who’s our version of Santa Claus.” says Eike. 

The party goers in the comic shop are depictions of real people from the Des Moines comic scene mingling with characters from “Star Trek”, “The Big Bang Theory”, and DC and Marvel comics.  Captain Nick is drawn with pointed elf ears wearing a traditional Santa outfit.  He passes out presents in exchange for high fives before disappearing and riding off into the night.

If this story seems familiar, it should.  This is an adaptation of the 190-year-old classic “The Night Before Christmas”.  Sean Eike wrote and drew this comic with his brother Jonathan and their father Donald.  The Eike brothers are in their early thirties and have been selling their art for years, but this is the first time they’ve published their work in a book.   They started working on this comic in late October and three weeks later they finished and published the work to Amazon where it can be downloaded as a digital comic for the Kindle.

This fast turnaround time from concept to publication is only possible because of today’s digital delivery and Sean Eike says this is the kind of distribution they’ve always wanted. “Before that meant printing five thousand copies of the book and sitting on them and selling them one at a time, but now we can have the books on Amazon and say hey, check it out. You can download it and share it with your kids you can share it with your friends.  Or you can by the book and the book is printed on demand so we’re not sitting on any copies ourselves.”

Dean Sturtevant, a long time comic book fan, just finished reading the Eike’s holiday comic for the first time at this drink and draw.  Sturtevant says it reminds him of Jack Kirby’s work, an artist widely recognized as an influential pioneer of comic books.  “Jack Kirby could tell a story by the panels, not by any words.”  Sean Eike is flattered and says “Well definitely that is a ginormous compliment, to have it compared to Jack Kirby you know legendary in the field that we’ve studied.”  Sturtevant replies “It comes across in a very clear concise way of communicating you’re family’s vision. It’s a lovely piece.”

With their first book published, the Eike brothers are resuming a project they’ve been working for two years called “The Rage Against Hel”.  It’s a four part comic about an ancient battle fought in the twenty first century featuring trolls, goblins, and dragons.