Thanks to Santa’s elf Jingles, Archie experiences Christmas Eve day over and over again in Craig Boldman and Dan Parent’s “The Elfth Day of Christmas,” a fun take on the “endlessly repeated day” idea.
Boldman’s Archie is impulsive, energetic, and a bit of a procrastinator, but full of the Christmas spirit. The opening pages detailing Archie’s frantic attempts to get everything done give the art team of Dan Parent and Jim Amash plenty of opportunity to depict frenetic action and they pull it off beautifully. Right from the first page, when Archie comes leaping out of the house to bound down the street, there’s a strong sense of movement to the book. Archie’s hair flies, his arms wave, and his face shows a dozen different expressions in as many panels. These early pages contrast strongly with latter ones that show a more relaxed Archie who’s able to enjoy the holiday without rushing. These, in turn, contrast with the angry Archie who’s heard “Snowstorm Archie” and “It’s Christmas Eve” one too many times. In these latter scenes, Archie snarls, scowls, and runs around with clenched fists. His hair stands on end and he might as well have a dark cloud over his head. He’s the epitome of a grouch. The extreme emotions on display and the vivid way Parent and Amash portray them make it easy for non-readers to follow the book’s plot. While they might not get all the nuances, they can get the gist of it.
The plot neatly balances the mundane and the magical. Boldman perfectly captures both the stress and the joy of the holiday season. One of the most realistic moments comes when Archie realizes he’s forgotten to get Ms. Grundy a gift, so he ransacks his room for something he can regift. When Christmas Eve repeats, he’s able to look for something that will show his affection and respect for her. It’s a nice scene that shows both Archie’s flaws and his heart. His anger is also perfectly understandable. Who hasn’t gotten tired of hearing a jibe that’s long past its expiration date? Given that Archie is hearing the same joke every day because of Jingles’ messing with the “temporal transmitter,” it’s no wonder he gets a bit snappy about it.
Speaking of Jingles, the scenes at the North Pole show just how much like Archie the elf is. He impulsively tries to help, ignoring the good advice of others. When he tries to fix things, he just adds to the problem. Santa is much like the much put-upon principal Mr. Weatherbee in this context. He knows something is up and that Jingles is likely behind it, but he can’t quite get a handle on what’s going on.
The ending is pitch perfect. Not too schmaltzy or saccharine. Boldman gives readers a lesson on what’s really important at Christmas time without being heavy-handed and ends it all with a joke.
Parent also includes two lovely fashion pages. Snowflakes set against a seafoam green background make a beautiful backdrop for the colorful winter fashions. While Betty’s net-and-green-and-red-striped dress probably isn’t something most readers could get hold of easily, there are several designs girls could reproduce with things in their own closets. Betty’s red pant coat, white turtleneck, and green leggings make an attractive and neat looking ensemble, while Veronica’s black jumper over a plaid shirt is casually dressy.
Archie #615 makes a great stocking stuffer for tween Archie Comics’ fans or for someone looking for a short, humorous, holiday-themed story.