'Twas the night before Christmas . . . Oh. Wait. I posted about that last year. But what if Santa wasn't a "right jolly old elf", but was instead wise in the ways of the Samurai?
May I suggest MANGA CLAUS: Honor*Loyalty*Tinsel: The Blade of Kringle by Nathaniel Marunas, artwork by Erik Craddock?
That's right, folks, Santa has some seriously ripped abs under the fuzzy red suit. And with his training as a samurai more than a century and a half ago and the Miuaguchi Daisho, two swords given to him from a knowledgeable sensei, well, Santa's ready to respond when things go wrong.
Our story begins on the night before Christmas, when Fritz, a disgruntled elf, decides to use some magic to turn a robot-like nutcracker into a ninja. His goal? To cause a bit of fuss that will allow him to showcase his mad magic skillz and save the day. His plan might have worked, too, if things hadn't gone horribly wrong. When the botched-magic nutcracker-robot-ninja falls into a furnace and coals spew into the nearby teddy bears . . . well, let's just say it's not pretty, and an army of ninja bears results.
After Santa is alerted that there's a problem, he decides to find out "what in the name of the Big Benevolent Buddha is going on around here." The comedy doesn't stop there, as Santa guesses that the ninja bears are on their way to the power plant, saying "that's where I'd go if I were a deranged ninja teddy bear." Will Fritz arrive in a bin full of elf knickers in time to deliver the samurai weapons to Santa? Will Santa be able to deliver the toys in time for Christmas, leaving from the Clement C. Moore Sleighport? I'll never tell. Er, unless you've already sorted it out.
The humor in this one is genius, from the map of the North Pole facilities inside the front cover to the black-and-white-and-red all over illustrations to the really funny text and asides, this is one bit of manga that you've gotta see. It's got a hard cover, and reads in the way of a usual book in English, making it an easy entrée into manga for the uninitiated.
I leave you with a shortened version of the copy from the back cover:
A disgruntled elf, dark magic, and a horde of possessed ninja teddy bears threaten to put an end to the holidays . . . To battle the evil teddies, Santa himself must break out his ancient samurai swords, imbued with the spirit of the season, and become MANGA CLAUS, guardian of giving and protector of presents! Santa's blades are swift and his bujitsu unmatched, but will they be enough to save Christmas?