It's Little Dracula again, and this time, it's Xmas time in Transylvania. Lots of fun to be had here (it's all in the dozens of details and sight gags Joseph Wright manages to pack into each picture), and as perfect an argument against minimalism as there ever will be.
Published in 1987, been with me since... 1990? Thereabouts? Let's read it.
We open, as ever, with a plan of the Dracula's castle, and all who dwell within. They've even hung stockings on the gravestones, and a holly wreath on the gallows!
Again, it's all about spotting the fun little details in these books (Joseph Wright's illustrations for the What-A-Mess books follow the same ideals). Here we can see the Bloodsmaid next to the bed, the little guy fleeing the castle as the sun sets through the window, and the interesting-looking presents stuffed into the Draculas' stockings.
A similar scene with the Dracula kids - Millicent's cute little alien toy, the winged critter drinking the blood spilt on the carpet, the gift of a wind-up skull for the ghost...
And so it's downstairs to see if they've caught Santa, of course. They came close this year! What follows is as perfect, cosy and ideal a representation of a family on Xmas morning that there could be (albeit one filled with dismembered limbs, bottles of blood and various torture devices):
Booze and books for the dad...
Sweets, smellies and a (werewolf) puppy for the mum...
A pram for the little girl, and even something wrapped up for the cat.
Pure joy on the younger Dracula's face here, with a present that lets him be just like his dad. And a pair of boots for the bat.
Now isn't that one of the most idealistic scenes you've ever seen? And yes, a lot of booze for the Dracula family, including the bottle of Spirits for the ghost (ha ha ha).
The reactions of the fireplace and wall ornaments are the best bits on these two pages - and the ghost getting completely wasted on his festive bottle!
More furniture-face reactions here (and a skeleton sticking its head around the door to see what all the noise is). And the cat playing with its present, that bit's good too.
The aftermath of a traditionally and typically chaotic Xmas morning - bandaged body bits, alcoholic casualties, telling-offs and "there there"-ities... But the fun's not over yet!
See? Slave's wearing his new tie as they rush out to try and catch Santa again.
A thrilling chase that's ultimately without victory, but at least they got an elf.
And that elf is quickly employed to help out with dinner! How cute's that little bat sitting patiently at the table? And what kind of roast beast can provide EIGHT legs?
That elf's soon as much a part of the family as the new werewolf - seems perfectly happy watching home movies with the rest of the clan.
And so ends another Xmas, with the kids knackered and dreaming of the presents they'll get next year. And it's also the end of my 2nd most favourite festive book (not sure if the favourite will go up here yet - maybe).
Blimey, ten days to go!