I've sworn off writing about Christmas until the 20th. It's ridiculous to get "in the Christmas spirit" weeks or even months in advance. I only need five days, thank you very much. As part of my annual holiday tradition, I'll post the mp3 for that lovable train-wreck version of "O Holy Night" on December 20th. Be ready. Bring the family. Sit around the computer. Turn the volume up, and enjoy.

And yes, while it is only the first full week of December, I couldn't resist sharing this photo. Cleary, my daughter's a huge fan of Santa.

At The Engine, in the Creator's Conference, there's an interesting thread (click here) started by the venerable Matt Fraction:
"So the other day instead of writing i had very important stacking and arranging to do in my office. You know how i do. And so on the shelf nearest to me (well, not nearest-nearest, as that's full of lincoln and civil war books, but nevermind) I figured I'd put the books most responsible for me wanting to make comics. Not necessarily my favorite books, or the only books I loved, but the books that, for whatever reason, made me ache to make the goddamn things."

It was fun looking through everyone's list of books, and seeing what got them excited about comics. Here's my list:

STRANGERS IN PARADISE, Terry Moore. There's something about Terry's enthusiasm for these characters and for this story that is infectious. Spend only a few minutes talking with him, and you can't help being inspired to do great things. I don't care how cheesy this sounds -- I really look up to him.

THE ROCKETEER, Dave Stevens. Such a cool concept with unlimited potential. The Rocketeer's the kind of pulp action hero I would love to write. It's a shame all we've got is the Eclipse graphic novel and the Disney film. Dave, come back.

ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN VOL. 1 HARDCOVER, Brian Bendis & Mark Bagley. When I first read volume one, it made me excited about comics all over again. I was completely hypnotized by the story.

BERLIN, Jason Lutes. Probably the most intelligent and literarily dense comic book that I've ever read. The issues only ship once a year, but well worth it. Lutes' writing continually reassures me I haven't even scratched the surface of what's possible with a comic book story.

DAISY KUTTER, Kazu Kibuishi. Pretty cowgirl with a huge rifle fights robots. What's not to love? A New West Tank Girl without the lewd posturing. File this under the category of "geez-I-wish-I-had-something-to-do-with-this". No, it's all Kazu, and we're all better off for it.