Christmas Merry-thon: Paul Dini’s Jingle Belle

Santa is supposed to be a man, just like any other man.  Granted, he’s a magical man that can give presents to everyone in the world in one night, but he’s still a man nonetheless.  Is it really so impossible to imagine him having a kid?  Well, today’s story revolves around Santa’s rambunctious teenage daughter.  This is Paul Dini’s Jingle Belle

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Jingle Belle, Santa’s daughter and teenage rebel.  She’s tired of living under her father’s shadow.  She wants to be recognized as one of the symbols of Christmas.  The book  I got collects a series of stories that are only connected by the characters in them.  I first heard about this character and her comics thanks to Chad Rocco’s Familiar Faces episode based on her.  If you’d like a better look at her creation, background and the like, I suggest giving his video a watch.  For now, I’m going to briefly talk about each separate story and their strengths and weaknesses.

A Very Special Jingle Belle Special:  Jingle Belle is tired of not being recognized as Santa’s daughter.  As such, she tries to make a Christmas special based on her own story.  Unfortunately, TV executives may make her story unbearable.  This acts as a good introduction for the character even if it wasn’t her first appearance.  It shows her attitudes toward her father, her reputation, and even how she feels about Christmas in general.  The jokes were alright and I loved the jabs at Hollywood corporate crap.  There was an odd running gag parodying the Star Wars Holiday Special, though.  Not sure it really fit into the story.  The artwork by Jose Garibaldi, who does most of the artwork in the book, is pretty good, even if it is a little stiff for my tastes.

Nibble, Nibble: Jingle’s best friend, Polly Green (a Halloween witch), is continuously nagged by her family to poof them extravagant material items.  Polly decides to take a little revenge.  The story here is alright, though Jingle’s barely involved.  I loved Polly as a character (says the Halloween fanatic).  The artwork, however, takes the cake.  Stephanie Gladden’s work is reminiscent of Animaniacs.  It’s just a joy to look at.  I was sitting there looking at this story and expecting the characters to just start moving like it was a cartoon. The artwork is that good.

Belle’s Beaus:  This is a cute story of a guy who once met Jingle as a child and has been searching for her ever since just to prove she was real.  You could say the guy became obsessed with her in an almost stalker-ish way.  But the story never makes his curiosity ever feel that extreme.  It’s handled pretty well and has a very heartwarming ending.  Probably my favorite story in the bunch.

Kiyote Christmas Party:  The most bizarrely out of place story in the bunch, a group of criminal coyotes take over a Vegas-style strip club and Sheriff Ida Red has to stop them.  Jingle Belle isn’t even mentioned in this one.  From what I’ve seen, this is a one-off issue of a separate series called Mutant, Texas.  The series itself seems a bit to strange even for my tastes.  The story was short but just felt chaotic.  I feel the collection would have been stronger without it.

Ring-a-Ding Jing:  In the longest story of the collection, Jingle is forced to help out a dilapidated Santa themed amusement park.  She ends up turning the whole thing into a casino, which pisses off the local mob.  This is the first story of the whole thing where it felt like Jingle was giving her all to help.  It was good to see the side of her that was really trying to be creative.  Which is why I’m kind of annoyed that all of her hard work is pretty much trashed by the end of the story.  The man she’s helping just feels like he’s unappreciative of all the work Jingle puts into the casino.  And yes, I know the lesson is supposed to be about enjoying the simpler things, but it just feels like Jingle’s work was all for almost nothing.  And she really seemed to have fun with the whole concept, too.  It just felt like a waste.

In the end, this was a great introduction to a fantastic character.  I thank Chad Rocco for showing her to the internet and peaking my interest in her.  If you want a Christmas icon with a little bit of attitude, I highly suggest looking for the Jingle Belle comics.  This is definitely not sugary Christmas treat you’re used to.

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