‘Holly Jolly: Celebrating Christmas Past in Pop Culture’ by Mark Voger: The Conskipper Review

Mark Voger’s two previous books captured the essence of 1960’s culture in Groovy and the birth of the “Monster Kids” generation in Monster Mash. Both books were packed with nostalgia, allowing those who loved the 1960’s or monster movies to revel in the past and discover forgotten or unknown pieces from an idyllic past.

Voger’s latest examination of pop culture is filtered through the frosty lens of Christmas in Holly Jolly: Celebrating Christmas Past in Pop Culture and it delivers the same sweet, odd, and surprising dose of nostalgia that anyone who loves the holiday would revel in. From Christmas-themed comic books, to TV specials, to candy, to some of the most outrageous decorations anyone has ever seen, Holly Jolly is a gift bag full of treats. The 192 page hard cover book is stuffed with colorful illustrations and photographs of Christmas past, and each section requires multiple viewings (viewings is the right word for this book, since the explosion of detailed images requires some time with each page).

And although there are sections about the religious aspects of the celebration of Christmas (such as a section on managers which focuses on mass produced Nativity Scenes from the 1950s) the star attraction is of course Santa Claus in all his glory. The sometimes subtle and sometimes extreme changes to Santa that took place over the years is on full display here, with a focus on the establishment of the image that still exists on decorations, Coca-Cola ads, and on the big and small screen to this day.

Speaking of television and films, for anyone with an interest in the representations of Christmas and Santa Claus over the decades in cartoons, feature films, and TV specials, Holly Jolly dedicates roughly half of the book’s page count to the subject. Multiple page, full page, and half page entries showcase classics like March of the Wooden Soldiers to the unbelievably true such as Santa Claus Conquers the Martians.

For the Christmas fanatic in your life, Holly Jolly would be a real surprise this season or anytime of year (and with Voger’s work done on Christmas, fans of Monster Mash can only hope that his next subject is a pop culture examination of Halloween in the same vein as Holly Jolly).

Holly Jolly: Celebrating Christmas Past in Pop Culture by Mark Voger is available through TwoMorrows Publishing and in finer book stores and comic shops everywhere.

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