Daniel Kibblesmith is looking to add some diversity to the Christmas holiday season.
This October, the staff writer for The Late Show with Stephen Colbert and the comiXology-exclusive comic Valiant High is giving readers the gift of Santa’s Husband, a tale of a black Santa and his white husband who make their home at the North Pole. Kibblesmith is a hilarious, quick, and nimble writer, who’ll certainly bring to the project the humor, warmth, and sensitivity the subject matter deserves. We caught up with Mr. Kibblesmith to discuss the genesis of the book, his collaboration with artist AP Quach, and what he says to folks decrying the idea of a Santa who’s part of an interracial couple.
FreakSugar: Okay, Santa’s Husband. I’m sold already: A gay black Santa is married to a white man. Obvious first question: What was the genesis behind the book?
Daniel Kibblesmith: The book started in part as a response to the outrage surrounding the Mall of America’s introduction of one — ONE! — black Santa Claus into their roster. My fiancée and I joked, first privately and then on Twitter, that if we had a child, we would ONLY tell them about black Santa. If they saw a white Santa, we’d explain that it was his husband, filling in for him. The thought exercise resonated with people, because now that Twitter joke is becoming a picture book.
FS: What can you tease that readers can expect to see in Santa’s Husband? What’s the conceit of the story?
DK: It’s your basic all-ages introduction to Santa Claus, but with two big obvious changes: Our Santa is black, and rather than a Mrs. Claus, Santa is loved and assisted with his Holiday duties by an equally jolly and bearded husband.
FS: From what I’ve seen of the art, the design looks like it will be a perfect with your story. What is the collaboration process like with illustrator AP Quach?
DK: I’m such a big fan of her work that, thus far, it mostly consists of watching her art roll in and being blown away. The choices she’s been making in terms of the humor, the background Easter eggs, and the “cute factor” are above and beyond what I could’ve hoped when I wrote the text. Her artwork makes it easy for me to imagine this world continuing beyond the pages of our book.
FS: I love that the book will offer a story that will help families who might feel marginalized during the holidays feel included. Was that always one of your mission statements for Santa’s Husband?
DK: We definitely wanted to make a book for everyone — adults who are in on the tongue-in-cheek nature of the premise — but also families who might be looking for different Christmas stories that better reflect their own households. I’d love it if this book became a Christmas tradition for kids, alongside Christmas books with white hetero Santas, and Christmas books starring, like, anthropomorphic animals and snowmen.
FS: What do you say to the Chicken Littles out there that cry, “The sky is falling!” if Santa isn’t always represented as a straight, white male?
DK: I’d say they have nothing to worry about. It turns out there’s a lot of different media about Santa Claus out there, and we’re not likely to replace any of it. But there’s also as many different Christmas traditions as there are families. I used to receive gifts labeled from “Hanukkah Harry” who was literally an SNL character. So, I’d say don’t worry too much about the “rules,” and just enjoy the holidays with your loved ones however you choose.
FS: What do you hope readers young and old will takeaway from reading Santa’s Husband?
DK: A Very Merry Christmas, of course.