I went about looking for holiday themed webcomics recently. Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Festivus… whatever. Anything that celebrated the holiday spirit generally. And I found just about nothing. There are plenty of webcomics out there that will reference the holidays for maybe a few strips around the end of the year, but really nothing that makes it a theme of the entire strip.
I did find Holiday Wars, in which the main character was given the key to the Christmas Spirit from none other than Santa Claus himself, but the strip as a whole is more about the interactions of all of the living embodiments of holidays. So it’s not so much about a single holiday, but more about the very notion of holidays as a concept unto itself. A celebration of celebrations, you might say.
By contrast, the next biggest holiday season (at least, here in the States) is Halloween and there seem to be no end of webcomics themed around that holiday. Even beyond comics that are sort of related by virtue of being horror-themed in general, there are plenty that specifically focus on the spirit of Halloween itself.
But why? By most measures, Christmas is the largest holiday in the U.S. and while Halloween generally comes up in the number 2 spot, that doesn’t seem to carry over into webcomics for some reason. I can think of a couple possible explanations.
Most of the December holidays revolve around generosity, being kind, etc. Which of course makes for a fantastic sentiment, but it makes for more difficult long-term storytelling relative to Halloween, a holiday that focuses more on fear. Fear, or perhaps more accurately the elements that drive fear, are more readily seen in terms of a conflict. Whether people’s fears are manifested in metaphors like vampires and zombies, or are taken at face value like the spiders or poltergeists, a person confronting their fears is inherently about conflict, and thus makes for an easy translation to a narrative. Generosity, by contrast, tends to be more about empathy and connection, almost the opposite of conflict. In order to get a easy-to-follow narrative, a creator almost has to invent additional components to introduce conflict. In the case of Holiday Wars, for example, it’s the Easter Bunny—a choice that pretty much only works in context with Christmas, and doesn’t hold up as well on its own.
A more pessimistic view might be that creators, by and large, are driven more by fear than anything and find it a more relateable subject. Their experiences with kindness and generosity are infrequent enough that it’s more difficult to come up with an ongoing narrative surrounding it, where fear is more ever-present and is a greater motivator. I’d be saddened to hear if that is indeed the case, but I wouldn’t rule it out as a possibility.
There must be other reasons, though. What am I missing here? Why does it seem that Halloween-themed webcomics and more prolific than Christmas/Hanukkah/Kwanzaa ones?