Bill Peckmann &Books &Illustration 07 Dec 2012 06:52 am

Raymond Briggs’ Father Christmas

In 1973 Raymond Briggs did this eccentric telling of Father Christmas, treating him as you would a real person. The book is funny, and John Coates followed up his adaptation of Briggs’ Snowman book into animation by doing this book as a video. It was almost as successful as The Snowman, though not quite. It relied on a different form of humor.

The film, Father Christmas, was released in 1997 and was nicely directed by Dave Unwin with a tour de force performance by Mel Smith as Father Christmas. However, watch out for later versions that use William Dennis Hunt as the VO character, they’ve taken all the purposeful darkness out of the character and have sanitized it to within an inch of its life.

However, the original Raymond Briggs book still exists, and that’s what Bill Peckmann has forwarded onto me, and I present it happily.



















As a follow-up here’s a piece Bill found about Raymond Briggs:


(Click any image to enlarge.)

Ernest Briggs on his milk float.


5 Responses to “Raymond Briggs’ Father Christmas”

  1. on 07 Dec 2012 at 9:56 am 1.Elliot Cowan said …

    This was a favorite when I was in primary school.
    There’s a funny sequel too, Father Christmas on Holiday, or something like that.
    It includes a scene of Santa on the toilet which we all thought was hilarious.

  2. on 07 Dec 2012 at 12:12 pm 2.Stephen Macquignon said …

    I love the book putting on my wish list just great

  3. on 07 Dec 2012 at 1:14 pm 3.Suzanne Wilson said …

    It’s like receiving a wonderful Christmas card! The Best–absolutely charming and atmospheric!

  4. on 07 Dec 2012 at 5:48 pm 4.the Gee said …


    I was unfamiliar with this.

    Just yesterday I was trying to explain to someone how important layout and panels are to comic book storytelling. I just the aspect of pacing because too much could be said, ya know.

    In this book, two things about 2 mirrored, double paged spreads.

    Pages 10 and 19: Where the sleigh is crossing the sky in four panels.

    In the first one, he chooses to make the sleigh’s bundle and the reindeer blend into the rainy sky. That’s interesting. Because it is looks like, for that moment, it is just Santa, completely exposed by himself. Pretty cool.

    In number 19, he chooses to mirror the previous sequence yet Santa is headed in the same direction. I find that curious. Unless my dyslexia is kicking in, isn’t he depicting Santa going South as the sun rises? I guess that is intentional. But, I’m not sure if it is the right way to show it. I’ll cut it slack as him taking artistic license.

    Beautiful stuff. Heckuva way to tell the story. Like his attitude.

  5. on 28 Dec 2012 at 10:21 pm 5.Chris Sobieniak said …

    The TV special that John Coates and TVC produced in the 90′s combined both books into one half-hour special (“Father Christmas” and “Father Christmas Goes On Holiday”). I enjoyed Briggs’ take on making the guy as normal and possibly as mortal as we. He has bills to pay, pets to tend to, goes on holidays, gets sick and uses the bathroom like all of us.

    The “US version” with William Dennis Hunt is sorely hurt with the change in the voice as well as some scenes that were cut like Father Christmas’ nightmarish dream out in the French countryside. While “The Snowman” leaves me with tears of sadness for how the story ends, “Father Christmas” brings the happiness back right away.

    Incidentally Mel Smith once got to intro the 20th anniversary release of “The Snowman” as Father Christmas getting ready to watch the film in his home (though the original intro was my favorite of that special). Most recently the ol’ guy showed up in a Kitkat advertisement as well. They did a fine job on this I thought…

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