Warning: this post contains images which can be disturbing to some readers, in particular those lacking in sense of humor, but Christmas wouldn’t be the same to me without the grotesque card I find every year in my letterbox from the Italian cartoonist Stefano Babini.
It was 1999 when he drew the first one as a reaction to the superficiality of the “Let’s all be good, it’s Christmas” attitude spreading around. Babini’s work is much appreciated among connoisseurs: Hugo Pratt loved him dearly, he collaborated with Sergio Bonelli publishing house (Tex, Zagor, Dylan Dog and Mister No, just to name few of the house biggest hits) and with Astorina with their renown Diabolik, after he started his career with erotic strips. Personally, I always loved his dark humor and the way he’s mixing it with amazing colours and poetic lines.
The idea behind Babini’s cards is that each one must be done around ten days before Christmas and since he’s the main character together with Santa Claus, he depicts himself as he feels and looks like that year. You can easily tell if he’s happy or feeling blue and you are 100% sure that he will create a super funny, sarcastic Christmas mood. You might think he’s just full of hatred for a time of the year he dislikes, but I see it as a deep sign of affection. Each card is silk-screened in a very limited edition, numbered and signed by the author, who then will buy stamps to send it to you by regular mail or personally bring it to you. This means he spends a good amount of time inventing his greetings and he only gives them to the dear ones. When I get it, I know he cares for me and he probably lost some sleep just to make me smile: isn’t this the real meaning of Christmas?
Illustrations Stefano Babini