Book Review - Mister Sam Shearon's Creepy Christmas Coloring Book)- What Do You Really Know About Christmas?

 

 

Mister-Sam Shearon's Creepy Christmas Coloring book

A new rave has taken over bookshelves—that of adult coloring books. Some reportedly relieve stress and others entertain and educate. Mister Sam Shearon's Creepy Christmas Coloring Book will not only entertain but startle and shock you. It might even give you a new perspective on the holiday season.

 

"As a boy, I always loved Christmas and I wanted to learn more about its history."  This British mythologist and artist who grew up outside a reportedly haunted forest isolated Victorian town had always been fascinated by legends, lore, and the darkness of the supernatural.  (The forest area was often where criminals were hung.)

 

In fact, until the age of ten, Sam suffered from nightmares, convinced that the criminals hung in those woods were coming after him.  "Often my screams would bring mum into my room. One particular night she must have seen something because she dragged me out of the bedroom. I think she saw something but to this day, she never told me. Shortly after, we relocated to another forest town.  My fears and quest for knowledge about the history of the area continued to grow, and as I researched other legends of the past I became fascinated by how things evolved."

 

Gryla and the Yule Cat - drawing by Sam Shearon

A majority of us believe that Christmas is associated with the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem. But this is not true. Neither does Santa Claus have anything to do with the celebration. “In fact, the Norse god Odin whose goat pulled chariot is a version of Santa's sled is often seen as a predecessor to Saint Nicholas. But other than delivering presents, which only started in the last two centuries and commercialized the holiday, Santa Claus had never existed before," Sam said.

 

The Christmas tree, as we know it now, was brought by Prince Albert from pagan Germanic roots to England when he married Queen Victoria. Dressing the tree was an additional custom. Many of the true holiday myths—taken from the pagans and adopted into Christianity—stretch far back into ancient history, but now have almost lost their religious origin and the true meaning of Christmas—caring and a sense of community. 

 

"To my surprise, I found that Christmas had a dark, evil, almost cruel side. In fact, it's scarier than Halloween. Because it started as a pagan holiday, many of the historical legends date back to Druids, Viking Icelanders, early Germans, Austrians, and Swiss.  Many of these stories involve monsters, trolls, and goat demons who lived in hidden caves. At Christmas time, parents warned their children not to wander off into the forest for fear they could be captured. Maybe these were fairy tales spun to keep the children at home—and maybe something was really there—something no one wanted to admit.

 

The Abdominal Snowman - drawing by Sam Shearon

"Some of the adult tales repeated much of the same stories. An Icelandic legend was that a Yule cat would devour you if you wore old clothes. Maybe it was to ensure that people would create new warm clothes for the winter.  But accompanying the Yule cat were a whole host of ghouls including her master, Gryla: an ogre goat lady. It was she who gave the cat the list of bad people who wore shabby clothes. They would be kidnapped to her cave, cooked, and eaten."

 

Krampus - drawing by Sam Shearon

Another well known Christmas monster is pan-like Krampus. He's considered the anti-Claus, or the dark shadow of Saint Nicholas. A former companion to Nicholas, he carried the goat bells, chains, old branches, and whips to punish those who were naughty while Nicholas brought the toys. If you were truly naughty you took the chance of being kidnapped, drowned, burned, or eaten—otherwise disappearing forever.  Sam said, "In fact, those who stumbled and became lost in the snow, it would be said that Krampus had taken them." 

 

Christmas-pagan legends change from country to country and religion to religion. Winter was a difficult time and a season of death. It became a time for banding together, a time for caring for others in your community. The values they taught helped people look at what they could give others and not just what they could get. The monsters were (possibly) created to control the public and make them behave.

 

So what is the real meaning of Christmas? Sam says to, "Remember the ones you have lost, help those alone and lonely to survive, make sure others around you are all right. Very few of us even know our neighbors anymore and ignore those we do. We just don't participate in life as we used to, or consider others." 

 

Is there any way to defeat these ghouls?  "Not really,” Sam said. “Since they belong to the magical kingdom, the only way to get around them is to be good and help others."

 

Sam Shearon

The book illustrations show some of the darker aspects associated with the (then) pagan holiday as well as poems and stories that Sam wrote to explain some of the legends. While the book is kid-friendly, it serves as an education to many. The legends are past history, but they do make interesting reading and maybe something to consider about how we actually celebrate Christmas.

 

Mister Sam Shearon, also known as ‘Mister-Sam’ is a British, Liverpool born dark-artist specializing in horror and science-fiction. Sam’s work often includes elements inspired by vintage tales of monsters and madmen, dark futures, post-apocalyptic genres, and classic literature. His artwork can be found on a variety of books and comic covers, including illustrations for the Angel series, 30 Days of Night, The X-Files, KISS, Mars Attacks, Judge Dredd, Aleister Arcane, Richard Matheson: Master of Horror and the fully illustrated H.P. Lovecraft‘s The Call of Cthulhu, Oscar Wilde‘s The Picture of Dorian Gray, and Clive Barker’s Hellraiser and the Books of Blood series.

 

drawing by Sam Shearon

Various examples of Sam’s art work can also be found in magazines such as Fortean Times and Paranormal magazine, Heavy Metal magazine, LA Weekly, and a number of British newspapers, most notably the Daily Telegraph. He has also illustrated album artwork and merchandise designs in the rock and metal music industry, with previous clients including Rammstein, Rob Zombie, and Iron Maiden. Sam is known for his work in the field of cryptozoology, most notably for compiling artist impressions from eyewitness accounts.

 

The book is available at Barnes and Noble, Amazon and Vesuvian Books.

 

What’s that I hear?  My black Siamese cats - Othello and Caesar - are commenting on my clothing.  Oh dear.  Just in case they plan to tattle on me to the Yule cat maybe I ought to go shopping now!

 

Have a great Christmas – pagan, Christian or otherwise.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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