Oh, Christmas tree

I enter the living room and sniff. Some seasonal bouquet is in the air. A combination of cinnamon, clove and…other smelly stuff that marks the season. Sorry, I am not a parfumier despite having a nose prominent enough for the job. I amusingly begin to sing It’s beginning to smell a lot like christmas with croonerish glee. Unfortunately I am only amusing myself as I receive a tolerant glare from Phil.

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a joke only becomes funnier the more often it is repeated. Henceforth everytime the candle is lit I will break into song. Phil will be delighted. She just won’t show it.

If there’s one iron law of Christmas in our house it’s that we must have a real Christmas tree. I know they are considered wonderfully evocative of the season with their cheery green branches, the way they transport all manner of wild local fauna into the comfort of your front room and how they hold the authentic smell of fox pee that will linger indoors until April. Is Christmas truly Christmas without the smell of fox urine being gently heated by safety certificate-free fairy lights? Do Yankee Candle do a fragrance of that along with charred pigs in blankets and wet reindeer?

Christmas trees would be much improved if they didn’t shed their needles the millisecond they are dragged through the front door. The moment I slice open the netting the branches fling their green darts through the air like a mutant porcupine from TMNT. They fly in a wide arc across the room, bouncing off the walls and raining down from the ceiling. The time consuming chore of sweeping them from under the tree and plucking them from the soft fleshy part of ones instep is made so much easier when you have someone to do it for you. Fortunately for my family they have a sucker who takes on this task. Unfortunately for me, it’s me.

Call me a grinch but I would be much happier with something small and plastic that you can balance on top of the telly. If it comes with lights you can plug in, dances and also plays a grating approximation of Silent Night then so much the better.

The other tradition we faithfully observe every Christmas is watching Olive the other Reindeer. It has the upside of being short and sweet, sporting unique J. Otto design, some catchy tunes, Michael Stipe as a bitter reindeer and the downside of Drew Barrymore singing. If I can get a fake Christmas tree with her yodeling Silent Night then my holiday dreams will have come true.

One tradition we won’t be following this year is spending it with my parents. Because of the various things happening it was looking less and less likely that we would be able to go see them. I was dreading having to make the call and inform them we wouldn’t be making the trip north, certain they would be heartbroken. On the day the new restrictions were announced they called and told me they didn’t expect us to come. I was relieved and then suspicious. They sounded positively delighted at the prospect. There was then talk of sending a cheque. I don’t know if that was for presents or a bribe to make sure we don’t rock up on Christmas day expecting to be fed.

Some traditions may change in this plague year but some are immutable. Covid has shaken us free of old habits but not the most important one. We will have a real christmas tree, it will shed like billy-o and I will clean up after it.

Somewhat belatedly The Book Tour has now arrived in comic shops in the UK. Hoo-frickin’-ray. After boring myself (and you) silly repeatedly saying that the book is out, it is now out in my native country. There are no more excuses. Walk, nay run to pick up your copy and hold it close and never let it go. Okay, not that close. And do let it go when going to the toilet. But only then.

If you enjoyed it please consider leaving a review full of effusive praise at the online booksellers or mentioning it on ye socials. Word of mouth works wonders and is music to the ears of readers, marketing departments and editors.

If you didn’t enjoy it let us never speak of it again.

Page 45 (with a signed bookplate), OK Comics and Gosh have copies. Also try Bookshop.org and Hive.

It’s available online, Kindle and comixology

I also have a A3 giclee poster/comics/hardbacks/a box at my store.

A page-turning, Kafkaesque dark comedy in brilliant retro style, this graphic novel watches one man try to keep it together while everything falls apart.

★ ★ ★ Official Selection of the Angoulême International Comics Festival ★ ★ ★

"A darkly humorous read." — Booklist

"Watson neatly balances moody atmosphere and light comedy... [a] deadpan funny riff on artistic insecurities." — Publishers Weekly

"Andi Watson's retro line and daring dialogue make this graphic novel a British delight." — Le Monde

"Watson’s adeptness at capturing body language and facial expressions combines with nuanced dialog and a keen sense of irony to create a hugely entertaining page-turner." —Library Journal (starred review)

"A darkly humorous read." — Booklist
"Packed with black humor. We were carried away by the tempo of the drawing." — RTL
"A real treat. Between Ionesco and Beckett." — France Inter
"Black comedy, delicious and scathing." — Télérama
"A little surrealist gem." — Comixtrip
"Andi Watson embarks the reader on an adventure that mixes absurdity and dark humor. It almost feels like a new Raymond Carver." — Franceinfo
"A fascinating maze in which we lose our bearings." — Les Inrocks
"A little masterpiece of tongue-in-cheek humor." — dBD
"Whatever the anxieties that led to the genesis of this book, they have allowed a beautiful exorcism... funny and chilling." — Trois Couleurs
"Andi Watson gives The Book Tour the best of his art." — Livres Hebdo
"Brilliant... a Kafka-like tale that immediately proves captivating." — aVoir aLire
"A clean line that gives full measure to a Kafkaesque atmosphere." — Canal BD
"Andi Watson delivers an offbeat graphic novel, with absurd dialogue recalling Monty Python." — Let's Motiv
"Delicious suspense that bathes in the absurd." — BoDoï
"A fantastic and breathtaking story." — RTBF

Altogether now, it’s beginning to smell a lot like Christmas


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