We've looked at Rankin/Bass' best, but that doesn't mean we've seen all the best of Christmas animation yet.  Far from it.

Where to start?  Well, that's a no-brainer, isn't it?

The Peanuts gang, jazzed...

Come to think of it, there could be dissenting opinions on that view.  My best friend can't/won't watch A Charlie Brown Christmas.  The Thanksgiving show, she'll watch.  The Christmas show...not going to do it (and I should know, I tried to get her to sit through it...I failed...).

Even my dog's gone commercial...

Why?  She thinks it's too depressing.  Ok, so she has a basis for that.  Charles Schulz, by all accounts, wasn't exactly the happiest person on the planet.  Often his work reflected that.  This work most certainly did.

Good Grief!!!

One key element of the show that reflected most directly Schulz's feelings about the holiday was Linus' monologue on the Nativity.  CBS, in their infinite corporate wisdom, didn't want it included.  For some reason, introducing religious themes into a story about Christmas made them nervous.

Whatever...

Regardless, Schulz wanted it.  It was a reflection of how he felt about the season.  Ultimately, he got it.

And an angel of the Lord came unto them...

Personally, and despite the fact that I'm more of a secular celebrant of the season, I'm glad he did.  I also think the mood that my friend hates is in perfect keeping with the season.

Let's face it, the holidays are stressful.  For some, sadly, they're more stressful than they can bear.

They're also breeding grounds for greed, commercialism, cynicism, ostentatiousness, expectations which are all too often unreasonable or unrealized...do I need to go on?  Schulz, one way or another, addresses all these things...with grace, intelligence, skill...

And more than a little redemption.

Hark! The herald angels sing...

That truly is what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown...
 
 

Here's a short cartoon that's even darker in tone than A Charlie Brown Christmas.

MGM's Peace On Earth (which can frequently be seen during the season on Cartoon Network) has probably the most glorious use of colors I've seen in animation outside of the Fleischer Superman cartoons of the 1940's (although my screen capture capabilities don't reflect them here).

Stained and cracked glass

It has as cute a family of anthromorphic animals as you'll ever see.

What are men, Grandpa?

And halfway through, every human being in the piece is dead...

The end of war...and man...

Made in 1939, prior to World War II, but with a nervous world anticipating the inevitable conflict, this was a cautionary tale brilliantly crafted by Hugh Harman.  It is amazingly easy for one to be caught up initially by the charm of the animal characters.  Make no mistake, at the heart of it is terror in the anticipation of what might break out at any moment...but like Charlie Brown, tempered with the hope of redemption.
 
 

Ready for something lighter?  I know I am...and I certainly don't want to give the appearance that I'm some sort of Web-based Grinch here...hmmmm...Grinch, eh???

Christmastime in Whoville

Granted, the good Dr. Seuss crafted How The Grinch Stole Christmas from a pretty dark place.  Still, it's done with such brilliant humor that the black heart of this green Uber-Scrooge seems more mischievous than evil.

Making a reindeer

Then again, you've got Dr. Seuss, Chuck Jones, Albert Hague, Boris Karloff, June Foray and Thurl Ravenscroft all over this thing...how could it go wrong?

And the Grinch, he, himself, carved the roast beast...

(In the spirit of the season, I'll refrain from using the phrase "live-action" here...)
 
 

As I'm perusing my tape collection, I'm finding there are just too many interesting cartoons to confine to one page.  Therefore, next month, I'll be posting Part 2 on this topic, featuring short subjects and maybe one or two half-hour cartoons you might not be quite familiar with...and some you may.

To close out what is now Part 1, let's take a look at a character who well could've been actively Grinch-like in his own right...if he wasn't constantly too bloated from lasagna binges...

Garfield's Yuletide fantasy...
 
 

This time around, Garfield finds himself smackdab in the middle of an Arbuckle family Christmas...

Why don't we put the star on before we put up the tree?

Ok, maybe in a bit more than that...

Pumped at Christmastime...

Still, the holidays will out...and an unexpected gift from Odie caps a day that brings even Garfield to sentimental reflection.

A sentimental moment...
 
 

That'll be it for right now, Part 2 will be up September 25.  See you then.




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