The naughty and Nice of Christmas-themed comics (part 2)

Stepping away from the playful feel of Broderick’s comics and into a heavier subject is Elle Kelsheimer’s comic, “The Christmas Truce.” This comic is a historical drama piece, telling a story from WW1 about a large, but unofficial ceasefire on the Western Front that took place around Christmas time in 1914. German and British soldiers were said to have crossed enemy lines to talk in the spirit of the season.

One of the main characters (unnamed so far) is unsure about his future, having been drafted against his will.
One of the main characters (unnamed so far) is unsure about his future, having been drafted against his will.

Kelsheimer attests to being a fan of history, and attributes both the song “Christmas in the Trenches” by Seamus Kennedy and her love of history in general as inspiration for her work. “I think it’s such a nice story from history,” says Kelsheimer. “People will tell you that when you strip all the niceties off of people and all the conveniences of society, then they’ll just turn into animals and turn on each other – but here’s actual evidence from history saying that that’s not true and people can come together.”

As for the visual aspect of the story, through actually seeing the characters’ faces, Kelsheimer (both writer and artist) says that the story plays out on a more emotional level and connects the reader to the event. “This story in particular was one that’s been told many times in a way

The second main character (also unnamed) looks forward to his future on the front.
The second main character (also unnamed) looks forward to his future on the front.

that’s sterile – without any sort of personal experience to it,” Kelsheimer explained. “I think that because it was such a great occurrence for the people there – they made a really personal decision to cross those lines and to risk their lives, to recognize one another as humans – comics is a great medium for that because of that bridging of empathy.”

While the story may not necessarily be driven by Christmas, the message of goodwill towards men radiates through the narrative and is completely intentional. “I definitely wanted to raise awareness of the event because it was just a beautiful story, but on the same hand I also wanted to encourage people to be more humanistic and to recognize other people, even if they’re different, as individual humans with hopes, and dreams, and families,” said Kelsheimer, making note of the hardships the soldiers went through at the time. “It’s just a situation that you would think would just take all the sympathy humanity and feeling out of you but it doesn’t have to.”

Kelsheimer’s work is only fully available on the “The Christmas Truce” website, but she also posts news of updates on her Tumblr and the comics Facebook page.

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