If our salute to Krampus the other day (Best Christmas Monster #2) whetted your appetite for the creepy Germanic holiday figure, let me highly recommend Krampus: The Devil of Christmas by Monte Beauchamp (Last Gasp, San Francisco: 2010)
This handsome hardbound artbook reproduces a couple hundred Krampus post cards largely from the late 1890’s to WWI in lovingly lurid color. A few pages of text set the stage for these artifacts but the real treasure is to be found in these illustrations. I use the word “treasure” specifically because opening the covers of this volume is like swinging open a lockbox that reveals wonders that had been secreted away from a different time, a different place.
Krampus is shown in all his cloven-hoof, tongue-wagging glory depicted through a wide variety of styles. For those of us who have grown a bit tired of the smooth vector graphics of contemporary design, these portraits are a revelation. In the least, they provide a potent antidote for Currier and Ives. Some are playful and some are quite horrific. My buddy Igor exclaimed “I’m going to have nightmares to night!’ after perusing the volume. It didn’t keep him from examining every page, however.
The perspective on the Yuletide season shown in these pictures is also alluringly alien to the sanitized Protestant Christmas I was raised to know. Beauchamp accounts for the North American “jollification” of St. Nick in his introductory notes. The volume is complete with a small bibliography of more Krampus-related works.
As a work definitely not intended for children of any age, we recommend again, Krampus: The Devil of Christmas.