Creativity Magazine

Call Out The Magi Air Force!!

By Mrstrongest @mrstrongarm

If you’re a lucky freelancer (like me), you pick up some lovely clients.

If you’re really lucky (like me), some of those clients become friends.

And if you’re really, really lucky (like me), you meet somebody like Eric Meisfjord.

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I’ve known Eric for almost 20 years, and he’s given me some of my most enjoyable assignments. But here’s the thing: at some point we discovered we’re in sync to an almost alarming degree.

This includes heavy stuff like faith and philosophy (yes, even a shallow person like me thinks above his station occasionally), and stupid stuff like pop culture: music, movies, and the most arcane trivia you can imagine. Every time I hit Eric with an obscure lyric and line of dialogue, he’s been there before me.

But here’s the truly frightening part: we have the same sense of humor. On the plus side, we know how to make each other laugh.

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Which brings me– finally– to the subject of this post.

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For many years Eric asked me to do a Christmas cover for the Inland Register, published by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Spokane. A couple of my favorites referenced the selfie craze and St. Francis. One year I stuck a manger scene under a Spokane bridge.

But my favorite part of these assignments was thinking up the cover concepts and doing the rough sketches. That’s because when I sent Eric my 5 or 6 ideas, I’d always include a ringer: an idea so wild and crazy, I knew he could never use it.

Why include it? Just to make him laugh. And because we have the same sense of humor, I knew he’d be tempted to use it, at least for a nanosecond or two.

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The craziest Christmas cover idea I ever had involved King Kong stealing the Baby Jesus out of  a creche. Instead of climbing the Empire State Building and being shot down by Navy pilots, he climbs a giant Christmas tree and gets attacked by The Magi flying planes modeled on the Curtiss Helldivers seen in the original King Kong movie (1933).

Needless to say, this idea was never used. I saved the rough, however, and recently decided to clean it up and color it. Here’s the result:

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Call Out The Magi Air Force!!

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I need to say one thing before I go on: every year, Christmas creches get vandalized. The Baby Jesus and other manger scene figures are damaged or stolen. There’s no excuse for
it, and it makes me very angry.

I feel the same way about any religious symbols being vandalized. There are many faith traditions in the world– Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindi, and many more. They all have symbols and icons, and they need to be respected. We need to speak out on each other’s behalf whenever anyone desecrates religious symbols. 

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I’m a lifelong, practicing Catholic– so aren’t I contradicting myself here, with King Kong stealing the Baby Jesus? Perhaps I am, in a strict sense. But I also think we need to laugh at ourselves.

G.K. Chesterton famously said that Angels can fly because they can take themselves lightly.” Kong ripping off a manger scene? The Magi as fighter pilots?? It’s all absurdist, mad nonsense– and somehow, I think that makes it OK.

(I also think God has a very pronounced sense of humor– why else would He have created me??)

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Here’s a detail image:

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Call Out The Magi Air Force!!

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And another.
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Call Out The Magi Air Force!!

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“Kong” wasn’t the first crazy, never-used Christmas cover rough I decided to color. That “honor” goes to one I call “Manger Jazz,” which is loosely based on the legend that animals can talk at midnight on Christmas Eve. I just extended that a bit, to the idea that the animals in the stable at Bethlehem played a little jazz that first Christmas.

I used the illustration to make my first video several years ago. Interesting aside to social media marketers: you can make a video using a single illustration.

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Here it is, hope you enjoy it. And Merry Christmas from me and my faith tradition to you and yours!!  : )

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