Give a little Halloween for Christmas!
It's The Nightmare Before Christmas Manga, Available Real Soon In Deluxe Collector's Hardcover Format!
by Michelle "Ms. Geek" Klein-Hass
In the past 22 years, The Nightmare Before Christmas has been an institution as a part of both Halloween and Christmas. The animated feature, inspired by how Christmas and Halloween decorations started to coexist in stores as retailers rushed both seasons, began as a concept for a TV Christmas special by Tim Burton while he was working at Disney. Burton wrote a poem about the Pumpkin King of Halloween's interest in the idea of Christmas, and as part of the conceptual materials for the special he had Christopher Lee record the poem.
The special was never produced, and the idea languished until 1990, when Disney decided that maybe this was not a bad idea after all. Seeing the success of Burton's Beetlejuice and Batman movies, they approached him about the old idea that was still a Disney property. Burton had committed to do the sequel to Batman, Batman Returns, by then, so he suggested that dimensional animator Henry Selick take the project on, with Burton taking a more hands-off, supervisory role.
Dimensional animation, also known as stop-motion animation, was not an usual medium for Disney. Still happy about the success of Who Framed Roger Rabbit?, Disney wanted to stretch out a little technically. But when they started seeing footage from the Bay Area-based production, they again got a bit nervous. Instead of releasing Nightmare as a Disney film, they opted to release it under the more grownup-oriented Touchstone Pictures label, and backed off on fully committing to it being the flagship movie for Christmas 1993.
Just like finding a vampire teddy bear in your Christmas stocking would be quite the surprise, the success of Nightmare at the box office caught Disney flat footed. From a very narrow release to huge box office at each theatre, the film went wider and wider, gathering more and more interest. By the time Nightmare had to make way for Disney's live-action Three Musketeers movie, it was an unexpected success. And from then on, Disney had a perennial hit they reissued again and again during the period of time from October to December.
Nightmare was not just an American hit, it was a Japanese hit too. And as typical for Japan, the tie-in manga was inevitable. It was released in 2004 in Japan. The art followed the original designs by Tim Burton, and was faithful to the film. The mangaka was Jun Asuka. There was a release of the manga once in the US by Disney, but it's never looked as good in English as it will in a matter of weeks.
Like the recent releases of the Alice In Wonderland and Finding Nemo manga, TOKYOPOP will be releasing The Nightmare Before Christmas manga as a premium hardcover edition, very suitable for Holiday gifting. The official release date is 11/23, but advance orders are being taken now.
A few neat facts about The Nightmare Before Christmas:
- Jack Skellington's first onscreen appearance was actually in Beetlejuice, as the decorative finial atop Beetlejuice's carousel hat.
- Danny Elfman wrote all the songs for the film based on the concept alone, with neither the storyboard nor the script available to him during the songwriting process.
- Disney was going to do a Nightmare Before Christmas ride at Disneyland and Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom, but Tim Burton put the kibosh on the idea.
- Shooting for the film began even before the script and storyboards were finished. Since the music was ready to go, the first sequence to lens was "What's This?"
- Henry Selick redesigned Jack Skellington's suit. Originally a solid black, Selick added white pinstripes so the character would "pop" better in front of the completed sets.
- Tim Burton also refused to allow a CGI sequel to the dimensional animation of the original. He specifically did not want to see a direct-to-video, low-budget sequel.