David Dellecese is the writer and co-creator (with illustrator Andrew Cieslinski) of the comic-book series Holidaze, about a bar at which a cast of holiday and other mythical icons imbibes and unwinds. Holidaze has earned praise from fellow comic writers such as Todd Dezago and blogs including Bleeding Cool, Comic Crusaders, Panels on Pages, and Pipedream Comics. In addition to his work on Holidaze, Dellecese writes the blogs The Dorky Daddy and All-Star Comics Review. He is an award-winning print, broadcast, and online journalist and screenwriter, and his filmmaking was recognized by the mayoral proclamation that turned October 7, 2006 into “David Dellecese, Filmmaker Day” in the CIty of Utica, New York.
Two nuns and a penguin approach you at a bar, and you tell them you write comic books. When they ask you what you write about, how do you answer?
With that kind of lineup at the bar, I’d think we were already IN the comic.
But if they asked, I’d tell them I write a comic book series about what holiday and mythical icons like Santa, the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy do when they punch out at the end of the day, which usually involves commiserating over drinks at their favorite bar, Holidaze, and getting into some type of trouble.
I’d also be sure to tell them that it began as a digital comic available online and on mobile devices through Amazon Kindle or the comic service comiXology, and I’d be especially sure to tell them that we have a 142 page print collection of Holidaze hitting Amazon in…I believe, the Fall. Because I’m told that penguin has money to spend and those two nuns like to let their habits down and have a few laughs now and then.
Points is a blog primarily for drug and alcohol historians. What do you think this audience would find most interesting about your work?
Possibly the juxtaposition of such kiddie icons that we were all familiar and in awe of as children with the adult world and the struggles of work, money, friendships, insecurities, etc. And those situations and discussions are usually brought about through the central location of the bar.
What led you to write about drugs and alcohol in the first place?
Traditionally, Santa’s at the North Pole until it’s time to deliver all those toys. The Easter Bunny doesn’t come about until the Spring. But what is going on all that time in between?
A bar provided a common area to get these various characters together outside of the realm we’ve known them as children. A social atmosphere like having drinks together allows for conversation, and can at times be the catalyst for bizarre shenanigans (like the time a mysterious non-alcoholic beer turned them into beer-craving zombies in Issue #4’s “The Walking Drunk“).
Taverns, bars, pubs, whatever term you prefer, have historically been meeting places, whether it was to conduct business, plan the founding of the United States, or just swap stories, so it seemed the perfect type of locale to bring characters that otherwise have no real purpose being together into one place to interact.
How would you describe the way that drugs function in your work, whether in terms of thematic concerns or the choices you make about how to craft a story? Do you think there are things that you wouldn’t be able to explore as successfully if drugs weren’t in your writing arsenal? And what about the graphic form do you most value?
Drugs, specifically, are a non-player, except for the extremely rare background art where the Easter Bunny may have a joint or a reindeer was doing drugs off a table. And those two particular instances I’m referencing were within our first two issues. Our earlier issues were a bit seedier than our later, better-developed, character-driven stories.
As for alcohol’s involvement in crafting a story, it depends on the story, to be honest. Having a bar as your central location certainly opens the door to all kinds of social interactions between these characters. Of course, being a bar, the presence of alcohol can then lead to its own situations, be it Santa having too much to drink on Christmas Eve and passing out, leaving it to the other mythical icons at the bar to pick up the slack and carry out Christmas. Or it could be the actual “MacGuffin,” or piece that pushes the story forward, like the aforementioned story where they all turn into beer-craving zombies.
When writing the stories, it tends to often start with an idea that’s separate from the alcohol at the bar itself. If needed, the alcohol then may play a role, but often times, it’s just as the social lubricant.
I think it would be hard to tell a story of a bar without alcohol, but then, we’d probably just be telling different types of stories.
As for the graphic form, this had originally been an idea for a short film I wanted to do when I was studying film and screenwriting in college more than a dozen years ago. It never panned out, and I’m now glad for that, because I never would have been able to pull it off back then in that format. As a comic book, with Andrew’s wonderful art to accompany it, I get the chance to tell not one story like in a film, but a different story every time with the same cast. It allows for not just new ideas, but for evolution, character development, and seeing what works and what doesn’t in each story and using that to learn and adjust with each subsequent story.
What do you personally find most interesting about how drugs work in your writing, and where do you see that interest leading you in future projects?
It’s very funny, because for people creating a comic book series in a bar, both Andrew and I aren’t really drinkers. Sure, an occasional beer or glass of wine with a meal now and then, but we certainly don’t live the lives of our characters, that’s for sure.
When it comes to the future, I’d certainly like to keep telling Holidaze stories as long as I can, if just for the pure fun and enjoyment of writing these characters. For future, non-Holidaze projects, though, much of what I’m currently writing and working on outside of the comic is actually pretty tame and family-friendly by most regards.
BONUS QUESTION: Let’s hope that one of your comics gets made into a major motion picture. If you have your choice, which is it, and what song do you fantasize about hearing as the credits roll?
I totally think the cast of Holidaze could hold down their own film, but I don’t think it could be based on any one issue. We treat each issue like it’s one stand-alone episode of a sitcom. To go the route of a motion picture I think you’d need a really good, original story that could sustain itself a little longer than that. I’ve got a few ideas on what those stories could possibly be, but let’s hope one day I get the chance to put them to use. I also think it’d make a great late-night animated series if Adult Swim, Fox, or anyone out there wants to get in touch. 🙂
As for what song, well that’s easy. There would have to be a way to work the theme song from Cheers in there somewhere.