Tim Burton's
The Nightmare Before Christmas

by Jun Asuga
(Disney, 2005)

The Nightmare Before Christmas was only moderately successful in its initial theatre release, but has since developed a cult following. A devoted fandom has inspired production of endless models, costumes, nightlights, snacks and ornaments. In all the merchandising extravaganza, even a manga managed to slip in and across the translation border.

Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas is a comic version of the movie. The story still follows Jack, the skeletal mayor of Halloween Town, as he attempts to enliven his job by usurping the duties of Sandy Claws (Santa to most people). Dialogue is sometimes slightly altered for brevity, but no new plot or characterization is offered; this is the same story, but now in greytones and static images.

Of course, the plot was never the main draw of Burton's stop motion work, not with skeletal reindeer and dancing scarecrows on display. Jun Asuga's art does an admirable job of echoing Burton's eclectic character and set designs without access to color or movement. Her constant use of greytones and the softness of her linework lend the story a soft quality not present in the sleek lines and sharp solid angles of the movie, but it fits the cheerfully frightening denizens of Halloween Town.

Pretty as it is, Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas doesn't add anything to the film. The grey-toned artwork can't compete with Burton's original garish reds and sickly greens. The dialogue, robbed of music and poetry, can't be saved even by Asuga's lively text balloons. Without elaborating on the original or offering a distinctive interpretation, Disney's manga production of Tim Burton's The Nightmare Before Christmas won't interest any but the most die-hard fans.

- Rambles
written by Sarah Meador
published 12 November 2005