Recap #206: Scary Godmother: Holiday Spooktakular by Jill Thompson
Title: Scary Godmother in “The Search For Mister Boogeylegs”
Writer/Artist: Jill Thompson
Last year I did a review of Jill Thompson’s “Dead Boys Detectives” manga from Vertigo, and decided to follow up with another work by the greatest comic creator of all time (Scott Snyder, eat your fucking heart out). Originally I planned to finish this last year but there simply wasn’t enough time.
I’ve been hyping up Scary Godmother for a while now in some of my other posts, so I figured now was the time to finally do a proper recap to share the magnificence of these stories with y’all.
[Wing: That cover is so much fun.]
But first, before we get into all that, let’s take a look at our intrepid cast.
- Hannah Marie, a young girl who used to be scared of a lot of things, until the fateful Halloween when she met…
- Scary Godmother: Half witch, half fairy godmother, all around fun, Scary Godmother’s the ambassador of all things spooky and creepy and awesome.
- Skully Pettibone: S.G.’s first broomate, the resident skeleton in the closet, snarky, sweet, with a killer fashion sense.
- Bug-A-Boo: S.G.’s other broomate, a professional monster under the bed.
- The Boozle: S.G.’s ghost cat.
- Count Max, Countess Ruby, and their son Orson: The vampire king, queen, and prince of the night. Max and Ruby are madly in love with each other despite their contrasting personalities (Max is old school, Ruby’s a modern gal). Orson often gets embarrassed whenever his parents decide to “Neck” in public, and is best friends with Hannah.
- Harry the Werewolf: An unemployed wolf man with a big ego and an even bigger appetite, Harry spends most of his free time obsessing over “The Spectral Six” skelevision show when not eating his mother out of cave and home. [Wing: Harry. the. Werewolf. Harry the Slacker Werewolf at that. I love it.]
- Madame Irene LeGevaudan: Professional fortune teller and Harry’s put upon mother, constantly wishing he’d get a job and do something with his life. Although secretly she likes doing mom things, but hates that Harry doesn’t appreciate all she does for him. [Wing: Harry the Werewolf is really Harry the Werewolf LeGevaudan. Oh my god, author, I love the hell out of you. A+ reference.]
All I have to say is thank God I was able to find scans online or this recap was never gonna happen.
Wing, there are a couple of spider references.
[Wing: I always appreciate your warnings.]
One evening in the Fright Side, Hannah Marie was shocked to see it was snowing outside Scary Godmother’s house.
Hannah assumed the Fright Side was Halloweeny and scary all year around, and doesn’t get how winter counts as scary. S.G. and Skully decide to enlighten Hannah on all the things that make winter nice and scary, like how on winter afternoons the shadows lengthen and creep on you…
Like how the crisp air carries the sound of crunching footsteps in the snow even though you turn around and no one’s there…
Or how the icy branches rattle like bones, and the wind cries through the bare trees and goes SCREEEEEEEEEEE
Oops, looks like S.G.’s got some guests.
S.G. officially invites the vampires in (as per vampire tradition) and offers to get the I.V. set up for some hot drinks. Ruby and Max thank her, but already had a “Quick bite” down in the village and were dropping off invitations for their Solstice Ball. S.G. and Skully look forward to some fancy dress-up.
Orson declares he loves Solstice because it’s the one night he can stay up longer than any other night in the year. Hannah mentions she has to get to bed super early on Christmas Eve, but Orson doesn’t know what Christmas is. But it’s cool, cuz Hannah doesn’t know what Solstice is and they decide to check out S.G.’s library. The two try to race each other and Hannah hops on top of Bug-A-Boo as a shortcut since Orson can fly. Don’t worry, she promises a snack for the hard-working monster as thanks.
Turns out the two holidays are nearly identical, and there are other holidays in December like Hanukkah and Kwanzaa. Only the similarities end when Hannah brings up Santa Claus. Orson assumes she’s talking about someone named Mister Boogeylegs. Much like Santa leaves presents on Christmas Eve, Mister Boogeylegs leaves presents on Solstice. Instead of getting cookies and milk, Mister Boogeylegs is given coal for his fire.
[Wing: I’m pretty hardcore on Boogeylegs’ side at this point.]
The kids begin to argue over their confusion on the holiday icons. However, Hannah’s attention is briefly diverted when she realizes how much snow has already fallen outside S.G.’s home. She sees this as an opportunity to earn some money to buy presents. Orson doesn’t get why they’d need money for presents as Hannah explains it’s so they can buy their parents what they’d really like for the holiday, like a new car or TV.
Hannah tells Orson all about how Santa always brings her exactly what she asks for, yet her parents somehow keep getting new socks and clothes. Yuck! One night she witnessed her parents watching a show about what celebrities get for Christmas. Hannah heard her mom and dad gush about how much they’d love a new Humvee with a home theater and DVD in the backseat. She wants to buy these for her parents, even as Orson tells her Mister Boogeylegs can do that for her. Orson, unfortunately, has forgotten Hannah doesn’t live on the Fright Side, and since Mister Boogeylegs only delivers gifts ON the Fright Side, well, there’s the conundrum.
Orson informs his parents that he and Hannah are now official Fright Side Snow Removal Experts (trademark pending) and offer very reasonable rates. Max is aghast at the idea of his son behaving like a common laborer. Ruby is much more supportive at how resourceful her son is being and says he can shovel their driveway. She then asks Max to help deliver those invites… which is ITSELF an act of labor.
But don’t tell Max.
Meanwhile at LeGevaudan cave, Irene’s ecstatic she received her invite for the Solstice Ball. Harry asks she not “Embarrass” him by wearing her “Folksy” velvet shawl and the skirt with the ruffles. Irene decides they need to get Harry over to the “Husky” department for new clothes because, after all, he’ll want to look his best when he meets all the celebrities at the party.
Harry is all aflutter thinking of the possibility of meeting the stars of “The Spectral Six” when Irene brings his lunch down to his room in the basement… and is immediately horrified by what a complete and utter mess it is. That’s it! No party for a certain young werewolf until his room is clean!
[Wing: He’s wearing pajamas with sheep on them. I love everything about this.]
Before Hannah goes to sleep back in the human realm, Bug-A-Boo shows up under her bed reminding her he was promised a snack.
So now it’s time for TREATS! With your co-hosts Hannah and Bug-A-Boo. Today’s dish? Swedish Spiders.
The next evening Hannah heads back to the Fright Side with shovels and a wagon so she and Orson can earn dem green moneys. The wagon’s to carry around all their loot. Hannah kind of worries when she realizes how big the “Driveway” is for Orson’s place, since it’s a castle and all that. She then gets another genius idea by tying her shovel to the front of the sled and turning it into a mini snowplow!
Hannah and Orson scream in delight all the way down the hill, before getting thrown into a small snowdrift right in front of Harry’s mom’s caravan. Irene asks if the kids are okay and wonders what their bizarre contraption is. The kids explain they’ve started their own business to earn money. Irene is shocked and delighted by what hard-working, enterprising children Hannah and Orson are and wishes Harry was more like them. The kids offer to shovel the snow in front of Irene’s cave.
Meanwhile, Harry’s grumbling about how the only cookies in the cave are peanut-butter when his mom KNOWS he prefers double chocolate-chip. As he tries to think of a way to go to the Solstice party without actually DOING what his mom wants, he overhears the kids shoveling. Harry demands peace and quiet for his “Serious cerebral exercises” before he finds out what the kids are up to. At which point he sweetly invites them inside for some peanut-butter cookies so they can discuss what his mom hired them to do…
Some time later, Irene returns to find Hannah and Orson bringing boxes of junk out of the cave. Seems Harry promised them fifty bucks for cleaning his room. Irene is understandably pissed Harry manipulated the kids into doing what SHE asked HIM to do. That fifty bucks is coming out of your allowance, mister! [Wing: I mean, he did hire them, so I assume he’s paying them. And you just want the work done, woman. Him hiring them is pretty smart. If you want him to stop taking shortcuts, maybe don’t give him an allowance! Make him earn his own way.]
After fixing up some hot drinks for the kids (cocoa for Hannah, a blood bag for Orson) she asks why they need money so badly they’d willingly go into HARRY’S room. Orson excitedly explains they need money to get gifts for Hannah’s parents because Mister Boogeylegs doesn’t deliver gifts where she lives and all Hannah’s parents get are socks. Irene agrees that’s quite a predicament, but she might know something that can help.
Taking out a jar hidden beneath her kitchen sink, Irene starts talking about an old bit of magic she knows. The kids at first believe it’s double chocolate-chip cookies (much to Harry’s anger knowing his mom was hiding them). Irene laughs saying she just likes a snack while telling stories. Basically, if you’re able to find the last autumn leaf still clinging to its tree, you can pluck it and get one wish. Hannah and Orson agree that’ll do the trick and thank Irene for her help. As the kids rush to Scary Godmother’s place to start searching, they admit they’ll need all the help they can get. That’s when Irene gets an idea of her own…
Scary Godmother is entirely on board for this autumn leaf thing and proposes it’s Road Trip Time! S.G. gets the provisions together while Skully breaks out the warm clothes and Bug-A-Boo procures their ride.
The gang is officially on the lookout for the last autumn leaf when Skully and Scary Godmother notice a rather interesting roadblock. It’s Harry and Irene, with Harry holding up a sign that reads “Mister Boogeylegs or Bust! Free Guide Dog.” Harry grumbles about the indignities heaped upon him before Irene threatens to hook him up to the sled. Seems Irene’s making him earn his invite to the Solstice Ball by ordering Harry to help find the autumn leaf. He’s apparently very good at tracking when he can be bothered to focus on something. He got a patch for it in – wait for it – Cub Scouts!
[Wing: I am dying. This book is so great.]
Harry shoves his way into the car, complaining about the space and pushing the other passengers around. Of course the minute he sees the picnic basket he’s got other things on his mind.
The road trip takes the gang all over the Fright Side searching for the last autumn leaf. And of course there are multiple rest stops because Scary Godmother’s bladder is the size of a walnut, apparently.
Meanwhile, Harry won’t shut up about how Orson keeps poking him before he finally runs out of the car.
But what luck! The tree Harry ran to has the last autumn leaf on it! Who would’ve guessed his mom was right?
Hannah climbs up and grabs the leaf, and Scary Godmother grabs Hannah just as the branch breaks. Harry ruins the good mood, positively livid this exasperating road trip (and with NO stops for Diablo Bros. Pizza) was all for a leaf?! Before Hannah can make her wish, Harry sarcastically declares he wishes HE could give this Mister Boogeylegs character a piece of his mind!
Ask and ye shall receive.
Thanks to Harry, everyone’s now at Mister Boogeylegs’ home with all the gifts he hands out on Solstice. Realizing he’s screwed, Harry pathetically wishes the big dragon “Happy Solstice.” This incenses Mister B, thinking everyone came to bum extra gifts off him. And before Solstice, too! He goes out of his way to give everyone on the Fright Side gifts, but does he ever get any visitors who’d simply like to spend time with him? No, it’s always Gimme!
Thank God someone wrote a song for the occasion.
Harry hoists Hannah into the air as a human shield, exclaiming this was all her idea and he’s just an innocent bystander. Hannah asks Mister B not to be mad with her friends since she only wanted to use the autumn leaf to wish for something for her parents. Mister B explains Harry used up her wish and Orson’s disappointed with how grumpy the holiday icon is. Scary Godmother explains Mister B is only following the rules, and happily proposes to give up her Solstice gift so Hannah’s parents will get something.
Skully, Orson, and Bug-A-Boo offer to sacrifice their own gifts (Harry tried to give up his MOM’S) so Hannah’s parents can get what they want. Mister B is moved to tears by how selfless and kind Hannah’s friends are. He whisks everyone up in a bear hug and declares Hannah’s parents will get something AND everyone can keep their gifts. He only wishes he could have friends as wonderful, too.
Mister B explains he doesn’t have time to go out and socialize. He has to keep guard on the sack of gifts he delivers every year, otherwise “Loch Och” will get them. I’m assuming he means the Loch Ness Monster. Sure, he gives them all away on Solstice but the sack refills itself with gifts the next morning. Scary Godmother points out he’ll still have the rest of Solstice once he’s done his job, so Orson invites him to the Ball! He can meet new people and socialize. And Scary Godmother and Bug-A-Boo are happy to house sit once in a while so he won’t have to worry about his gifts. Or they can just come over and have tea with Mister B.
Realizing Solstice is approaching, Mister B is able to spirit everyone back to Scary Godmother’s house with a flap of his wings. Now it’s time to get ready to party!
Once Mister B is finished with his Solstice gifts, he arrives to the shindig being held at the vampire estate. It’s practically a who’s BOO of monsters!
Mister B is having such a good time, him and Ruby are the only ones left dancing by the time the party’s over.
Come December 24th, Scary Godmother watches over his gifts while Mister B heads to Hannah’s place. On Christmas morning, Hannah is shocked and confused because her parents STILL got socks and clothes! Where’s the Humvee with the home theater?
But then Hannah looks outside and discovers Mister B did indeed deliver what her parents always wanted.
Happy Solstice, y’all! And let’s try not to think about how Christianity co-opted this holiday and mashed it up with Jesus’ birthday.
[Wing: Obviously the publishing schedule bumped this much later than the solstice, but again, it’s worth celebrating any time. And, for the Northern Hemisphere, our days are slowly getting longer. I am so glad for that.]
So how’d I do with this first Scary Godmother recap? Maybe next year I’ll review the Valentine’s Day story about Max and Ruby.
[Wing: This is one of the most adorable things I’ve ever seen. Loved the characters, loved the references, loved the art, loved the story, loved the recap. A+ work all around.]
[Wing: I mean, he did hire them, so I assume he’s paying them. And you just want the work done, woman. Him hiring them is pretty smart. If you want him to stop taking shortcuts, maybe don’t give him an allowance! Make him earn his own way.]
Well technically since Harry doesn’t have a job, the only money he gets is from his mom. She even asked HOW he was gonna pay them those fifty bucks. She actually does a better job of confronting him on this in the “Wild About Harry” miniseries.
when you say you don’t know what album that’s referencing, do you mean the drawing of bug-a-boo in the car, holding the gear shift and looking huge and kind of stylized? that’s a reference to the drawings of ed ‘big daddy’ roth.