Recap #200: Jingle Belle: Grounded by Paul Dini and Stephanie Gladden

Title: Jingle Belle – Grounded

Writer: Paul Dini

Line Art and Cover: Stephanie Gladden

Colors: Felix Serrano

Letterer: Troy Peteri

Editor: Rob Levin

Summary: A fan favorite holiday character returns! When Jing again breaks her parents rules, she is forced to spend Christmas Eve GROUNDED. But when Santa is also caught in a lie, he has to share the same punishment! Neither father nor daughter can leave the North Pole until they apologize, and with the contentious Kringles not speaking to each other, Christmas is doomed!

Initial Thoughts

Last year I reviewed the “Santa Claus Vs Frankenstein” Jingle Belle one shot, and I promised to follow up by doing the Krampus story this year.

For those who don’t recall, Jingle Belle is Santa’s incorrigible teenage daughter (technically 151, which comes out to 16 in elf years). Jing often gets into a lot of ridiculous misadventures and finds herself put on the Naughty List, much to her father’s eternal frustration. Along for the ride is Jing’s best friend and fellow holiday icon Polly Green, the official Witch of Halloween.

Now last year, Wing got a bit peeved by how the complaints on the Santa Claus myth were brought up by a strawman political character whose arguments turned out to be part of a ploy to go after Santa because he’s an easy target. Well Wing, if you were disappointed over the resolution in last year’s comic, I’m certain you’ll be rather fond of what happens this time.

[Wing: Recap #200! It’s been a great time. Thank you all for reading and commenting and recapping. I love this snarky little book club.]


We look back to a simpler time. A time of holly wreathes and candles in windows. A time when Christmas meant something. A time when Christmas meant…



Yes it was a time when children had the naughtiness scared straight outta them thanks to the tag team of dear old Peter Krampus and Saint Nicholas. With a well utilized switch in hand and a threat of dragging misbehaving brats to the fiery inferno, it was the kind of Christmas one never forgets.

[Wing: Was there a legend about Krampus eating naughty children? Because I prefer a violent, bloody Krampus myself, but I don’t know if that’s a more modern horror movie take.]

Krampus, in his dank, fetid lair, bitterly reminisces on the work he used to do with Santa Claus (the type of work parents weren’t afraid to show their appreciation for, if you know what I mean). But now it doesn’t matter how kids behave; they’ll get whatever the want. All that style and panache Krampus developed in scaring kids straight, it means nothing now! Krampus rants about how Santa’s gone as soft as his gut, asking if he even dishes out coal anymore.

Which brings us to Krampus’s guest, Polly Green, the official witch of Halloween. [Wing: …how do you get that role? Asking for a friend. (The friend is me.)] Polly’s visited Krampus with a message from the North Pole. She explains none of Santa’s elves wanted anything to do with Krampus and were too terrified to deliver the letter. Not her, though. Polly admits she’s a really big fan of Krampus’s whole shtick. Fear, terror, traumatizing the helpless, she’s into that horror shit. Krampus offers to give her an autographed switch, but is overjoyed when he reads the message. It seems Jingle Belle finally did something to drive her old man off the deep end, and they need Krampus’s help!

Krampus grabs Polly and demands she fly them on her broom to the North Pole. Polly is all too happy to oblige.

At least Polly’s getting something out of this

Back at Santa’s castle/workshop in the North Pole, he and Jing are in a heated argument. The two are volleying insults back and forth, with Jing’s mom, Queen Mirabelle, caught in the middle. Jing and her dad are accusing each other of lying, and Mirabelle’s finally had enough. Husband and daughter turn to her for support when Polly bursts through the window, Krampus in tow. He’s rather amused by all the arguing.

Opinions on Krampus’s appearance are divided, to say the least.

Well, it’s good to show commitment

Santa calmly asks Krampus leave while he and Jing settle their business, to which Mirabelle states SHE summoned him. She’s sick of the constant arguing and has no idea what the hell happened between Jing and Santa. Mirabelle figured if anyone could impartially figure out who’s to blame and dole out a fair punishment, it’s Peter Krampus. I will say this, I can appreciate Mirabelle doesn’t automatically side with her husband. Krampus applauds Mirabelle’s intellect before reminding the Clauses he is indeed harsh but fair…

And he DEFINITELY knows to how apply punishment on a curve.

Santa goes first with his side, saying this is all Jing’s fault.


It was crunch time at the North Pole once Halloween was over, which means production needed to finish the rest of the toy orders before Christmas. Surprisingly, Jing was doing her best to pick up the slack. Santa was happy to see her finally taking the family business seriously as she went around helping elves who had too much work on their plates, dropping off snacks and meals to those who needed them, and raising workplace morale to record levels. Santa assumed this was Jing turning over a new leaf, she seemed to be doing everything at once!

Santa feared she was running herself ragged. Jing assured her dad she could handle it as he worried she might blow a fuse…

Where’s the fucking Duracell Rabbit when you need him?

He just wasn’t expecting her to take him literally.

Realizing Jing had run off and left a robot doll in her stead, Santa was outraged. She blew off all her obligations and was loafing about on a beach in South Padre, Texas, with her friend Sheriff Ida Red. Jing told Ida how she had her dad wrapped around her finger just as he hoisted her up into his sleigh and dragged her back to the North Pole.

Santa finishes by stating how Jing selfishly betrayed her family by disappearing on them, almost ruined Christmas by holding everything up, and broke her dear father’s heart.

Jing has had enough of her dad’s bullshit, and angrily tells Krampus her side and why she left in the first place.


Way back in February, Santa was preparing for the annual toy makers expo in New York, when all the big shot toy companies try to get his input on the next hottest toy for the holiday season. Jing felt inspired and came up with a doll of her own, figuring her father could present it at the expo. Alas, while her dad was pleased Jing took some initiative in the family trade for once, he was not very fond of the “Tina ‘Tude” doll.

If I’d had a doll like this when I was a kid, it would’ve changed EVERYTHING

Santa told Jing they would discuss more appropriate ideas when he came back, but Jing didn’t give up. She snuck the Tina ‘Tude doll in her dad’s briefcase when he wasn’t looking, and it popped out for all to see at the big toy meeting. All the toy bigwigs loved Tina ‘Tude, but that didn’t change Santa’s opinion of the doll. Nevertheless, he had a crowdpleaser on his hands, so…

Jing heard nothing back from her dad about the toy expo and simply assumed Tina ‘Tude was another failed idea on her part. Life went on, until that fateful day in October. While trying to put away some old toy train pieces, Jing stumbled upon a warehouse section labeled “Authorized entry only.” What was inside?


Heartbroken and driven to tears, Jing decided to leave. Not just leave, mind you. She felt if her parents only wanted a happy, smiling doll who did whatever they wanted with no complaint, then that’s what they’d get. Constructing her robot double, Jing bitterly mused her parents were probably so thrilled by her “Attitude adjustment” they never thought to wonder what brought it on. Her bags packed, Jing hopped on a snowmobile and left the North Pole.

Santa angrily cuts in, accusing Jing of jeopardizing Christmas and scaring her parents half to death. Jing asks if that makes it okay for him to steal her ideas because of his goddamn ego, if he’s allowed to treat her like garbage.

I for one am on Jing’s side. She decides to take the family business seriously for once, and her dad steals all the credit for her idea. How is she SUPPOSED to feel when her parents have ragged on her for centuries, but the one time she does what they want Santa walks all over her. And she’s right, her parents and everyone else at the North Pole didn’t realize the real Jing had left until the robot blew a fuse.

Krampus dresses down Jing and Santa. On Jing’s side, she ran away because her feelings were hurt and didn’t care how it would affect her parents or Christmas. Jing is unapologetic, asking if Krampus can truly blame her. On Santa’s side, he was so worried about looking good in front of a bunch of executives he couldn’t be bothered to give Jing the credit she deserved. Santa, meanwhile, sheepishly admits he could’ve put her name on the box.

Krampus declares they have BOTH been rather naughty, so as punishment, neither of them are leaving the North Pole. In fact, from Christmas to New Year’s, NO ONE is leaving. Krampus snatches Polly’s broom, announcing everybody is grounded until he says otherwise. The Clauses are horrified, but Polly is loving every second of Krampus’s take charge attitude.

Oh Jesus she’s gonna fuck that goat

[Wing: On the one hand, I’m loving her thirst. On the other hand, I have deepsated hatred for the simpering, submissive woman and the Big Bad Forceful Alpha Male trope, so.]

Santa attempts to plead with Krampus since all the kids are expecting him. Krampus bluntly reminds Santa he hasn’t been a part of Christmas for centuries, then joyously muses how great it’ll be for the whole family to spend the holiday together again.

Jing sarcastically thanks her mom for setting this up while Mirabelle states she hoped Krampus’s presence alone would’ve been enough for Jing and her dad to make up. She didn’t expect THIS. Mirabelle ponders that maybe Krampus will lift his judgment if the two approach him and apologize, but Jing is not giving her dad the satisfaction and vice versa.

In Jing’s room, Polly states she’d fly Jing out of here if she could, but Jing’s hoping to rely on the secret tunnel in her room. Unfortunately, Krampus beat her to it, and unveils Santa tried to snorkle out of the North Pole. [Wing: Okay, legit laugh out loud there.] Santa tries once more to plead with his old partner in crime, but Krampus ain’t having none of that. Especially after the way Santa treated him…

Back in the workshop, Krampus is doing some target practice using Tina ‘Tude dolls when Polly comes in with refreshments. Polly comments she heard a note of wistfulness in his sneering at Santa, but Krampus claims nothing of the sort. He does, however, get melancholic as he recalls when everything changed between the two. It was back when Jing had been born, and Krampus feared her arrival was gonna muck everything up. Nevertheless, Krampus tried to be a good sport and even offered Santa a fine switch.

You know the old saying, “Spare the switch, and your daughter’s a-”

Santa hastily declared they wouldn’t be needing THAT. In fact, he had a little talk with Krampus about how they’d need to readjust their business model. Since becoming a dad, Santa was uncomfortable with scaring kids into being good. He was giving Krampus the brush off!

Krampus adds Santa tried to make it sound like he wasn’t firing him, making him a consultant on monster toys at half-pay, company stock, etc. While, Santa was promptly told where to stick it. Krampus sadly muses, even though he’d never admit it to Jing’s face, he understands where she’s coming from in terms of being pushed aside…

At which point Polly triumphantly declares she knew Krampus was on “Her” side. GASP! It was Jing the whole time, disguised by Polly’s magic! Krampus is pissed and threatens to blister both their hides. Polly, of course, is SUPER eager to take him up on that offer.

Polly Green, the official Witch of Halloween and a proud furry

Jing reasons they all know who Krampus would really like to smite, and proposes a plan…

Come Christmas Eve, Krampus offers a plea bargain. If Jing and Santa apologize (plus five smites on the behind) he’ll lift the travel ban on the North Pole. Santa hesitates, but Jing decides to be the bigger person and apologizes to her dad for running away. Santa apologizes for not giving her the credit for Tina ‘Tude. Krampus proceeds to give Jing five little smites, so Santa’s not so worried.

Mirabelle asks if Jing’s hurt, and she insists she’s simply fine-fine-fine-fine-fine-fine

And that’s when Krampus picked up the Christmas tree.

Guess you could say Santa’s the… butt of the joke

Final Thoughts

Polly’s massive Krampus lust gives me life, and I’m certain Wing enjoyed that ending a lot.

Here’s to a great holiday season you guys, and more recaps to come this month for moi!

[Wing: That last panel also made me laugh out loud. This was pretty great. I am here for Polly and Jingle adventures.]