Published November 30th, 2016
Orindan Pens Dark Holiday Humor
By Sophie Braccini
Sean Murphy evokes some scary holiday fun with his new book, shown here with it at Orinda Books. Photo Sophie Braccini
"An Undead Night Before Christmas" is a delightful, frightfully funny comic book created by young Orinda author and illustrator Sean David Murphy.
"Twas the night before Christmas, though night would soon fall, not a creature was stirring in the old castle hall..." Sean David Murphy's spin on Clement Clarke Moore's poem does start with some familiar words, but soon, the quaint feel of an English cottage slides into the frightening cold of a Transylvanian winter that has not had a Santa visit in many centuries. But old St. Nick feels brave this year, and he doesn't want to postpone his visit to the forsaken land. Will Santa survive the ordeal, or will he and his reindeers become the Christmas feast for the undead of Transylvania?
Murphy explains that every year, his family meets family friends, the Downs, and that is has become a custom to read a different version of Moore's 19th century classic tale. "Variations have been written for different regions," says the author, "but nothing had been done yet for Transylvania. I had to do something!" Humor and good cheer is what gets these two families together, and humor is something that Murphy has in an abundance.
Murphy created with his drawings a very cool atmosphere for the album. Most of the drawings are in black, white and grey shades, with the powerful red of Santa matching the red eyes of the undead piercing the night. This simple color contrast immediately creates a frightful feeling, though the very primary color red is a reminder that this is all a joke.
The young author, who says that he wants to orient his career toward animation, gives good example here of how drawing can create movement. The first pages are still, to establish the atmosphere of the tale, but as the action unfolds Murphy drew pages where readers get the feeling of the characters moving, faster and faster.
It is obvious that the young man is attracted to the fantastic and mythical world, and that he had a lot of fun drawing his undead monsters.
The text itself rhymes nicely, and the story itself progresses a little bit predictably, but all in good fun. This album is perfect for any tween or teen with a sense of humor and an attraction for what's a bit out of the ordinary. Don't worry, parents! Santa will survive in the end.
The author of the book self-published his work on Amazon and it can be purchased locally at Orinda Books.
Murphy was raised in Orinda and still lives there. He graduated from U.C. Santa Cruz with a degree in environmental studies but decided that his passion was in illustration and animation. For more information visit

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