12.24.16
John Foster | Accidental Mysteries

A Krampus Christmas

As if children in the old days did not have enough to be scared of: disease, war, and even survival (I used to be scared of a monster hiding under my bed), the myth of Krampus may win the award for scariest.

At the close of the nineteenth century and the early years of the twentieth, children in Eastern Europe had deal with Krampus, a cloven-hooved, horned, furry creature with red eyes—the polar opposite of St. Nicholas—created by adults to scare the pure living hell out of wayward kids. Did I mention he had a long red tongue?

While ol’ St. Nick gave toys to all the good little boys and girls, Krampus brought switches and lumps of coal to mildly naughty kids. If you were really bad, you would go to bed on December 24th with the thought of Krampus showing up at the foot of your bed, ready to chain you to his wheelbarrow for a night of torture. Krampus was a bad, bad dude. After more than a hundred years, the creepy character of Krampus has finally made the transition from Europe to America.

The collection you see here was assembled by illustrator Monte Beauchamp, founder of BLAB!  magazine. Beauchamp has been collecting vintage Krampus postcards for over a decade and is actually the person responsible for bringing awareness of this creepy mythology to the United States, when in 2000 he first published an article on Krampus in issue #11 of BLAB! The feature proved so popular he ran a follow up in issue #12 the following year. After that he published a book (with Fantagraphics) on the character—The Devil in Design: The Krampus Postcards. It wasn’t long after that that Beauchamp began getting requests from TV shows such as The Supernatural, Anthony Bourdain—No Reservations, and NCIS to license imagery for their shows. 

Beauchamp’s second, newly improved book Krampus! The Devil of Christmas is out now, published by Last Gasp Publishing, and includes an introduction, a historical survey of the character, and over 180 lavish pre-World War I Krampus postcards, a few of which are below.

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Greetings from Krampus © 2015 Monte Beauchamp


Greetings from Krampus © 2015 Monte Beauchamp


Greetings from Krampus © 2015 Monte Beauchamp


Greetings from Krampus © 2015 Monte Beauchamp



Greetings from Krampus © 2015 Monte Beauchamp 



 



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