Merry Christmas from Gwarlingo (And Monty Python’s Terry Gilliam)


A still from Terry Gilliam’s 1968 animation “The Christmas Card”


Merry Christmas!

This holiday I’m grateful to readers like yourself who have made 2012 such a fulfilling and exciting year. Thank you. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed connecting with so many of you in person, through email, social media, snail mail, and through the comments on the site.

I’ll be taking some much-needed time off over the next few days and taking a (working) holiday down in Philadelphia over New Year’s. Next weekend will be a rare break for Gwarlingo’s Sunday Poem series. I know how disappointed readers are when they don’t find the poem in their inboxes on Sunday mornings, so consider yourself forewarned! The good news: my shelves are bulging with fabulous, new poetry collections that have arrived in the mail recently, and I’m eager to showcase some of these talented, contemporary poets in 2013. Soon…

In the meantime, I have a fun, irreverent, animated Christmas card from animator and film director Terry Gilliam to share with you this Christmas Day. Gilliam was responsible for giving Monty Python’s Flying Circus its unique visual style, and he also directed a number of memorable films, including Brazil, Monty Python and the Holy GrailTime Bandits, and 12 Monkeys.


A still from Terry Gilliam’s 1968 animation “The Christmas Card”


Mike Springer at Open Culture describes the origins of this humorous piece in more detail:

In 1968, Terry Gilliam was a young American cartoonist living in London. He was having trouble making a living from magazine work, so his friend John Cleese suggested he get in touch with Humphrey Barclay, who was producing a slightly subversive television show for children called Do Not Adjust Your Set.

Subtitled “The Fairly Pointless Show,” it featured a group of previously unknown actors including Eric Idle, Michael Palin and Terry Jones, and attracted a cult following among adults. Barclay looked at Gilliam’s portfolio and decided he would fit right in. For one early assignment, Gilliam was asked to prepare something for a special show to be broadcast on Christmas day, 1968, called Do Not Adjust Your Stocking. Looking for inspiration, he decided to visit the Tate Gallery. In The Pythons Autobiography of the Pythons, Gilliam remembered the project and how it figured into his emerging artistic style:

I went down to the Tate and they’ve got a huge collection of Victorian Christmas cards so I went through the collection and photocopied things and started moving them around. So the style just developed out of that rather than any planning being involved. I never analysed the stuff, I just did it the quickest, easiest way. And I could use images I really loved.

I had never seen “The Christmas Card” before this week and was excited to unearth this little gem. If you’re a Monty Python fan, you’re going to love this satirical short.

I hope you have a relaxing holiday.

Merry Christmas!


(Can’t see the video in your email? Click here to watch it on the Gwarlingo website.)



Donate to Gwarlingo Before 2012 Ends

There’s still time to donate to the Gwarlingo Membership Drive in 2012. Instead of selling out to advertisers, I’m “selling out” to my readers instead and raising money for a Gwarlingo podcast and design improvements to the site. 70+ Gwarlingo readers have contributed so far and just over $5300 of the $15,000 goal has been raised.

The interactive Member Profiles available to donors who give $50 are more are proving to be very popular. If you haven’t donated yet, you can check out my video and all of the member rewards here on the Gwarlingo site.

A special thanks to all of the artists who made their work available for this fundraiser: Bill Jacobson, Cindy Kleine, Rachel Perry Welty, Barry Underwood, Margaret Lanzetta, Matthew Northridge, and Anna Schuleit. Check out the work they are offering here.



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By | 2016-11-11T21:52:02+00:00 12.24.12|Images|Comments Off on Merry Christmas from Gwarlingo (And Monty Python’s Terry Gilliam)

About the Author:

I’ve spent almost 20 years helping thousands of successful artists of all disciplines and working to make the arts more accessible. (One friend likes to call me “the arts enabler.”) From 1999-2012 I worked at The MacDowell Colony, the nation’s oldest artist colony, but I've also done time at an arts magazine, a library, an art museum, and a raptor rehabilitation center. In May of 2012 I left MacDowell to pursue writing, speaking, curating, and creative projects full-time. In 2015 I was named a “Top 100 Artist, Innovator, Creative” by Origin magazine. I've appeared as an arts and culture commentator on New Hampshire Public Radio, and in 2017 I was the recipient of the Wampler Art Professorship at James Madison University. I am the founder of the Gwarlingo Salon series, which connects artists like DJ Spooky with rural audiences in the Monadnock region. In 2017 my collaborator Corwin Levi and I will publish our first book, Mirror Mirrored, which combines Grimms’ fairy tales with vintage illustration remixes and the work of contemporary artists like Kiki Smith, Carrie Mae Weems, and Amy Cutler. I grew up in Atlanta, Georgia, but have called New Hampshire home since 1999. My studio is located in the historic, mill village of Harrisville. I miss fried okra, the early southern spring, and restaurants that stay open past 9:00 p.m., but rural life agrees with me. In New Hampshire I can see the stars, go kayaking or snowshoeing, watch bald eagles fish in the lake, and focus on my creative work in silence. I no longer have to worry about traffic jams; deer, wild turkeys, and frost heaves are the primary road hazards here. Although I live in the country, I’m fortunate enough to be part of a vibrant arts community that extends beyond this small New England village. The quiet days are punctuated by regular travel and frequent visits to museums, theaters, readings, arts events, lectures, and open studios around the country. (You can read my full CV here.) Thanks for visiting Gwarlingo. I hope you'll be in touch.