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Sugar and Spike 26
"Mystery of the Man Inna Funny Red Suit!"

COVER IMAGE NOT FOUND December 1958-January 1959; DC Comics;
Lawrence Nadle, editor; all stories written and drawn by Sheldon Mayer.

I was catching up with the "Christmas stories" thread on SAR and someone commented that DC didn't do all that many Christmas-themed tales during the Silver Age. That reminded me that there was at least one DC title that did them on a regular basis-- SUGAR & SPIKE. In fact, during the early to mid '60s holiday and seasonal cover themes were a mainstay of S & S... a "Special Halloween Issue" would be followed by a "Christmas issue", then a "Valentine's Day issue", then maybe a "Special Spring Issue" with the tots hunting Easter eggs on the cover, then a "Summer Fun Issue" usually with a day-at-the-beach motif. (But no Fourth of July issues that I know of...probably a scene of the babies fooling with fireworks would have come across as more frightening than cute.) The issue in hand here seems to be the first of the regular Christmas issues. In fact, there are a couple of letters on the letter page saying "Please tell S.M. to give us a Christmas issue" and "Far be it from me to tell you how to run your business...but please let's have a Christmas issue..I bet you'd sell a lot of copies." The editor responds, "There have been many more letters like these, so we decided at the last minute to convert this to a Christmas issue." Whether this is true, or whether Nadle and/or S.M. were resorting to the Mort Weisinger trick of planting a letter "asking" for something they were planning to do anyway, I don't know.

Anyway, the issue does contain two Yule-themed Sugar and Spike stories, though they're in the middle of the book rather than leading it off. The first is "Mystery of the Man Inna Funny Red Suit!" As their mothers take Sugar and Spike along on a Christmas shopping expedition, they notice the babies seem fascinated by each sidewalk Santa they meet, even though they're too young to understand what Christmas or Santa are. As we eavesdrop on the kids' baby-talk conversation, we learn what puzzles them about the red-suited guy; "There he is AGAIN!" "By golly! How does he get AROUND so fast?" Sugar is determined to investigate and find out the secret of Santa's super-speed, but Spike doesn't think they can get away from their mothers' firm grip. But Sugar points out, "Look where we're headed! Right for the LOOZUM DOOR!" It's a revolving door, which the kids spin around so fast that they get their mothers tangled and escape; "That's what you DO! You loozum!" As they head down the crowded street on their own, Spike isn't sure this adventure is a good idea; "When we were holding on to our mommies' hands, somehow the world didn't seem as fulla FEET as it does now!" Sugar is prepared to bite if stepped on, but before this is necessary, they find the Santa they're looking for. Only this one, lacking the traditional padding, is skinny. Sitting and watching him, Sugar and Spike wonder why he doesn't run off in a flash to reappear on the next block. Maybe it's because he's hungry, they conclude. Seeing a street fruit vendor, they decide to appropriate some of his "eating stuff" for Santa's benefit; "He's got enough for lunch, supper and BREAKFAST! He won't mind if we give some of it to that poor, skinny man!" They grab a bunch of bananas from the vendor's cart and drop them in skinny Santa's "Help the Xmas Fund" bucket. While Santa tries to explain that the fund doesn't accept food donations, the angry fruit vendar brings a cop to arrest them, but he relents when he realizes that they are only babies and that they seem to be trying to make a gift of their own to Santa. Then Mrs. Plumm and Mrs. Wilson finally catch up with their errant kids. Fortunately, instead of arresting them for child neglect, the cop reassures them, "They're okay, ladies! They just seem to have caught the Christmas spirit!" He suggests they be brought to meet the Lacy's department store Santa. Although dubious, the mothers comply, and are surprised when Sugar and Spike leap into Santa's lap. "There! You're nice and FAT again! " "That's a good boy! You must have eaten all your bananas!"

Next is "The Big Gift Mystery!" Sugar finds Spike sitting "inna corner" as his mother decorates the Christmas tree. "I see you've got one of those crazy trees growing inna middle of YOUR living room, too!" They're both fascinated by the "crazy fruit" growing on the trees, but Sugar, the voice of experience, warns, "Don't touch it! It's corner bait!" I.e., "Stuff that's very tempting-- you just gotta TOUCH it-- and when you do-- WHAM!-- you're inna corner!" Spike has learned this already, since he's sitting in the corner now for the same reason that Sugar spent the morning there. The parents have decided it's never too early to try to teach the kids the meaning of Christmas, so they hand Spike a present marked "To Sugar from Spike", and to Sugar a present for Spike. Seeing the adults watching them expectantly, Sugar suspects a "plot", but the more optimistic Spike says, "Plot, shmot! A present is a present! I'm gonna smash mine open and see what's inside!" But when he starts to do so, the parents grab it away from him; "No, no Spike! It's for Sugar!" "What'd I tell you?", Sugar points out. "The minute you start to ENJOY it, they take it away!" Once again Spike's mother offers him the present for Sugar, who warns "Don't take it!" Spike does take it and tries to run off with it, but is stopped by a nearby wall. Then the parents try to give Sugar her present directly; "Now they're trying to give my present to YOU!" "Well, I'll show 'em what I think of THAT idea! [making a face] BLEHHHH! I'm no traitor!" While the adults pause to try to figure out how to convey the idea of Christmas gift-giving, the babies in turn try to figure out just what the adults are up to, and conclude "I think they're trying to CONFUSE us!" "Why?" "To get even! Don't we always confuse THEM?" And how better to convince their parents that they are properly confused, than for each of the tots to hand his or her "own" present over to the other? While the parents congratulate themselves on getting the message across to their kids, Sugar opens her dolly, Spike his toy car, and they declare, "Say! It's a good thing we switched presents! Those poor dumbbells really WERE mixed up!" "Yeah! They gave me a GIRL's toy and you a BOY's one!" [This was, of course, before the day of militant feminist political correctness and attempts to impose "unisex" play on little kids.)

Also in the issue are "The Out-Cast!" and "The New Sugar!" The former title refers to Sugar being exiled from her house to play outside because she's driving her mother to distraction. She gets into Spike's house and together they get into their usual highjinks driving Spike's mother to distraction as well... culminating with accidentally tearing a pillow apart and covering the room with white fluff. After serving time in the corner, they are released, look out the window and see snow falling outside-- and immediately retreat back to the corner. "Someone ELSE busted a pillow! They're sure to pin THIS on us, too-- so let's go! Why wait until the last minute?" "The New Sugar" involves Sugar making a resolution to be nicer to Spike, saying nice things to him and refraining from pushing him to the floor. But her true feelings burst out at last, as she calls Spike "stupid" and he pushes HER to the floor.

Other holiday items in the issue include a Christmas-themed "Write Your Own Comics Page" (one kid gives his friend a big box, the other a small one, but they both turn out to contain the same item, a yo-yo); a "Pint-Sized Pinups" with Santa and Mrs. Claus outfits for Sugar and Spike, and a house ad for for the yearly issue of RUDOLPH THE RED-NOSED REINDEER (another DC Silver Age Christmas item-- it was *only* published as Christmastime).