Well it seems the history of the legend of Santa Claus is just full of fantastic things to weave a story from. As I described in a previous post, Père Fouettard is regarded by some French people as a sort of nasty version of Father Christmas. Well thanks to "Dwestburg's" comment, I now know the story of him. To cut the story short, he was originally a butcher who took three children and attempted to cook them in a pot. St Nicholas came and saved the kids, casting the butcher into a life of shame, forced to follow him around and be hated by everyone.
Of course that is just in France. Other countries have their own versions of the character, but most describe him as being forced to follow the saintly bringer of gifts. He is consistently described as carrying sticks to beat children with, but is often said to be chained and so unable to harm them (although in some traditions he is said to dole out beatings to naughty children). Some other names include Krampus, The Devil, Ruprecht, Zwarte Piet and Schmutzli, all of which can be read about in more detail here. Less consistent is his skin colour. In some traditions, he is of African origin and so has black skin, but in others his face is covered in soot from climbing down chimneys.
The point here is that I'm going to have to filter through all this and pick certain attributes for my character. We can be fairly sure that no butchery will occur in my animation!
I have started doing some character design for my project. I have had to make a few choices to narrow things down a bit. There will be two characters in my film, both of black origin to suit both the song and the general concensus of these religious stories. Here is a rough sketch I did for the Père Fouettard character:
And here's his head:He might be a bit too scary looking for this film. I hope to aim for something of a similar creepiness as The Grinch or Oogie Boogie from Nightmare Before Christmas. So basically not really scary, but kids get the idea that he's supposed to be. I'm going to try taking this design and making it more of a cartoon. I've also been thinking of a character that looks more like Santa as we know him these days, but with a mean looking face or something.
The other character I require is more difficult. I can't decide what age to make him, what personality to give him, or what general look to give him. It'll take some more thinking!