All the classic holiday shorts are, well, short. That's part of why they're classic... you can sit around even on a busy day and take one in with your family. They're easily "packaged" in an hour block, which is surely why so many of us remember traditions of watching certain things together. Even "A Christmas Carol" is incredibly brief (a marvel that Dickens could manage it). So let's pretend that's why we've got yet another miniaturized Contest Watch. But as with other traditions, let us begin with those shirts who cannot be with us tonight: namely Troybot, by a.mar.illo, which is up for scoring at Threadless after somehow avoiding print elsewhere this year. This guy's one of the most prolific quality designers on the circuit, and I can think of no reason he shouldn't finally get his Threadless shield for Christmas.
Shirt #1: Deer--ection
Why I Like It: All the selections this week are from Threadless, and should show some different aspects of why I'm such a fan of their diversity. We start here for the skilled drawing. That's a good-lookin' deer, and it's done in a style that really recalls a sketchbook piece, fleshed out realistically and by hand. It's a style I -always- find refreshing, especially considering how many pure-digital crapshoots are subbed throughout the contestosphere. Seriously, I don't care who buys or votes, an aurora behind stock trees is simply not new or interesting. It also has the sort of free-form association that the real gems in a sketchbook will tend to have... the deer isn't noticeably making a pun, but the arrows growing organically out of his head allow it anyway, even while keeping the classy, natural execution. The colors work wonderfully, to me, and the positioning, especially the flow of the antler-arrows, fills the shirt wonderfully. And I guess it can't particularly hurt that the title is far more unintentionally rude than any other I've ever reviewed. Huzzah!
Shirt #2: A Matter of Perspective
Why You Should Love It: Concept Concept Concept. It's hard to come to an agreement when two fully opposing sides meet, and here, they couldn't get much more at odds. It's an idea that requires that disparity... a poorly drawn guy making a poorly drawn airplane amounts to a poorly drawn design by itself, but adding context, and a more true-to-life foreman to argue with, it becomes hilarity. I think the idea of the other "real" characters following orders for a plane that will never be air-ready (I love the vertical wings... I'm certain I drew planes like this as a kid) is even better than the two arguing characters... it's the idea that "yeah, the boss is kinda odd, but it's our job, so what can we do," and going at it unquestioningly, which enforces this joke. Of course, it doesn't hurt that the two styles, while contrasting quite a bit, seem to play off each other, and certainly the more childish cartoon man (and his sock-like airplane) adds a lot of fun here. But again. Concept, and a strong one at that. Be creative and you're already halfway to awesome.
Shirt #3: The Twilight Rider
Why it Rocks and Rolls All Night Long: This is one of those pieces that it's probably truly a matter of personal taste. Where no matter what one might say, you've already resolved to love it immediately, or hate it forever. And yet, I am going to insist that its virtues are so obvious as to be almost offensive to have to extol them. For me the first and foremost bit of awesome here is the color scheme. Everything just goes so deliciously together, despite the unconventional palette. It's like candy, sugary and a little tart and delicious... Skittles for the chest. The colors alone are enough to win me over, but the oddness makes it feel like art... I can't help but feel there's a certain power in the image. Not that I get it. Not at all. But for me, I find that often, it's the images that make the least sense which are most powerful, because they strike you without your knowing why. It could be the arrows or the dripping scenery. It might be the faceless hole in the character's head. The style is just so engrossing that I can't, and hardly want to, look away. And that, for me, is worth more than a million weak pop-culture jokes.