Friday, December 05, 2014
"If Quite Convenient, Sir" | Classics Illustrated #53 (1948)
In the interest of condensing the story to 45 pages, Classics Illustrated cuts out all the scene- and mood-setting, so there's no sliding scene or even a crowd scene on the street. There's not even an incident where Scrooge menaces any carollers. Instead, the comic goes straight from Scrooge's dismissal of the charitable solicitors to closing time.
Writer George D Lipscomb and artist Henry Kiefer have Scrooge and Cratchit leave the shop together, which fits with how they've portrayed the characters so far. Their Scrooge is a proud man who resents getting old and having less time to enjoy his wealth. Cratchit explicitly hates his job and his boss, but feels powerless to leave. Scrooge has threatened Cratchit's job a few times already; enough that Cratchit probably doesn't take him seriously. All that adds up to a couple of men who can't stand each other, but are aren't in any real danger of splitting up. They aren't at all equals in status, but they're more or less equals in power. Look at the way Cratchit openly glares at Scrooge in the second panel above. He can't stand the man and he's not afraid to show it.
When Scrooge brings up the day off, it's just a matter of making it official. He's not checking; he knows Cratchit must have it, but he also wants to remind Cratchit how he feels about it. His bringing it up is just his way of opening the door so he can complain. And Cratchit knows it, too. His "If quite convenient, sir" is a social obligation, but it's clear from his expression that he doesn't care if it's convenient or not.
There's no sympathy we're supposed to feel for this version of Scrooge. He's not actually miserable; he's just mean. He hates Christmas because the values it brings out in society are diametrically opposed to Scrooge's own. It's as simple as that and we're not meant to relate to him.