iPhoneOgraphy – 28 Nov 2016 (Day 333/366)
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer is a fictional male reindeer, created by Robert Lewis May, usually depicted as a young calf who barely has antlers, with a glowing red nose, popularly known as “Santa’s Ninth Reindeer.” When depicted, he is the lead reindeer pulling Santa’s sleigh on Christmas Eve. The luminosity of his nose is so great that it illuminates the team’s path through inclement winter weather.
Rudolph first appeared in a 1939 booklet written by Robert L. May and published by Montgomery Ward.
The story is owned by The Rudolph Company, LP and has been adapted in numerous forms including a popular song, the iconic television special and sequels, and a feature film and sequel. Character Arts, LLC manages the licensing for the Rudolph Company, LP. In many countries, Rudolph has become a figure of Christmas folklore. 2014 marked the 75th anniversary of the character and the 50th anniversary of the television special. A series of postage stamps featuring Rudolph was issued by the United States Postal Service on November 6, 2014.
Robert L. May created Rudolph in 1939, as an assignment for Chicago-based Montgomery Ward. The retailer had been buying and giving away coloring books for Christmas every year and it was decided that creating their own book would save money. Rudolph was supposed to be a moose but that was changed because a reindeer seemed friendly. May considered naming the reindeer “Rollo” or “Reginald” before deciding upon using the name “Rudolph”. In its first year of publication, Montgomery Ward had distributed 2.5 million copies of Rudolph’s story. The story is written as a poem in anapestic tetrameter, the same meter as “A Visit from St. Nicholas” (also known as “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas”). Publication and reprint rights for the book Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer are controlled by Pearson Plc.
Of note is the change in the cultural significance of a red nose. In popular culture, a bright red nose was then closely associated with chronic alcoholism and drunkards, and so the story idea was initially rejected. May asked his illustrator friend at Wards, Denver Gillen, to draw “cute reindeer”, using zoo deer as models. The alert, bouncy character Gillen developed convinced management to support the idea.
Maxton Books published the first mass-market edition of Rudolph and a sequel, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer Shines Again, in 1954. In 1991, Applewood Books published Rudolph’s Second Christmas, an unpublished sequel that Robert May wrote in 1947. In 2003, Penguin Books issued a reprint version of the original Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer with new artwork by Lisa Papp. Penguin also reprinted May’s sequels, Rudolph Shines Again and Rudolph’s Second Christmas (now retitled Rudolph to the Rescue).
The story chronicles the experiences of Rudolph, a youthful reindeer buck (male) who possesses an unusual luminous red nose. Mocked and excluded by his peers because of this trait, Rudolph manages to prove himself one Christmas Eve after Santa Claus catches sight of Rudolph’s nose and asks Rudolph to lead his sleigh for the evening. Rudolph agrees, and is finally treated better by his fellow reindeer for his heroism.