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Manga / The Nightmare Before Christmas: Zero's Journey

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An official, Tim Burton-approved sequel to The Nightmare Before Christmas, Zero's Journey is a manga released in 2018 by Tokyopop.

The adventure continues as Jack, now having knowledge of other holidays outside his own, tries to create a portal that will allow immediate access to any holiday. While trying to get it to navigate, Jack takes a break to play with Zero, where during an innocent game of fetch, a mishap with the portal sends the ghost dog through the graveyard, into the forest, and hurtling straight into Christmas Town!


After a town-wide search for the missing pup, Sally realizes where Zero has gone off to, and rushes back to town to inform Jack. Jack wants to go get Zero himself, but being the Pumpkin King, he is needed to attend a large Halloween planning meeting to ensure this year's Halloween goes smoothly. After a suggestion from the Mayor to send someone else to look for Zero, it comes to light that Jack isn't the only one who's been to Christmas Town: Lock, Shock, and Barrel have too.

Promising to make it up to Jack after bringing Sandy Claws to Oogie in the original film, the trio head to Christmas Town to find Zero and bring him home. Fingers crossed for their success.

The series is currently ongoing.


The Manga provides examples of:

  • Abhorrent Admirer: The waitress.
  • Amusing Injuries: Often the result of Lock, Shock, and Barrel's mayhem.
  • Affably Evil: Lock, Shock, and Barrel.
  • Angry Fist-Shake: Several elves do this after catching Lock, Shock, and/or Barrel in their antics.
  • Art Shift: The illustrations in Jouelle's Christmas book have a more realistic, classic, almost wood-carving feel compared to the rest of the stylized Burton-esque comic.
  • Ascended Extra: Zero is now the protagonist of the story. Lock, Shock, and Barrel become the deuteragonists in the B-plot, with Jack and Sally filling secondary/background roles with the rest of Halloween Town.
  • Beat Panel: Occasionally used for humorous effect. The best example is after Lock, Shock, and Barrel meet up again after their first round of trouble.
    Lock: *to Shock* What happened to you?
    Shock: No, what happened to you? What's that white stuff all over you?
    *Beat Panel as they both notice the lipstick on Barrel's face*
    Barrel: Wh...what?
    Lock: What happened to you?!
    Barrel: Nothing.
    Shock: Looks like someone had fun!
  • Advertisement:
  • Berserk Button: Don't hurt Myzer's gingerbread man.
  • Bilingual Bonus: In Japanese, Zero can be translated as "Rei", which can also mean "Ghost".
  • Blatant Lies: Par for the course with Lock, Shock, and Barrel, complete with a Lying Finger Cross.
    Jack: You'll go straight to Zero and not get distracted by anything else?!
    Lock, Shock, and Barrel: We promise!
  • Blue and Orange Morality: It's implied that Lock, Shock, and Barrel's troublemaking is legitimately how they play.
  • A Boy and His X: Jack and Zero, but the comic also introduces Mr. Myzer and One
  • Big Eater: Lock eats an entire candy cane that is bigger than he is. Barrel is implied to be this as well.
  • Butt-Monkey: Barrel. He doesn't cause trouble. It finds him first.
  • Call-Back:
    • Zero plays fetch with Jack's rib like he does in the movie. This is what gets him sent to Christmas Town.
    • Lock, Shock, and Barrel's initial betrayal in the original film. They also do the Lying Finger Cross when promising Jack they won't do anything else except find Zero.
  • Chekhov's Skill: Zero's love of fetch.
  • Chimney Entry: Santa is seen doing this while Jouelle reads the Christmas book to Zero.
  • Christmas Carolers: Seen throughout Christmas Town.
  • Christmas Elves: The denizens of Christmas Town.
  • Concept Art Gallery: Some of the individual comics have a page or two of character art and concepts. The trade novels have even more, along with cover art and variant covers.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • The citizens of Halloween Town still refer to Santa as "Sandy Claws," and this is further acknowledged by an elf named Jouelle.
    • Jack has learned his lesson about respecting other holiday traditions.
    • Oogie Boogie has a tomb in the graveyard.
    • In Issue 12, there's a panel with the teddy bear and the boat that replaced the vampire teddy and the bullet hole duck.
  • Creepy Child: Lock, Shock, and Barrel, of course. It's even more noticeable when putting them side-by-side with the Christmas Town elves.
  • Creepy Good: Most of Halloween Town, but Jack in particular.
  • Creepy Long Fingers: Jack.
  • Cute Monster Girl: The art style makes Sally even cuter. A few panels put Shock into this too.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Mr. Myzer hates Christmas because he lost his puppy, One, on Christmas Eve.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: Halloween Town as a whole may be creepy and scary, but they quickly band together to help Jack find Zero. Even Lock, Shock, and Barrel search Oogie's old casino to try to find him before they offer their services to Jack.
  • The Dead Have Eyes: Jack has no problem seeing and hearing, though he obviously has no eyes or ears.
  • Death Glare: Shock gets a great one in while trying to wrangle Lock and Barrel into getting back on target to find Zero.
  • Does Not Like Shoes: Barrel.
  • Dreaming of a White Christmas: What else would the weather be like in Christmas Town?
  • Enfante Terrible: As to be expected, Lock, Shock, and Barrel. They start to cause mayhem the minute they enter Christmas Town.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Zero is unaware that the gingerbread man is alive when he takes a bite out of him. The gingerbread man then beats him up and traps him in a pot of boiling water. Good thing Zero's a ghost! Made worse in that the gingerbread man showed no indication he was alive until after he was bitten.
  • Expressive Skull: Jack, at times even more exaggerated than in the movie.
  • Face Plant: Barrel trips over a soccer ball while fleeing from some angry elves and gets a face-full of snow.
  • Fat Bastard: The head elf.
  • Flash Back: Zero has some of his Christmas Eve with Jack while Jouelle reads to him. Jack also has one of Zero while looking for him.
  • For the Evulz: The real reason Lock, Shock, and Barrel wanted to go to Christmas Town.
    Chaos, chaos, chaos in Christmas Town tonight!
    Lock, Shock, and Barrel wreaking havoc everywhere in sight!
    Chaos, chaos, chaos in Christmas Town today!
    'Til we get our fill of anarchy, in Christmas Town we'll stay!
  • Foreshadowing:
    • In Issue 0, Jack and Zero are playing fetch, which is what leads Zero to Christmas Town to begin with. Mr. Myzer had a similar game of fetch that lead him to lose his puppy, One.
      • In Issue 12, Zero gets Santa to come investigate the factory with yet another game of fetch. Zero even has a quick Flash Back to the first issue.
    • In Issue 5, a few careless elves knock Shock over with their sled. In Issue 7, this same sort of careless driving with a sled leads to the death of One.
  • Foil: Mr. Myzer is one for Jack.
  • Four-Fingered Hands: Lock, Shock, and Barrel, some of the elves, and some Halloween Town citizens.
  • Friendly Ghost: Zero, to the point he decides to help Myzer come to terms with One's death, despite the cruelty shown to him prior.
  • Friend to All Living Things: Jouelle, the blonde female elf that gets Zero started on his way home.
  • Ghost Memory: This is how Zero finds out about One, and later helps Myzer heal from his loss.
  • Giant Food: The candy cane Lock goes after.
  • Gigantic Moon: It's full on Christmas Eve this year.
  • The Grinch: The aptly-named Mr. Myzer.
  • Grumpy Bear: Myzer, again. A cynical elf with a dark past living a world of brightness and cheer, he feels he'll fit better in Halloween Town.
  • Halloween Town: The original film was the Trope Namer, so of course it'd be featured here!
  • Hammer Space: Lock, Shock, and Barrel are shown to have only brought a sled to Christmas Town, but are later seen with sacks for their troublemaking. Fridge Brilliance might account for the fact that Santa uses sacks to deliver toys, except that Lock is seen with one to take candy long before they decide to rob the toy store.
  • Instant Bandages: All three of the tricksters get this at least once, but Shock is particularly prone to getting one on her nose once or twice an issue.
  • Interspecies Friendship: Zero quickly befriends Howly the Owl upon arriving in Christmas Town. Issue 9 shows he also has this with Lock, Shock, and Barrel, as when they find him, he immediately joins them in their fun, and follows them down the hole they fall into.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold:
    • Mr. Myzer.
    • Lock, Shock, and Barrel at times show shades of this, like when they finally find Zero and immediately hug/play with him, join in on the fun with the underground factory elves without causing trouble, and are just as horrified as the elves when they realize what the head elf is capable of. Issue 13's teaser tagline even alludes to this by asking, "Have Lock, Shock, and Barrel been more naughty than nice?"
  • Kids Are Cruel: Lock, Shock, and Barrel are a given, but a bunch of elf children tackle Zero, pull on his sheet, and push him around an ice rink. One elf girl even calls attention to this.
    • When Barrel Face Plants in the snow, the elf children nearby make fun of him and call him a weirdo.
  • Light Is Not Good: The further we delve into Christmas Town, the more it contrasts Halloween Town's Dark Is Not Evil theme, from the aforementioned Kids Are Cruel, to Myzer's past, to Mind Controlling the factory elves to work faster.
    • Even the citizens themselves contrast each other: a lot of Christmas Town's denizens seem bright and cheery on the outside, but many of them have dark pasts, are working unwillingly, or are just overall unpleasant. Most of Halloween Town's citizens look scary, but are actually very nice.
  • Lying Finger Cross: Lock, Shock, and Barrel's trademark gesture.
  • Made of Iron: Lock, Shock, and Barrel. Must be a benefit of being a Halloween Town citizen.
    • Their initial venture into Christmas Town has them crash their sled into a pine tree.
    • None of them have an issue with the snow, despite their thin costumes. Extra points to Barrel for his bare feet.
    • Lock climbs a Christmas tree to get a candy cane that is bigger than he is at the top of it, with expected results. He falls, it lands on him, and a second later, he's happily munching down on the pieces.
    • Shock hijacks a sled and ends up driving it off a hill that leads into a ravine. She's easily over fifty feet in the air before a snowman cushions her fall.
    • All three of them slide down a hole, crash through a door at the end, and land on hard ground. Barrel belly-flopped while Lock and Shock want to do it again.
  • Mind Control: The elves in the underground toy factory. Lock, Shock, and Barrel get caught up in the spell.
  • Mind-Control Eyes: The underground toy factory elves, as well as Lock, Shock, and Barrel, have these when the head elf hypnotizes them.
  • Mood Whiplash: Issue 7 details the death of One. Issue 8 immediately goes back to Lock, Shock, and Barrel's plot and kicks up the humor, then Issue 9 resolves Myzer's subplot.
  • Mr. Exposition: Jouelle's main purpose is to give a history of Christmas Town and tell Zero to find Santa to get home.
  • My Hero Zero: Zero, of course. He's even the protagonist this time!
  • Non-Human Sidekick: Mr. Myzer's gingerbread man.
  • Off-Model:
    • Shock sometimes has lace on the cuffs of her sleeves, and sometimes she doesn't. Lock's pants also seem to occasionally alter between separate from his shoes, or all one piece.
    • Behemoth is missing his axe.
    • The steps to the Halloween Town door change from pumpkins to skulls within the same issue.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • Each of the trickster trio gets this look during their first round of mayhem in Christmas Town:
      • Lock right before he gets pummeled by a giant candy cane.
      • Shock when she realizes the brakes on the sled she hijacked don't work properly.
      • Barrel right before he gets a smooch from a waitress.
    • The factory elves when the head elf bursts in. Lock, Shock, and Barrel get this look right before they end up Mind Controlled with half of them. Zero gets it too when he realizes the tricksters are under the spell and nothing he does can wake them from it.
  • Old, Dark House: Downplayed, but in Christmas Town, of all places! Even with its bright red bricks and candy cane lining, Mr. Myzer's house, with its dead trees, cracked windows, and sagging chimney evoke this. The interior is even more depressing.
  • Only Sane Woman: Downplayed. While she's just as troublesome as the boys, Shock is the only one trying to keep the trio on target to find Zero.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: An unwitting example, but Lock, Shock, and Barrel put on elf hats when they join the elves in their fun. When the head elf comes in, he notates they look strange for elves, but otherwise doesn't question it.
    • Santa certainly does, though!
  • Power Trio: More explored here than in the movie, with Lock as the most impulsive one, Shock being the smartest and more distinct as their leader, and Barrel being the most naive and prone to having trouble find him instead of causing it first.
  • Punny Name: Mr. Myzer is, well...a miser.
  • Red Alert: When Zero goes missing, the entire town quickly organizes to find him.
  • Redemption Quest: How Lock, Shock, and Barrel convince Jack to let them go to Christmas Town.
    Lock: We also learned our lesson, Jack!
    Shock: Oogie Boogie's long gone!
    Barrel: We'll redeem ourselves!
    • As of Issue 9, they kept their promise to find Zero...before immediately getting into more trouble.
  • Ridiculously Cute Critter: Zero. And One.
  • Rule of Three: Games of fetch.
  • Rhymes on a Dime: Most of the dialogue.
  • Santa Claus: But of course, given where most of the comic takes place. Zero's trying to find him so he can ride in his sleigh and see the Holiday Doors from above to get back to Halloween Town.
  • Shout-Out:
    • While Lock, Shock, and Barrel are robbing the toy store, an Ariel doll can be seen sitting on a shelf.
  • Slapstick Knows No Gender: Shock takes just as much abuse as Lock and Barrel when it comes to the end results of their troublemaking. Oddly enough, thus far, she hasn't taken a direct hit from either Lock or Barrel, but has certainly smacked some sense into both of them.
  • Single Tear: Jack sheds one while looking at a picture of Zero.
  • This Is Gonna Suck: Shock's body language pretty much says this as she's falling from the sled crash.
  • Tropey, Come Home: The entire plot involves Zero getting lost in Christmas Town, and Lock, Shock, and Barrel are sent to find him.
  • Two Guys and a Girl: Lock, Shock, and Barrel.
  • Under the Mistletoe: Barrel is an unfortunate recipient of this tradition.
  • Vomit Discretion Shot: The result of Lock's candy cane binge.
  • Watch Out for That Tree!: Lock, Shock, and Barrel crash into a tree because they can't control their sled.
  • Written Sound Effect: Most often used when Lock, Shock, and Barrel are getting into or running from trouble. The sound effects occasionally get strange, such as "dash/zip/scamper".
  • You Remind Me of X: Zero reminds Myzer of his deceased puppy, One.

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