Skip to content

The Case of the Frosted Key – A McKeePhoto Holiday Card

The Studio Holiday Card: The Man in Red has a new mission for the boys when a mysterious key gets delivered. Only one clue: “SHARE!”
The Studio Holiday Card: The Man in Red has a new mission for the boys when a mysterious key gets delivered. Only one clue: “SHARE!”

The McKee Photography Studio Christmas Card - 2023

A little bit about the making of The Case of the Frosted Key studio/family holiday card.

Well, 2023 was a year, wasn’t it?

Sometimes, you just want to hang back, pour a cup of your favorite beverage and curl up with a good book.

I got my boys together, virtually, back in August and asked them, “So, are you still down for doing a studio Holiday card?”

They looked at me like I was crazy (not an unusual look, if I am being honest), and said, “Heck yes!”

For reference, one is out of the house and the other has his own projects going on. So, their answer made this “old man” very happy!

We spent the next couple of months throwing ideas back and forth and nothing really stuck until RocketBoy texted this:

“It’s the long lost key to the workshop of the elves, it’s been lost for centuries, forcing Santa to outsource his presents to other companies like Apple.”

And, the noir themed, episode 24, “The Case of the Frosted Key” was born!

A History of The McKee Photography Studio Christmas Cards

A long time ago, my Creative Muse and I were debating the merits of the Studio/Family Christmas/Holiday card. I loved the idea of doing something creative and interesting. And, she wanted to feature our latest creation: our first son.

Standard family portraits never really interested me. To my eye, they never fulfilled the magic feeling I get around this time of year.

Sure, it showed off the family to friends and relations. They are nice and let me know what Peter and Nancy looked like now. But, they all felt, somehow, generic to me.

And, on a long car ride, our First Studio Card was born. See all of the cards here

A few years later, the boys realized what was going on. And, they got involved!

See More Posters

To the Conceptual Story Telling Photographic Illustration Portfolio!

(yeah, I need to think of a better name for that.)

Click to see images bigger

The Case of the Frosted Key Story Excerpt:

From the inside of the card:

“Okay, so it’s the Frosted Key. It’s the whole MacGuffin,” exclaimed RB. “And, it will open that old, hidden workshop, if we can find it. So, what? It’s probably just filled with dusty, out-of-date tools.”

Gears paused and frowned.

“RB, do you know when this key went missing?”

RB shuffled through the musty old log books, flipping page after page.

“I saw it here somewhere,” he muttered. “Ah! The old elf wrote a report to the Big Guy about a plot to steal the key in 1879. That is right at the start of the second industrial revolution, isn’t it?”

“They made Christmas a National holiday nine years earlier. Hm. Does it say who was behind the plot?” Gears asked, his eyebrows raised.

RB slowly lifted his head, a stunned look on his face.

“This is nuttier than a Nutcracker on New Years Day!” he exclaimed. “The first plot was foiled by foul weather. The second was crushed in 1931, outside of Rockefeller Center, when they stuck that big tree in the ground. Another one was taken down in 1939, during that big glowing reindeer controversy.”

“So, when did the key disappear?” Gears queried.

“About the same time the phrase ‘Some Assembly Required’ seemed to reach peak popularity with the manufacturers.”

Gears leaned back in his chair and swivelled around to pensively look out the window.

“And, now, the key shows up in an unmarked box. No return address, no name. Just a bit of parchment with the word ‘Share!’”

He sighed. “What is in that workshop that is so important?”

“Whatever it is,” RB slowly drawls, “it is going to change some things, I think.”


Some Notes:

My high school history teachers would marvel at the research I put into these stories. Or maybe not.

The excerpts for these cards tend to follow the themes that the “book covers” come from: Young Adult book series like “The Hardy Boys” and “Nancy Drew Mysteries”.

This one lead me down a rabbit hole of the history of the commercialization of gift giving.

The rise of the second industrial revolution meant that there was less time and resources for people to make gifts to give.

Cartoonist Thomas Nast (Shop till you drop) created, or at least illustrated, the idea of Santa’s North Pole Workshop. And, manufacturers, to leverage the nostalgia for homemade gifts, created “halfway items” so you could finish, or assemble them, yourself.

I think I learned most of my “salty” words from over hearing my father, on Christmas Eve, putting together my Schwinn bicycle.

The Complete Rocketboy and Gears Adventure Book Series

Happy Holidays, Everyone!

Stay Safe and Healthy out there.

Related Holiday Card Stories from the Studio . . .

Who is Rocketboy and Gears? Well, there maybe a pulp, serial style video in the pipeline. I hear a trailer has been shot.

However you celebrate the winter solstice, all of us at McKee Photography would like to wish you a very Merry Christmas! And the Boys got into their recording session!

The Frost Brothers were the first inklings of what would later become the Adventures of Rocketboy and Gears

Can you believe its our 19th McKee Photo Studio Christmas card? See behind the scenes and how we put together these fun little photo composites.