Instead of just threatening coal in a stocking, an ancient Austrian folk tale offers a real-life menace to the naughty children of the holiday season. Enter: Krampus, a sadistic nymph who, instead of just making children sad with poor gifts, apparently steals children away, in a wicker basket he wears on his back. This is the much-needed foil to Santa’s jolly ways, a reminder that not everything is as simple as “naughty or nice;” there’s straight-up evil in this world. Krampus (a word that sounds like a made-up Tim & Eric character) showed up in North European folklore in the late 1600s, the obviously needed foil to Santa Claus’ benevolent ways.

Krampus has recently become the subject of an intense study via one American comic book publisher, Monte Beauchamp. He found an intense and crazy cache of Krampus illustrations that were part of a European postcard boom in the late 1800s. He recently has published a few books revolving around the long-tongued sprite, and they are beyond bizarre. Check out a few above and more in his book, Krampus, The Devil of Christmas.

RELATED: 15 Female Illustrators We Have a Crush On

[via Co. Create]