“Brutal. Heartwarming. Jesus.” The List: the Most Controversial Comic this Christmas

Happy Holidays, ladies and gents! Today we celebrate the festive season with a special interview, about a comic book that really interested me and I decided it would be worthwhile to share a few insider secrets about it with you guys, so I had a chat with the writer of the comic, James Stimpson. His comic is called The List and it’s about a world in which there are many Santa’s and this one, Sal, helps kids out on Christmas by protecting them in less… conventional ways. It promises to be a violent, bloody and utterly insane ride, and it’s currently trying to reach its funding goal on Kickstarter and so I’d really recommend checking it out here and potentially helping back something that I personally think could be one of the most original comics in a long time, if you need more convincing, I’ve asked some important questions to the creator of The List. 

So the idea for the comic is totally out of left field, so where the heck did you come up with such a strange idea for a comic?

Unsurprisingly I came up with the idea at Christmas. It was one of those moments where I was thinking that I’m pretty fortunate that I can buy my kids nice presents for Christmas and how hard it must be for parents who can’t really afford to do it. That led to me thinking that at least those kids had a family, what happens to all those children at Christmas who don’t have anyone and who find themselves in an even worse position. This led to the creation of Sal, a Santa who saves children every Christmas instead of delivering presents. It all happened very quickly.

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The comic features appearances from Jesus Christ, were there any concerns about including him in it? Seeing as some people could take it the wrong way?

I didn’t really ever have any concerns about it. We live in a world where people seem to get offended at everything. I don’t think it’s possible to truly create something amazing without annoying a few people in the process, although I didn’t include JC to deliberately annoy people, he just fit the story so well. It’s not like ol’ JC is doing anything too extreme either, he’s just running an Elite group of Santas who are helping the world to celebrate his birthday. It made perfect narrative sense to me; he balances out Sal’s raw passion with a level head.

Plus, it’s nothing in comparison to what Robert Kirkman did with Battle Pope! If you’ve not read it, you should, it’s excellent.

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What would you say were some of the biggest inspirations and influences for the concept of the comic?One of the biggest inspirations was reading Maus which I’d finished not long before I started writing The List. Reading that made me realise that comics can be about anything, literally anything; it’s a graphic novel about the writer’s father in Nazi Germany, where the Jewish people are mice and the Nazis are cats, it’s pretty brilliant in its simplicity. Once I realised I could create anything I wanted to, it was incredibly freeing. So when I had my initial idea for The List  I knew it was something that I could run with.

There are a lot of other influences that went into the comic too; I was reading a lot of Frank Miller and Batman at the time which probably comes through in the subject matter.

Where do you see yourself in five years time? What’s your goal with all this?

I don’t really have a long-term plan for writing comics. It’s just a hobby at the moment and a “wouldn’t it be cool if I made my own comic” type thing. I’d love to be able to finish this first volume of The List and then it’d be nice to do more of it. I don’t expect to get any financial rewards from it, I just want to create something, to be a creator instead of a consumer the whole time.

Don’t get me wrong though, if someone wants to pay me to write comics I’d be more than happy to oblige.

Tell me a little about the process of designing the overall world of the comic, what sorta things led to the designing of the characters and environments we see?Before I wrote this comic I’d tried to write other things like TV shows and film scripts and one thing I learnt from that was to create a World Building document. It’s essentially a bit like a bible for the world within which The List takes place. I asked myself loads of questions like “What are the elves like?”, “Are there other Santas?” and then I’d answer those questions with as many details as possible. Then when I was writing I could refer to it, or if another question came up I’d add it and answer it.

I’m a games designer in my professional life so I would also plan the layout of places on paper to help me make sure everything flowed correctly and logically when moving from place to place. I also wrote biographies for each of the characters, describing what they look like, some of their background information, key experiences within their life.

Once all that had happened and I’d written the comic I handed it over to my co-creator Liana Recchione and she knocked it out of the park! I’m really lucky to have found such a great artist to bring it to life. She got the concept immediately and just ran with it and has such a great style to her drawing. So I built the world in words and Liana built the world in pictures.

What is one thing, one cheeky secret, that you can reveal here that you’ve never told anywhere else?I assume you mean about the comic, not myself! Derek is named after the Ricky Gervais’ character from the TV show of the same name. If you want a secret about me, I only eat children’s cereal because adult cereal is boring and tasteless.

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In the theme of 12 days of Christmas, what 12 words would you use to describe The List?Brutal. Sincere. Dark. Heartwarming. Upstanding. Honest. Fun. Gritty. Christmas. Angry. Drunk. Jesus.

Your Kickstarter is raising money for the printing of the first issue of the comic, assuming it gets funded, would you follow a similar model of funding for every subsequent issue?

It would definitely be something we’d consider doing, yeah. We’re actually asking for funding to help finish the art for the first issue, not just for printing. Hopefully, with one Kickstarter behind us it would be easier to get a bit more coverage and therefore it’d be easier to fund, but things are rarely that straightforward.

We’ll also be putting it up on Comixology to try and generate a little bit of income to help go towards the next issue.

Building on the last question, seeing as your book is festive, how would you market it, if at all, during the rest of the year?The honest answer to that is that I don’t think there’s much point to it. I think it’s okay for it to be a seasonal thing. When Christmas rolls around every year you see the same films, hear the same music, why not read the same comic?!

If you could make a comic for any one existing character, which character would you pick?This is a really good question. I have what I think would be a pretty good storyline for Spider-Man but it would probably be too dark for Marvel. I also think a lot of Spider-Man fans would really dislike it, but I think it’s fun to send characters to a dark place where they need to pull themselves together and battle through their mental demons as well as physical ones.

Thanks for reading, and thanks to James for taking the time to chat with me about the comic. As I said at the beginning, I really like the idea of this comic and so if you want to help be a part of making this comic a reality, then click here to help fund it. From everyone here at G33k P0p, have an awesome holiday season, and keep it G33k!

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