Kickstart the Week(end) with Red Xmas 1-3: A horror/comedy Christmas comic for adults

By: Nicole D’Andria
Santa
Claus is coming to town… and all the children better hide because he’s out for
blood! In the third Kickstarter for Red
Xmas
, readers get to enjoy three issues of the mature horror/comedy series
this holiday season! I spoke with the writer and artist about how this comic
book brings joy to the world!

After
Mrs. Claus dies in a toy accident, Santa plans on making the children pay and
starts by attacking the town of Christmas, Vermont! While FBI agent Ellie
Tewskberry tries (and fails) to take him down, her son Byron runs away to the
North Pole in search of his father, who abandoned the family to become an elf.

The
writing team of Red Xmas consists of Clay
Adams, who’s previously published comics on Kickstarter with his FRIED Comics,
and co-writer Alexandre O. Philippe, who recently directed 78/52, a documentary about the Psycho
shower scene. The art team includes line artist Fabio Ramacci (Modern Dead) and colorist Emilio Pilliu
(ZZZComics contributor). Red Xmas #3 also has a six page back-up feature
starring waitress/awful person Frieda in “Crisis on Infinite Friedas,” which
is drawn and colored by Ryan Kroboth (Sunmaker).
The
Kickstarter’s goal is to raise $4,500 by December 7, 2018 on 11:59 PM EST.
Rewards include digital ($5) and physical ($20) copies of the 40 page long
third issue, subtitled “Silent, But Deadly, Night”. Digital copies of the previous
issues, subtitled “O Holy Crap!” and coming in at a total of 64 pages, are also
available digitally ($15) or backers can get physical reprints ($30). The
creator also includes copies of his other works as rewards, including digital ($15)
copies of PBOW: Pregnant Pitches of War.
There are plenty of other rewards to, which you can check out on their Kickstarter page.
I
interviewed writer Clay Adams and artist Fabio Ramacci below.

Me: What
inspired you to combine Santa Claus with a horror/comedy comic book series?

Adams: Red Xmas started as a
screenplay pitch (co-writer) Alexandre O. Philippe and I made back in the early
2000s. Our alma mater, NYU, used to send out a big book of pitches to agents,
managers, and production companies, so we said, “Hey, let’s come up with
something.”
We
started out riffing on Nightmare on Elm
Street.
Freddy Krueger is such a brilliant character, so we thought, “Who
else might terrorize you in your sleep?” The answer: Santa Claus.
(Incidentally,
we pitched the idea and figured we’d write the script if anyone asked for it. Turns
out, a LOT of people were interested, and we had to bang out the script in
three days. I… don’t recommend this.)

Me: How would you describe the
typical work day for one of Santa’s elves in Red Xmas?

Adams: They’re currently cowering in fear somewhere in the bowels of the
workshop, hoping to avoid a repeat of The Great Elf Holocaust of 1962.
Oh, for the simple days when they only had to feed
the reindeer at dawn and make toys for every kid on earth…
Me: What can you tell us about the other main
characters in this series, the Santa-skeptic FBI agent, her wannabe-elf
ex-husband, and their son, Byron?
Adams: When our story starts,
the family is reeling from Witherspoon Tewksberry’s decision to run off to the
North Pole to be an elf.
Momma-bear
Ellie is a realist to the Nth degree—she emphatically does NOT believe in Santa
Claus. She thinks the world is a terrible, evil place and if you let your guard
down for one second, you’ll die a horrible death. That’s why she became an FBI
agent in the first place: she’s protecting the world from itself. It’s a pretty
stifling environment to grow up in, and her husband leaving hasn’t made things
better.
Their son
Byron, though, knows Santa is real. He’s tired of hearing how bad the world is,
and he wants to believe in some happy magic. He thinks Santa knows where his
dad is, so Byron runs away to the North Pole to find his pop.

Me:
If
you had to take on Santa Claus and his horde of elves, what would your plan of
attack be?
Adams: First, I’d lure him
with milk and cookies.
Then, I’d—
Come a
little closer. This is a secret.
(Whispers)
I’d use the secret weapon that was developed many years ago to bring Santa
down, should it ever come to that.
And I’d
use it with extreme prejudice.
(The rest
of you will find out what it is next issue.)
 

Me:
Can you tell us more about Frieda in your back-up feature and how this
fits into the Red Xmas universe?
Adams: Our imprint, FRIED
Comics, is set up like a fictional diner where you come in and read your comics
over a nice cup of coffee.
Frieda is
our Elvira-like waitress, only with less teeth and more meth.
We wrote
the FRIED Diner and Frieda into our first two issues, and the readers demanded
she get her own story. We crowd-sourced a title, then did a backup feature in
last year’s Red Xmas: O Holy Crap!
“Frieda: Hardboiled and Over Easy” was a hit, so we’re bringing her back for a
second tour of duty.
 
Me:
Why did you decide to make this a two week long Kickstarter campaign
rather than the typical month-long campaign?
Adams: This is our fifth
campaign, so we were looking for a new challenge. We didn’t want to necessarily
raise more money, so we cut the funding period in half instead.
“12 Days
of Red Xmas” sort of wrote itself.

Me:
What is the number one reason why people should pledge money to your
Kickstarter?
Adams: If you like Roald Dahl
or Rick & Morty, laugh at
funerals or dig comics like Preacher,
you’ll love this book. And because it’s Kickstarter, we try to craft a fun
experience for our backers—it’s a party, and you’re invited.
Oh, and
the art by Fabio Ramacci and Emilio Pilliu is beautiful!
(That was
three reasons. Sorry, I’m a writer, not a mathematician.)
Me: What inspirational words do you have for
aspiring comic book writers?
Adams: Make something! You’ll
never get better if your dreams stay just that. Put it on paper, hire an
artist, and get the book in front of an audience who will tell you if it stinks
or not. Like Nike says: Just Do It.
Me: How did you meet Clay and become part of this
project?


Ramacci It was kinda being in the right moment in the
right place. After having worked for Italian publishers I was looking for a way
to break into the American comics industry and I was spending most of my time looking
online for such opportunities. Clay and Alexandre posted a “looking for
artist” request in a dedicated subreddit and I proposed myself since the
project was as crazy as I wanted it to be! And here we are, still having a lot
of fun together!!

Me: In the last three issues of Red Xmas, what was your favorite page to
draw and why?


Ramacci: I admit, I’m having fun with most of the pages
of Red Xmas cause they’re all kinda
quirky in their own way; the story is just THAT crazy!! Moreover I have a lot
creative freedom and that makes everything funnier and more challenging too.
But if I have to choose I’d probably pick page four of the second issue where
RICK the animated rickshaw just goes BOOM out of the blue sky with his
teleporting abilities. It is just so crazy I couldn’t stop jiggling while
drawing!

Me: What was the process of creating the character designs like while working
on Red Xmas, and which character is your
favorite to draw? Why are they your favorite?


Ramacci: I haven’t created too many characters since
most of the designs are by the previous artist of the series, Domo Stanton. So
I’m going with the original designs, just making them my own a little! 🙂
The few I
created starting from issue 2 and on were kinda easy since Clay gave me good
references and asked me to reinterpret them in a cartoonish way. Thinking about
the best character I like to draw I have two: Rick the rickshaw—cause I have
started drawing back in time copying old Disney stuff and I love the cartoonish
vibe he gives—and Ellie—cause black leather jackets are just so badass!!

Me:
If you had to take on Santa Claus and his horde of elves, what would your
plan of attack be?


Ramacci: He’s an immortal demigod but he’s not an
all-seeing creature, so I guess the best tactic would be trying something like
sneak attacks. I’d love to hire a squad of ancient ninjas and use ambush
tactics!!

Me: Since you’ll be doing limited edition commissions for this Kickstarter,
what has been your favorite commission that you ever did and why was it your
favorite?



Ramacci: Among the commissions I’ve done in the
past, probably the one I loved most was the one with VENOM (from Marvel comics)
cause I love that character sooo much! I was so happy when they asked me that!
I only thought: “FINALLY!!”

Me:
You’ve previously published work with Star Comics and Sergio Bonelli Editore
in Rome, Italy. Can you tell us a bit about the comic book scene in Italy and
some unique qualities it has versus publishing in the United States and other
countries?


Ramacci: The Italian comic scene is pretty
different from the American one. Both scenes are pretty active and big in terms
of number. Some years ago Tex from Bonelli in Italy was selling more comics
than Spider-Man in all of the USA, just to give you an idea of how big a market
it is. Comics are usually in black and white, with a smaller page size but with
90-100 pages average. There are no superheroes, or just a few, and we go with
classic western, horror, sci-fi and detective stories. Also, there is huge
market here for intimistic graphic novels! In Italy I’ve had the opportunity to
work on many genres like detective, horror, historic and even romance stories xD!!
Red Xmas is something even different
from all of that stuff!!


The only
thing I don’t like about the Italian comic scene is that it is a little bit
self-referencing and a lot of very good artists and writers are just not
interested in working for abroad companies because they’re fine the way they
are. And that’s a pity—for the world outside to not be able to read such good
comics!

Me:
What is the number one reason why people should pledge money to your Kickstarter?


Ramacci: Of course because it’s a F*****G AWESOME
comic book! I mean: we tell a story of a crazy Santa who wants to kill children
while all sorts of crazy beings and personifications of the other festivities
try to stop him. And let’s not talk about flying rickshaws and Easter eggs used
as flying vehicles! Every line is a pun, yet it is all very readable! Is that
enough to convince you guys?

Me: What inspirational words do you
have for aspiring comic book artists?


Ramacci: The only real advice I can give aspiring
artists is to DRAW, DRAW and DRAW more while being STUBBORN as hell. It’s the
only way you can do this work. You gotta be (or become) a good artist and love
comics! That is not achievable with a half-assed resolution, trust me! So: believe
in yourselves and DRAW.





Did I say
draw? Well, go do it now!

Thank you for this interesting interview!!

Me: Thank you BOTH for taking the time to talk with
me about the demigod that we all know and love, Santa Claus. Happy holidays! If you’re
reading this and interested in getting into the violent side of the Christmas spirit, check
out the Kickstarter for Red Xmas here.
Do you
have a Kickstarter? Want to be interviewed about it and have the project
featured on “Kickstart the Week?” Let me know in the comments below
or message
me on my website
.

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