Words: Ben Grisanti
Pictures: Lukasz Kowalczuk
Colours: Lukasz Mazur and Lukasz Kowalczuk
Secret Santas is a story about Love. It’s a story about the true Spirit of Christmas. It’s about the act of Gift Giving. It’s about putting the happiness of others above your own.
It’s the story of a man named Geoff. Geoff has a special someone in his life for the first time, a woman named Christine.
Christine has a son, a temperamental pre-teen boy named Alan.
All Geoff wants is to make Christine, and by extension Alan, happy this Christmas.
And all Alan wants is the hottest video game system on the planet this Christmas. The Turbo Drive System, this year’s must have item for every right minded American youth.
Advance Comics favourites Ben Grisanti (Polybius) and Lukasz Kowalczuk (Samurai Slasher, Strike Team Code Name Diamond Force) return with a new one shot which strikes fear into the heart of every parent as the Countdown to Christmas continues.
Meatloaf famously declared “I would do anything for Love, but I won’t do that” but never went on to specify what the titular “that” actually was. Geoff, the hero of our story, is a man grappling with the same dilemma. The Turbo Drive system is sold out around the country and the reality is he couldn’t afford one anyway.
Geoff is a normal kind, honest, hard-working guy who plays by the rules. But now he’s desperate and time is running out. Luckily he knows a guy, a guy with an idea that just might save his festive bacon.
The Secret Santas, a black market ring of crooks, thieves, mobsters and worse who can get you anything you want to put under your Christmas Tree, for the right price of course.
Secret Santas feels like the mutant crossbred offspring of a family sitcom Christmas Special and a 70s Revenge movie. It’s Jingle All the Way meets Death Wish. You can feel Geoff’s fear and desperation, your heart starts to race and your stomach begins to sink as the glorious gruesome details of just how far Geoff will fall begin to unfold.
The world that Grisanti and Kowalczuk have created smells like stale sweat, truck stop coffee, half full takeaway containers, regret, desperation and cheap cigarettes. The creators put their hero through ordeal after ordeal all the while laughing at Geoff’s decent into madness.
Kowalczuk’s art is grotesque, visceral and nightmarish. He fills this tale of human misery with a supporting cast full of ruffians, villains and low lives which are easily identifiable as crime cliches despite the fact that most of them have no dialogue in this story. This feels like something that belongs in the pages of a recalled and banned issue of Mad Magazine. This is enhanced by the super saturated neon colours provided by fellow Polish creator Lukasz Mazur. .
If this was a “very special episode” of a cartoon or a family comedy this would all end well for Geoff, Christine and Allan. Geoff would learn his lesson about the perils of consumer culture. He would arrive at Christine’s house for Christmas Dinner. They’d all wear matching ugly sweaters. They would sit around and sip eggnog in front of a roaring fire laughing about discovering the true meaning of Christmas.
But it’s not, life in the world of Secret Santas is brutish and short and ghoulishly funny.
If you’re reading this before October 7th you can back Secret Santas on Kickstarter from as little as 2 dollars for the digital edition and 10 dollars for a physical copy. You can follow Ben on Twitter or visit the Hypnotic Dog homepage for more information.