Review: The List #1 & 2 (James Stimpson)

We know it’s all a bit early to be talking about Christmas, but James Stimpson’s The List is anything but your usual Christmas story as it sees an gun-toting Saint Nick delivering a can of whoop ass on child abusers, in a really fun and outrageous look at this festive favourite

Publisher: Self Published
Writer: Jame Stimpson
Artist: Liana Recchione
Price: Currently Funding on Kickstarter

From, the opening page which sees Santa blasting some goon’s brains out before stabbing another unfortunate crook, this incarnation is not the norm. This Santa is part of a secret squad who helps out disadvantaged kids by force as well as giving them presents. Our story revolves around Sal, a hard drinking and hard punching former SAS agent who is the strong arm of the Santa Squad. While the rest of his crew are out delivering presents to the good kids, Sal is out there fighting the good fight for those disadvantaged youngsters who my not be having a happy holidays. However the rest of the Santa squad, in particular the slime Cedrick, are worried Sal is going to reveal their secret. But do some of them have their own agenda?!

Writer James Stimpson has created a really unique, all action version of the Father Christmas story and is clearly having a blast coming up with the crazy outlandish concepts for his version of Saint Nick. On one hand it’s your classic Christmas story with Santa, elves and reindeers, but on the other it reads more like a police procedural, packed full of classic cop cliches, maverick heroes and the weaselly colleagues who want him to fail – plus there is the long suffering captain who has to put up with them but in this case it is Jesus which gives things a very surreal twist.

Stimpson cleverly mixes classic Christmas elements in with the hard hitting action. The elves are like Santa’s quartermasters and kit him up with weapons rather than presents, and the sleigh is replaced with a stealth jet. However the story is not all fun and games, and Sal’s hard drinking and struggles to bond with the rest of the squad give the book a real depth to it.

Artist Liana Recchione brings the whole thing to life with a really slick and polished style that definitely makes the most of both the Christmas theme and the action elements. From the opening page blood splatters to the more taught police room histrionics it’s a nice balance, and while it is probably more styled like a classic 90s comic book than a cheesy Christmas card, that is better for the kind of story they are trying to tell.

One of the most unique and enjoyable Christmas books we’ve read in a long time. With the action scenes making it a much more R Rated story than you might expect in a Santa story, it definitely isn’t your average cheesy Christmas story and feels more like an 80s action movie rather than Miracle on 34th Street. It’s over the top nature may be too much for some, but we thought this was a really fun and outrageous read, and knowing there might be an ass kicking Santa squad out there means we’ll never be on the naughty list again!