"Secret Santas" Comic Review
Written by James Ferguson
Published by Hypnotic Dog Comics
Written by Ben Grisanti
Illustrated by Lukasz Kowalczuk
Colored and Lettered by Lukasz Mazur
2018, 32 Pages
Every year there's some hot new toy that every kid just has to have. It's less of an issue now with online shopping, but back in the day parents were forced to fight it out at toy stores to get their hands on the perfect Christmas gift. That's where Geoff finds himself as he's trying to get the Turbo Drive System video game console for his step son. He's having trouble finding one and even more trouble paying for it. Things change when he learns about a underground Secret Santa ring. Someone will get him the console if he can get something for someone else. This is no easy task and Geoff is going to have to go through some pretty dark stuff if he's looking for a merry Christmas.
You can tell right away that you're in for a sick and twisted ride with Secret Santas. Much of this comes through in Lukasz Kowalczuk's artwork. His style is a little unsettling, which works well with the overall tone of the story. This is especially true for the shady characters Geoff meets at the Secret Santa meeting. The guy that sits next to him is absolutely disgusting in more ways than one. Kowalczuk draws every little pockmark on this man's weaselly face. You can just imagine the rough nature of his skin. Ugh. I'm cringing just thinking about it.
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Geoff's assignment is not something he can just go and grab at the store. He gets stuck with something that he has no easy access to, so he's forced to make a tough decision. Does he disappoint this kid? Or does he get his hands dirty to make for a memorable holiday. You can probably guess which path he chooses.
Colorist Lukasz Mazur takes us down this brightly colored journey into madness, showing just how desperate and violent Geoff has to get. The images pop off the page in this vibrant intensity. It's a bit like an exploitation era film. Even the gutters and background of the pages themselves look old and beat-up, which reinforces this feeling.
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Mazur gives the early scenes a gruff look, like the city is completely filthy. Although it's not explicitly stated, Secret Santas feels like it's set in the '80s. That definitely comes across in the colors.
While you have an idea of where Geoff is going to go, you'll be surprised by how twisted Secret Santas gets. Writer Ben Grisanti takes us down some dark alleys and into the depraved mind of a desperate parent. It's a fever dream of capitalism and chaos. This is like a demented version of Jingle All The Way.
Ben Grisanti is currently running a Kickstarter campaign to fund the release of Secret Santas.