Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief: Congratulations on the release of your comic book series, The List! For those who may be unfamiliar, how would you describe the series’ premise, and what inspired you to tell this story?
James Stimpson: What if Santa saved children every Christmas instead of delivering presents? Sal’s not like the Santa you see in the movies. He’s not that fat, not very jolly, and definitely doesn’t say, “Ho ho ho.” Sal doesn’t deliver presents on Christmas Eve either. Instead, he gives children a better gift: freedom. Sal works for Santa Squad, an elite organization of Secret Santas and their Elves who take care of Christmas each year; from delivering presents to saving children, they’ve got it covered. The series follows Sal out on one of his annual “deliveries.”
Unsurprisingly, the idea for the comic came at Christmas time. I was feeling rather fortunate that I was able to provide gifts for the ones I love, and I started wondering what happens to children in families that don't have any money. That then led onto wondering about children in much worse situations at Christmas, and Sal was born. I really wanted to tell the story in comic form, because I wanted to give back to a world I adore so much, and I felt it was original and fun enough that some people would enjoy it!
BD: What can you share with us about your creative process in creating Issue #1, and what have been some of your creative influences?
JS: Before I actually started writing, I came up with a narrative outline, as well as creating a “World Building” document. The latter being a document where I pose myself lots of different questions about the world in which the comic takes place and then answer them; this gave me a set of rules to write to. Throughout the process, I added questions as they came up.
I wrote out all four issues by hand to begin with; I really enjoy starting this way. I then read through it and added some extra threads into the story. Then, I typed it up which acted as an editorial pass, too. I then did several rounds or rewriting to get it to a place where I was happy with it.
I'm influenced by a lot of people, films, songs, everything. It's possible to be influenced by everything around you if it resonates with you. The biggest influences for this comic were Frank Miller (I was reading a lot of Miller's work while writing.), Alan Moore (He has a great book about writing comics that helped a lot.), and then there were lots of films and TV shows that helped me, but I tried not to let them influence me too much, as it would have ended up an homage/ripoff rather than something original.
BD: What do you hope that readers will take away from your work?
JS: On the surface level, I hope they just enjoy reading it, as well as the fantastic visuals created by Liana Recchione and the journey we take them on. On a deeper level, I hope it makes people reflect on what they do have rather than what they don't.
BD: You recently launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund the first issue. What can you share with us about your experience with the crowdfunding platform?
JS: It was STRESSFUL! I can't stress that enough. Every night for the 22 days, I was on my PC trying to get coverage, etc. from various websites. I think it's a great platform for indie comic creators, though. I personally think that Kickstarter is a great place for people to discover indie comics and back new and interesting ideas. Creators don't have to battle the big publishers on there; you know that if you go onto Kickstarter, it'll only be indie comics. That's not to say that some pros don't use it, because they do, but it will be original work. They may have lots of followers on Twitter or wherever, and they may bring new people to Kickstarter, potentially shining a light on new undiscovered talent who get a few extra backers.
BD: If given the opportunity to expand your series into other entertainment mediums, in what format do you hope to see it adapted?
JS: I think it's always dangerous for someone to write something with the aim of it becoming something else, in case they get too distracted by trying to make it X when it needs to succeed as a comic first. Of course, if someone did want to develop it, I'd love to see it made into a Christmas action film. It's definitely something me and my friends would go and see as our Christmas outing.
BD: Are there any upcoming projects on which you are currently working that you would like to share with our readers?
JS: Both myself and the artist Liana work full-time, so we'll mostly be concentrating in the second issue of The List. Liana is a very creative person, and last year she released the second volume of her series, Risenfall. It's only available in Italian at the moment, but I'm hoping she does an English translation for it! She may also have one or two more things up her sleeve, but we'll have to see how the year develops!
BD: Lastly, what is the best way for our readers to find more information about The List?
JS: There are a few places people can go: thelistcomicbook.co.uk, follow us on Twitter (@TheList_Comic) and on Instagram (@the_list_comic). Liana can also be found on Instagram (@lillyre_2810); it's really worth doing that for her fantastic art.
They can also buy digital versions on ComixCentral or ComiXology and physical copies on eBay. Any sales go towards funding issue 2.