Review: Santa Claus: Private Eye – Chapters 1-4

Santa Claus is a private eye. End of story. Nah I’m kidding there’s plenty more to say about these first four chapters of Thrillbent’s newest digital comic. Santa Claus: Private Eye does in fact star Santa Claus as a private eye. Why that is, isn’t clear, but by the end of the fourth chapter you’ll begin to get some inkling of why. I’m not going to talk about that though.

The story actually begins eight years in the past with Santa delivering presents. He’s rather distracted and it’s not really clear why. All we know is that he hates the holidays. In the present we find him in a shitty car staking out a house. He watches as a man knocks on the door to the place and embraces a woman dressed in lingerie. Nick heads around back to look in the bedroom window to get the pictures he needs, but the people won’t turn their heads. He decides to knock on the glass and we see the resulting pictures. Case solved.

Santa-Claus-P.I.-10.23.14Back at Ole St. Nick’s place aka Nick Santana Private Investigator’s place, we find Nick a bit short for the month. Yup he’s the struggling P.I. trope, but it’s Santa Claus so I wasn’t bothered by it. After getting a call from the wife a new client walks in. She’s rich looking and her husband is dead. She doesn’t think it’s an accident and wants Nick to find out what really happened. After the typical damsel/P.I. interaction he takes the case.

It’s interesting because the Santa element is strange and almost out of place. Yet the story really relies on our main character being Santa Claus. It’s a strange mixture and I’m still not sure why Santa is a P.I. Again we see a glimpse of what happened eight years earlier, but it really doesn’t explain why he’s a P.I.

The writing is solid. In fact the dialogue is enjoyable and the narration isn’t too heavy-handed with the P.I. tropes. There is a bit of cheese to the narration though and reading all four chapters at once made that glaring, but realistically most people are going to read this a chapter at a time.

Because this is a Thrillbent digital comic the art does a lot of the work. The motion/animated feel is a nice touch to the story. In the opening we see some Christmas lights blink on and off; the story is full of fine details like this so pay close attention. The style is gritty and realistic, but it’s not too dark. It almost reminds me of Darick Robertson’s style.

I have to admit that I’m curious about this story. I’m not actually to smitten with the P.I. aspect as I’ve read a ton from that genre this year and what’s presented here isn’t blowing my hair back, but then there’s that Santa Claus aspect. It’s interesting and so I’ll stick around and find out why Nick is a private dick.

Score: 4/5

Writer: Jeremy Bernstein Artist: Michael Dorman Colorist: Rob Schwager Publisher: Thrillbent Price: $3.99 Monthly Subscription Release Date: Each Monday Website -