First Comics News: Who is Sleigher?
Rob Harrington: Sleigher is the current heir to the Santa Claus mantle. He’s a whiskey drinking, hard living, no nonsense guy who also happens to have a huge soft spot for protecting the kids of the world.
1st: Who choses who gets to be Santa Claus?
Rob: It’s different for each new Santa. Sometimes the mantle is passed down from father to son, sometimes friend to friend, other times it’s just random happenstance. There’s no hard-and-fast rule for selecting the next Santa Claus. The only common thread between all Santas is that they try their hardest to bring joy into the hearts of people that have very little in their lives.
1st: Why was Sleigher the right choice to be the next Santa?
Rob: Well, in our story Sleigher winds up being the new Santa, but the jury is still out if he’s the right choice. Only time will tell if Sleigher can live up to the lofty expectations of the position, or if he’ll end up being just another bust.
1st: Did he have the white Duck Dynasty beard before been chosen?
Rob: Sleigher’s had the beard since puberty, it runs in his family.
1st: How many Santa’s have there been over the years?
Rob: (Possibly) Hundreds. Some hold the mantle for decades, others for only a few days. There have never been detailed records of all the Santa Claus through the generations… which means there are a lot of crazy stories yet to be told!
1st: Why is he riding Ghost Rider’s motorcycle?
Rob: As cool as that would be, Sleigher’s ride is actually a sentient motorcycle by the name of Blitzkrieg, or “Blitz” for short. Sleigher and Blitz have somewhat of a bromance going on (a motomance? a sleighmance?), where they can be the best of friends one minute but be bickering the next. Though mostly their relationship consists of Sleigher doing crazy (and often stupid) things and then Blitz making fun of him. They’re thick as thieves, those two.
1st: Is that Rudolph’s skull on the handlebars?
Rob: To avoid any possible copyright infringement, the skull is actually that of a new character named Christoph the Crimson-Nosed Caribou (©Robert Harrington 2016).
1st: This series is advertised as Christmas in July. What does Santa do for the other 364 days a year?
Rob: An incredible amount of preparation goes into making one special night a year go as smoothly as possible. Everything from wrapping billions of presents to plotting out a 300,000,000 mile journey to changing the oil in his motorcycle, needs to be done before Christmas Eve. That said, Sleigher spends most of the other days of the year just drinking and rocking out. He plays just as hard as he works.
1st: There are picture of Sleigher battling the Pope. What’s the Pope’s beef with Sleigher?
Rob: Sleigher isn’t actually fighting the Pope in the first issue, instead he’s does battle with an abusive, low level cardinal. Sleigher has a beef with the cardinal’s misuse of power, so he takes matters into his own hands and aims to lay down some yuletide justice. [Spoiler Warning] Sleigher whoops his ass!
1st: Pope Francis seems like such a peaceful man, what drives him to acts of violence towards Sleigher?
Rob: Agreed, he does seems like a peaceful man! Hopefully he and Sleigher never come to blows, because that’s one fight where even I might have some trouble rooting for the heavy metal Santa Claus to win.
1st: I can’t help but notice the pentagram behind Sleigher’s head on the cover, as well as the battle with the Pope, what is Sleigher’s stance on religion?
Rob: Even though a lot of what Sleigher is surrounded by (especially the Christmas holiday) has roots in religion, it’s not something that he’s actively thinking about. He’s more a man of action more than anything else. Sleigher likes his music to be loud, his magic to be explosive, and his holidays to rock! He’s a pretty simple person in that respect, which I guess the same could be said about myself. As for the pentagram (on the Tony Fleecs variant cover) …well, I just thought it looked cool.
1st: Don’t you have to be deeply religious and Christian to take on a job that celebrates Jesus’ birthday?
Rob: In our story, the history of Santa Claus goes further back then the origins of Christianity itself. Various Santas have been protecting the world long before that Jesus kid was even a twinkle in his father’s eye–wait, who was his dad? Anywho, the annual Santa Claus celebration just happened to coincide with Jesus’ birthday and the two have been intertwined ever since. And like the people of the world, some Santas have had stronger religious beliefs than others. To each his own.
1st: There are a lot of Heavy Metal Santa’s out there, almost all have sexy female elves. what type of elves does Sleigher employ?
Rob: Sleigher has the most badass gang of elves you’ll hope you never come across. They’ll bust their asses to get their work done and will cut anyone who gets in their way, but at the end of the day they’re always down to throw back some brews and have a good time. Just like Sleigher, they work hard and play hard.
1st: You found Axur Eneas on the Digital Webbing forum, what made Axur the right choice?
Rob: It was an absolute no-brainer. I had already been a fan of Axur’s through his work on the Action Lab series Aero-Girl (Vol. 1 available now!), prior to ever talking to him. When you look at his work, you quickly realize how incredibly strong a designer, artist and storyteller he is. When we first started discussing Sleigher and Axur showed interest in working together, I knew he’d knock it out of the park. It was the same when assembling the rest of the Sleigher creative team. Alessandro Alessi’s color work is some of my favorite stuff I’ve seen in my five years making comics, he brings a wonderfully diverse palette to every scene. Our letterer, Chas! Pangburn, does a stellar job of experimenting with different styles and layouts, while still managing to convey the story and jokes from my scripts. I’ve been really fortunate to work with such an amazing team.
1st: Originally Sleigher was an 8 page one-shot, is this incorporated into the mini-series or was that a separate story?
Rob: Our original eight page “pitch” is actually the first eight pages of issue one. It was written as an introduction to the character of Sleigher and how he operates (by kicking ass!). If you pulled those pages out of the issue, I feel like the intro scene would still work as a self-contained story, but it’s also very indicative of the craziness and humor that’ll be found in the rest of the series.
1st: What made Action Labs the right home for Sleigher?
Rob: I’ve been closely following Action Lab for over five years. I first met ALE President, Dave Dwonch during their first year of publishing at San Diego Comic Con and was really impressed with his vision for the company. I had just started self-publishing short stories and one-shots at the time and didn’t feel like I had anything worthy of pitching to them as an ongoing, so I just kept tabs on all things Action Labs over the years. When Sleigher was ready to go out, Action Lab was far and away my number one choice. Besides being my first book through a publisher, I’m supremely grateful I get to work with a company I’ve admired.
1st: This mini-series ends in October, will there be a Christmas special too?
Rob: At the moment we don’t have any other issues scheduled… but the collected edition will be released in time for the holidays and if people enjoy what we’re doing then you can bet there will be more Sleigher in the future.