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Santa sacks a robot uprising

‘X-Maschina’ is an upcoming holiday-horror comic book crafted by local comic writer Misty Graves

By Rachel Sankey

Local Green Bay comic writer Misty Graves has teamed up with Connecticut-based writer Steve Urena and cartoonist Lane Lloyd to debut a Santa vs. robots comic. Photo courtesy of Misty Graves

Santa Claus is back in town, and he’s swapped his thirst for cookies with a bloodlust for robots trying to overthrow humanity.

This is the backdrop of a new comic, “X-Maschina”, that blends horror, comedy and futuristic-like elements with holiday traditions. Local Green Bay comic writer Misty Graves has teamed up with Connecticut-based writer Steve Urena and cartoonist Lane Lloyd to bring the holiday bloodbath to life. Misty Graves is the pseudonym of a local comic book writer and avid horror fan.

When describing the story, co-writers Urena and Graves said the story resembles a Western redemption, where Santa has to save the world from evil.

“Santa has given up his magic. He’s tired. He’s been doing this for so long,” Urena said. “It’s the year 2045. He’s basically like Clint Eastwood in this and he’s like, ‘I’m going to give up. Take this one last sleigh ride and then ride off into the sunset.’”

Urena said Santa partners with a Facebook-like character who wants Santa’s Christmas magic to measure the naughty and niceness of people so they can get their information. When the tracking technology goes awry, Santa’s toy-making machines begin to take over, leaving it up to Santa to save everyone from parishing.

”It’s listening to you, you know, they see you when you’re sleeping, they know when you’re awake. That’s the ultimate spyware,” Urena said. “Santa knows what’s going on.”

Urena has been writing since he was 15, and now works as a senior copywriter living in Connecticut. He teamed up with Graves after he was a guest on the Longbox of Darkness podcast, which Graves co-hosts, to talk about his sloth-horror comic “Slow Pokes.”

Graves, who goes by the pseudonym to protect themselves from previous online threats and harassment received due to the subjects covered in their work, said they got along very well with Urena and were impressed with his zany comic ideas, making him the perfect partner for this holiday-inspired comic.

“X-Maschina” cover poster. The 20-page comic is currently fundraising for publication on Kickstarter. Photo courtesy of Misty Graves

When brainstorming for “X-Maschina,” Urena said that they didn’t run into any conflict on ideas.

“There was no ego involved,” Urena said. “It was just the best idea wins, it doesn’t matter where it comes from, as long as it’s what’s best for the comic. And I think it brought us closer. We’re now really good friends over this.”

Though the comic has a heavy focus on Santa’s redemption story, Urena and Graves also expanded the canons of some other traditional characters like Mrs. Claus.

“I have a backstory for her,” Graves said. “She went to school for robotics and she and Santa met because she was building specific machines that could build his toys for him. He fell in love with her. But her machines couldn’t produce enough toys for him and he got frustrated. And they fought and then she started talking to the abominable snowman.”

The writers found cartoonist Lane Lloyd through an online comics development workshop. Urena said that Lloyd is a phenomenal artist and that they work very quickly to get the graphics back to him and Graves.

“Lane works super fast and was incredibly understanding of our script,” Graves said. “I want to say they ead the script and just got it. Because when we started seeing pages and art come back it was exactly as I had imagined it. It was actually even better,” Graves said.

Urena said the trio was a match made in heaven and the 20-page comic wouldn’t be possible without Lloyd’s work.

The group behind the comic is currently fundraising on Kickstarter for the publishing of the comic. The campaign runs through Jan. 30, 2022. In addition to varied rewards and thank you gift created for the campaign, there’s also an official “X-Maschina” theme song, “We Want the Snow’’ by Blake Raines.

“It was just kind of this lovely experience of creation where two creators play to their strengths to make something that’s beyond what each one of them could create individually,” Graves said.

Rachel Sankey is an Arts and Entertainment Reporter for Green Bay City Pages. She can be reached via email at [email protected]

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