The character research was a bit odd for Red Bastard. Not only did I have to come up with concepts for the characters, but I had to make sure to step outside of my own style while doing so.
I started looking at old artwork of Santa Claus from Coca-Cola ads. That seemed to be a fairly iconic depiction, and there was certainly a lot of reference to choose from. I pulled things like his hairline and the way his beard fell and started incorporating those into Nick. Granted, my early take on Nick Clarke was a bit "sillier" than Mike's.
I had pegged Nick as older, say 65. He was still pretty round, just… y'know… jacked and intimidating. My thought was that he needed to carry a lot of Santa's physical characteristics. Mike was on the other end of the spectrum. He pictured a much younger man, so we had to find a common ground.
On the top left you can see one of the "young" nick attempts. He's a lot broader and his beard is black. We agreed that this was too far in the other direction and settled for that same close-cropped beard, just white and with a bushier mustache. Since we utilize a lot of silhouette in this story, we wanted his to be very "Santa like".
Nick wasn't the only one to go through age-defying changes. The Boss was originally depicted as much older. Kind of stereotypical, really. Mike's description when we first went over the script was "Stacy Keach", and that's what you see here.
As we progressed through pre-production, the description of The Boss started to grow. Eventually we had a much larger backstory for him that set up a lot of the elements you see at his party. We opted for a much younger, diminutive Boss. Almost child-like. Actually, he's a lot like the late Paul Bearer. If you ever get a chance to draw someone in the style of Paul Bearer, I highly recommend it. His expressions are PERFECT for comics.