24Mar/20

Silverline Title Spotlight: Cat & Mouse Vol. #1, issues 9 – 12

The Greatest Foil
(A literary review of Cat and Mouse issues 9 – 12)

One of the greatest debates of the 20th century has been “what constitutes the greatest foil?”  Let’s review a few of the major contenders:

Tin foil, a product introduced in the late 19th century, was the primary metal foil food wrap through World War II. Although stiff, tin foil was practical. However, tin had a penchant to inadvertently leech an unwanted metallic taste from its silver sheathe into its consumable contents.

Tin’s eventual replacement, Aluminum Foil, was more malleable, was less likely to alter the tastes of the food contained therein, was less expensive and was – all around – a welcomed upgrade from the tin standard.

Gold foil is, as you would expect, exponentially more expensive than either tin or aluminum. This foil is utilized by NASA in a variety of products including space suits, space craft, and satellite design.  Radiation (remember Cosmic Radiation??) is one of the many dangers Gold Foil protects spacefaring astronauts from – thus ensuring astronauts will not return to Earth with Fantastic Four-esque powers and abilities.

Gold Foil, in flake form, is the defining trait of the popular cinnamon schnapps liquor known as Goldschläger.

Comic books with Gold Foil enhancements – from logos to backgrounds to the entire comic cover – helped fuel the fires of comic speculation in the 1990s, but as these enhancements became commonplace and lost their luster, they also contributed to the decline – and near decimation – of the comic book industry as a whole within a decade.

And Chromium comic book enhancements . . . don’t even get me started on the ‘90s chromium bandwagon . . . the same bandwagon that seems to be re-gaining traction this generation, in fact . . .  🙂

But the concept of a FOIL, from a literary definition, is a widely used writer’s tool. When used properly, it provides the reader with an impactful method of comparing and contrasting characters – characters who may have parallel backgrounds, a shared history, or competing goals.  Developing literary foil(s) in a story allows the reader to experience and understand the main character(s) via a delivery method that is infinitely more powerful than simply comparing and contrasting characters through overtly factual, detailed, BORING, narrative passages.

Literary foils may, or may not, be adversaries of the characters they mirror, although they often are.  Some of the best adversarial foils in comics share similar origins.  Science is the foundation for both Spider-Man and the Green Goblin.  The gift of Power Rings grants both Green Lantern and Sinestro abilities constrained only by their imaginations.  The X-Men have had a number of similar foils including, but not limited to, the Hellfire Club, the Reavers, and the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants.  Wolverine vs. Sabretooth. The Fantastic Four vs. Doctor Doom.  Professor X vs. Magneto.  Thor vs. Loki.  The Justice League vs. the Crime Syndicate. Hawk and Dove vs. Kestrel. You get the idea.

Writer Roland Mann is a master of the “slow burn” . . . foreshadowing important characters, situations, or actions yet to be revealed.  During the previous story-arc, Wearin’ and Tearin’, you will remember that Mann introduced a mysterious and brutal duo, through cameos across the four issue arc, and dropped clues as to their origins. Brutal this mysterious duo is indeed, as they tracked police officers with known Mafia ties and executed them in cold blood. Few details of this duo were released outside of the fact that they were “specialized” Yakuza-associates who predated Cat and Mouse’s enlisting with the organization.

This provides the first of many foils that are presented within this story arc.  This duo – as we will learn is code named Tooth and Nail – is the Yakuza’s Yin to the Mafia’s Yang.  Both are ruthless crime syndicates but they hold and practice significantly different codes of honour, etiquettes, and protocols.  As Tooth and Nail were mentioned in the same breath as our protagonists, Cat and Mouse, the reader instinctively begins to mentally compare and contrast the two duos . . .the two duos that were both trained by the same martial arts sensei – Kunoichi!

When confronted with information pertaining to current crimes in New Orleans, Detective Martin Rossman, Jerry (Cat’s) superior officer, exclaims that he really wants “to nail the Yakuza.”  Jerry, in response, asks “What about the Mafia?”  Rossman stares blankly at Jerry.  Jerry knows Rossman is on the take; another layer of foil resurfaces.

Jerry continues his quest to recover a bullet used in the slaying of an officer in order to match calibers and markings to the bullet that veterinarian Keith (Demon) Grayson extracted from Mouse’s (Mandy’s) back (as illustrated in our first issue).

At the grave of fallen officer Claude Beauchamp an unplanned, but game changing, face-to-face encounter between Rossman and Cat occurs. Wait . . .I mean between Rossman and Jerry.  Actually, I mean both.

As Rossman and Cat face off, verbal barbs are exchanged and Cat removes his cowl, revealing his identity to his boss in a power play where he blackmails Rossman into collaborating with him against the Mafia and Yakuza, threatening to bring Rossman’s career and life crashing down on him should he reveal the secrets he knows. A cop acting to end all gang activities in New Orleans vs. a cop holding secret allegiances to a criminal organization. Yet another foil.The long-awaited first meeting between Cat (note: no Mouse – just Cat) and Tooth & Nail emerges unexpectedly.  The long anticipated first epic battle . . . didn’t happen. Tooth referred to their ongoing “slay” list, and stated that they have only come to kill Martin Rossman. They have zero interest in engaging with Cat.  They promise to return for Rossman when he is alone and start to take their leave.  Shocked, Cat exclaims that they “can’t do that” and lunges towards Nail, fists flying, attempting to stop them from leaving.  However, what can’t even be described as a scuffle quickly ends as Cat finds himself greatly outmatched by Nail, who had only toyed with Cat, keeping him at a distance without striking back, while Cat was physically giving his all.  The duo quietly and peacefully exited the graveyard . . . while promising Rossman that another visit will indeed follow. . .

This scene, coupled with the scene with Tooth and Nail debriefing with their Yakuza boss, is my favourite foil example in this series.  Tooth and Nail, the duo described as “more brutal than Cat and Mouse” seemed to be almost pacifist in their first encounter with Cat?  While Cat, a single individual with adrenaline pumping, was ready to engage a known dangerous pair in battle?  Nail is unquestionably stronger than Cat, yet Nail did not harm Cat even in the slightest, and even after Cat was the aggressor?  And the fact that Tooth and Nail, who, after being shown brutally killing others in previous issues, are shown to abide to killing those on their “list,” but only those on the list (IE – not Cat)?? AND, on top of that, they ultimately DO leave the graveyard in a pacifist manner.  These would not have been the actions expected by most readers, which highlights the brilliance of Mann’s writing strategy.  Provide the unexpected.  Foil. Foil. Foil.

Unfortunately, Cat’s unprovoked attack on Nail got him, officially, on Tooth and Nail’s “slay list” by authority of their Yakuza boss.

And where has Mandy Paige (Mouse) been all this time? Hanging out with Demon. Asking him about Kevlar upgrades she has in mind for her and Cat’s suits. Which led to a first date with Demon! To the movies (the movie just happened to be an adaptation Mann scripted for Malibu Comics). In public, no less! AND their first kiss afterwards.  Demon discusses, with Mandy, his Church of Abaddon problem (which provides the foundation to the amazing four issue Demon’s Tails mini-series!) and is later visited by Cat (while washing an alligator no less!) who asks for his assistance with retrieving the bullet that shot Mandy for comparison to the known mafia slug he “liberated” from the evidence room earlier in this story arc.At the onset of Cat and Mouse’s career, Mouse made mention about possibly working for the Mafia. Cat quickly denounced that idea and indicated “maybe the Yakuza, though. They have a sense of honour.”  Cat’s statement was proven true as FIVE armed Mafia agents stormed into Jerry and Mandy’s apartment in search of police officer Jerry and a package – on the orders of Martin Rossman himself. A fight ensues, the five Mafia agents come to believe that the cop (Jerry) is under the protection of Cat and Mouse (not putting 2 + 2 together that Jerry IS Cat – these Mafia types aren’t so smart, are they??), Mouse gets her hands on (and fires) her first gun (and likes it!!) and the duo quickly catch up to Rossman, on assignment, to let him know his assault squad failed and that they will not tolerate any more backstabbing. Foils galore shine here across Tooth, Nail, Cat, Mouse, Rossman, extending the range from honor, dignity, restraint vs. treachery, deceit, omission of information, to sole focus on self-preservation.

Cat tracks Rossman down to his home address and finds Tooth and Nail not only in his residence but IN POSSESSION of Rossman’s newborn child.  With Rossman and his wife knocked to the ground, Tooth and Nail give Cat the opportunity to leave without battle, but promise that his turn will be coming soon.  Cat turns and closes the door behind him, leaving the Rossman family unprotected against Tooth and Nail.But not for long . . .

As Cat focuses his chi and strategizes his plan to save the baby, Mandy and Demon go on another date, this time to celebrate Mardi Gras.  Mandy gets drunnnnnnnnnnnnnnnk as she and Demon are painting New Orleans purple, green, and gold. (And, yes, Mandy DID earn some beads while inebriated.)

But back to the action. This time, Tooth and Nail are empowered to engage Cat as he IS now on their “slay list;” an epic battle ensues. During the fight, Nail throws Cat through the front window and follows him outside to continue sparring.  Rossman gains access to his pistol and shoots Tooth, even as she is holding his child!  Rossman also shoots Nail, in the back, as Nail is battling Cat.  The two villains flee into the night with Rossman’s child. Rossman pleads for Cat to rescue his baby.  As Cat picks up a katana left behind by Tooth, he promises to – for the child.  Cat tracks Tooth and Nail through out the neighbourhood. Nail, having taken refuge in the branches of a tree, jumps down to confront a passing Cat. Cat instinctively slashes with the katana – severing all the digits on Nail’s right hand! Cat and Nail battle mano y mano after another katana cut slash relieves Cat of his weapon.  With Nail crushing Cat’s back, Cat grabs Nail’s neck, pushing his fingers deeply into Nail’s throat . . .

Somehow, off-panel, Nail escapes Cat’s clutches.  Cat crosses paths with Mandy and Demon, who had been tracking the action by scent after being alarmed by the sounds of gunshots earlier.  Demon takes hot pursuit, tackles Tooth, which causes the baby to be launched into the air only to safely land into Mandy’s outstretched arms.

Meanwhile, the ongoing battle between Cat and Nail reaches a fever pitch as blood splatters off of both participants as they continue to punch, cut, and slice each other with impunity. Cat’s face and chest had been sliced a dozen times; deep, deep cuts as a lumberjack would inflict into a redwood with an axe. As Nail turns his attention to Mandy and the baby, beaten and bloodied Cat arises, lunges in the bravest act of protection, breaks Nail’s arm, and delivers a series of emotionally charged blows. This blood rage borders on possession and leaves Nail incapacitated – permanently.

Delivered to the hospital, and after sixteen hours of surgery, the title character lays in a coma.  Rossman, Mandy, and Demon are by his bedside.  Rossman uncovers a surprising sense of loyalty and gratitude as he looks at Jerry’s unmoving body and promises him, and the others, that he will do everything in his power to clear Cat and Mouses’ name.

This four-issue story arc also included a short story that focused exclusively on Martin Rossman and his Mafia connections; connections that reveal his fragile emotional state, his regret for the slippery slope into corruption he found himself in, and, finally, the fear he feels being a part of the Mafia world at all.  This “private” Rossman interlude provided the reader an introspective look at Martin Rossman that was a distinct foil to the seriousness, bordering on arrogance, often portrayed by “Officer Rossman.”

And, as Roland Mann does so extremely well, a short sequence in this arc introduced yet another duo trained by Kunoichi – who were bestowed the code names Skull and Crossbones at the end of their training with her, providing us with still another foil for Cat and Mouse.  (And, in the future, others . . . but that is a different story for a different spotlight!)

And, the MOST important thing that occurred during these four action packed issues?  In Issue 12’s letter column, Roland responded to a young high school kid who submitted a fan letter as Cat and Mouse was his favourite comic book.  A pen-pal friendship grew from that dorky teen’s submission – which, through technology, became an online friendship, a phone friendship, and nearly 30 years later brought him (and his own publishing house) to join Silverline! (Yes, it’s me!)

The talent that brought these issues to life consisted of the ever-impressive:

Roland Mann – the Mann with the Plan! Cat and Mouse writer and Silverline Editorial Director, would, later in his career, become writer, editor and eventually Managing Editor at Malibu Comics.  He has been the driving force of Silverline as a publisher, including the current relaunch of the brand!

Mitch Byrd, series artist, would, later in his career, grace multiple Malibu comics with his artwork as well as provide artwork for myriad publishers on a plethora of titles.  Mitch held a notable run on the Green Lantern character “Guy Gardner: Warrior” title.

Ken Branch, inker of each of the four issues in this story arc, later went on to not only provide inks on multiple issues of Cat and Mouse’s sister publication SilverStorm, but also worked for Marvel, DC, Image Comics, Malibu Comics, Valiant Comics, First Comics, and Comico.

Twelve issues of Cat & Mouse – Volume 1 down. Six more to go. Keep your eyes open for the next exciting Cat & Mouse series spotlight!

17Mar/20

Two big announcements!

Kayless #2 kickstarter is live!

Many of you have raved about Kayless #1, successfully kickstarted several months ago, and we’re happy to let you know that Kayless #2 is live on kickstarter NOW! #2 picks up right where #1 left off. If you missed #1, don’t worry, you can still pick up a copy.

The creative team of Brent T. Larson, Luis Czerniawski, and Leandro Huergo return and the book looks stellar! How do we know? Well, we’ve seen it. Yes, the entire thing. Mike W. Belcher joins them as letterer! In keeping with Silverline’s crowdfunding policies, we won’t kickstart a comic until the creative work is finished. Of course, the books still have to be printed and shipped, but in general, we always intend to start fulfilling crowdfunders within approximately 6-8 weeks. We’re batting 1000% so far! So please, back with confidence because Kayless #2 is finished and ready to print!

The kickstarter features an Alex Gallimore exclusive cover. The only way you’ll get Kayless #2 with that cover is to support the kickstarter, so what are you waiting for? Go back!

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/rolandmann/kayless-1-and-2

Silverline Live!

The second big announcement today is that starting tomorrow night, Silverline will be doing some LIVE streaming. We want to do it, yes, of course, to promote all the very cool projects we’re doing, but to also make the creators behind the awesome Silverline titles more real and accessible to you. Assuming we get questions, we’ll definitely be there to answer and address them; we’ll have regular indy comic reviews, complete with grades, and not just a summary of the story. We’ll get to discussions about the craft of making comics, and lastly, we’ll have artists drawing and working on Silverline projects while we talk.

We’ll be streaming live on three places tomorrow night (Wednesday) at 9pm:

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCD_wuBxQzysURBxKkW-T5wg

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SilverlineComics/

Twitch: https://www.twitch.tv/silverlinecomics/

So, hop on over at 9pm tomorrow night and give us a listen—say hello—ask a question.

And go support Kayless!

Make Mine Silverline!

10Mar/20

Craft: Sidney Williams – 5 Guidelines and a Few Thoughts on Comics and Captions

Hello again, Silverline Family. I had the pleasure of being able to talk with author and comic writer Sidney Williams. In terms of comics, some of his titles include The Mantus Files, Bloodline, Sirens, Marauder, and The Scary Book. In my personal opinion, he is a master in terms of suspense and dark or unsettling themes. He is also one of the most reliable and professional individuals I know. He agreed to contribute a piece about the craft of writing comics. In the following entry, Sidney talks about Captions, how he views their place in comics and how he uses them when writing himself.
-Tim

5 Guidelines and a Few Thoughts on Comics and Captions
by Sidney Williams

I’d like to say a few words in defense of captions.

Media evolve and affect each other. Film impacted the detail and flow of the 19th Century novel as the 20th Century moved forward. Literature affected comics then film affected comics, eventually comics affected literature and so on.

Comics, of course, draw on prose fiction. Heavy use of prose narration is characteristic of some early comics. Check a reprint of one of the ‘50s EC Comics (https://www.eccomics.com/history) titles such as Tales from the Crypt, and you’ll find instances of dense text blocks and speech bubbles with characters saying a mouthful.

EC stories were inspired by, or culled from, pulp magazines, so that’s possibly one culprit. Ray Bradbury wound up adapting his own stories for them, often preserving the narrative voice of the source material in pieces like “The October Game” in Shock Suspense Stories #9. (Link: https://comicvine.gamespot.com/shock-suspenstories-9/4000-517/)

Read more about Ray Bradbury’s relationship with comics and graphic novels
https://www.saturdayeveningpost.com/2019/08/ray-bradbury-comic-book-hero/

You don’t even have to look that far back,. As recently as the 1980s and Frank Miller’s run on Daredevil, the captions are almost novelistic.

Over time, narrative prose has given way to more reliance on visual storytelling in comics reflecting perhaps what many filmmakers and theorists consider the ideal, where speech and images convey the story with no intrusive narration. But in the ‘80s you’d get passages like:

“He feels the cut of the October wind hears the dull throb of New York City below him. He wonders when the city started making him sick.” — Daredevil #226, January, 1986. Story by Denny O’Neil & Frank Miller
(Link for Marvel Database on issue: https://www.marvel.com/comics/issue/8214/daredevil_1964_226)

That certainly gives us a look into a Matt Murdock’s soul.

I’m not saying comics script writers need to be Charles Dickens or Bradbury or even ‘80s Miller.

I would suggest that comics, while they’re a visual medium, aren’t film. They’re of the printed page. They afford some tools not available to filmmakers. The right use of those tools help make the comic book and graphic novel world more dynamic and enriching.

So what’s the rule of thumb for captions? In a word, judicious. In an expansion on that thought:

1. Captions should be used to expand or enrich the reader’s experience, never as a crutch for the writer.

If you just need to tell us it’s Los Angeles, “Caption: Los Angeles” will do.

Maybe a few more thoughts in black and white are in order to stimulate conversation and the creative imagination.

2. If we can see it, you don’t need to tell us what we see.
That’s the big duh of comics writing, but sometimes if you don’t print things outright in black and white text, people don’t pay attention. If we can see a hero approaching a vampire’s crypt, opening the coffin and positioning a stake over the heart, don’t tell us: He positions the stake over the vampire’s heart.

If you use a caption for a scene like that…. [Note from the editor: I will cut that caption SO FAST]

3. Make sure a caption provides insight into character, the hero’s soul, spirit or philosophy.
That’s not an excuse to go full Kierkegaard, but if it tells us something more than we can see like that Miller passage above, the reader’s invited to think, not just look on.

Caption: He hesitates as the stake’s whittled point rests against flesh.

Caption: Is this a life he is about to end?
Or something different?

Caption: What should the act of terminating the undead be called?

Gives us a little more than:

SFX: Thunk!

Vampire: Aieeeeeeee!

4. Captions should fit the world established in the comic book or graphic novel.

You might not want to get heavy-handed with captions. When can they be used artistically? In something like Image’s Fatale from 2012, the comic’s world is inspired by film noir, where voiceover narration was used to carry some of the flavor of the first-person crime novels of Raymond Chandler or James M. Cain that helped give birth to the noir style. You’ll find far more effective captions in evidence in Fatale or in something like Frank Miller’s similarly noir-inspired Sin City, which started in 1991.

5. First-person narration open a character’s thoughts.
Speaking of first-person narration, that has supplanted the old comics staple the thought balloon. Thought balloons are so passé they’re almost out of sight in the rearview mirror. First-person captions, on the other hand are still handy. The staking contemplation above could easily be rendered in first person.

When the concept was fairly new, you’d get a tiny little mug shot of the character inside the caption box, and the text would be in quotation marks. The convention’s familiar enough that that’s not needed any longer, though sometimes we get cues such as the caption being the color identified with the character. John Constantine’s first person captions match his raincoat in Justice League Dark, for example.

Just apply all of the judicious thought to first person as you do any captions. Do they help the story? Add something to character or thematic texture without getting heavy handed? Then deploy.

Those are just a few thoughts. Nothing’s set in stone nor a replacement for your own careful observation or environmental scanning as you read the comics you enjoy. Don’t just read. Take note.

Meanwhile…

Creators went on with their work.

Caption Marauder:

My way-back Silverline title, the noir-inspired Marauder, used a bit of first person narration. Note quotation marks were still the convention in those days.

03Mar/20

Silverline Creator Spotlight: Dean Zachary

Each month we’ll be shining the spotlight on a Silverline creator and sharing their secret origin story, learning what makes them tick, and giving you the scoop on how they came up in the comics world.  

Up this time is Dean Zachary, a professional comic book artist, who has worked with famous characters ranging from Batman, Wonder Woman and Green Lantern for DC Comics, to titles such as Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic for Dark Horse Comics.

Now, without further ado, we present to you…

10 QUESTIONS WITH … DEAN ZACHARY

Dean Zachary
SILVERLINE: So, Dean, who are you and where do you hail from? 
 
DEAN ZACHARY: Jonesboro, AR.
 
SILVERLINE: What would you say it is you do here at Silverline?
 
DZ: Penciller.
 
SILVERLINE: Where might Silverline readers have seen your work previously?
 
DZ: I’ve done work with DC Comics, Malibu, and Dark Horse Comics, working with titles such as Batman, Wonder Woman, and massive franchises like Star Wars.
 
*Editor’s Note: Check out Dean’s extensive resume right here.
 
SILVERLINE: Many creators at Silverline have been in the comics industry for years — what’s kept YOU plugging away at comics? What do you enjoy most about the medium, as well as your specific trade?
 
DZ: I’ve always been fascinated with telling Cinematic Stories through drawings.  Seeing the “Movie” in my head while reading the script, I have a natural ability to share the Signature Scenes that encapsulate and communicate the story in panels.
 
I also love Line Work, such as Contour Hatching, Motion Lines and Expressive Line to emphasize action and mood.  As my colleagues are well aware, I also like Atmosphere, and insist on populating my scenes with floating leaves, rain, ash, snow, sleet, fog or dramatic lighting to accentuate themes and elicit certain emotions.
 
Referencing Locations with photos also helps with establishing the Setting as a Character, which makes the story more memorable. I’ve also been known to use what I call a “Strobing Effect” which is basically drawing several positions of a thrown Punch or Kick as if it’s captured by a sequence of stills and pasted into one panel.
 
My preference is also to use Hatching and Line Work to define Form and Volume, instead of depending on the Colorist. I’m often heard saying things like, “Every Line Counts!”
 
SILVERLINE: What was the first comic you remember reading that made you think, “Hey, I could do this!”
 
DZ: Marvel Preview #11 Presents Starlord (1977) by Chris Claremont and John Byrne. Seeing the comic in black & white really inspired me!
 
SILVERLINE: Who were some of your earliest influences on your art?
 
DZ: Neal Adams. John Byrne. Frank Frazetta. Gil Kane. John Romita, Sr. Jim Lee. Marc Silvestri.
 
SILVERLINE: What was the first comic you ever worked on professionally?
 
DZ: ‘It: The Terror From Beyond Space”
 
SILVERLINE: Can you still read that Terror from Beyond Space today without wincing?
 
DZ: No, I still wince!
 
SILVERLINE: If you could go back in time and give your younger self one piece of advice that would help him better navigate the comics industry, what would it be? 
 
DZ: Hey, younger Dean, move to New York and go by the Marvel/DC Offices every day until they give you a job.
 
SILVERLINE: Morbid question, but still important — after you die, would you rather your memory be memorialized with an overpass or a parking lot? 
 
DZ: Neither. I’d rather be memorialized with a cool statue. Just sayin!!
 
25Feb/20

Craft Introduction

Hello Silverline Family, we have some exciting news for you!

First of all, allow me to introduce myself properly. My name is Tim Thiessen. I also write under the name, Tim T.K. I’m the associate editor here at Silverline and I help with the website and digital content. You may recognize my name from our Title Spotlight series where we showcase some of the titles in our lineup. I also help with editing some of the series we’re working on, but more on that at a different time.

What I’m writing about today is our new upcoming series ‘Craft!’ As the name implies, this is a series all about the Craft that we at Silverline have fallen in love with: the craft of making comics. Being an independent print, we are in the blessed position of having fewer middlemen between ourselves and the reader. We also have many unique opportunities to take on creators new to the comics industry. This series should help illuminate all the different steps, roles, collaboration, and unique challenges that are part of the comic creation process.

Silverline has had the pleasure to work with some of the most talented individuals in the industry. Writers like R.A. Jones, Sidney Williams, and Brent Larson. Pencilers like Dean Zachary, Luis Czerniawski, Jackson Renick, and Alex Gallimore. Inkers like Barb Kaalberg, Chuck Bordell, Thomas Florimonte, and Terry Pallot. Colorists like Steve Mattson and Kevin Gallegly. I’m not guaranteeing that I’ll be able to get entries from all of the above-named creators, but I have already reached out to a few of the creators we’ve worked with and will be reaching out to more as the series goes on to ask for their insight on the complicated matter of creating a comic book.

Every industry pro has had a different journey. Each person has a different entry point into working in comics. Due to the nature of the industry, many have had to fill different roles, work on a wide spectrum of projects, and have worked with other creators who have helped shape each other’s process. Each person has had to develop their skill set differently because of this.

Our hope with this series is to dig into the nuances of different creator’s process. Throughout this series, we will cover the manifold disciplines found in the industry. Each entry will focus on a specific detail of the creation process for a specific discipline. We will discuss matters like the challenges of writing for a visual art form, creating unique art that tells just as much of the story as the dialogue, and much more.

This series will be great for the beginner or hopeful comic creator, comic fan, or experienced industry pro. Whether you’re learning the skills necessary to make it in comics, a diehard wanting to see how the sausage gets made, or just interested in learning how others do their craft. We’re hopeful that you will come away from each entry of Craft having learned something exciting and new.

Please join us on this journey as we talk with some of our favorite creators and learn about what they do.

18Feb/20

Silverline Comics signs “Steam Patriots” series

Silverline Comics signs a Steampunk American Revolution series titled Steam Patriots

The independent comic publisher behind Cat & Mouse, Kayless, Demon’s Tails, and others add steam, clouds of black smoke, muskets, boiler carriages, and founding fathers to their lineup with Steam Patriots, co-created by Scott Wakefield and Rory Boyle; penciled by David Mims; and colored and lettered by Daniel Hosek.

Scott Wakefield says, “Steam Patriots has been years in the works, slowly evolving into a comic book, which is perfect, because it’s a visual story with a great big dose of action.” Wakefield and his good friend Boyle came up with the story idea while serving together in the Coast Guard. “We love the Victorian style of traditional steampunk,” Wakefield continued, “but someone needed to tell a story about its beginnings. America and Ben Franklin seemed like a good place to start things off. We’ve been molding this story from that small kernel, and now it’s ready for the world to see.”

“Rory and Scott told me about the amazing characters and expansive story-world they created,” says Roland Mann, Silverline’s Editor-in-Chief, “and I knew that combining the art of David Mims would be a wonderful addition to the Silverline family. They put enormous effort into developing a complete story, and building a creative team, so we’re excited to get their story into readers’ hands.”

Steam Patriots is a steampunk origin story set during the American Revolution. Ben Franklin has changed the world with his steam creations, and he has set his efforts toward throwing off the tyranny of England’s rule. The story begins in August 1776, where young Felix Ward-a boy of 15, with a mind like no other-discovers stolen plans for Franklin’s electrical weapon. Beset by redcoats, and he must use his mind and wits to save Washington’s army from destruction.

As is the Silverline Comics model, Steam Patriots will be crowdfunded upon completion. Please follow our Facebook page or subscribe to our email list to keep abreast of all news Silverline!

28Jan/20

Silverline Title Spotlight: Krey,1-5

Oil your sword, and throw on your leather armor for a saga of fast-paced action, forbidden romance, and brutal betrayal set in a world where barbarians rage in an epic struggle with their mutant neighbors across desert steppes. Krey is the tale of a human raised by mutants who pursued battle, glory, and family.

Krey is a unique tale on the Silverline roster. This fantastical tale tells the story of a man born of humans, raised by mutants, called to battle, and longing for a familial relationship that has repeatedly been denied to him. Krey navigates social dynamics in a world divided through the eyes of a twice-orphaned foot-soldier who is driven to greatness. The reader follows Krey as he discovers his place in the world, and finds that his ability to change the world doesn’t just come from his prowess with the blade but also the depth of his convictions.

The legend of Krey begins when he is a babe in the realm of humans. Krey’s village is raided by mutants, the beings who inhabit this world alongside humanity. Years of hate on both sides have bent both factions against each other. While some try to live together, the powerful often find it easy to use the “others” as scapegoats for their wars. The mutant who stumbles across Krey as a babe proves to be compassionate and takes the boy as his own, along with the Krey’s family sword.

Krey yearned to be a warrior from a young age, growing up in the mutant village. He would sneak out to train with his father’s sword. When Krey came of age, he joined the combat games. In these games, the mutant tribesman showed what kind of warrior they were. While he fell short as a marksman, Krey excelled as a swordsman. The games are cut short when the village is attacked by a band of human raiders. Krey watches as all his friends are cut down. Krey rushes to check on his adoptive father, who has been struck down in the attack. His last command to Krey is to run, take up his father’s sword, and never forget what he saw that day. In the surrounding melee, Krey kills his first man before escaping.

The second issue takes us to Tae Steppe in the Realm of the High Priestess. The city has allowed for humans and mutants to live in a stable if uneasy coexistence. Years have passed since Krey fled the annihilation of his human village and Tae Steppe is now celebrating the Time of Rebirth. The festival is divided into three events. Each event is a different test of martial skill. The victor of each will earn an honored posting in the High Priestess’s army. Krey has joined the festival with two other warriors of note, Etedh, and Calican. All of them hoping to use the festival as a way to accelerate their military career so that they might one day join the High Priestess’s elite force, The Red Guard.

He loses the archery competition to Etedh and the melee to Celican, but he quickly earns the adoration of the crowd. The human’s love his charisma and dominating presence. The mutants are proud of him as he was raised as a mutant. This earns him the spite of Etedh, who is revealed to have a strong prejudice against his mutant neighbors. During both of the previous events, a beautiful mutant woman catches the eye of Krey. Not only is he distracted but he is immediately driven to find out what her name is. The night before the final event, Krey accepts the hospitality of a mutant family. He shares their dinner table and sleeps in one of their guest rooms. The father of the family is also able to share the name of the woman Krey spotted, Netanya. Krey defeats Etedh in the last event, the test of swordsmanship, the Steel against Steel. As champions, Etedh, Celican, and Krey are all offered the opportunity to train to join the High Priestess’s army. Krey then offers the prize wreath he earned to Netanya.

Krey and Netanya unite in what becomes a controversial marriage. Krey’s story unfolds as he struggles with balancing his goals as a warrior and having a family after his birth and adoptive families were taking from him. He must also contend with the biases that dominate the world around him when he, himself, does not understand them. The story of this berserker and his family continues throughout the saga in a story of betrayal, rebellion, and revenge.

Krey isn’t just another fantasy sage. It weaves a tale of complex social politics and dynamics through the lens of a man who was molded by two different peoples that have spent their existence trying to put an end to the other.

Krey is a man of strong conviction in a world that challenges his beliefs at every level. Krey holds only love for mutants despite being told that, as a human, he should despise them. Instead, he lives among the mutants as one of them in hopes that they might share the world with humans. He is a skilled warrior who has spent his life seeking battle, yet takes no joy in the act of killing. This conflict gets highlighted in his relationship with the xenophobic Etedh. As these worldly matters tug at the fabric of Krey’s character, Krey finds himself struggling with the balance of family and duty. All he has known of a family is loss, so to Krey, a family is the most precious thing in life. He views his duty as a warrior also as a deep-seated part of his character. The Realm of The High Priestess espouses the idea of cohabitation between mutants and humans. To Krey, that is an ideal he will fight and die for. More than once, these dreams have come into conflict with each other. Sometimes with mortal consequences.

The conflict in Krey’s personality is smartly done and drives the story in ways other fantasy series have fallen short of. Though the action, big swords, and rippling muscles are a large aesthetic plus, the emotional conflict in Krey and the social conflicts of the world are what pulls the reader into the series.

Written by Roland Mann who, besides being my boss, is an accomplished writer and educator. He currently serves and the Editor-In-Chief and Publisher here at Silverline. Roland has also had postings at Malibu/Marvel Comics. Other titles Roland has written include Tiny, Rocket Ranger, Miss Fury, Planet of the Apes, Battletech, and Demon’s Tails.

Krey was originally published by Gauntlet Comics as issues 1-3, and Krey Special Edition.

Art for chapters 1,2, and 3 was done by Steven Butler. Steven is well known for his work on Archie Comics and Sonic the Hedgehog.

Criss Cross also provided art for chapter 3. He is known for working on titles such as Captain Marvel, Firestorm, and Blood Syndicate.

MC Wyman drew the art for Chapter 4. He is known for working on titles such as The Mighty Thor, Daredevil, Silver Surfer, and many others.

Chapter 5 was penciled by Jack Keefer. Jack also inked chapters 2,3,4 and 5. He has also worked on Marvel’s Northstar.

Chapter 1 was inked by Ken Branch who has worked for just about every major publisher including DC, Marvel, Valiant, Image, and Malibu.

Floyd Robinson also contributed ink to chapter 3. He has also worked on titles such as Thor and Batman.

Nick McCalip provided letters for chapters 1 and 3. Nick’s work can be seen in works such as Silverline’s Cat and Mouse and Malibu’s SilverStorm.

Chapter 2 received lettering from Dan Nakrosis. Who has worked on titles such as Archie, Sonic the Hedgehog, Berserk, and the X-Men Manga.
Rik Mayo also contributed letters to Chapter 3. Rik’s work can also be seen in The Mantus Files.

Debbie Woods lettered Chapter 4.

07Jan/20

Silverline Creator Spotlight: Brad Thomte

Each month we’ll be shining the spotlight on a Silverline creator and sharing their secret origin story, learning what makes them tick, and giving you the scoop on how they came up in the comics world.  

Up today is Brad Thomte, who served in the USAF before lettering comics for such companies as Caliber Press, Mojo Press, Absolute Studios, and of course, Silverline. Brad has also edited and published some small press books.

Now, without further ado, we present to you…

12 QUESTIONS WITH… BRAD THOMTE

1. So, who are you and where do you hail from?
I am a drummer, graphic designer, and aspiring actor. Currently working as a print shop supervisor, I get to put my Photoshop and Illustrator skills to use daily.

I grew up as a military brat, so I’m from all over. I claim Weatherford, Texas as home, as that is where I spent my most memorable years. It gave me an appreciation for the small town life. So much so that I have recently moved to a small town in Minnesota to recapture that feeling.

2. What would you say it is you do here at Silverline?
Currently, I’m creating new and exciting logos for upcoming Silverline titles. Many years (decades) ago, I was lettering some books as well.

3. Where might Silverline readers have seen your work previously?
As for my lettering, they may have seen my lettering work for many independent comic companies, many out of Texas. My highest visibility comic work would be on the titles that I lettered for Malibu’s Ultraverse. They may have seen my smiling mug on television as well. I was the on-camera tournament director on the syndicated Ultimate Poker Challenge for two seasons. There was even a brief theatrical appearance in the independent film Pass Through. Let’s compare IMDB pages!

4. When you’re not making great Silverline comics, what do
you do in your spare time? What are your hobbies?
All of my non-real work/non-Silverline time is spent working on getting my craft business off the ground. I do custom image to wood transfer products (photos, inspirational sayings,etc). If I’m going to life in the woods of Minnesota, I thought I’d start making some rustic crafts. Find me on all of the normal social medias under Thomte Wood Creations. https://www.facebook.com/ThomteWoodCreations
https://twitter.com/ThomteWood
https://www.etsy.com/shop/ThomteWoodCreations

5. Many creators at Silverline have been in the comics
industry for years — what’s kept YOU plugging away at comics?
There is something satisfying about having something in your hand that you created. My list of titles isn’t as deep as most, but I still look at it with pride, and I want to keep adding to that list.

6. What was the first comic you remember reading that made
you think, “Hey, I could do this!”
It wasn’t a specific book, it was my time as a graphics illustrator in the Air Force. I developed the skills and my indy comic creator friends invited me to help work on their books. They were all very supportive of a rookie letterer. Once I saw my first word balloon on art board, I was absolutely sure I could help tell sequential stories.

7. What’s on your playlist? Who/what music do you listen to,
and do you listen to it while you work?
For music, I am a classic rock guy. KISS, Meatloaf, AC/DC will always be my go-to’s for solid mood music. Add in Tom Petty, Bon Jovi, and Def Leppard and I’m a happy camper. I don’t have the music on while I’m working, though, as I want my design train of thought to naturally progress based on the material I’m creating for, not an outside stimulus.

8. Who were some of your earliest influences on your art?
For my lettering it is Todd Klein and Tom Orzechowski. They are masters of their craft. During their hand lettering days, they could make a LOT of text fit into impossible spaces while still making the page look great. Todd even mailed (not emailed, MAILED) back and forth with me in the 90’s to critique my early work. For my logo design influences, I’m a big fan of the 80’s independent books. A lot of very organic looking logos. They set the tone for the book/issue they adorned.

9. What was the first comic you ever worked on professionally?
Sad to say, I never got to work on a Batman or related book. As a Batman fan, it would have been an amazing opportunity. I came dangerously close once. A good writer friend of mine was working on getting a Batman story to write, and he was going to pitch me as the letterer. Alas, they decided to do all computer lettering, and I had not made the switch yet.

10. Can you still read that comic today without wincing?
I still enjoy picking up a Batman book from time to time. I’m not a full time reader anymore, but it’s still enjoyable.

11. What are some non-Silverline independent comics you would recommend to readers?
Currently, I’m reading Punchline, from my pal Bill Williams. Initially, I picked it up, because it was my friend’s book. I kept reading because it is some dang fine storytelling. I also enjoy Mouseguard. Fun stories and truly gorgeous to look at.

12. If you could go back in time and give your younger self one piece of advice that would help them better navigate the comics industry, what would it be?
Talent and good ideas are great. But, enjoy the friendships you make while working on books. Those people will help make finding your way through the industry rat race a more enjoyable. I’d rather work on a hand full of fun books with people I like, than grind away drawing a paycheck on ones I don’t.

02Jan/20

Silverline: Looking ahead to year 2(020)

2020 looks to be a busy year for Silverline…and that’s pretty exciting to all of us!

Panels from Friar Rush #1

For non-comics, we’ll be launching a weekly live stream. Current plan is for them to be Wednesday’s at 8pm EST. We’ll have a couple of different segments, including an indy comic review and a segment on the craft of making comics. Stay tuned for the exact launch date for it.

We’re still working on appearances for 2020, we’ve already been invited back to Daytona Beach Comic Con—and have accepted. Just not sure exactly which ones of us will be there. Roland will be at Three Rivers in Pittsburgh, his first show ever in the state of PA! More dates and appearances to come, be we hope to see a bunch of you at a bunch of shows!

We’ve got a big slate of books we’ll be releasing in 2020, so many that we may experiment with some Silverline crowdfund “packages.” Meaning, more than one book per crowdfund. Honestly, it’s exciting to look at this list to see all the content will be delivering to you—we know you’re gonna like them!

Mentioned last week in title only, the projects that are nearly complete and should ready to crowdfund very soon:

*Bloodline, 1 shot: by Sidney Williams (writer), Rob Sachetto (penciller), Terry Pallot (inker), Brian Dale (letterer). This one is finished except for the colors, which is being done by Keith Wood.

*Friar Rush #1, 3 issue mini: by Sidney Williams (writer), Marc Thomas (penciller), John Martin (inker), Rebecca Winslow (colorist), Brian Dale (letterer). The first issue is being both colored and lettered at the same time.

A page from DIVINITY #1

*Divinity #1, 4 issue mini: Created by Barb Kaalberg and co-written by R.A. Jones. It also features Alex Sarabia (penciller), Barb Kaalberg (inker), Steve Mattson (colorist) and Mike Belcher (letterer). It is nearly complete.

*Twilight Grimm #1, 4 issue mini: by R.A. Jones (writer) and Rob Davis (artist), Alex Gallimore (colorist), and Mike Belcher (letterer). The first issue only needs color!

*Kayless #2, 4 issue mini: by Brent Larson (writer), Luis Czerniawski (artist), Leandro Huergo (colorist), Mike Belcher (letterer). This issue needs colors and letters.

A bit later in the year, these should be ready:

A page from WHITE DEVIL #1

*Cat & Mouse #3, 4 issue mini: by Roland Mann (writer), Alex Gallimore (penciller), Barb Kaalberg (inker), Kevin Gallegly (colorist).

*White Devil II, 4 issue mini: by R.A. Jones (writer), Jaxon Renick (penciller), with inks by Mike Keeney and Chuck Bordell. The first issue only needs color!

*Trumps book 1; by Roland Mann (writer), Anthony Pereira and Thomas Hedglen (pencillers), Thomas Florimonte (inker), Sid VinBlu (colorist), Brian Dale (letterers).

24Dec/19

Silverline: Review of Year 1

Merry Christmas to one and all. As 2019 draws to a close, I thought I’d take a short peek back at the first year. Oddly, thinking about it reminds me of one of the very first “group” Silverline (phase 1) art pieces…30 years ago! Note the date on Steven’s art is 1988!

In June of 2018, I ran the kickstarter for Cat & Mouse #1 (vol 2). The creative team had such a blast doing it and we got to reminiscing about our old Malibu days and Silverline and such…well, they encouraged me to bring back Silverline—which was not my intent in doing Cat & Mouse again…I just wanted to make some comics and have some fun. Ultimately, I caved because they vowed help…

The Silverline Facebook page was launched in February. It now has 1370 people who like it and 1377 who follow it (so…I guess this means that 7 like but have unfollowed). Immediately, and much to my surprise, I started getting submissions and feelers for submissions. I told them all to wait until 2020 (all but one—more on that later) that I just wasn’t prepared for it.

The Silverline website launched on June 18. It wasn’t—and still isn’t—complete by any stretch of the imagination, but thanks to our IT support (and fantastic comic creator, too!) Jeff Whiting, we managed to put a pretty decent site together and have new content published regularly since then.

We worked with IndyPlanet to get a Silverline “store” online, and currently, these titles can be found for sale there: Cat & Mouse (v2) #1, Kayless #1, Tiny #1, Tiny #2, Tiny GN, Demon’s Tails classic GN, Switchblade classic GN, Krey classic GN, Sadomannequin one-shot, Jetstream #1. Soon to be added Cat & Mouse (v2) #2, SilverStorm (v2) classic GN, Switchblade GN.

Around that same time, we started a mailing list (email) because everyone said we should do it—so we did. Using mailchimp, we’ve got almost 400 lovely fans who have the website updates emailed to them. Eventually, we’ll do some mail list only stuff…but that’s down the road a bit…and we don’t want it to turn into “dreaded spam.”

In late June, we successfully crowdfunded Kayless #1 by Brent Larson, Luis Czerniawski, and Leandro Huergo. It was fully funded in less than 12 hours thanks to the support of many of you! (it was completely fulfilled by August, as an FYI…we need that known these days as so many crowdfunded titles are shipping late)

In September, we successfully crowdfunded Cat & Mouse #2. In doing so, we introduced upcoming superstar artist Alex Gallimore to the world! It fulfilled in late October and in November…

The Wellness Family Coloring Book, the first non-comic print publication by Silverline was also successfully crowdfunded, thanks to Silverline CEO, BJ Mann. It features art by Thomas Florimonte!

Silverline made the first official appearance at the Daytona Beach Comic Con! It was the largest gathering of Silverline at a show ever—in any phase (I think 5 was the previous record set, and that was done at Coast Con in the early 90s).

Also, at various points in time SINCE February, we dusted off a few formerly shelved projects:

  1. *Bloodline, 1 shot
  2. *White Devil II, 4 issue mini
  3. *Friar Rush, 3 issue mini

We also put into production:

  1. *Divinity, 4 issue mini
  2. *Twilight Grimm, 4 issue mini
  3. *Speck, OGN

We’ve sent out two additional publishing agreements: one to an indy writer I met on the con circuit, and one to a former student of mine. Once those are signed, we’ll add their projects to our growing list!

2019 was very busy for Silverline. Next week I’ll write about what 2020 has in store, including some of the projects mentioned above. Merry Christmas to you all!