24Nov/20

Silverline Creator R.A. Jones on Thanksgiving

by R.A. Jones
In recent years (and in part because a very small part of my ethnic make-up is Native American), mention of Thanksgiving inevitably brings to mind a great bit by The Daily Show’s then-host John Stewart.  It went something like this:

“I intend to celebrate Thanksgiving in the traditional way.  I’m going to invite all my neighbors over for a big feast – then kill them and take their land.”

In my own life, there really is no single specific memory of one Thanksgiving Day above all others, but simply a warm trove of collective memories.
First, naturally enough, there is the food.  I came from a very large family, and while we never experienced anything remotely resembling a shortage of food on our table, no day saw an abundance so great as on that special Thursday in November.
Turkey, of course (one of the largest you could buy in those pre-steroid days, I imagine).  Dressing and dumplings (homemade: nothing that came in a box or a can), green bean casserole, corn.  Hot dinner rolls dripping with margarine.
And desserts, too.  Pumpkin pie (which I always liked, but largely as the simple loading platform for generous dollops of whipped cream!).  And my mom baked homemade apple/cranberry pies that were out of this world.
After a certain age, I became mom’s unofficial “taste tester” as she prepared the fixings for her dressing before popping it into the oven.  It took a sophisticated palette like mine to tell her when she had added just the right amount of sage!
We would continue to dine off the leftovers for several days afterward.  The final stage came when dad would scrape off every last shred of meat still stubbornly clinging to the turkey bones and mom would serve us creamed turkey on toast.
That’s right: Our final and still fondly remembered meal of the holiday consisted of a feathered version of what GIs, doubtless with equal fondness, called “s#!t on a shingle!”
Then came the football game.  The connection of this game with the holiday goes back, if I’m not mistaken, to the very first Thanksgiving: when the two sides played a rousing post-feast game of touch football.  (The Pilgrims, naturally, being the “shirts” while the Indians were the “skins.”  Ouch!)
I’ve been a lifelong fan of the Dallas Cowboys (or nearly so; they are actually a few years younger than I am!), and watching them play was and still is considered by me to be one of my personal “traditions” of the holiday.
That does in turn play into one Thanksgiving memory that is very specific.  A couple of decades or more ago, about a week before Turkey Day, I received a phone call from an old buddy of mine (who was and is a much bigger name in the comics biz than I ever was or ever will be).
The reason behind his call was rather amusing (to me, at least.  Probably less so for him.).  The lady he was dating at the time had invited him to her parents’ house for Thanksgiving.
This would also be the first time he met her family and he understandably wanted to make a good first impression.  One thing that made him apprehensive about this was the fact that her father and brothers were football fans and he would almost certainly be expected to watch the games on TV that day with them.
Only problem: Having no interest in the sport, my buddy also had virtually no knowledge of the teams involved or the nuances of the game.  Yet he didn’t want to just sit there like a lump on a log and make no contributions to the kind of conversation that always surrounds a game.
So, knowing I did possess at least a modicum of such, he called on me to be his living version of Cliff’s Notes for Football!
Alas, his relationship with said lady did not progress to the point of matrimony and eventually ended altogether.  I hope it wasn’t because I failed to adequately school him on the finer points of football.
Finally…I know it might be easy in such perilous times as now – pandemic, unemployment, fires, hurricanes – to think that you have precious little for which you can really be thankful.
I don’t know if this will be useful to you, but something that helps me, at least a little, in such times of my life derives from the chorus of a wonderful tune Bing Crosby sang in the classic motion picture White Christmas (if I may be excused for tapping into a different holiday):

When I’m worried and I can’t sleep,
I count my blessings instead of sheep.
And I fall asleep
Counting my blessings.

One of those blessings for me this year is my inclusion in the Silverline “family.”
Hope you all have equal reason to feel thankful!

#

17Nov/20

Fulfillment done…and ComiConway 2020!

Fulfillment done!

We’re happy to report that fulfillment for Cat & Mouse #3 and Trumps Book 1 is done! Well, with the exception of one…and then five whose addresses I don’t have (if you’re reading this and don’t have your comic yet—please make sure I have your address). Some of the digital rewards have gone out—mostly the “catch-up” comics. I’m still putting together the other pdfs, but hope to deliver those to backers by the weekend (I’m shooting for Friday).

Please drop us a line and let us know what you think! We know you’ve got a lot of stuff to read…but we’re anxious to hear your thoughts!

ComiConway 2020

Despite the fact you may have heard the world is in the middle of a plague, life moves on…and that’s what ComiConway is doing…and they’ve invited Silverline to be a part of it in a big way—and we couldn’t be more excited. Roland Mann and Jeff Whiting were both guests of the show in 2018 and both had only great things to say.

So how will Silverline be participating? Thanks for asking. On three consecutive Saturdays (Nov 7, 14, and 21), Silverline will be hosting four panels each day starting at 10am (Central time). The panel schedule looks like this:

November 7
(to view these panels, head to the video at ComiConway’s facebook page: https://fb.watch/1P48vkfEEZ/  Be warned…the first one starts late…we had technical difficulties)

10 am
Who and what is Silverline?
Panelists: Roland Mann (moderator), Thomas Florimonte, Kurtis Fujita, and John Metych.

11 am
Silverline: What are Cat & Mouse, Kayless, Divinity?
Panelists: Kurtis Fujita (moderator), Roland Mann, Barb Kaalberg, Brent Larson, Alex Gallimore, Wubba Fett, Roberta Conroy, Mike W. Belcher.

12 pm
Breaking into the comic industry
Panelists: Kurtis Fujita (moderator), R.A. Jones, Roland Mann, John Metych, Thomas Florimonte, Aaron Humphres, Roberta Conroy, John Martin.

1 pm
Silverline: What are Twilight Grimm, Friar Rush, Sniper N Rook?
Panelists: Scott Wakefield (moderator), R.A. Jones, John Metych, Rob Davis, Ron Fortier, Aaron Humphres, Mike W. Belcher, John Martin.

November 14
(to view these panels, head to the video at ComiConway’s facebook page: https://fb.watch/1P45qqAGLz/ )

10 am
Tools and strategies of comic book penciling
Panelists: Kurtis Fujita (moderator), Aaron Humphres, C. Michael Lanning, Peter Clinton, Wubba Fett, Rob Davis.

11 am
Silverline: What are Steam Patriots, White Devil, and The Rejects?
Panelists: Kurtis Fujita (moderator), Scott Wakefield, Rory Boyle, Dan Hosek, R.A. Jones, Roland Mann, C. Michael Lanning

12 pm
Tools and strategies of comic book Inking
Panelists: Scott Wakefield (moderator), Thomas Florimonte, John Martin, Haley Martin, Jeff Whiting, Rob Davis.

1 pm
Silverline: What are Trumps, Beah, and ChampFury?
Panelists: Roland Mann (moderator), Thomas Florimonte, Sid VenBlu, Haley Martin, Peter Clinton, Roberta Conroy,

November 21
https://www.facebook.com/ComiConway/ is the link for this coming Saturday (times are CENTRAL. We’ll need some questions for the Q&A, so y’all come!)

10 am
Tools and strategies of comic book Coloring
Panelists: Kurtis Fujita (moderator), Roberta Conroy, Sid VenBlu, Jeremy Kahn, Dan Hosek, David Rios. Tentative-Haley Martin.

11 am
Silverline: What are Teen Beetle, Wolf’s Hunter, and Satin’s Ways?
Panelists: Kurtis Fujita (moderator), John Crowther, Tim Thiessen, Ron Fortier.

12 pm
Tools and strategies of comic book Writing
Panelists: Scott Wakefield (moderator), Roland Mann, R.A. Jones, John Metych, Scott Wakefield, Tim Thiessen, John Crowther, Tentative: Brent Larson and Dan Hosek.

1 pm
Silverline Q&A
Panelists: Roland Mann(moderator), Kurtis Fujita, Alex Gallimore, Roberta Conroy, Mike W. Belcher, Rob Davis, Aaron Humphres, Thomas Florimonte, Sid VenBlu, C. Michael Lanning, R.A. Jones, Peter Clinton, John Metych, Tim Thiessen, John Crowther, Haley Martin, Scott Wakefield, Wubba, John Martin, Jeremy Kahn. Tentative: Brent Larson.

Again, we’re pretty excited to be participating, as 2020 Plague year has pretty much shut conventions down. Like you, we’re ready to get back to things!

Signings!

Roland Mann and Thomas Florimonte will be signing copies of Trumps (and other stuff) at Coliseum of Comics in the Fashion Square Mall on Saturday, November 21, from 4pm-7pm. Coliseum supported the kickstarter and they have special editions of the comics that sport their store logo. VERY limited copies are available. You can bring your other stuff for us to sign, too, or pick up something different from them while you’re there.

Join us this Saturday for our signing with Roland Mann – Writer and Thomas Florimonte Jr from 4PM – 7PM! 🎨#Orlando #OrlandoFL #ComicBooks

Posted by Coliseum of Comics on Monday, November 16, 2020

So make your plans and come see us.

Keep your eyes peeled here, too…we’re planning something special in the days to come!

 

10Nov/20

Craft: Dan Hosek – Lettering: From Hand to Digital

Hey Silverline Family,

I was able to grab a snippet on lettering from Dan Hosek.Dan is a Silverline creator currently doing the colors on Steam Patriots, but he has done just about every job in the business and he has done them well. That makes him a total beast in comics and someone definitely worth listening to. Here he talks about lettering, and how he developed his style as the industry was changing.

Lettering: From Hand to Digital

Typically, five tasks have to be completed to make a comic book: writing, penciling, inking, coloring, and lettering. Of those five jobs, lettering is probably the least glamorous, but it is also one of the most important in making a comic book feel “professional.” While good lettering might not make a comic a masterpiece, poor lettering can make it stick out like a sore thumb.

Let me start with a little history. I worked at Marvel Comics as an assistant editor in the mid-90s, a time that was seeing the medium move from traditional “hand” methods of creation to the digital methods used today. The two jobs (at the time) that were most directly impacted by this move were coloring and lettering. Before the move to computer lettering, all comics were hand-lettered.  The tools of the trade were an Ames lettering guide, speedball pens—with different tips (or nibs) for bold and plain text, an Exacto knife to cut out all the caption and word balloons, and rubber cement to paste it to the artboards (the great Todd Klein has an awesome visual description here: https://kleinletters.com/HandBasics.html)! If there were corrections, they had to be pasted on top of the errors in the balloons. Hopefully, editors (like me) wouldn’t want any serious dialogue overhauls, but when they were needed, Marvel’s fabled Bullpen came to our last-minute rescue many times!

Pat Brosseau’s pasted up lettering from Jim Lee’s run on X-Men. The rubber cement has yellowed over time.

Sometimes I don’t know how things got done in a timely matter in publishing before computers. The switch to digital made the process of lettering (and corrections) simpler. The first person I remember working with who switched to all-digital lettering was Richard Starkings. Though I’m sure there were other pioneers blazing the trail with him, I remember Richard’s company, Comicraft, being the first computer letterers used by Marvel before other “traditional” letterers also began to make the switch. These days, hand lettering is very rare.

With that brief history lesson out of the way, let’s talk about the positives and negatives of digital lettering. The traditional method required a greater skill set than what’s required of lettering with a computer.  On top of knowing where to place balloons, how to place them to read in the correct order, and the basics of laying out a page, a letterer also needed the skill to create letterforms that were uniform in size, legible, and could even convey emotion.  A skill that had to be learned and honed. Not to mention the talent needed to hand-letter killer sound effects and title treatments!

With digital lettering, the latter part of that skill set is not needed. Places like blambot.com have many comic lettering fonts available for free and Comicraft licenses their fonts for a fee, just to name a few resources. And while it’s nice to have this available, as with other things that have entered the digital realm, having the fonts and Adobe Illustrator does not necessarily make one a letterer. I have seen many indie comics with beautiful art destroyed by amateurish lettering (thankfully that’s not the case with any Silverline titles!). My first attempt at lettering had many flaws, the worst of which was way too much space in my balloons (thanks to my friend and letterer extraordinaire, Paul Tutrone, for pointing that out). Over time and with practice, my skills have gotten sharper, but I’m of the thinking that one is always a student and always has more to learn.

You could fit a Star Destroyer in all the “air” in those balloons. And I should take my own advice—just because I have a pencil, it doesn’t mean I’m a penciller!

My lettering somewhat improved over time.

A letterer’s job is always to help tell the story. Today, some of the most important things a computer letterer can do are not get in the way of the art by keeping balloons and captions off of important story elements and make sure everything reads in the proper order. Although computers have taken some of the “human touch” from the art of letterforms, the digital age has opened the door to allow more people to try their hands at lettering. With time, new styles and forms will likely evolve from this change, a small example being how some comics use upper- and lower-case letters in word balloons, something almost absent in comics before computer lettering. Innovation and change are something comic books have always been good at and I look forward to seeing what the future holds.

03Nov/20

Silverline Creator Spotlight: Mike W. Belcher

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 Mike W. Belcher, a graphic designer by day and a comic maker by night. Mike provided letters for Scary Book #4, Divinity #1 and #2
Twilight Grimm #1 and #2. Mike is also the creator/writer/artist for Man in the Mask, a comic he does with his son Aiden on color.

Now, without further ado, we present to you…

12 Questions with … Mike W. Belcher

SILVERLINE: So, who are you and where do you hail from?

I am Mike W. Belcher  I hail from the great state of Kentucky, eastern Kentucky to be exact. Little place called Prestonsburg. Other than when I went off to college, it’s been my lifelong home.

SILVERLINE: What would you say it is you do here at Silverline?

I am the production designer and letterer for some of the fine books at Silverline  I developed the trade dress design overtop the logos of the books to give credit to all the hard working creator. Currently lettering Divinity and Twilight Grimm with more to follow I hope, including my buddy Ron Fortier’s new project, Satin’s Ways, coming soon from Silverline.

SILVERLINE: Where might Silverline readers have seen your work previously?

I also self publish and create my own comic under my AMK Comics banner called MAN IN THE MASK. Some have called it a throwback to a more fun time in comics. It’s story of a regular guy trying to live up to the masked legacy of his grandfather. It’s my attempt at trying to do a old fashioned masked man book where the guy is actually a hero to his community for many reasons not just because he can throw a good punch. I think a number of us were, of course, influenced by super hero comics. But the last 20 or so years have been very dark and not very fun. I’m writing a comic that I hope fills a need for something a little more fun and hopeful.

SILVERLINE: When you’re not making great Silverline comics, what do you do in your spare time? What are your hobbies?

I’m kind of boring. If I’m not creating comics, I’m typically reading them. I do like to cook for my family. That’s one of the many things I learned from my grandfather who I loosely based the grandfather in Man in the Mask on.

SILVERLINE: Many creators at Silverline have been in the comics industry for years — what’s kept YOU plugging away at comics?

I legitimately love comics. Ever since I discovered them, I have had no other interests. They are a fundamental part of my life. I found that I didn’t just want to write them, I needed to make them too. When I sit down to write or draw, I’m instantly transported to a new world and remember the fun I had when I was younger drawing on my board.

SILVERLINE: What was the first comic you remember reading that made you think, “Hey, I could do this!”

I found myself lucky enough to live through such an imaginative time in comics 1985-86. John Byrne’s Superman and Frank Miller’s Batman Year One made me want to create comics and it just went from there.

SILVERLINE: What’s on your playlist? Who/what music do you listen to, and do you listen to it while you work?

Wide range of bands like Metallica, Pearl Jam, Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, Huey Lewis and Johnny Cash keep me inspired and I can tailor my list to the type of page I’m drawing. I work in silence when I write though.

SILVERLINE: Who were some of your earliest influences on your art ?

John Byrne, Frank Miller, David Mazzuchelli, Matt Wagner

SILVERLINE: What was the first comic you ever worked on professionally?

Scary Book #4 for Silverline 2.0 in 1998

SILVERLINE: Can you still read that comic today without wincing?

I was just learning to digitally letter and it shows, but yeah.

SILVERLINE: What are some non-Silverline independent comics you would recommend to readers?

Lavender Jack by Dan Schkade on Webtoons. The Baboon by Jamie Jones. Mr. Jigsaw by Ron Fortier and Gary Kato. Fire Power by Chris Samnee.

SILVERLINE: 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?

Don’t strive for perfection or that right time of ability. I was very hard on myself and it kept me from fulfilling my need to create comics earlier in life.

SILVERLINE: After you die, would you rather your memory be memorialized with an overpass or a parking lot?

Parking lot. I would like to think people could relax and kick back at my lot.

27Oct/20

Title Spotlight: Demon’s Tails

Demon’s Tails: More than a Mini (Series)

By John M. Metych, III

It’s not often that a “supporting character” in a new comic title is not only introduced prior to the namesake “main characters” of the new series, but is actively (and impressively) spotlighted – even including a complete origin story reveal! – within the first six pages . . . OF SOMEONE ELSE’S TITLE!  It doesn’t happen often . . . but it happened in Cat & Mouse (Volume 1, Issue 1) and it happened to Demon!  From those very first pages, readers knew that Demon was destined to be more than a traditional “supporting character.”  He was destined for more than a supporting character role.  He was destined for greatness.  He was destined for his OWN title.  He was destined for . . . Demon’s Tails!

Originally released by Silverline through Adventure Comics, and currently available directly from Silverline in a nifty graphic novel format (https://indyplanet.com/demons-tails), Demon’s Tails chronicles Keith Greyson’s adventure to put an end to the Church of Abaddon once and for all, adds additional context and details to his origin, and serves to beautifully wrap up his focused story arc, using the final two issues of Cat & Mouse as a launching pad for his own series and his own adventure!

However . . . history has a tendency to repeat itself, and it absolutely does so here!  Mirroring how Demon was given spotlight treatment in someone else’s new title (Cat & Mouse), here we find that Demon’s new title . . . isn’t all about him!  Champion, AKA Dan, AKA the Chicago Champion, AKA “the inspiration for several heroes in the Silverline Universe” makes sure that he’s along for this four issue ride and that his story gets some time to shine as well!  Ah, Demon . . . we didn’t want you to get lonely!

Not that Demon would have a chance to be lonely . . . introduced within the first few pages of the title are his estranged sister (Cheryl) as well as a trio of his old college buddies (Mike, Chris, and Stan – who are now on a road trip to reconnect with Keith/Demon), Champion makes an appearance in New Orleans (still thinking that he’s working with official law enforcement – see Cat & Mouse 17 and 18 for deets on that), and a small cadre of Church of Abaddon cultists tussle with Demon as he saves a damsel in distress, with the cultists later recanting their actions and pleading for forgiveness, all while referring to Demon as “Master.”

We get insight into what the Church of Abaddon really is . . . a front  . . . a fraud . . . a cult whose leader (Isaac) is focused on power . . . and money . . . and is willing to kill, in the most horrific ways, to protect his interests.

Meanwhile, Keith’s buddy, Mike, surprises him by showing up at his place, revealing his transformation from Man to De-Man (Demon, get it?!? HA!).  An expanded origin story is shared between the gentlemen, explaining the metamorphosis to his current appearance, the revelation that the road trip, prompted by the phone call Mike had received from Cheryl, was to deliver a devastating message – Keith’s father had passed away.  Keith/Demon, still fearful of a society that would fear him, shun him, or . . . worse . . . indicated that he wouldn’t be attending the funeral because of his current “condition.”  This infuriated not only Mike, but also his sister Cheryl, who decided to conduct a pilgrimage to New Orleans to speak with her brother herself . . .

Champion, still on the hunt for Cat & Mouse, believes he finally located Cat. Champion was given the description “There’s no mistaking them” so when he sees Demon (who is furry . . . and has tails . . . like, I dunno, a CAT), he assumes (and you know what they say about assume, right?!?) Demon is truly Cat. Before he can engage him, however, the cultists blow a dog-styled whistle, causing both Demon and Champion to pass out. The cultists whisk Demon away – to Isaac – who then extracts blood from Demon’s unconscious body and injects it into caged rabbit and puppy as an experiment.  But to what ends . . . ??  Well, the animals go crazy, become muscularly buffed up, burst from their cage, and escape from the building only to soon after “writhe in pain, and come to an unpredicted end” as they dissolve into a puddle of goo . . .

Isaac, already power hungry, and only seeing the effect on the animals to the point of their escape, is urged by one of his lackeys to inject himself to increase his own power . . . now not only psychological over his followers . . . not only financially through his bogus church . . . no, now Isaac has the opportunity become physically powerful in ways he never could have imagined before.  All he needed to do was “go get some more blood from the freak” for this to happen . . . but it wasn’t going to be that easy.  While the animals were metamorphasizing (yes, I coined a new word here), Demon awoke, escaped from his oppressive bonds, and finds his way home.  Unfortunately, this is the same home that his sister, Cheryl, had visited hours before . . . as had a new cadre of cultists . . . who took it upon themselves to kidnap her and bring them to Isaac, who is none to pleased about Demon’s escape prior to being able to extract blood for his own injections.

Champion and Demon finally face off, misidentifications come to light, some good, fun, old school “hero vs hero misunderstandings lead to fighting” occurs and the duo both succumb to the mighty . . . whistle of the cultists.  Again.

In an ornate ceremonial room, replete with sacrificial altar, the eclectic “team Demon” finally comes together.  Demon, bound and upside down, recognizes his sister, Cheryl, as the woman being prepped for the altar. Champion, also bound (but right-side-up) is a witness as well and knows he must save her.  Demon’s trio of college buddies – Mike, Chris, and Stan – impersonate cultists and infiltrate the ceremonial room at the precise time of Demon’s bloodletting at Isaac’s hands. Demon begins yapping in hopes of distracting Isaac’s attention away from Cheryl, Champion struggles with his bonds in an attempt to get free so he could save Cheryl, and the trio decides it would be best to cut Demon loose so he could . . . save Cheryl. 😊  Remember, at this point, that Mike is the only one of the three who knows who Demon really is . . .

Upon ingesting Demon’s blood, Isaac follows a path similar to his lab animals . . . he physically metamorphasizes (new word #2!), the change affects his brain (even more negatively, if you could believe it!) and an epic battle between Mega Isaac and the now allied duo of Demon and Champion ensues. Isaac is defeated, Cheryl is saved, Demon is revealed to be Keith to all assembled, Champion and Demon become buddies, and Isaac dissolves into a puddle of goo. Just like the animals.  Just like Ben Reilly too, come to think of it, although Isaac met his fate three years prior.  Always ahead of its time, Silverline has been!!!

The series wraps up quickly and ends with Demon visiting his father’s grave to pay his final respects.

The talent that brought these issues to life consisted of:

  • The ever inspiring 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, successful relaunch of the brand!
  • Paul Pelletier, who bounded into Silverline and on to the comic book scene with Demon’s Tails! Having already produced work through Alpha Productions, Paul joined with Roland to tell Demon’s first expanded solo story and Paul would go on to have a most excellent career in comics, working for Malibu Comics, DC Comics, Marvel Comics, and CrossGen comics, among others. His pencil has brought life to world renowned characters including, but not limited to, Aquaman, Batman, Robin, Nightwing, Batgirl, Green Lantern, Superman, The Incredible Hulk, all four of the Fantastic Four, Nova, the Silver Surfer, and Wolverine. Whew!
  • The mighty Thomas Florimonte provided his first published inks on this mini-series (issues 2 – 4), and would also produce beautifully inspired inks for publishers including (but not limited to) Marvel, Malibu, Chaos!, Acclaim and Gallant, and his own imprint: Inferno Studios, home of Zomboy! Thomas also co-founded the industry changing Print-On-Demand service, Ka-Blam as well as its sister division, IndyPlanet!  Plus, Thomas is back at Silverline, currently inking multiple current Silverline projects, including the just successfully funded first issue of TRUMPS! (as in card games!) (https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/rolandmann/trumps-and-cat-and-mouse/)
  • Demon’s Tails’ Issue 1 inks were provided by Tom Romano, who is still contributing to the comic book field through his own studio, Tom Romano Art Studio.
  • Very unique and distinctive lettering was provided by Rik Mayo for all four issues.
13Oct/20

Craft: Brent Larson – Subtext in Dialogue

Since I’m a screenwriter, and movies offer more in shared experiences than comics, I ask you to consider this scene from Pulp Fiction

JULES (Samuel L. Jackson) and VINCENT (John Travolta) drive down an LA street. Both wear identical black suits.

VINCENT: Where are we going?

JULES: To find this guy who stole our boss’s briefcase, which has something weird and glowy in it.

VINCENT. You think we’ll have to kill this guy?

They pull up to an apartment building. They get out and open the trunk, where they have an assortment of weaponry.

JULES: Probably.

VINCENT: How many guys you think are up there?

JULES: Four, maybe five? But I’m not worried. Life is meaningless. I just try to plus it up by being dramatic.

VINCENT: Aw, don’t be so gloomy. I enjoy life, especially when I’m taking drugs. 

JULES: Yeah, I guess. You know, we go back a long way, don’t we? I enjoy our friendship, mother blankity-blank.

They walk into an apartment, surprising several young guys lounging about.

VINCENT: Don’t be afraid, we’re not here to kill you… haha, kidding! We’re both psychotic!

If Quentin Tarantino had written that, he’d be running a Payless Shoe Source in Bakersfield and we would never know his name. His masterful ability to craft dialogue definitely applies to comics. I’ve tried to incorporate several principles into my comic Kayless, but I’ll expound on just one because it’s such a pitfall in my own writing… using subtext and avoiding the information dump. 

For those who haven’t seen Pulp Fiction, in their actual opening conversation, Jules and Vincent talk about, in order, drug laws in Amsterdam, how Europe is different from the US, the Royale with cheese, their boss’s wife, and what a TV pilot is. After they burst into the apartment, they discuss burger joints and Jules’s favorite Bible verse. All the information I wrote into the example is covered, it’s just barely said in the dialogue. Meanwhile, the audience is asking, Who are these guys? What do they feel about this horrific act? How is Jules fundamentally different from Vincent? All these questions are answered in a conversation that seems inordinately centered on nothing.

Movies, and comics, are a visual medium. That means we have an entire palette of information presentation apart from words. Facial expressions, postures, and random actions all communicate something. If a man tells his wife, “My mom wants to visit this weekend,” and his wife says “Oh, good,” and starts cleaning the silver candlesticks, this says a lot – her mother-in-law stresses her out, makes her feel inadequate, is maybe nitpicky. And the dialogue, albeit brief, complements this. She doesn’t feel free to tell her husband how she feels, which then tells us something about him, too. Maybe he’s oblivious or compares her to his mom. So many things you can use as a writer, all of which would have been stifled if, instead, she’d said, “Oh, great! Not again!”

Upcoming cover to Kayless #3: Thomas Hedglen, Ryan Brooner, Mickey Clausen

Here’s a personal example. In the upcoming Kayless #3, Scott visits his father in prison. They talk about Scott’s military record, why his dad is in prison, and how he feels about it. That’s the information side of things. But what’s really going on is a battle for power. Scott’s dad has kept him under his thumb his whole life, and Scott desperately wishes to tell him he can’t control him anymore. Comic real estate is smaller than a movie, so I had to be choosy with my words and move things quickly, but that didn’t mean the conversation had to be info-heavy. I’ll let you read it and tell me if I succeeded. 

Whenever I write dialogue, I then go back and check if it’s solely conveying information. If so, I look for ways to rewrite it as subtext, or present other visual elements to communicate what’s needed. Writers are often obsessed with their own cleverness, and I am no exception (neither, I suspect, is Tarantino). If I detect any of those self-serving impulses in my dialogue, I rework it so it sounds organic to my characters. Ultimately, I want my readers to think my characters are clever, not me. I’m always happy to share the credit.

29Sep/20

Silverline Creator Spotlight: Roland Mann

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 Roland Mann, a comic book writer and editor who has worked for such titles as Cat & Mouse, Miss Fury, Planet of the Apes, Battletech…and for such companies as Aircel Comics, Adventure Comics, Eternity Comics, Caliber Press, Comico, and others…as well as his work for Silverline Comics, of course.

Now, without further ado, we present to you…

12 Questions with … Roland Mann

SILVERLINE: So, who are you and where do you hail from? 

I’m Roland Mann. I was born in Memphis, Tennessee, and grew up in Mississippi. I often call Arkansas my home, because that’s where most of my people are. Anyone who knows me knows that I cheer for the University of Arkansas Razorbacks…that’s kinda in my blood.

SILVERLINE: What would you say it is you do here at Silverline?

I’m the co-founder (along with Steven Butler, who went on to a stellar career!), chief wrangler of getting things done, and writer of a bunch of things.

SILVERLINE: Where might Silverline readers have seen your work previously?

The first volume of Cat & Mouse saw print in 1989 under EFGraphics. It then moved to Aircel Comics (a division of Malibu) for the complete run. I wrote other comics for companies like Adventure (Planet of the Apes), Eternity (Battletech), Caliber (Krey), Comico (Vortex), Malibu (Arrow, Ex-Mutants), and even had an Ultraverse title (Eliminator). A lot of people know me for my editing time at Malibu, though, where I edited the Protectors line of comics as well as a bunch of Ultraverse comics.

SILVERLINE: When you’re not making great Silverline comics, what do you do in your spare time? What are your hobbies?

I don’t have a whole lot of spare time since re-launching Silverline as I teach creative writing at Full Sail University. I enjoy spending time with my family. My hobbies are mostly boring as I love to both read and write in my spare time. I’ve got three finished novels that I’m hoping to do something with some day. I’m a huge student of history and was a civil war reenactor for several years until I just couldn’t find the time to put in to it. While I still enjoy it, it isn’t very PC today.

SILVERLINE: Many creators at Silverline have been in the comics industry for years — what’s kept YOU plugging away at comics?

That’s a simple one: I love comics. I love the medium and what it can do. I love the art of the stories. Yeah. I love comics.

SILVERLINE: What was the first comic you remember reading that made you think, “Hey, I could do this!”

Cobra. It was an independent comic published by the guy who ran the local comic shop. It was the first time I ever met anyone who’d worked on a comic. I bought it. Read it and immediately thought “I could do this!”

SILVERLINE: What’s on your playlist? Who/what music do you listen to, and do you listen to it while you work?

I’m a metal/prog rock guy. I don’t really do a lot of variety. I pretty regularly listen to Neal Morse and Theocracy. There are others, of course, but these two always work their way to the top. Neal Morse puts out so much new music, he’s an inspiration to anyone who creates!

SILVERLINE: Who were some of your earliest influences on your writing ?

In comics, that’s easy: Stan Lee, Roy Thomas, and Steve Englehart. Otherwise, Ray Bradbury, Isaac Asimov, and Stephen Crane. It’s been a couple of years, but I read Red Badge of Courage every couple of years.

SILVERLINE: What was the first comic you ever worked on professionally?

Cat & Mouse #1, published by EFGraphics in 1989!

SILVERLINE: Can you still read that comic today without wincing?

I can. Oh sure, there are things I’d edit today. But while it was my first professional work, I’d been honing my craft of writing for several years.

SILVERLINE: What are some non-Silverline independent comics you would recommend to readers?

I think Elementals should be read by all. Scout is another favorite of mine. I also like Bone, Cerebus, Saga…and several others that I’m drawing blanks on right now.

SILVERLINE: 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?

It isn’t enough just to learn how to write and tell stories, learn to navigate the business end of things and learn how to market. You can write the greatest story in the world, but if no one knows about it, you’ll only hear good things from your friends and your mama.

SILVERLINE: After you die, would you rather your memory be memorialized with an overpass or a parking lot?

An overpass. I like the idea of high-fiving everyone as they pass by!

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22Sep/20

Cat & Mouse #3 + Trumps Book 1 kickstarter is live!

But…you knew that?

Okay, so I totally flaked on getting this out last week. It is NOT Silverline’s web wrangler Tim’s fault—totally mine for missing it. Thing is, I had most of the below written, I just got so caught up in getting the kickstarter started…I honestly just forgot this. And I feel bad because I know some of you rely on these for your Silverline news. Yes, you may hurl barbs at me—I’ll take them.

But yes, the kickstarter is live! And this one is going to be shorter than any kickstarter we’ve ever done. In fact, there are only 11 days remaining! We decided that 28 day campaigns are just too long—there’s generally a week a half in the middle of the campaign when there are zero pledges. That not only twists the nerves in the stomach, it causes lost sleep! We shortened it by 10 days, hoping to avoid SOME of that lull in the middle.

Anyway, it’s live now and like the last two, it’s another double feature! This time, we’re bringing you Cat & Mouse #3 along with Trumps Book 1. Like the previous kickstarters, these comics are finished and ready to print (a few pages left to letter—and a page left to color for Trumps, but they’ll be done by the time the campaign ends). Cat & Mouse #3 is 22 pages, and Trumps is 48 pages long—it’s the length of TWO comics…so, theoretically, there are THREE comics in this kickstarter!

As always, we’re offering some really nice kickstarter exclusive covers, but we’ve got alternate versions you can choose from. The kickstarter exclusives are—well, exclusive and the only way you can get those covers. Variant covers are done by: Alex Gallimore (Cat & Mouse “A” cover); Thomas Hedglen (p), Thomas Florimonte (i), Sid VenBlu (c) (Trumps “A” cover); Peter Clinton (p), Thomas Florimonte (i), Roberta Conroy (c) (Cat & Mouse “B” cover); Alex Sarabia (p), Barb Kaalberg (i), Sid VenBlu (c) (Trumps “B” cover); Dean Zachary (p), Barb Kaalberg (i), Roberta Conroy (c) (Cat & Mouse “C” cover); Steven Butler (p), Thomas Florimonte (i), Sid VenBlu (c) Trumps “C” cover).

There’s also so much original art on this one, if you’re a fan of original art, you’d be silly not to at least check it out. Lots of cool stuff to be had—mostly, it’s comic books, though! So jump on over and check it out.
Also, don’t forget that you can catch Silverline live twice a week: Sundays and Wednesdays feature an assortment of us talking about various comic book things—yes, we’ll take requests!
We start at 9pm (EST) each night.
You can find us live on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/SilverlineComics/
On youtube: www.youtube.com/silverlinecomics
And even on Twitch: https://www.twitch.tv/silverlinecomics/
(you can make 60 second clips on Twitch—you should check that out! It’s kinda fun!)
Thanks, as always, for your support. We couldn’t do any of this without you.

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/rolandmann/trumps-and-cat-and-mouse?ref=8qxnof

08Sep/20

Craft: Scott Wakefield – Applying Research

Hello Silverline Family, today’s contributor is going to be very familiar for any follows of our weekly live-cast. I have the pleasure of working with Scott Wakefield every Wednesday on WHAM! so it felt natural to ask him for a piece here. Scott and I both share a passion for history and with his upcoming book focused on a subject he heavily researched, I asked him to talk about the process. So here is Scott Wakefield talking about how he applied research to writing comics.

Applying Research

I’ve seen many illustrations about an artist’s work behind the work the public actually sees. A good example is the image of an iceberg with most of its mass hidden below the water’s surface, or mountains of notebooks, or 3×5 cards beside the final piece. In almost every instance⎯a speech, painting, novel, anything ⎯ those images hold true. It’s rare for any dedicated artist to jump into their work without study, thought, planning, rough drafts, character sketches, or any manner of methods before their final creation. Everyone’s methods are as different as their art, but we can’t deny that countless hours go into making something beautiful.

In my case, I must admit to fighting off a neurotic desire to study every piece of the relevant history, because if I didn’t, I’d have a treasure trove of knowledge, but no actual story. As Rory and I create Steam Patriots we have mountains of material to draw from, and if we don’t curtail our zeal to include everything that tickles our interest, this story could very easily fly out of control into a useless collection of trivia. The American Revolution has been studied from every angle imaginable, and analysis continues to this day. We had to decide on specific events and people we wanted in our story, and not get distracted by every nugget of shiny history that caught our eyes.


We likewise decided at the very start that we wanted to include bits of lesser-known history and individuals who didn’t share much of the historical limelight. This serves two purposes for us: we’re able to inform readers about interesting US history that might have otherwise been left out of common lessons; and we have material at our disposal in which the details are sometimes slim, allowing a little leeway for creative interpretation of so-and-so and such-and-such. Real people did actual, truly heroic acts, and we never want to steal that from them with our fictional re-telling of the Revolutionary War.

That may sound a little silly, since we’re telling a story about steam technology, improved by Benjamin Franklin, being used in the late 1700s. Why not just throw real history out the window and write the darn story however we please? That was certainly an option, but Rory and I decided that the real story is so interesting that we didn’t want to overshadow it with our steamified whimsy.

After the initial kernel of our idea solidified, we then looked at establishing the big timeline picture. Our story would start at the Battle of Long Island in 1776, and end, well, at the end of the war in 1783, with perhaps some epilogue of sorts. Then, we needed important milestones along the way. Here we created a spreadsheet to begin logging our discoveries. Our fictional hero, Felix Ward, wasn’t going to flit about the continent participating in every key moment, so we limited events to those around New York, Philadelphia, and the northern campaigns. Wikipedia can be a great resource if you scroll to the bottom and use the sources of particular entries. Finding a timeline with hyperlinks started us down a rabbit hole of open browser tab after open browser tab.


This is why the spreadsheet has been an invaluable tool. With the story timeline as the initial goal, we were able to plug in information as we worked our way through research. When something caught our attention, and fit within our story parameters, we’d find out what happened and who was there, and as we built this collection of data, we’d see if and how Felix could be involved. Oddities and the obscure have been the true gems. Our goal then became finding out how much was actually known, with the hope that details were scant, which would allow us to lay claim to it, in a manner of speaking.

At the start, one key resource has been David McCullough’s 1776. As we read, we highlight and tab, while adding pertinent information to our spreadsheet. And as I mentioned at the start of this article, we discard most of it, including only the minutest fraction in the story.

In the world-building aspect, we looked to biographies and autobiographies of important figures to help us craft their character, and give us insight into the day-to-day particulars of late 18th-century life. The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin is a quintessential example of contemporary source material. Similarly, first-hand accounts of battles written at the time of the event are indispensable.

I wish, as most artists probably do, that consumers of our craft were able to see the effort that goes into creating, but it’s not feasible. Besides, while we think the background information is just the bee’s knees, not everyone wants to know how the sausage is made.

In the end, I hope the time put into the final distillation will shine through and prove a delight.

25Aug/20

Silverline Creator Spotlight: Jeremy Kahn

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 Jeremy Kahn, a comic book artist who has worked for such titles as The Pink Panther, Rocky and Bullwinkle, Casper the Friendly Ghost, Hot Stuff…as well as his work for Silverline Comics, of course.

Now, without further ado, we present to you…

12 Questions with … Jeremy Kahn

SILVERLINE: So, who are you and where do you hail from? 

The name’s Jeremy Kahn.. I hail from Poughkeepsie, NY.

SILVERLINE: What would you say it is you do here at Silverline?

I mainly color comic pages for Silverline (at least that is what I’d say I do if asked)

SILVERLINE: Where might Silverline readers have seen your work previously?

Previously, I have done coloring work for American Mythology on a number of their kid titles such as Casper the Friendly Ghost, Hot Stuff, Rocky and Bullwinkle, The Pink Panther, and The Ant and the Aardvark among other titles.

SILVERLINE: When you’re not making great Silverline comics, what do you do in your spare time? What are your hobbies?

I love reading, especially Japanese light novels. One of my favorite series I’m reading right now is Ascendance of a Bookworm. I’m always anticipating the next chapter release for that series. I even got a timer set on my phone for Monday when the new chapter goes live on J-Novel. Aside from reading, I also enjoy playing video games (mostly on my computer and Switch). I also collect style guides. I got a pretty large collection of them ranging from 60s Hanna-Barbera to late 2000’s Pokemon. Just recently I obtained a style guide for the manga Bleach and the animated series Tiny Toons.

SILVERLINE: Many creators at Silverline have been in the comics industry for years — what’s kept YOU plugging away at comics?

I’ve loved comics since I was very young and I love getting to contribute to a medium that has brought me such joy for such a long time. I was introduced to comics through my father and have had many interesting conversations with him through the years. I like being able to share that interest in as many ways as possible with as many people as possible.

SILVERLINE: What was the first comic you remember reading that made you think, “Hey, I could do this!”

My very first comic was Archie’s Sonic the Hedgehog #33. It was both my first comic and the first thing to spark my interest in learning more about comics in general. It helped that my dad was a big comic collector as well. So, through him I got introduced to tons of other comics and learned of other genres and styles (he even was the one who introduced me to manga). My interest just kept growing till I decided I wanted to give it a go as well.

SILVERLINE: What’s on your playlist? Who/what music do you listen to, and do you listen to it while you work?

Anisong and Broadway soundtracks make up my playlists mostly. I also like artists from videogames like Crush 40. I also subscribe to an artist on Patreon, AmaLee, who sings English covers of anime openings and closings.

Aside from music I also listen to a few podcasts like Talking Simpsons and Retronauts.

SILVERLINE: Who were some of your earliest influences on your art ?

This first one I actually got to know personally, David Tanguay. He did a lot of coloring work on DC kid titles like Looney Tunes, Scooby Doo, PowerPuff Girls among others. These were comics released back when digital coloring was new and was first being tried out at major publications. So, you’d see some interesting color choices being made as colorist were getting the hang of this new technology.

I also have a lot of respect for Barry Grossman. He colored comics ranging from Archie and Hanna-Barbera to DC and Marvel titles. A very versatile colorist.

Later on Ben Huzenker was a big influence for me, too. I was actually lucky to get a one on one skype lesson with him at one point. He set up a Go Fund Me page to acquire funds for some new equipment and one of the tiers was a skype coloring lesson. That was hard to pass up.

SILVERLINE: What was the first comic you ever worked on professionally?

Well, the first one I rather not mention as the publisher owes me money for that (they actually owe a number of artists money, but that’s a whole other thing in itself). So, I’ll skip ahead to a comic I colored called The Undead. It was a one-shot comic done as a tie in to an indie horror film.

SILVERLINE: Can you still read that comic today without wincing?

Lol. I don’t think I made it a year. It is amazing how much you can improve in a short time when you dedicate yourself to practicing and honing your craft.

SILVERLINE: What are some non-Silverline independent comics you would recommend to readers?

That’s a toughie. My first thought is to say something like Lucky Luke or Asterix, but that is too obvious. I could mention a weird one like Keiichi Arawi’s City or a more job related one like Monthly Girls Nozaki-kun. But, I think I’ll throw caution to the wind and just recommend Yuri is My Job.

SILVERLINE: 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?

So, this question I really wanted to make a joke about telling myself to give up and go pursue that path in Paleontology instead. But, that kinda sidesteps the question a bit too much, I think. So, for some serious advice I’d say look at what interests you and try to incorporate that into your art when you practice. When you work with something you like you can get more motivated. Early on, the more motivated you can get, the more you can get a grasp on the basics and build off of there.

SILVERLINE: After you die, would you rather your memory be memorialized with an overpass or a parking lot?

I’d say overpass. When the world floods, the parking lots will be first to sink. The overpasses will at least hang around in view a bit longer.

Silverline: You can find Jeremy’s work in Silverline’s Bloodline and Krey.