Monthly Archives: April 2020

28Apr/20

Silverline Title Spotlight: Sirens issues 1 -4

The streets of New Orleans have come alive. Mardi Gras is in full swing and the streets of the French Quarter are packed with celebrators, tourists, and the dead!

   Jeff Delmer, a resident of the Crescent City and investment broker, has been rather down and out during the week-long celebration. It’s a week without work and, while he isn’t fond of his job, it’s all he’s got. Until he and an enchanting gal exchange glances across the street. Their fling turns into a romance and then to love. There’s just one hitch in this love story. Remember earlier when I said the dead were also walking the streets?

As it turns out, Lois, Jeff’s new love, is a Siren looking to break free from the voodoo-practicing witch she’s been enthralled to. Unwittingly brought under the effects of a centuries-old curse, Jeff wakes up one day to find Lois missing, his face-melting, and the adventure of a lifetime before him.

Sirens is a story about zombies, witches, Louisiana’s mythology, and most of all love. The story takes place in New Orleans, home to a handful of stories in the Silverline catalog. Like those other stories, the city and the cultures that call it home play just as much a part of the story as the characters do. The hero of this story is Jeff Delmer, an investment broker who has inherited the business from his father. Jeff is as unlikely a character as anyone for the kind of mess he gets wrapped up in. He perseveres, however, driven by a love, unlike anything he’s felt before, aided by some strange friends, and with a little help from divine relics.

The story of Sirens starts in the French Quarter during Mardi Gras. There Jeff catches sight of Lois standing in the rain and is immediately taken by her beauty. He invites her to grab some coffee with him and something about Jeff sparks Lois’s interest. As they leave the packed street, neither of them spots the mysterious watcher who has been following Lois. Jeff and Lois immediately hit it off and spend the next several days going on a series of dates. They are inseparable and love blossoms.

The watcher in the street is not the only one who has been keeping an eye on Lois, however. Felicity Green and her cabal watch Lois through a mystic looking glass. Lois had belonged to Felicity, and Felicity is not just jealous but covetous and vengeful. She wants Lois back bad, and she has an assortment of minions to do her work for her. One of those tools is a big and burly sailor turned thrall.

Jeff wakes up to find Lois gone, a hex splattered across the wall, and a zombie at the door. The zombie, mouth stitched shut and unable to speak, hands Jeff a note. It simply reads “You are in danger!” Jeff gets dressed and follows the zombie to a shop of curios owned by Velvet Green. Velvet is an expert in the tradition of voodoo and has been keeping an eye on Felicity’s cabal long before Jeff got involved. Jeff, naturally, has his doubts about the situation but after Velvet explains Jeff’s very mortal and critical situation, he listens.

Velvet explains that Lois is one of a group of Loup Garou, commonly known as werewolves, but not quite the way folklore tells it. Her group is enthralled by Felicity Green, a voodoo witch, who uses the group as sirens to seduce men and feed off their life essence. In the process, Felicity and her sirens are kept young and the men are reduced to zombies. Velvet reveals she knows all this because she is Felicity’s daughter. As Velvet explains, Jeff is under the effect of the Loup Garou curse and has begun the transformation into a zombie.

It’s not all grim news, however, his professed love for Lois has broken her from Felicity’s enthrallment. Their romance has created an opportunity to strike at Felicity and end the curse. He’ll just need some help. She introduces him to Sheck, the zombie he’d followed and Felicity’s ex-husband, as well as Father Milligan. The good father has taken a post to confront evil in New Orleans should it arise. He is often overlooked by the church but he takes his role seriously. After performing a quick sanctification of Jeff the father says it will be up to Jeff, as his love for Lois will be what strengthens him in his fight with the Loup Garou.

The story continues as Jeff investigates the curse and searches for Lois who has been taken prisoner by Felicity. He’ll find himself going from the dingiest apartments to the swankiest hotels of the French Quarter, and even relic hunting in the bayou. Jeff’s race against time will grow more frantic as he continues to fade from the world of humanity and become more zombie-like with each day. Along the way, he meets and relies on a varied cast of characters. Jeff grows from a man who had nothing outside of his 9-to-5 to a man with love, friends, and a divine calling.

That’s part of what really sets Sirens apart from other adventure-horror stories. The human elements motivate everything in the story. While the events are surely traumatic, Jeff has experienced more positive growth from the connections he made along the way.

The characters he connects differ from the traditional stereotypes that can found in horror. The roles and titles they fill are definitely staples of the genre but they act in ways not typical of titles that share the same shelf-space.

First of all, Jeff Delmer. The well-to-do business guy is certainly a mainstay of horror and is usually a hyped-up playboy who the audience loves to see get killed. Jeff, however, is quite the opposite. Jeff is rather down about his lot in life because he didn’t choose it. Romance was something he didn’t think about until he saw Lois. His change really shows what good purpose and meaningful connection can do for a person.

There is also the case of Velvet Green. Every story having to do with the occult or voodoo has a mystic of sorts. Even better if they are related to the bad guy. Rarely, however, are they as practical as Velvet. Mystic types are often portrayed as aloof, their head wrapped up in ritual and esoteric elements of the problem at hand. Velvet, however, is thinking the next step forward. She is aware of the very real and physical danger the group is in and is thinking of how to combat that with the combined arms of brunt and mysticism. When she comes into play, she very easily takes the role of leader, knowing exactly what needs to be done and how to do it as efficiently as possible.

Father Milligan also lives outside of the norms of how religious authorities are portrayed in the genre. This role is portrayed by some stories as the subject of ridicule for sounding crazy despite being right, or as the powerful and domineering voice of authority. Father Milligan is neither. He is not ridiculed, he is just unimportant and often overlooked. Nor is he domineering, he is thoughtful and patient. This is Jeff’s crusade and Father Milligan knows that and simply offers him help and resources where he can.

One of the most unlikely characters is Sheck, the zombie. Not mindless or a monster. Sheck is Jeff’s stalwart protector and is oddly charismatic. Despite being unable to speak, Sheck’s body language and physical presence in panels provide to be both eerie and endearing. Through acts like watching over Jeff as he sleeps or just the way he holds his face, Jeff and Sheck develop a tight but strange relationship that is reminiscent of the central relationship in a “buddy- cop” story. In the end, the reader finds themselves rooting for the two as friends fighting back to back.

Through smart characters and a new take on Creole mythology Sirens does a lot to set itself apart and is a memorable and engaging read. This is a great comic for fans of action/adventure stories and classic horror.

Sirens was written by Sidney Williams, known to comic fans for writing The Mantus Files, Marauder, and the upcoming Bloodline and Friar Rush. He is best know for his novels such as Gnelfs, and Night Brothers, as well as for many pieces of short fiction.

Art for Sirens was penciled by John Drury, who created Pendulum, and inked by Chuck Bordell, whose credits include Marauder, Switchblade, and several games like the Neverworld RPG.

Sirens 1, 2, and 4 were lettered by Brad Thromte who has worked on such titles as Mouseguard: Tales of the Guard, Pantheon, Switchblade, and Marauder. Issue 3 was lettered by Todd Arnold.

As can be seen in assorted color panels above, Sirens is getting the color treatment from Silverline’s own super-talented Barb Kaalberg, and will be available as a color trade once complete.

21Apr/20

Craft: R.A. Jones – Writers are Artists Too – or at least they should try to be

Hey there Silverline Readers and Comic Makers! I was able to get a hold of R.A. Jones and have him give us the low down on part of his writing process. R.A. has made quite the name for himself working on titles like Bullet Proof Monk, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, and Wolverine & Captain America. As someone who has read a couple of R.A.’s scripts, I can tell you that the second you pick it up, you can immediately see how every detail would translate to panels.

This entry of Craft is about just that. R.A. goes over why writers should think about their comics visually and how he does that himself. It’s our hope that the following entry helps you, dear reader, go about writing your own comic scripts that develop synergy with your artist and better engage your reader.

Writers Are Artists Too – Or At least They Should Try To Be
by R.A. Jones

Years ago, a professional comic book artist gave me a hypothetical and somewhat exaggerated example of the kind of bad scripting of which writers are occasionally guilty. It went something like this:

Panel 1: BATMAN AND ROBIN SLIDE DOWN THE BAT-POLES, RACE ACROSS THE BATCAVE, LEAP INTO THE BATMOBILE AND DRIVE OFF INTO THE NIGHT.

The problem this presents should be obvious – though it always isn’t to some writers. The hypothetical scribe has asked their artist collaborator to visually portray at least four separate actions in a single panel!

Writers also sometimes forget that it takes longer to draw the Statue of Liberty than it does to simply write: Draw the Statue of Liberty. One of the quickest ways for a writer to get on an artist’s bad side is to hand him a script heavy with panels that are so elaborate, so full of characters and actions that he/she is practically reduced to tears of frustration.

A writer does not have to be able to draw any better than does a typical 5-year-old. But they do need to be knowledgeable about the ins and outs of visual storytelling. That is a talent that is often lacking even in those who can draw, at least early in their careers.

Stating that a writer needs to be able to visualize when they write is obvious in certain media, such as comic strips, comic books, and television and motion pictures. But it is a talent that is important to writers of prose as well; useful in describing people, places, and things and thereby creating pictures in the mind’s eye of the reader.

There is a bit of advice I’ve given to many aspiring artists over the years – and I would offer it to writers as well. Choose one of Alfred Hitchcock’s classic films (or director of your choice). Play that movie with the sound off and don’t just watch it – study it.

Get to understand the hows and whys of his varying camera shot choices – from establishing shots to close-ups. Study how he uses the camera to direct our eyes to where he wants them to go. See how much information can be conveyed without the need for any words at all. Develop an appreciation for the creative uses of lighting.

Then apply what you learn to your writing.

There, of course, is no single “right” way to write a comic book script, but I’ll tell you about mine; you find the method that works best for you. This applies to my preferred method of writing a story – full script – but can also be applied when employing all but the briefest and loosest of “Marvel Style” scripting.

First, I write myself a short plot synopsis of that story/issue: usually no more than 3-5 pages long. Along the margins of that plot, I make pencil notations regarding how many pages I think each scene should require to be told visually. Among other things, this lets you know if your plot is too dense for the space allotted and adjust accordingly.
(You will find few if any artists who are happy about working on a script that requires them to cram 12 panels into each page to get all of that story into 20 pages!)

Once I’ve done this, I literally draw the entire issue myself. Full disclosure: my “drawings” are extremely simple and crude, sometimes little more than stick figures. But that’s all I require to make sure the pacing is correct and to be able to fully and understandably explain to the artist what I want from each panel of each page.

Only then do I write the actual script that will go to the editor and artist. If I can draw the story within the required limits and without cramming too much into each panel/page – I know any good, professional artist can comfortably do so as well.

And be flexible; even the method I’ve described should allow artists to flex their creative muscles in terms of layout, etc. Don’t let ego prevent you from recognizing that their visual ideas and instincts can be better than or improve upon your own.

Doing your job well in visualizing your story – makes it easier for your artistic collaborator to do their job!

14Apr/20

Silverline starts a Facebook “Group”…and other news

Join the chatty fun!

After last week’s stream, it was determined that Silverline Comics needed more than just a Facebook “page,” it needed a Facebook “Group,” so all interested parties would have greater opportunity for interaction with readers, fans, and creators. Thus, the Silverline Group page is here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1065603887155592/. Please go join and chat with us there!

Kayless #2 kickstarter a success!

Thanks to all who helped bring Kayless #2 to life! We’re simply waiting on the funds from kickstarter, then we’ll get it printed and shipped! As a reminder, remember, it’s done! And we can’t wait for you to see it!

Covid-World

Most of us are living under quarantine in this Covid World. It’s just flat strange. That does give a lot of folks more time to read, and it gives many of the Silverline creators more time to MAKE AWESOME COMIC BOOKS FOR YOU! Stay safe!

Tune in to Silverline Live stream

Whether it’s just timing and strange luck, SILVERLINE LIVE started about the same time as the quarantine orders began. Tomorrow will be our fifth straight week. Just to let you know some of what we’ve been talking about:

  • Issue #1 was just a general chat and introduction (we’re calling our episodes “issues.” I know, I know…but we’re COMIC folks, whaddaya want?).
  • Issue #2 we started our “Craft” segment and discussed PLOT. The craft segments will hopefully go hand-in-hand with the craft segments on this page that Silverline Associate Editor Tim Theissen has been doing a great job on! This issue also featured the debut of Silverline Indy Comic Reviews as Silverline friend Martin Pierro of Cosmic Times did his first crowdfund comic review. Martin reviewed the kickstarted Broke Down and 4 Dead bodies. Martin should return for another crowdfund comic review in two weeks.
  • Issue #3 was part 1 of the Craft segment PROTAGONIST.
  • Issue #4 featured a gaggle of us talking about Covid and how it is and has affected the comics industry.
  • Issue #5, tomorrow night, will be part 2 of the PROTAGONIST segment.

You have 3 options to watch us live:

  1. On twitch:  https://www.twitch.tv/silverlinecomics/
  2. On Facebook live:  https://www.facebook.com/SilverlineComics/
  3. On Youtube live: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCD_wuBxQzysURBxKkW-T5wg

Whatever your viewing choice is, please considering liking, subscribing, following, etc…and sharing! Come watch us live if you can—ask us some tough questions!

Silverline month at Comic Chat Authority

Comic Chat Authority head honcho, Cody Johnson asked Roland if there would be any interest in a Silverline month. Dedicated followers here might remember that CCA gave Silverline a pretty good review not long ago (https://youtu.be/d7VGh8AIfR8) sparking their interest in talking with a bunch of us. SO, Silverline month start this coming Saturday!

April 18 = Sidney Williams
April 25 = Alex Gallimore
May 1 = ME (Roland Mann)
May 9 = Barb Kaalberg

Upcoming Silverline Comics!

May will see the kickstarter for Divinity #1 and Twilight Grimm #1. Divinity is created, inked, and co-written by Barb Kaalberg, co-written by R.A. Jones, penciled by Alex Sarabia (this guy is going to be hot—you heard it here first!), and colored by Steve Mattsson.

Twilight Grimm #1 is written by R.A. Jones, penciled and inked by Rob Davis, with colors by Mickey Clausen! It’s veteran comic writer R.A.’s return to comics after several years. R.A. has been writing several novels—you should check them out! Fans of his Protectors work will read some familiar names.

July will see the kickstarter for Bloodline one-shot, and Friar Rush #1. It’s the Sidney Williams month as Sid is the writer for both comics. Bloodline is penciled by Rob Sacchetto, inked by Terry Pallot, and colored by Jeremy Kahn. Friar Rush is penciled by Marc Thomas, inked by John Martin, and colored by Rebecca Winslow. Sid’s been cooking up a lot of great rewards for these and we can wait to get the May and July books in your hands!

Until next time, Make Mine Silverline!

07Apr/20

Creator Spotlight: Jaxon Renick

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 Jaxon Renick, a comic book artist who has worked on Deathstroke: The Terminator, SilverStorm II, Marauder, and Open Space!

Now, without further ado, we present to you…

12 Questions with … Jaxon Renick      

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

I am Jaxon Renick, I come Bartlesville Oklahoma (Home to Phillips Petroleum) and have lived in Aizona, Texas, Missouri, Utah and Washington. In some cases, more than once over the years.

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

I interpretate and coalesce the writings of talented word smiths through the use of pencil and paper…the interpretative dance part is just for me.

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

CHAOS Magazine, Marvel’s Open Space and DC Comic’s Deathstroke: The Terminator

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

Collecting action figures, writing short stories, 3D designing homes on my computer using Sketchup. I also seem to collect cigar boxes.

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

I’ve been in and out over the years. Sometimes due to burn out, just busy with other stuff and in complete honesty, depression, but there’s always a spark awaiting to flare up into full blown artistic mode. Always! Plus, Roland’s hard to say “no” to!

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

I don’t recall there being that first comic moment for me, but I do have drawings of Tono and Kono The Jungle Twins that I did when I was just a wee little one.

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

Music’s a big influencer when drawing. What I listen to while at the ol’ drawing board is dependent on what I’m drawing  and what energy or emotion/mood I’m wanting to convey.

In terms of a playlist…X, Leonard Cohen, Joan Jett, Lou Reed, Laurie Anderson, Sinatra, the Beatles, the Stones, Kate Bush, John Doe, John Williams soundtracks, Rocky Horror, Queen, Talking Heads, Bowie…and the list goes on! 

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

Neal Adams, John Byrne, Don Newton, Jose Louise Garcia Lopez, Michael Golden, John Buscema, George Perez, Gil Kane, Curt Swan, Howard Chakin, Walt Simonson…to name a few.

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

 Marvel’s anthology book ‘Open Space’ #7 I believe.

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

Next question!

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

I do not have an answer for this one.

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?

There’s an abundance of artists out there, none of them are YOU! Now go do that voodoo that you do, so well!

05Apr/20

Kayless kickstarter ending

Kayless kickstarter ending

Kayless ends in about 2 days and we still need your help. We’re pushing hard to try to beat the kicstarter for #1, but we’ve got a ways to go. $2000 is the final stretch goal we would really love to achieve. So, share share, and back/support if you can.

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