All posts by Wes Locher

08Oct/19

Silverline Creator Spotlight: Barb Kaalberg

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 Barb Kaalberg, who inked a great number of comics for a wide variety of publishers. Some of her work has been seen in Impulse and Primal Force for DC Comics; Captain Marvel for Marvel; The Badger for Image; Planet of the Apes, Mantra, The Solution, Solitaire for Malibu.

Now, without further ado, we present to you…

10 QUESTIONS WITH… BARB KAALBERG

1. So, who are you and where do you hail from?
 
My name is Barbara Kaalberg, and I’m a comic book artist from the Madison, WI area.  I’ve been here since 1986 when there was a fairly sizable comic book community here, including Capital City Comics distribution and Kitchen Sink Press.  Steve Rude and Mike Baron were also a couple of locals, amongst others.
2. What would you say it is you do here?
 
I’ve been an inker for 30 years and I’ve just recently branched out into storytelling, too.  I say storytelling because I’m not a scripter.  There are more talented people out there (RA Jones, for instance) that script comics 10 times better than I, but I have ideas and stories in my head. It’s kind of daunting, stepping out of my wheelhouse and venturing into creating a whole book.  A lot rides on it.  I’m confident, however.  The name of the project is Divinity and I have a really, really good feeling about it.  I’m also the CFO of Silverline.
 
3. Where might Silverline readers have seen your work previously?
 
Hoooooo Boy, that is a long, long list, my friend.  I’ve worked on something like 200 books from companies all across the spectrum, from Eternity, Malibu, WaRP Graphics, Now Comics, Innovation, Acclaim to Dark Horse, DC and Marvel. Probably some other companies that I’ve forgotten.  You can see some of the stuff I’ve done on the Comic Book Database, although they have a tendency to leave out a lot of independents and kickstarter stuff, which has been what I’ve been doing the last few years.   http://www.comicbookdb.com/creator_chron.php?ID=2238
4. 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?
 
The love of this crazy industry and the people in it is what keeps me going.  I had to leave for personal reasons back around 2000 and I missed it like phantom limb.  It wasn’t easy (by any means!) to come back in 2014 after 15 years of being out of the game, but comics  is like the chickenpox virus – once it’s in your system, in never really leaves.  I love the comics industry.  It’s crazy, unpredictable, passionate, complex, frustrating and so much fun.  It’s full of the most AMAZING people! Another thing that keeps me going is ego.  Every artist wants recognition and acceptance.  I have bouts of terrible self doubt and self confidence.  I’m always striving to feel like what I do measures up even fractionally to many of my peers.  I’ve realized that this is a struggle that will never be won but it drives me to keep trying.
5. What was the first comic you remember reading that made you think, “Hey, I could do this!”
 
Elfquest by Wendy Pini.  I discovered Elfquest in the mid-80’s.  I was already a pretty good amateur painter, working in acrylics, when I was reading her black and white comics.  I realized I could take my brush skills and turn them into inks.  I’d been reading comics since I was a teenager. I worked in a pharmacy and one of my jobs was to rip the covers off of unsold comics so they could be returned to the retailer and then I was supposed to throw the body of the comics away.  Yea, I threw them away . . .  right into the trunk of my car.  Anyway, I digress, I’d read comics for years but it wasn’t until I really looked at this B&W comic did I SEE the art.  Really look at it and study the lines.  That was it for me!
6. Who were some of your earliest influences on your trade?
 
Without a doubt, Dick Giordano.  The first year I went out to SDCC I took a portfolio of everything including the kitchen sink.  Sketches, painting, stuff I’d done in high school.  It was embarrassing.  I had NO idea what I was doing.  Editors crucified me, as they should have.  But Dick was giving this seminar on inking and it was amazing.  I took notes like I was getting graded for it.  It was like my Holy Bible.  Then I looked at inks from Wally Wood, Bernie Wrightson’s ‘Frankenstein’, Joe Simon and other greats.  I gravitated toward controlled inks like Mark Farmer’s  more than loose, organic inks like Bill Sienkiewicz because it came easiest to me.  I practiced for a year and went back out to SDCC with a better portfolio and got a job right off the bat.
7. What was the first comic you ever worked on professionally? 
 
You are going to laugh, but the first thing I ever did was NOT inking, but grey washes.  I think it was Chris Ulm who hired me to do the washes for Eternity’s ‘Tiger-X’.  He asked me if I could do grey washes and I told him no problem.  I lied through my teeth.  I’d never water colored in my life.  I worked in acrylics.  The minute I stepped off the plane from SDCC I headed for the library and checked out around 6 books on watercolors.  Did about 2 or 3 issues of washes before they started giving me inking gigs which, honestly, I was 10 times better at (and even that wasn’t that good) Eternity jobs (like Planet of the Apes) led to Malibu and that was when things really took off.
 
8. Follow up Q — Can you still read that comic today without wincing?
 
Oh, Hell no.  The washes were bad enough but the first couple of books I inked, Jack the Ripper (Eternity), are absolutely cringe inducing.  I’m surprised they kept me on, but it paid off for them in the end to have the patience with me to get better.
9. 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 compromise your principles.  It happened a couple of times that I let things slide that I shouldn’t or took a job or two that weren’t worth it.  My biggest regret, however, was leaving the industry all together for 15 years.  Yes, the reasons were for my family but, looking back, there were probably ways that I could have kept my hand in.  I lost so much ground and there are so many new faces, now, that I don’t know and they don’t know me.
10. After you die, would you rather your memory be memorialized with an overpass or a parking lot? 
 
An overpass, for sure!  Much more traffic than a mere parking lot!  It’s all about staying in the public eye, right?
—–
Barb is currently busy inking Cat & Mouse as well as co-writing and inking her creator owned project Divinity, coming soon.
13Aug/19

Silverline Creator Spotlight: R.A. Jones

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 R.A. Jones, who wrote a tremendous number of titles for Malibu Comics, including Dark Wolf, Fist of God, Scimidar, Merlin, Sinbad, White Devil, Protectors, The Ferret, Pistolero, Prototype, Night Man, Air Man, and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Jones has written for myriad other publishers including Dark Horse, Image, DC, and Marvel.

Now, without further ado, we present to you…

10 QUESTIONS WITH … R.A. JONES

R.A. Jones

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

RAJ: My name is R.A. Jones and I was born and raised here in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where I still reside.

And, yes: like many people born in Oklahoma, I have been told that I do have a little Indian blood!

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

RAJ: I am a writer, currently working on the series Twilight Grimm and Divinity for Silverline.

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

RAJ: Depending on how old you are, you might have seen my work as long ago as the 1980s, when I wrote a review column for the comic book fan magazine Amazing Heroes.

As far as actual comics credentials, I did quite a bit of work for Malibu Comics, including Dark Wolf; Scimidar; Merlin, The Protectors; Ferret; Star Trek: DS9 and their Ultraverse Line.

I have also written for Marvel (Wolverine/Captain America); DC (Showcase ’95); Dark Horse (Harlan Ellison’s Dream Corridor) and Image (Bulletproof Monk).  The latter inspired a movie of the same title; and two short comics stories I wrote were adapted as episodes of the French television series The Metal Hurlant Chronicles.

In recent years, I have mostly written prose novels, including The Steel Ring (using some of the same Golden Age superheroes who appeared in The Protectors); Deathwalker; Scimidar; and Comanche Blood.

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

RAJ: It was Stan Lee and the Marvel Comics of the 1960s that first inspired me, when I was just a boy, to want to become a writer.

(I still keep a small bust of Stan next to my computer for inspiration.  No lie!)

Like many comic book creators, I was/am a movie buff as well – so the idea of telling stories through pictures seems to be kind of hard-wired into our creative DNA.

By the time I actually started submitting work to editors, my specific desire to write comics had evolved into a more general desire to just be a writer, period – in any form or medium I could.

But obviously I still possess a special love for wedding words with images – and still get a big kick out of seeing one of my written scripts turned into a visual story through the talents and efforts of artists.

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

RAJ: While I had voraciously read anything that fell into my hands since the first or second grade, it was a specific spring day in 1965 that really sealed my fate.

That was the day I actually bought my first comic book, off the spinner rack of a neighborhood drugstore.

The book was Avengers #17 (first series).

To the best of my memory, I had no previous exposure to or knowledge of Marvel Comics or any of its characters – so why I bought that particular book, I couldn’t say for sure.  But it hooked me as quickly and strongly as if it had been crack cocaine!

About the same time, I wrote a short “play” that was performed in front of my fifth grade classmates.

I’ve been writing ever since.

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

RAJ: Obviously, Stan Lee would prove to be an early and powerful influence. Shortly after I started collecting comics, the work of Roy Thomas would make a strong impression.

Outside of comics, I was always drawn to the work of such adventure writers as Robert Louis Stevenson and Jack London.  I was a big fan of Edgar Rice Burroughs work, especially the Tarzan and Pellucidar novels.  In the summer of 1967, I discovered the first of the Conan the Barbarian books that made me a fan of Robert E. Howard.

Movies also left their mark on my creative psyche.  The authors work that stood out most starkly to me was often in films that adapted stage plays (Inherit the Wind; 12 Angry Men; Cat on a Hot Tin Roof).  The directors (Hitchcock; Leone; Ford) taught effective ways to blend words and pictures in telling a story.

Through a sort of “creative osmosis” common to all of us in the arts, and often on an unconscious level, all these and more combined inside my brain to become my “style.”

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

RAJ: My first professional work in comics was actually as an editor for a small, short-lived independent publisher called Elite Comics. There I worked on such titles as Seadragon and Epsilon Wave.  They were gearing up to release the first series written by me when they suspended publication (That series was Dark Wolf, done a short time later for Malibu.).

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

RAJ: I’m reminded of a scene in an early episode of the TV sitcom Happy Days. In it, the character “Fonzie,” when contemplating how he should position the rearview mirrors on his motorcycle handlebars, says something like: “Eyyy – I’m not interest in seein’ where I’ve been – I’m interested in lookin’ cool gettin’ where I’m goin’!”

I seldom look back at even recent past writings unless I need to for reference purposes.

I do feel sure that in everything I have written – both then and now – I tried and try to make it the very best I am capable of.

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?

RAJ: Flippantly, I would tell him to write lots of letters of comment to DC editor Julie Schwartz, who often rewarded such correspondents by giving them pages of original art! Have you seen what those pages sell for nowadays?!

Seriously, I would probably tell him to do even more and better at networking.  Like any and all other businesses, the contacts you make in comics – with other writers, with artists, with editors and publishers – can prove invaluable to you in getting and keeping assignments.

For young writers and artists today, I think a tool that did not yet exist when I was coming up through the ranks – personal computers, the Internet and Social Media – is one they should try to fully exploit!

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

RAJ: A parking lot – it’s much less likely to collapse and kill people.

But I’ll settle for hoping that a hundred years from now a few people might still be reading a story with my name attached to it.

Keep an eye out for the titles Twilight Grimm, Divinity, and White Devil, coming soon from Silverline Comics!

09Jul/19

Silverline Creator Spotlight: Sidney Williams

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 Sidney Williams, author 11 novels including recent releases: Disciples of the Serpent, Dark Hours and Midnight Eyes. Sidney’s early books include When Darkness Falls, Blood Hunter, Night Brothers and Azarius. At Silverline, Sidney is the writer of Bloodline and Friar Rush.

Now, without further ado, we present to you…

10 QUESTIONS WITH … SIDNEY WILLIAMS

Sidney Williams
SILVERLINE: So, who are you and where do you hail from? 
 
SIDNEY WILLIAMS: I’m Sidney Williams. Not a lot of people know my middle name is Glover, which I suspect was a surname somewhere back down my family line.
 
I guess I come from a long line of Irish glove makers. I’m now, pretty much, from all over or from a lot of places any way. I was born in Alexandria, Louisiana, and spent quite a few years in and around Central Louisiana. I also spent a few years in Tyler, TX. Let’s not go there.
 
As of this writing, I’m Williamsburg, Virginia, following my wife’s career path and my career spiral. 
 
SILVERLINE: What would you say it is you do here at Silverline?
 
I’m a writer, and I’m pretty good with most software so I could do something else. 
 
SILVERLINE: Where might Silverline readers have seen your work previously?
 
SW: I’m a novelist. My newest books are Disciples of the Serpent about people battling giant things in Ireland, and Dark Hours about a girl trapped in a basement puzzle box by a twisted individual who doesn’t have her best interest at heart.
 
I wrote paperback horror thrillers a few years back, and in the comics world I’ve written things for Silverline before including The Mantus Files and others. I wrote a graphic novel called The Dusk Society for Campfire Comics, and I have written many short stories including a new one called “The Cooler of Craft Brew” for a collection called Quoth the Raven, a contemporary reimagining of Edgar Allan Poe’s tales. The collection made it to the preliminary ballot for the Bram Stoker Awards. 
 
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?
 
SW: Comics represent some of the first reading that ever engaged me, and they played a big role in my putting pen to paper.
 
I don’t think my father knew what he was starting, but he used to read comics to me before I could read myself. We read a lot of Tarzan and super hero comics, and he read me things like Gold Key’s Ripley’s Believe It Or Not, which were really collections of short horror tales.
 
All of that stimulated my imagination, and so it’s fun to play in the sandbox where things all started for me. 
 
SILVERLINE: What was the first comic you remember reading that made you think, “Hey, I could do this!”
 
SW: Probably Tarzan. The stories are fun, high adventure really and when I was, I don’t know, five, they really enthralled me with all of the lost cities and dinosaurs and the like.
 
I’ve said this in many interviews, but before I could actually read and write but could make letters, I’d have my mom spell things for me, and I’d write new captions for a Tarzan coloring book. It’s hard to write when you can’t, so that produced some interesting material like Tarzan perched in a tree saying: “It’s far pretty far to the village.” 
 
SILVERLINE: Who were some of your earliest influences on your writing?
 
SW: I guess Joe Kubert is the first creator whose name I really knew. DC really celebrated him as the writer/artist on the Tarzan book when they picked it up from Gold Key.
 
I liked Russ Manning’s Tarzan as well, and in retrospect, I realize I saw a lot of his work in Gold Key earlier. I actually had a subscription to Superboy when I was a kid, and that morphed into Superboy and the Legion of Super Heroes, and from that I became a huge Legion fan, and Mike Grell became someone I recognized also.
 
All of this factored into my overall creativity. 
 
SILVERLINE: What was the first comic you ever worked on professionally?
 
SW: It was via Silverline for Malibu Graphics. I got to create a miniseries, The Mantus Files, which I mentioned earlier.
 
I had written about three books by then I suppose, so it was Horror Novelist Sidney Williams’ The Mantus Files or something like that. It was a black and white and sold pretty well at the time but it was a time of growth for Malibu, so it didn’t really get them excited sadly. 
 
SILVERLINE: Follow up Q — Can you still read that comic today without wincing?
 
SW: Yeah, I’m OK with it. I went through a period where I didn’t like my stuff. Confluence of reasons for that, I guess. I’m back to liking most things, or accepting that things were written by a different me, a me that I was at a given time. 
 
 
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? 
 
SW: Make more noise, I guess, though I did what I could to trumpet my work and do more. 
 
SILVERLINE: After you die, would you rather your memory be memorialized with an overpass or a parking lot? 
 
SW: Wow, I think an overpass. Name displayed in kind of an arched arrangement. That appeals to me. I guess it would be in danger of getting knocked down by a rampaging monster, though.