Category Archives: Creator Spotlight

02Nov/21

Silverline Halloween Memories (and some costumes)

We asked Silverline Creators

What was your favorite Halloween costume or memory?

And they gave us some interesting replies. SOME of those come with pictures. Here they are:

-Rob Davis

One Halloween while I was attending college I asked a couple of friends from the theater department to apply fake hair and makeup, making me look like a werewolf. After sitting in a chair while they worked on me for a couple of hours one look in the mirror convinced me I’d win the costume contest I planned to enter at a fraternity party I’d been invited to. After winning the prize it was suggested that one of the guys would tie a really thick rope around my waist and we’ d go “trick or treating” in the dorms. While crossing the street from the frat house to the campus a dog was trotting along the sidewalk, caught one look at me and ran squealing off into the night. We then proceeded to terrorize the dorms with my costume for the next hour or so. 

There was just one down side to this story in that when it came time to remove the fake hair the spirit gum they’d used really stuck to me. I had to ruin two disposable razors shaving the stuff off. 

-Kurtis Fujita

So here is a photo of my Wolverine costume from when I was 6 years old. This was in the early 80’s and so Wolverine wasn’t popular in the mainstream consciousness nor was there any merchandise available for him. My father made this custom Wolverine costume for me and I was very excited to wear it for Halloween in Hawaii. I was so excited that I recall running up a long driveway hill and shouting trick or treat to the homeowner and then running back down the hill before they had a chance to give me any candy.

-Quinton Bedwell

The most memorable costume I ever had was was a Ben Cooper HE-MAN costume. The reason I remember it is because my whole family went to the MS State fair and my Dad took me all around and I met Darth Vader. Apparently Darth was selling glow necklaces to raise money for a new Death Star because some vandals blew up the first one. LOL… Golden Memory of all my family being together and meeting my favorite character… Well favorite before I learned he was responsible for the death of an entire planet. RIP Alderaan…

-MacKenzie Wertman

Halloween has always been one of my favorite holidays but, most of all, my favorite time of the year. There is just something about Fall with all the colors of the trees, pumpkin flavor, campfires, and sweatshirts mixed with the season of fantasy that comes with Halloween time that just gets me buzzing. It’s like “magic” is alive and well, and Halloween kicks off the start of the celebration.

From the beginning, my parents made sure to make all the holidays special, and Halloween was no exception. Dressing up was always something that was encouraged in my family, and I’m so glad I was never one of those kids that grew out of it. I have such fond memories of Halloween with my family, as we all dressed up and sat on my grandparent’s porch in my hometown. I’ve been everything from a werewolf to a witch, a skeleton, a vampire (the Twilight kind), and I even went as Cher one year. (Thanks, Mom! Haha!) The longest-running costume was a cowboy, which I wore for about three years straight until I sadly grew out of it. (Don’t worry, though! I kept it just in case I have children in the future that I can force into it!) My best costume may have been the year I went as Sally from the Nightmare Before Christmas, in which the makeup took me a full three hours to complete! And for an honorable mention, I always found it hilarious that my parents dressed me as a dinosaur when I was two, only for that to become my day job, twenty plus years later! (I guess they knew even then!)

There’s just something about the creativity and freedom that comes with Halloween– the power to be anything you want for one entire night! I never felt like I was wearing a costume. I always felt like I was embodying the character that I was dressing up as, and although I’ve embodied quite a few, there was one I loved above all the rest…

My favorite costume – or as I like to say, embodiment – was the year that I was able to be Darth Vader.

Yep! That’s right. The big man in black with a red lightsaber… Although mine was green cause it was Yoda’s and KB Toys had sold out of all things Darth Vader/Anakin Skywalker during that time, but even with the wrong lightsaber, the year I was able to be Darth Vader was super special. I’ve loved Star Wars for nearly my entire life, and my love for Darth Vader has far surpassed that love on many levels… and in 2005, when I was able to become him, I felt like I had risen to greater heights than I would ever achieve in my lifetime. No one ever told me that simply because I was a girl, I couldn’t dress up as him, nor did any of my guy friends comment about it.

In fact, there were about twelve Darth Vader’s in my small private school that year, and I vividly remember keeping the mask on for a long while so no one would have any idea it was me… and no one did! My mom had dressed me in secret so that no one would know, and I remember kids guessing and guessing, trying to figure out it was me, but I even had a 3D mask that changed my voice to Vader’s so no one could tell! Of course, with my known love for Star Wars, they had figured it out eventually, but even then, it was like we all carried on as the Dark Lord of the Sith instead of little 3rd and 4th graders! Later that night, after the school’s Halloween party, I remember meeting some of my fellow Darth Vader’s during trick-or-treating, and I even had an epic duel with my friend, Gavin. (I won, by the way.) Then when it was time for bed, I only allowed the suit to come off if I could change into some Darth Vader PJ’s. (What can I say? I was a freak, and my mom was a trooper!) 

-Roland Mann

All of my Halloween memories come from my middle school and junior high years living in the Millcreek subdivision in Brandon, MS. The family has picture of me in other costumes, but I don’t remember most of them. My good pals in Millcreek were Mike Harris, Wynndel Stanton, and Kendall Jones. The four of us lived so close that we did so many things together. Mostly we hung out at Wynndel’s because he had a pool table. It’s all where we used to practice when we got our first band together—yes, we were a garage band in the literal days of garage bands.

One Halloween, before we really learned to play our instruments, we decided to go as KISS, each of us taking on the persona of the instrument we were learning. Thus…I went as Peter Criss because he was the drummer. Mike, as Ace, looked the coolest…but we collected a lot of candy that night. Probably one of my last times trick-or-treating.

04Jul/21

Silverline Creators Share July 4 Traditions

On July 4th, those of us in the US take a day out to celebrate .
So, in the spirit of Independence, we asked Silverline Creators: What are some of your July 4th traditons?

Mike W. Belcher

Growing up, we didn’t have big Fourth of July events. We always had a flag flying outside the house. Typically this small carnival would come to town for a few days usually ending on the night of the fourth. It was your typical traveling carnival. The workers usually looked pretty sketchy. The rides looked old and you’d take your life in your own hands riding them. But there was something fun and comfortable about. We’d walk back home and cook out a small meal. Usually just hamburgers and hot dogs. We’d end the night walking out the back door to watch the fireworks the city would set off. Friends would come over to watch them with us. It was small but we had fun.

Growing up, we still watch the fireworks the city sets off. We cook out if we have the time. Adulthood has set me too straight on going to the carnival now. But at the end of the day, we all know what we’re celebrating and are grateful for what we have and what this country offers us.

Rob Davis

July 4th celebrations at the Davis household:

Pre-COVID our family had a yearly get together with family friends who live a couple of hours away here in Missouri. We are fortunate to live on a property outside any city limits of about five acres with a big field to the south of the house and a patch of trees on about one and a half acres to the east of the house blocking the nearby two lane highway from the house. Living where there are no restrictions on fireworks use and a piece of property big enough to have the staging ground safely away from our house and any others nearby we would host a modest fireworks display and feast. I start early in the day grilling and smoking the meats and vegetables for our guests who usually arrive in time for a late lunch. We visit while we eat inside if it’s too hot or enjoy the deck or patio if it’s not. We might do some video or board games until the sun gets behind the house a bit then head outdoors to set off “daytime” fireworks like smoke bombs, snakes, firecrackers and “poppers”. The daytime highlight is always the parachute poppers that each of the younger generation set off and then chase down and attempt to catch the floating chutes. Despite all of the “kids” being grown up this is still as much fun as it was when they were little. By the time the daytime event has finished it’s time to consume the leftovers from lunch, watch a video or play more games until the sun goes down enough for night-time pyrotechnics. At dusk we start with sparklers and graduate to the display fireworks alternating roman candles, rockets, and waterfall like displays with mortar shells that explode in the sky with spectacular flower-sprays. There’s usually one last set of explosives to cap off the celebration and our family friends head back home while we clean up what we can of the aftermath and make sure any embers are well extinguished.

With everyone of the folks in the two families now vaxxed that can be we’re looking forward to starting up the tradition again in 2021.

Tim TK

I like to think I celebrate the Fourth of July in much the same way as most others, but with my own little twist on it. The standard procedure is grill some juicy burgers for lunch and then head over to the riverfront park which has usually been converted into something like a fair for the week leading into the holiday. The walkways are lined with vendors and the central promenade hosts a large stage featuring some okay, bordering on good, talent. We do the standard thing, buy some over priced elephant ears, set up some camp chairs and watch the fireworks over the river once it gets dark.

What I think is really dope happens during the parade that crosses two of the suburbs in our metro area. I happen to know the guy who used to have a long board factory in the area and he has a slot in the parade each year. He gets a bunch of skate boarders and longboarders together, and we cruise up and the down the parade as it travels, blasting past the retirement home floats, and bombing/carving down the hill that happens to be on the parade route. It was cancelled last year, as most things were, but two years ago, I did this while wearing an American Flag onesie. I found myself in several photos later as well as in the reel the city put together. Unfortunately, it looks like I won’t be able to break the onesie out again this year, but maybe next year!

Roland Mann

The Manns often find themselves in Piggott, Arkansas for the 4th of July celebrations. Piggott is a small town in NE Arkansas with a population fewer than 4,000. They celebrate the 4th, however, like a much larger town.

The 4th of July serves as a bit of a family reunion for the community of Piggott and Clay County in general. For as long as I can remember, trips to visit family happened during Christmas and on July 4th.

On the morning of the 4th, the Huffmans (my Mom’s family) would make their way to a spot near the railroad tracks around 8:30am to get a good viewing spot for the parade. Starting at 9am, the parade, which runs about one mile from the First Baptist Church down Main Street until it reaches the fairgrounds. Like many small town parades, it features the local ball teams, beauty queens, and politicians. Occasionally a state politician would make the visit and participate in the parade.

At 10am, the politicians take the stage and blow all their hot air. I never really paid any attention to them except that short while I was an editor at the local rag. Depending on how hot it was would generally determine how long they talked. They’d be followed by bands/singers throughout about lunch.

We would make our way to the “kitchen” or hamburger stand and grab lunch…then head home. Often, family would all head to my grandparents’ house—in later years, that house became my parents’ house. The next several hours were full of conversations, catching up, naps, and lots of laughing.

The family would head back to the “picnic” (which is really just a small fair) and eat and ride some rides (younger ones), watch the beaty pageants, or just catch up with friends and extended family.

At 10pm, the community heads to the high school football field for the yearly fireworks. Then, when that is done, the “raffle” winners are announced and everyone heads home.

All the money raised at the Fourth of July Picnic in Piggott goes to the upkeep and care of the city cemetery. Every weekend following and into August, the surrounding communities have their own picnics to raise money for their own cemeteries.

And that’s pretty much the 4th traditions for the Manns.

Peter Clinton

Happy Treason Day, you ungrateful Colonials!

 

16Mar/21

Silverline Creator Spotlight: Rob Davis

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 Rob Davis, an artist who has worked for such comic titles as Scimidar, Merlin, Straw Men, Maze Agency…as well as the recent Twilight Grimm for Silverline Comics, of course–for which the 2nd issue is kickstarting right now: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/rolandmann/tg2fr2

Now, without further ado, we present to you…

Questions with … Rob Davis

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

My name is Rob Davis. I hail from the state of Missouri and have my whole life.

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

I’m a penciller/inker for R.A. Jones’ TWILIGHT GRIMM mini-series.

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

My greatest claim to fame, such as it is, was on the Star Trek books for Malibu and DC comics in the 1990s. Deep Space Nine for Malibu, Star Trek (Kirk, Spock, McCoy in their movie incarnations), and a single issue of Next Generation for DC. My first big “break” was before that on R.A.’s SCIMIDAR book for Eternity Comics—a precursor to Malibu.

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

I just recently retired, so I don’t have a “day job” anymore. I do, however, drive a bus for a local college. Mostly I transport their Mock Trial group but I also have been tapped to drive for the Volleyball and Bowling teams as well as shuttle the college’s International students on fun field trips. I’m hoping to dive into Model Railroading and finally do some work on my N-Scale layout that’s lain dormant for about 20 years.

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

It’s in the blood. I fell in love with comics as a kid and have never gotten over it despite it kicking me around once in a while. It scratches a lot of my creative itches.

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

I don’t think I ever had that particular thought. Mine was, “this looks like a cool, creative thing to do. I’m going to figure out how I can do that!” That first thought came reading AVENGERS issue #2. Kirby IS king!

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

I mostly listen to the oscillating fan in my studio run. I used to listen to NPR/Classical music in the studio many years ago but the stereo radio I had burned up and I have yet to replace it. I could use the desktop computer I have in the studio to either tune in via the internet or play my collection of mp3s but I’ve gotten used to not having anything playing and just “zen out”
drawing.

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

The aforementioned Jack Kirby is the biggest, but I’ve been accused of channeling Curt Swan
(long time Silver age Superman artist) and feel some influence from Gil Kane.

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

Oh, lord! I hate to bring that up but I was letterer and inker on SYPONS for NOW comics back in the late 1980s. The writer/artist on the series seemed to really despise my inking, so that’s a hard one to bring to memory. It was an interesting concept playing off the X-Men/Teen Titans vibe.

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

No! “laughing”

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

Wow, I’m not reading much these days. I liked Grimjack, and Badger back in the days when they were active. Concrete is another favorite. Maze Agency by writer Mike Barr is in there, too. I probably should widen my horizons but not much that I see of today’s comics excites me. The last independent that looked interesting and I tried was so thin plot-wise I gave up on it after a couple of issues. I remember the days when you got three eight-page complete stories in a comic book. Anyone who has some suggestions can goad me on Facebook. 🙂

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?

Toughen up and widen your network. When the industry imploded in the mid 90s my connections had moved on and out. I did start to move that way but kept getting the rug yanked out from under me on projects: editors dying, creators yanking their projects from publishers and publishers not quite making up their minds what they wanted. That was a rough period that was hard to take.

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

Ew! Neither. No asphalt or concrete for me. Spread my ashes over a sunny, green spot.

19Jan/21

Silverline Creator Spotlight: John Crowther

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 John Crowther, lawyer and writer of lots of wrestling comics, Rochelle the Teen Cockroach, and the upcoming Teen Beetle for Silverline, which is currently on Kickstarter for issue #1!

Now, without further ado, we present to you…

12 Questions with John Crowther

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

My name is John Crowther. and I am a dad, husband, son, brother, writer, and reluctant lawyer with somewhat redneck tendencies.  I was born just a few blocks from the World’s Most Famous Beach in Daytona Beach, Florida and, after making the usual college and post-college tours, I now make my home in the artsy Central Florida college town of DeLand.

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

My primary role with Silverline is writer and creative spinster.

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

You can find a few of my earlier series (Rochelle, Horror Comics, Exciting Comics and Turnbuckle Titans, to name a few) with Antarctic Press, as well a collection of biographical professional wrestling comics with Squared Circle Comics. In addition, I have appeared in several anthologies and graphic magazines, most notably for Heavy Metal Magazine, Unlikely Heroes Studios, Oneshi Press and Tin Sky Media.

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

It’s not what I would consider a hobby, but when I’m not plugging away on a Silverline comic, you’ll most likely find me typing away on the desktop at my law office, where I have been practicing law for nearly 29 years. Away time from the offices will generally find me in my garden, at the beach, or browsing antique malls on one-tank road trips with my better half — my amazing wife, Gigi.

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

Writing comics has become a passion for me over my relatively short 6-7 year comic writing career, so everything about it still rings fresh to me. I love seeing my words brought to life by the incredible artists I’ve had the honor of working with. I love to see the enjoyment in a fan’s eyes or  hear their excitement when they’ve read something that I have created. And I love the comradery that I find in the comic book industry among other creators. It’s the combination of all of these things that drives me to continue with that passion.

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

For me, it wasn’t a particular comic that convinced me that I could “do this.” I have been a comic book reader for almost as far back as I can remember. I still recall passing the old Rexall drug store near my bus stop after school each day, where I would hit the spinner rack for a handful of $.75 comics — everything from Sgt. Rock to X-Factor, to Conan, to Swamp Thing. I was a huge fan of Mad Magazine and Cracked back then too. If it had a cool cover, I’d grab it. But I never really imagined that I would be a part of the industry in the future — my career was set as soon as I was born —  was groomed to be a lawyer. When I hit my 40s, looking for an outlet from the daily office grind, I stumbled across a Facebook group called ICC (Independent Creators Connection.) It was a diverse collection of comic book fans and industry hopefuls, who were really supportive of each other regardless of their skill or knowledge level. I thought, “What the heck,” and went for it — sharing my concepts and scribblings — and was received with open arms by folks I’d never met before. It was that positive encouragement that set me on my way and gave me the gumption to try my hand at comics on a more professional level.

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

Oh, gosh. I’m about as eclectic as it gets when it comes to music, although my usual fallbacks are country (Clint Black, Waylon Jennings, Charlie Daniels, Hank Williams, Jr., Johnny Cash, Chris Stapleton) and classic rock (AC DC, Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin.) But I’m not discriminatory when it comes to music, as you can see by my concert list: Milli Vanilli, Smashing Pumpkins, Earth, Wind & Fire, Neil Diamond, Kansas, B52’s, Jefferson Airplane, Yellow Man, and Boy George to name a few. And no — it comes off when I write, as it would be too distracting. I talk through the stories in my head and out loud when I write (if you passed my desk you’d think I was insane). 

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

Growing up as a kid, I read comics and books equally. My favorite genres being fantasy, horror, and sword and sorcery. Some of the authors who I drew influence from include Stephen King, Dean Koontz, and Terry Brooks. In comics, I was drawn to the writing of Marv Wolfman and Robert Kanigher, and to the art of Bernie Wrightson, George Perez and Joe Kubert.

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

Rochelle: The Teen Cockroach was the first comic I ever worked on professionally, when it  appeared as an add-on story for Femforce #170 from AC Comics, before having a successful run with Antarctic Press as simply, Rochelle. Oddly enough, the title character can trace her origin back to a sketch I did as part of an art challenge in the ICC Facebook group. It was the positive reception I received from that post that encouraged me to bring Rochelle to life.

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

Absolutely — I still enjoy reading  it and feel that it was a fairly good effort for a first comic. It’s also garnered a bit of a cult following and has very recently stirred some interest in  genres outside of comics, so hopefully you’ll be hearing exciting news on the Rochelle front in the months ahead.

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

There are definitely some good independent titles out there. I would highly recommend a couple from Inverse Press: Vicious Circus, and Last Ride of the 4 Horsemen. Those folks specialize in horror and these books will not disappoint. For younger readers, I would recommend a new title from writer Rob Andersin and Scoot (Scout Comics imprint) called Cat Dad & Super Mom. I had the privilege of previewing the book and it’ll knock your socks off.  I’m generally reluctant to recommend anything I’ve been a part of, but I would be remiss if I didn’t recommend Cthulu Invades Oz, from Travis Gibb and Orange Cone Productions. It’s a really well done anthology from a collection of top-level creators that combines the worlds of L. Frank Baum and H.P. Lovecraft.

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?

Start younger and don’t hesitate. There’s nothing that will hold you back more than yourself. I honestly wish that I hadn’t surrendered to my own self-doubt when I was younger. 

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

Strangely enough, this is a tough question. My initial thought was a parking lot, because I would love to leave a space where others could stop, suspend reality for a moment, and absorb themselves in the stories I left behind. But that wouldn’t be me. I don’t want be remembered for sitting still, so I would have go with the overpass, launching above that parking lot. I would want others to remember me for always moving forward — seeking, reaching and surpassing my goals and never stopping to rest on my laurels.

Teen Beetle is currently kickstarting and the first issue is available there now: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/rolandmann/teenbeetle1switchblade1

22Dec/20

Christmas Memories by R.A. Jones

CHRISTMAS MEMORIES

BY:  R. A. JONES

Christmas has always been my absolute favorite holiday of the entire year and is today the only one to which I devote much time celebrating.

In my youth, the receiving of presents was naturally the main source of its appeal. But there were other things as well.

Things like homemade candy. My mother did a terrific job of making her own fudge, divinity and even peanut brittle (the latter being no easy feat). Popcorn balls were always to be found in plenty.

Like a poor man’s version of the famous Kennedy clan, football was part of my family’s Christmas tradition. Late afternoon, after presents had been opened and a large, sumptuous meal downed, all the Jones boys would head to the backyard for a little rough-and-tumble tackle football game.

I also always associate music with Christmas. I love Christmas music!  Play Little Drummer Boy (the original version, with the Boys’ Choir) for me and I guarantee you’ll see a lump appear in my throat every time.

One song that I suppose is technically not purely a Christmas song but that I always think of in that regard because Mom always played it along with more traditional tunes, is the Ave Maria – specifically the version sung by the great Perry Como.

The song about the Drummer Boy has now come to epitomize for me my own personal credo, especially in a professional sense.

If you listen to that song closely, you’ll see that it never claims that the little boy is the greatest drummer; it never even states that he is a good drummer. So what does it say?

I played my drum for Him.
               I played my best for Him.
               Then He smiled at me.
               Me and my drum.

I like to think that’s what all the many editors I’ve worked for and with over the course of my long career as a writer came to expect they would receive from me.

Not necessarily the greatest story – but the very best story of which I was capable.

As for memories surrounding Christmas presents, I actually have three I’d like to share. I like to think they span the spectrum: one is about receiving, one is about giving – and one is about giving and receiving.

When I was a little boy, one of the most highly anticipated events leading up to Christmas was the arrival in the mail of the Sears Catalog.

Between its covers one would find page after page of wonderful toys available through this retail giant. My father had a good job, working for American Airlines, but he also had a lot of children – so you had to keep your requests for your main Christmas Day presents down to one or two. The process of winnowing down all the options so enticingly offered by Sears and Roebuck was often rather long and arduous.

One particular year (and I honestly don’t remember my age at the time), I had fairly quickly narrowed my focus down to one particular item.

A Fort Apache Playset.

Having grown up during a veritable Golden Age of Western movies and TV shows, I naturally developed a great love of the Old West. I still have it; I’ve written a couple of Western comics, plus three prose novels and a novella.

The Fort Apache Playset consisted of all the pieces (plastic, of course) needed to assemble the fort itself, plus plastic figures of soldiers, Indians and horses. The photo had me practically drooling onto the pages of the Sears catalog.

The one thing I feared might stand between me and my possession of it, however, was what to my young mind was the rather princely price required to purchase it.

If memory serves me correctly, it commanded a hefty $4.95!

Perhaps I’d been a particularly good boy that year – or perhaps the price was not quite so exorbitant as I had imagined. Regardless, I found it sitting beneath our tree on Christmas morning. It proved to be just as wonderful as I had hoped it would be!

For whatever reason, I can think of no other Christmas present that has left such in indelible print in my mind and heart.

Move forward a few years. I was working my first “real” job flipping hamburgers for a chain (now defunct, I believe) called Burger Chef. One of the Christmas presents I had purchased from my $1.10 per hour paycheck had been the latest music album by the Beatles.

The recipient of this gift was to be my older brother “Dink” – the sibling to whom I was always closest and with whom I shared a love of all things coming from the “Fab Four.”

Now, unless you put it inside a box of some sort, it was pretty hard to disguise a vinyl record album’s shape, no matter how may bows you might put on the wrapping.

So, one weekend afternoon a week or two before Christmas, when the parents and all our other siblings were out of the house for a few hours, Dink approached me with a proposition.

Since it was blatantly obvious what my gift to him was anyway (he knew I wouldn’t have given him a record from any other group than the Beatles) – why not go ahead and let him open it?  We could enjoy listening to it for a few hours, then re-wrap it and put it back under the tree – and come Christmas Dink would open it again and feign surprise as if he was seeing it for the first time!

So we did, and he did – and as far as I could tell, none of the rest of the family was ever the wiser.

Dink’s gone now – but the memory of that particular gift will live as long as I do.  Maybe longer.

Finally, move forward yet another couple of years.  It was my first year as a student at our local Community College, and I was working to help pay my way there as a sacker at a grocery store called Warehouse Market.

In the years immediately preceding this one, my mom had insisted on setting up an artificial Christmas tree in our living room.

Now, some artificial trees are very nice, very lifelike in appearance. But this one looked like some alien form of flora. It was all shiny and silver and each “branch” ended in what looked like a small, aluminum pom-pom. Adjacent to this “tree” would sit a sort of light wheel. As the wheel slowly rotated, the light cast through its colored cels would make the tree appear to be red, blue or green.

I hated it.

The store where I worked, like most grocery stores then, sold live Christmas trees.  So I used some of my earnings to buy one to bring home – making it a gift I received but also one I gave to the rest of the household.

So tall was it that we had to saw off a couple inches to keep it from scraping against the ceiling of our living room. A room it then filled with that wonderful aroma of evergreen.

I also had enough money to buy nice presents for my parents and the two younger siblings of mine who were also still living at home. I can’t honestly tell you what presents were given to me by others that year – though I’m sure they were great and that I appreciated them. But I still remember the presents I gave.

And I still remember the tree.

It’s been a perilous year for all of us in 2020, but I hope our Christmas is a joyous one for us all. And that we all remember the message that Christmas brings to everyone – regardless of your faith or lack of same.

After all…what could be a better gift for all of us than a world in which we had peace on earth – and good will toward one another?

Merry Christmas, everybody.

And in the coming New Year – don’t forget to Make Mine Silverline!

#

26Nov/20

Silverline creators share Thanksgiving memories

On Thanksgiving, we’re encouraged to take the day out to be thankful for our many blessings. We here at Silverline are thankful most of all for YOU, who continue to support us and read our comics…and that allows us to continue to make comics, which we love doing.

So, in the spirit of Thanksgiving, we asked Silverline Creators: What’s your favorite Thanksgiving memory (childhood or otherwise)?

-Barb Kaalberg
I grew up on a farm in Iowa a half mile from my Grandparents, a stereotypical old farmer couple with bib overalls for my Grandfather and a dress with an apron for my Grandmother. For Thanksgiving, my Aunt and Uncle and my 3 cousins would join my Dad, Mom and us three kids on my Grandparents farm for the usual huge meal. My Grandmother would make every single person their favorite dish and their favorite dessert in addition to the expected Turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy and homemade, yeast raised dinner rolls. Everything, of course, was made from scratch. There were so many dishes of different kinds of food and desserts that she could have fed half of a small country, but she cherished making everyone happy with her (amazing, drooling good, from scratch, homemade) cooking that she relished making everyone’s favorites. Desserts would include pies, cakes, cookies, jam filled kolaches and homemade cinnamon buns. An awful lot of food for 12 people! But it was all made with love, and that was the best thing of all.

-Thomas Florimonte
My Grandmother’s turkey “Dressing.” Not that nasty “Stuffing” stuff that northerns pass off as a “side dish” during the Thanksgiving meal. I’m talking about good ‘ol Southern Cornbread Turkey Dressing. In most cases, it’s not a side dish to the Turkey itself. It’s a “Main Dish” served along side, right next to the turkey. In “my” house, if you don’t serve “Dressing” during the Thanksgiving meal, then you might as well not serve a turkey at all. And my Grandmother made the best dressing in the world- Fight me.

-Mike W. Belcher
Best Thanksgiving was probably the one time that both sets of my grandparents came to our house for the holiday. Until then, everything was very separate with my family going to one or the other every year. Having everyone together for once was nice and one of the few times I enjoyed Thanksgiving. Can’t say it’s one of my favorite holidays for whatever reason.

-Sid VenBlu
I only have one Thanksgiving memory because I’ve celebrated it just once. That’s a holiday only in the United States after all.
Sean Wolfe invited my close friend Sarah and I to have dinner together at his house, there I not only got awesome food, but also I got to meet the man behind “Cooking with Stupid.” It was a very pleasant evening all in all.

-Rob Davis
My father attempting to pull off turkey and stuffing ( which at our house were prepared separately) one Thanksgiving when my mother was in the hospital. He nearly pulled it off, but he came close to burning the stuffing. It was pretty dry and needed a lot of gravy to be edible. Seeing my WWII era dad a bit out of his depth but soldiering through was priceless.

-Ron Fortier
Okay, I’ve lots of them but they are all jumbled together.
My mother was one of ten children so Thanksgiving were pretty much us celebrating at home. On those rare occasions when she and her sisters decided to do it up big, we’d all go to my grandparents home in Maine. Now consider, my grandfather and grandfather, their ten children and their spouses…and all their kids. Honestly I had more cousins than the populations of small towns. Mom and my aunts would do all the cooking, each of the five ladies bringing individual dishes like some giant pot-luck gathering. Dad and his brother-in-laws would take out the extra tables and chairs from the attack and set them up through the living room and kitchen area. There was one giant table for the grown-ups and at least three smaller round tables for us munchkins.
I remember mounds of food, deserts and then when all had eaten their fill, we kids were cut loose to go out in the huge backyard to play games. Growing up in a big family is an amazing blessing and though the elders for the most part are all gone now, the memories of those gatherings keep me warm as I move on in this journey.

-Jaxon Renick
The Thanksgiving that comes to mind is the one when I was in art school, away from home and my buddy opened up the pizza shop he worked at for all of his friends and co-workers to have a Thanksgiving Dinner and not be alone. That was some damn fine pizza!

-John Metych
We used to go to my grandmother’s each Thanksgiving. My grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins would all be there. The dining room table was large and accommodated seating all the adults. My cousins and I, however, got to sit at “the kiddie table.”
That wasn’t a bad thing, as it was an exclusive table for our generation. We would talk and act goofy, common for our age.  The table was always placed against a small wall separating the dining room from the kitchen.
My grandparent’s house was older – built in 1921 – and had age appropriate wear. During one Thanksgiving, we took note of a small crack in the wall. As kids are goofy and do silly things, one of my cousins used a spoonful of the instant mashed potatoes from their plate as spackle! They filled the crack with rehydrated potato flakes… surprisingly, the colour was a fairly close match!
We cousins still laugh about that impromptu Thanksgiving “MacGyvered This Old House” style repair!

-Brad Thomte
When I was young, my family would have the traditional Thanksgiving meal each year.  It was my mother, father, my younger brother, and me.
One of the items on the menu was cranberry sauce.  It wasn’t homemade, it was canned.  This was in the 70’s and 80’s and the cans had an embossed expiration date on the bottom instead of an inked stamp.
This caused an imprint of the date to transfer to the gelatinous blob
that was the cranberry sauce.
This phenomenon created a rivalry between my brother and I.  We
constantly fought as to who “gets the numbers.”  It got so bad that we
had to keep track of who got the numbers the year before.
Unfortunately, the last few years we were at home together, the cans
had switched over to the inked stamp instead of the embossing, so we
were unable to continue the rivalry.

-Peter Clinton
As I spent the last 3 years studying in the US I did get to participate in 3 thanksgivings. Usually those of us staying in student accommodation and near by would gather to have a ‘Friendsgiving’ where we’d all bring food and drink and have a bit of a party.
And one year my class mate Jose invited me to spend Thanksgiving with him and his family out in Pennsylvania, where his wife made a hell of a lot of food and I made sure to confuse his kids with a great many lies about life in the UK. Yes, we all live in castles!
We ended the evening with their family tradition where they all sit down and watch White Christmas, which I’m embarrassed to say I had never seen!

-Kevin Gallegly
I do t have a single one… just the ceremony around it… the good dishes… candles… the spread of snacks and finger foods… a college football game on because my grandfather was a big USC fan!

-Scott Wakefield
This is a tough question, because I have a large family and we love being together. Childhood Thanksgivings have been in New York, Massachusetts, Indiana, Illinois, West Virginia, New Hampshire, and places I’m sure I’ve forgotten. Our gatherings are always noisy and full of laughter, often requiring the ability to maintain multiple conversations at once.
One of my favorite Thanksgivings was at my aunt & uncle’s house in Indiana. I think I was 12 or 13 years old. They had a big house, with a big finished basement and tons of Nerf guns. My cousins, my brother, and I played almost non-stop, running, jumping over furniture, laughing and yelling and being sweaty adolescent lunatics. They also had a new computer with games I had never seen before, and I wanted to stay up all night playing. To make it even better, my grandparents lived nearby, so we were all able to spend time together. I think the meal was good, but then, I’ve never had a bad Thanksgiving dinner.
Family is a big part of my life, and I’m glad to have trouble finding one happy memory.

-Rory Boyle
Being from the great state of Ohio, we’re guaranteed to be graced with a healthy dose of lake effect snow. It shows up and accumulates in a hurry. Every Thanksgiving my family would pack up some classic dishes and make the drive along the coast of Lake Erie to my Aunt & Uncle’s house for our annual feast. Usually by then feet of snow had fallen. My Aunt and Uncle’s house was tucked away down long winding roads not frequently trafficked, leaving the roads paved with fresh white powder. The trees, being either blasted and caked with snow or standing tall and silent, their limbs would frosted with snow looking like skeletal fingers reaching over the road. We’d reach their driveway in our station wagon and turn onto the snow covered gravel. Pulling up to the party of cars, and rushing out to meet family, we were always greeted by the aroma of a turkey roasting on a spit, and the joyful shouts of welcome from the rest of the family. It was a beautiful start to every winter season.

Happy Thanksgiving from all of us at Silverline to all of you!
#MakeMineSilverline!

#

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!

#

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.

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!

#