26May/20

Silverline Title Spotlight: Cat & Mouse Vol. #1, issues 13 – 18

Welcome to the fourth, and final, spotlight on the original classic Silverline title, Cat & Mouse.

Yes.  Fourth.  And yes. Final.

You may be thinking “What?? Final spotlight?? Each preceding spotlight reviewed a four-issue arc. This spotlight encompasses SIX issues?  An entire one-third of the original series??”

This realization may lead to thoughts such as “No . . . that’s not true . . . that’s impossible!!!”, or even “This is madness!”

Fear not, friendly reader, for this final spotlight on the original Cat & Mouse run is neither madness nor impossible.  Sit back, take a deep breath, relax, take yourself back to the early 1990’s, drink an ice-cold Crystal Pepsi and chow down on a McDLT sandwich as we delve into the conclusion of Silverline’s original Cat & Mouse saga …

Issue thirteen picks up in the wake of Cat’s (Jerry’s) brutal battle with Tooth and Nail; as Cat remains hospitalized in intensive care, Demon takes it upon himself to look after Mandy’s (Mouse’s) mental health.  A trip to his veterinary clinic puts Mandy in a better mood, enjoying the cute puppies and even assisting with some basic pet care. Playful banter and some light flirting concludes with Demon introducing Mandy to some of “his” music … to which she responds “What? Sixties music?” and rolls her eyes.  I knew I liked this Mandy girl . . . ?

The next morning finds Demon twitterpated over his upcoming date with Mandy as he makes a rare daytime appearance at his clinic, gives his receptionist a raise, receives a grateful friends only hug and kiss in return, and muses about his apparent new “ladies man” status.

Mandy and Demon’s “floating concert on a sail barge” date goes awry as a tugboat collides with the musical barge.  Demon and Mandy heroically jump into action; Demon rushes to save the members of the 60’s cover band, Steelhammer, from possible electrocution from a fallen lighting rig while Mandy thrusts herself onto the tugboat and fights the thugs who intentionally rammed the musical barge. Demon delivers all of the band members to safety, save the guitarist who was, as was Demon, hit with an impactful electrical shock when a live speaker hit the open water.

Demon recovers, he and Mandy swim to shore to avoid any questions from the authorities (Demon’s appearance would certainly be question #1!), and Mandy explicitly tells Demon that, next time, they see one of her bands.

Again, I knew I liked this Mandy girl . . . ?

As the light-hearted dating interlude ends, issue fourteen thrusts Mouse back into action. She reconnects with her thieving skills in an attempt to secure financing for Cat’s hospitalization and medical costs.  Her initial break-in goes awry, but she finds herself wielding her new-found pistol with ease and certainty.

Demon and Mandy continue their playful canoodling, which Demon tried to turn into a serious conversation before being interrupted by Mandy’s friend’s unexpected arrival.  Hiding hijinks ensues and Demon finds himself fuzzier after being on the wrong end of a clothes dryer cycle.Unexpected visitations continue as Martin Rossman re-enters the title, stopping by Jerry and Mandy’s apartment unannounced. Mandy has her first one-on-one conversation with Rossman, who emphatically states that he wants to help prove Cat and Mouse’s innocence but will need the two bullets that were in Cat’s possession to do so.  After visiting Jerry, and a quick phone consultation with Demon, Mandy, this time as Mouse, meets Rossman in the dead of night to deliver the evidence.  However, he is not alone . . . accompanying him are his personal lawyer and a United States Marshall. Rossman announces that he is turning state’s evidence against the Mafia . . .

And Champion returned in this issue, as well, with shadowy figures in search of him.  For what nefarious reason? Only time will tell . . .

Martin Rossman’s deal to turn state’s evidence is on center stage of issue fifteen as his family goes into witness relocation and the Mafia boss is taken into custody, though later released due to “lack of evidence” (AKA – Jury Tampering).  The Yakuza are pleased with the Mafia coming under the microscope of the United State’s State Department and Kunoichi ordains her next pair of students as ready to take the names Skull and Crossbones.  Demon’s positive impact on Mandy continues after their first “overnight stay” as she takes his suggestion to complete her GED (High School Equivalency Certificate – AKA “Good Enough Diploma”) and she enrolls in classes to earn this certification.  The nefariousness around Champion continues as an individual claiming to “work for the government” offers him a job in New Orleans. And nary a panel featuring Cat appears this issue!

Issue sixteen begins with a bang (well, technically, a BOOM) as it picks up precisely from the moment issue fifteen wrapped. An assassination attempt on Martin Rossman follows his departure from the courthouse where mob boss Vito Ruggieri had just been released.  As Cat’s return to his own title begins, Ruggieri’s name is dropped multiple times.  Officers (on the take) continue to “look after” Cat, while wondering who he is and why Rossman ordered him protected, and state Ruggieri’s interest in the hospitalized (and still unidentified) Cat.  One of the officers provides a vial – from Ruggieri – to the attending physician who, in turn, injects its contents into Jerry’s motionless body.  “Coincidentally,” Jerry’s condition takes a turn for the worse this issue as his kidneys begin to shut down and a hospital official indicates that his only chance for survival is a complete kidney transplant.

Mouse’s quest for protection – in the form of Kevlar or an equivalent – continues as she “visits” an off-the-beaten-path police warehouse that Martin Rossman identified as one that would contain such body armor.  Mouse also imparts on a quest to secure a replacement kidney for Jerry from Japan’s black market.  She approaches her former teacher, Kunoichi, requesting her assistance in setting up such a purchase.  Meanwhile, Kunoichi is battling her own issues as an unsuccessful attempt to recruit her to assassinate the Yakuza’s leader (known as the Oyabun) leaves her on unsteady grounds with other powerful individuals in the organization . . . individuals that have located the off-the-grid Tooth, who had been in hiding since the conclusion of issue twelve, and recruits her to assassinate the Oyabun instead!  Her payment? Delivery of Cat for her to extract revenge as she sees fit . . .

Rossman, still alive after taking a bullet to the chest, is moved out of New Orleans under the cover of darkness en route to his waiting family, now in witness relocation, in South Dakota.  Family connections are strong in this issue as Champion finds himself now in New Orleans, having accepted the job from the guy “from the government,” encounters his ex-wife, unexpectedly, during his first walk through the city!

Kunoichi, loyal to the Oyabun, seeks his assistance in procuring the black-market kidney for Cat.  As the Oyabun inquires what he would gain in return, a disheveled and unhinged Tooth bursts in and announces she is there to kill him. Kunoichi pledges to protect his life in exchange for the kidney and pushes for an immediate agreement.  And cue the cliffhanger music as issue sixteen ends and issue seventeen begins, picking up at the same precise moment . . .

A protracted, bloody, brutal, limb-severing battle between teacher and student ensues and concludes with Kunoichi’s absolute victory over her former student.  Champion, in uniform and in the heart of New Orleans, receives his own “field agent badge” as he meets a “contractor,” also noted as one of the founders of a “new government branch.”  The badge? Fake.  The contractor?  Ruggieri.  The other “governmental agents?”  Mafia.  The stories they tell, including one where Cat and Mouse supposedly had killed Martin Rossman?  Lies.

And what of Mouse? She’s having vivid nightmares of impregnation with Demon’s child . . . well, children . . . well, litter of children. Being delivered by reverse-anthropomorphic  versions of Vet Demon and Nurse Nancy.  Visions of Cat chastising her lack of responsibility and self-control haunt her. The nightmare is interrupted by Kunoichi, arriving unannounced, who quickly catches Mandy up on her battle with Tooth, her deal with the Oyabun, and the danger that Cat is in now that his identity and location is known by both the Mafia and factions of the Yakuza.

Kunoichi’s newly ordained graduates – Skull and Crossbones – are shown to be loyal to the Oyabun’s chief rival, Inagowa, the one who called for his death.  The duo commandeers a Dirigible and make their way to the hospital, intent on kidnapping Cat, no matter how many Mafia members they need to kill on the way to fulfilling their mission.  Kunoichi and Mandy race to the hospital only to see Cat being loaded into the airship but are too slow as Skull and Crossbones sail away with him in tow. Turning to the Oyabun for assistance, Kunoichi and Mandy come face-to-face with his rival, Inagowa, who has anointed himself as the new Oyabun upon the dishonorable departure of his predecessor.  Inagowa, as the new Oyabun, offers the women the same deal he offered Nail – delivery of Cat upon the death of his predecessor.  Kunoichi refuses a second time while Mandy emphatically announces that she will do it.  Kunoichi and Mouse locate him, hiding on a ship, sailing away to hide. Kunoichi offers him one last opportunity to regain his honor and offers him a blade to do so with.  He refuses, lunges towards the port door to escape, and is confronted by Mouse, gun drawn and ready to fire!

The Oyabun is dead. Long live the Oyabun.  Issue eighteen, the final issue of the original Cat and Mouse saga, begins with Mouse and Kunoichi delivering the dead body of the original Oyabun to his usurping successor, Inagowa.  The large gunshot wound makes it crystal clear that it was Mouse who delivered the killing strike, as promised.  The new Oyabun identifies the local zoo as the location in which they can find Cat.  Mandy locates him, in a tiger cage, being “protected” by Skull and Crossbones.  Petty banter ensues but the assassins assure no interference will occur.  Mandy enters the cage and repentantly shoots an attacking tiger to protect Cat.  The two women accompany Cat to Japan, where a donor organ is provided, surgery is completed, and prognosis for recovery is positive.  After kidney implantation, a horrifying lucid dream jolts Jerry (finally) awake from his coma.

One final mission is performed; Mouse, having an uneasy feeling about the organ donor process, asks Kunoichi to accompany her and investigate the organ donor facility.  She had a bad feeling about it  . . . and she was right.  The “donors” were unwitting individuals, mostly homeless people and missing kids, who the Yakuza provide to the “facility” who, in turn, supply human organs as needed.  The “donors” are awakened by Kunoichi and Mouse’s arrival and lead an “undead” uprising against the guards, doctors, and workers at the “facility,” an uprising that the ladies refuse to interfere in, thus allowing the “donors” to extract their revenge.

The final page of issue eighteen reunites our title characters, finally!  As Jerry continues to recover from his injuries in Japan, Mandy catches him up on everything that had happened during the intervening passage of time.  Sporting a very Nick Fury eye-patch, and still requiring a wheelchair as he is at the very beginning of a multi-month recovery, Jerry thanks Mandy for everything she has done for him.  Overlooking the mountainside, she shares that she likes the thought of them staying there and leaving the mess of New Orleans behind . . . maybe permanently.

The End!

Well, not quite . . . ?

Although the “The End!” caption closed out issue eighteen, and with it, the original Cat and Mouse series, the final two issues also served to lay groundwork for the continuation and growth of the Silverline universe of characters!

Champion, still in New Orleans, attempts to woo his ex-wife back into a relationship.  It’s revealed that they have a daughter together.  As Champion (who we now know is named Dan) and his ex-wife (Ann) are out on the town, they encounter a shadowy creature assaulting a man in an alleyway.  Dan confronts the shadowy figure, who he (incorrectly) surmises must be Cat due to his appearance (brown fur, tails, glowing eyes . . . yeah, it’s Demon!) and, through his courageous intervention and bravery, impresses his ex-wife.  The story of Champion, working with “the new branch of government” will continue in one branch of the Silverline universe . . . more on that to come!

Demon, after departing from the alleyway (and after letting Dan know he’s “number one”), realizes how flustered he has become since the Church of Abaddon has entered his life.  The man he was assaulting in the alleyway?  A cult member who he was trying to extract information from, even if he had to “beat it” out of him . . . until he was interrupted by Champion, that is.  The Church of Abaddon saga continues in yet another branch of the Silverline universe . . . Demon’s first solo mini-series, Demon’s Tails! (available for purchase HEREhttps://indyplanet.com/demons-tailsshameless plug!  ? )

As we close the book(s) on the original Cat and Mouse series, we look forward to the continuing adventures of many of the supporting characters introduced throughout these eighteen issues, characters featured or starring in sister Silverline publications, and some special guest stars as well.  It’s almost 2021. Do you know who your heroes are? ?

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

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

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

An assembly of guest pencilers pitched in to deliver issue 13, including Tim Eldred, Chris Cross, Tha Grimlen Jack, and Brian Dale!

The myriad talented Inkers over this six-issue run include:

The mighty Thomas Florimonte who also provided inks not only for Silverline’s Demon’s Tails mini-series, but also for titles from publishers including (but not limited to) Marvel, Malibu, Chaos!, Acclaim and Gallant, plus publications under his own imprint: Inferno Studios, home of Zomboy! Thomas also co-founded the industry changing Print-On-Demand service, Ka-Blam as well as its sister division, IndyPlanet!  Plus, Thomas is back at Silverline, currently inking multiple current Silverline projects!

Ken Branch, who also provided inks on multiple issues of Cat and Mouse’s sister publication SilverStorm, and also inked at Marvel, DC, Image Comics, Malibu Comics, Valiant Comics, First Comics, and Comico.

John Dell, who also inked at DC, Marvel, and Cross Gen and worked on titles including Robin, Lobo, Supergirl, and the JLA.

Dan Schaefer, who also contributed to art projects at Dark Horse Comics, Marvel Comics, Malibu Comics, and DC Comics.

Tom Romano, who is still contributing to the comic book field through his own studio, Tom Romano Art Studio.

19May/20

Craft: Roland Mann – Writing: Adapting “A Something” into a Comic.

Hey there, Silverline readers and comic creators! I was able to get a hold of a very important person at Silverline, our Editor-In-Chief Roland Mann. Roland has a long and storied career in comics that you can read about in his Creator Page. He has also worked on many projects that involved adopting other mediums to comics.

With the world now familiar with comics being adapted into phenomenal blockbusters, I wanted to look at what that process looks like going the other way. Here, Roland talks about what is involved when a writer is asked to adapt something else into a comic. – Tim

Adapting “A Something” into a Comic.

If you had asked me when I first started writing if I would do so many adaptations, I’d have told you no, that I was only going to write original stories. Stuff I’d conceived in my own head. Yet, as I look back, I’ve done quite a few adaptations: Rocket Ranger (PC game), Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (novel), Wizard of Oz (novel), Gladiator (novel; the comic was never published, but I did the work!), SadoMannequin (short film), The Remaining (feature film), and She-Devils on Wheels (B-movie)…more recently, my adaptation of Thumbelina. Then there are the works that seem to be adaptations, but are rather a “sandbox adaptation,” meaning I’m playing in the original sandbox, but I am writing original content. My Battletech and Planet of the Apes series fall into that category.

The first thing you have to consider when writing an adaptation is what exactly does the editor/publisher want. If they want an exact adaptation, that’s one thing. If you can take some creative liberties, that’s another.

Straight adaptation is a little easier, but not as creative. Adaptation with some creative liberties is what writers really want to do because—well, they get a little creative freedom.

When writing an adaptation, the first thing you have to figure out is what are the important parts? Generally, you can’t get every word of the original thing into the adaptation—so, what’s vital? And what can be cut? I like to take the original and write a summary of it. It’s not creative work, just take the thing… and write a detailed summary of it.

This is where I start looking at the scenes and make notes—“vital”, “important,” “be cool to have,” “if this is gone, no one will miss it.” Things like that. The next thing I do is examine the scenes and try to visualize how many comic pages that scene will need. Yes, it’s often guesswork, but you’re generally working with a set page number established by the editor/publisher. You know what you have to work with.

Then, I add all the pages up. If I have too many—which I always do, I look at the scenes marked “no one will miss” and start crossing through them. Generally, I keep a running tally so I know the page count. Sometimes, though, I’ll just remove all the non-essential scenes all in one swipe and then add it up. I’ll work my way down until I get to the page count desired by the editor/publisher.

My next step is to work on a page by page plot. The old Marvel method allows me to more accurately visualize what will actually happen on each page. Sometimes I find that I’ve allotted too many pages for a scene, or sometimes—more often than the other—I find that I haven’t allotted enough. But I’ll go ahead and do this for the entire story and see what the total page count is.

Once I’ve done the entire thing, I won’t go auto-delete things, but I’ll reexamine the scenes labeled as “be cool to have” and see if I can reduce the pages required. If they’re marked that way, it’s something that would be good to have, but maybe I shouldn’t devote so much space to it. In all honesty, this usually works for me to get it down to the required page count. If it doesn’t, though, I’ll go through those same scenes and try to determine which one(s) can be cut to make room. This has always gotten me there.

It’s still a lengthy process, but it’s a different one than creating a story from scratch. The main thing a writer should remember is that it’s your job to be true to the original, to capture the things from the original that fans love.

13May/20

Silverline Double Feature kickstarter is live!

Silverline Double Feature kickstarter is live!

If you follow any Silverline social media at all, you’ve seen us post SOMETHING over the last two weeks about our two exciting new titles: Divinity and Twilight Grimm. Our kickstarter is live now, and as I type, we’re 25% funded, so we’re very excited that it is going so well out the door. So, what are they?

Divinity

…is the story of Divinity Gray, an eleven year old girl whose life changes forever after the suspicious death of her parents. Marine Sgt. Zach Gray, the older brother she barely knows, becomes her guardian, but when he discovers Divinity’s mysterious healing powers, their lives take a dangerous turn. With the help of a few friends, Zach and Divinity must go on the run to keep Divinity—and her powers—out of the hands of an evil cabal.

Kevin Van Hook, filmmaker and creator of Bloodshot said this about Divinity: “Divinity #1 manages to bring a fresh take to this story of a young girl with mysterious healing powers. Alex Sarabia’s pencils combined with veteran inker Barbara Kaalberg keeps the tale moving and makes you care for the characters as you’re along for the ride. Good stuff!”

Maggie Thompson said, “It’s one of the moments that tells the reader a comic book has succeeded. It’s the moment when the reader says, “Hey! That’s all I get right now? What happens next?

       “That reaction means the story works. It means the elements have gone together to make a great mix. It means the reader cares.

       “And that’s the reaction readers will have, when they get to the last panel of Divinity #1. It’s the issue that introduces the Marine who’s had to return to the States to take care of his half-sister. And it introduces the girl who has a talent neither of them can explain.

       “Now the question is: How long will reader have to wait until #2? Because they’re going to care.”

Divinity is by: creator/co-writer/inker Barb Kaalberg, co-writer R.A. Jones, penciler Alex Sarabia, colorist Steve Mattsson, and letterer Mike W. Belcher.

Divinity #1 is full color, 22 pages. #1 is the first of a four-issue mini-series. The comic is COMPLETELY FINISHED.

Twilight Grimm

Twilight Grimm is by R.A. Jones and Rob Davis. They are joined by colorist Mickey Clausen and letterer Mike W. Belcher.

Twenty years ago, the  city of Hallowed Heights was nearly destroyed as the result of warfare between  humans and vampires. In its aftermath, the  two factions forged a most unusual “peace plan.” A high and heavily  guarded wall now splits the two sides of the city.  On one side of the wall  reside the middle and upper classes of humans.  It is clean, beautiful and  safe.

On the other side of the  wall, where a teenaged petty thief named Suzi Q has just been exiled, lies the  darkest and most horrible ghetto imaginable.  Here, amidst squalor and  vice, dwell the poor, the homeless, the forgotten.

And the vampires, led by the family of Gregor Radovic.

As long as the vampires stay on their side of the wall, the humans on the other side are willing to  pretend they don’t exist and let them rule over this so-called “Blood Zone” as  they see fit.  This includes turning a blind eye as the vampires feast upon the Zone’s human inhabitants.

Amidst rumors that the long-held truce may be unraveling, there is no human law in the Blood Zone —  save for that dispensed by a mysterious and violent young man who has appointed  himself its sole guardian from the depredations of the vampires.

His name is…TWILIGHT GRIMM.

Twilight Grimm #1 is a supernatural/horror comic; full color, 22 pages. #1 is the first of a four issue mini-series. The comic is COMPLETELY FINISHED.

Silverline Live

We’re working on over two months of Silverline Live and it’s going well. So well, of course, that we’re going to increase our frequency in June. More about that as we get a little closer. Please, if you haven’t already, consider subscribing to our youtube channel: https://www.youtube.com/silverlinecomics

New Projects

We’re not going to go into them just yet, because it’s a little too early…but in the last 2 weeks, we’ve started THREE, yes, T-H-R-E-E new projects…and we can’t be more excited.

Remember, Make Mine Silverline!

05May/20

Silverline Creator Spotlight: Luis Czerniawski

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 Luis Czerniawski, a comic book artist who has worked for such companies as IDW, Image, and Amigo Comics…as well as Silverline Comics, of course.

Now, without further ado, we present to you…

12 Questions with … Luis Czerniawski

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

I’m a simple man (like the song) with a lot of dreams. I’m from Buenos Aires, Argentina, but still trying to find my ship to return to my planet.

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

Here I am, working with good people and doing interesting and fun things for readers, those people like us who wait there trying to read something new every day… oh, and trying to dominate the world.

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

I’ve done a lot of things, IDW publishing, Zenescope entertainment, Mohak media, Avatar press, Amigo Comics, SQP, and  hundreds of pages and covers with James Heffron and many many independent jobs.

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

Draw and draw things for me. I also take care of my plants. I like to be surrounded by green and cats. I also watch TV series, etc. … simple things can also be great.

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

It’s a beautiful road but sometimes difficult. Most of the cases work like in soccer leagues, big and small: some arrive, others don’t … but there they are. In my case, I never stopped being. It’s one way and I’ll never lower my arms.

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

I was very young. I don’t remember exactly which one was the first, but I remember the drawings were from Kirby and other title of Batman with Deadman maybe from the ’70 by Neal Adams. My mother still keeps my version of that inked cover imitating Neal.

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

Love music and I can’t be without it. In fact, I sang in heavy metal bands. Yes, please don’t laugh. And I still listen to some classic bands like Queensryche. I listen to a lot of progressive rock, old and new, from unknown bands or underrated ones, like Road, that maybe they have only one disc but they are great, to Opeth. I also listen to Neil Young, Patrick Watson (Love song for robots),White Buffalo, etc ,uffff a lot !!!

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

As I said before, it was definitely Kirby. I read too many horror magazines with lot of great artists from the 70s that I don’t remember the names of … and then Moebius.

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

My first professional comic was for IDW, a long time ago; a miniseries called CVO, African Blood.

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

Oh, yes I can read it but not look at it, hahahaha. It’s a good story, like the one El Torres writes.

SILVERLINE: What are some non-Silverline independent comics you would recommend to readers? (no Marvel or DC, please)

I wouldn’t know which ones exactly, there are many new and interesting things to read. Amigo Comics has many interesting things, or look for something old.

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?

Ohhh, it’s a good question. I would say come out, not to stay behind the hidden curtains, that nothing matters to you, show what you do!!!

Luis is penciling and inking Silverline’s Kayless!

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

31Mar/20

Craft: Barb Kaalberg – The Bare Bones: Essential Tools for Inking

Hello, Silverline Family. I was able to reach out to Barbara Kaalberg and get her input on what her set-up for inking looks like. Barbara has been inking comics for a while now, and is a master of line work. She has worked on titles like Cat & Mouse, Hawkman, Captain Marvel, Ultraforce, and many more. With her experience she could teach a masterclass on the subject. In this entry, she talks about her preferences for the tools needed for inking comic books.

The Bare Bones: Essential Tools for Inking

Hi, my name is Barbara Kaalberg and I’ve been an inker for a little over 30 years. I’ve recently stuck my toe into the world of digital inking, because I’ve been curious, and I’ve got one penciller whose style, I think, really lends itself to that form of inking but, for the most part, I’m an old school inker and still stick with traditional methods. I like to have something to sell at conventions, ya know?

Back in “the day,” old school inking was either done with a pen and nib (which I never really got into) or it was all about the Windsor & Newton, series 7, size 2 brush, which most brush inkers swore by. It was a round, finely pointed brush made out of Kolinsky Sable, and was the top of the line brush. In the last few years, however, the quality seems to have declined and, while I still use them, I am finding that I prefer the Raphaél 8404’s, sizes 1 and 2. Again, they are made from Kolinsky Sable and have a nice, springy feel to them. Very finely pointed, they create a smooth line that is easy to vary in size. You’d have to test both out to see which you prefer. It used to be you would have to order these from an art store, like Dick Blick, but now you can order these right off of Amazon!

As for the ink, again, qualities have changed over the years. When once Higgins ‘Black Magic’ used to be the gold standard, it’s opacity has shifted slightly over the years. I don’t know if they messed with the formula but I’m not the only inker who’s switched to other options. I now use Speedball ‘Super Black’, which I get in 32 oz. squeeze bottles. These are available from Dick Blick and, strangely enough, JoAnn Fabrics/Crafts and Walmart.com.

When I’m not using a brush, I use the Sakura Pigma Micron pens. Just any old marker or pen won’t do, because they will fade and/or eat away the paper over time. A sharpie is absolutely the worst marker you could use on your artwork. Microns are acid free, archival pens that are fade-proof in sunlight and UV lighting. They come in a variety of sizes but I find myself using the size 2 most of the time. Again, you can get these straight off of Amazon.

Every inker has their own preference for white out. Some swear by Daler Rowney ‘Pro White’ or Dr. Martins ‘Bleed Proof White’. Some even use just plain old white correction pens (although they are very definitely NOT archival friendly!). I use a simple ninety-nine cent white acrylic craft paint like Apple Barrel or Delta Ceramcoat. It comes in a little squeeze bottle and can be found in any Walmart or Target or craft store. Why? Because it dries quick, it dries waterproof and it is very, very easy to ink over. It won’t yellow or eat the page, either. One of my pet peeves is to have my black ink mix with a white correction and turn into grey mud. Fortunately I make very, very few mistakes and rarely have to use white out.

There you go. The bare bones basics of what essentials are needed for comic book inking.