Tag Archives: Dan Schaefer

23Jun/20

Title Spotlight: The Scary Book

Doom! Doom Upon Ye! The world is ending and . . . is that a giant lobster demon?!

     The Scary Book is a story where our heroes must unravel a shadowed mystery involving the dark powers of the occult. Unlike titles with similar subject matter, this story isn’t highlighted by abstract terror and gore, but instead by hilarity. Each issue is packed full of jokes, and references delivered in a consistently impactful tone. This four-issue series is a must-read for fans of dark comedies.

The story starts with Marty Applegate, owner of Applegate books, receiving a delivery of strange books he didn’t order. Even after getting his order fixed by swapping with the intended recipient of the strange tomes, one escapes their scrutiny and finds itself on Marty’s shelves. While Marty isn’t looking, a man named Caduceus purchases the book from the clerk. Shortly after that, pandemonium breaks out. 

As it turns out, that book was actually a book of spells penned by the devil himself, Lou C. Fer. He puts out a new batch of books on occasion so that advanced conjurers can give his demons work on Earth. Turns out Hell is even tiresome for the Demons, which is probably why they got a union organizer. The problem is that this book began making the rounds. All the major demons have been summoned out of hell and there is no one left to torture all the damned souls. Lou needs his demons back and in order to do that, he’ll need Marty to track down who bought the book and stop it from circulating.

In issue 2, we meet Marty’s cadre of book hunters as they travel through a world being torn apart as mass conjurings and spells are unleashed by even the most inept of magical practitioners. The first is Crimson, a cursed soul sent by Lou C. Fer to make Marty aware of his quest and assist him in completing it. Crimson sold her soul for beauty and has been stuck in hell to suffer the punishment for vanity ever since. The chance to work back on Earth finally gives her the opportunity to fully use the boon she received in her pact. The two of them enlist the help of Phillip Chandler, a private eye whose career earned him several films made about him starring himself. Phil proves to be an interesting addition to the team as he is mentally stuck in his role. He speaks as if he is providing narration and dialogue in a voice-over session. The trio follows the first clue to a cult performing a conjuration. 

That encounter sets them on the right trail. They trace the book back through all the hands that have held it since it was initially purchased. On the way, they encounter a whole slew of fascinating characters, unsavory beasts, and what street prophets believe to be the end of the world. Eventually, they get their confrontation with the book’s holder and things only get stranger from there. 

What really sets The Scary Book apart from other mysteries is the tone and voice in which the story is delivered. Even when compared to other comedies nothing really comes across as wholly unique but expected as The Scary Book. It sits in the intersection of three genres, comedy, mystery, horror, and behaves the way you’d expect a story in any one of those genres to behave but because it does all three so flawlessly, it is entirely its own story. It is somehow both paying homage to great assets each of these genres can employ at the same time as being irreverent to all the tropes that can make those same genres cheesy and silly. 

Writer Sidney Williams’s voice really comes across through the three main characters he employs. Marty delivers a classic dry wit that serves to give the perspective of the average person caught up in world ending nonsense. Pair that with Crimson who has experience with both mundane and the demonic and is just tired with it all. The color commentary and banter provided by these two immediately sells the reader on the intended atmosphere and gets them invested in the characters as people. Then there is Phillip Chandler who is a world unto himself. Not only does he only talk through first-person narration as if he were the voice-over of a hard-boiled detective movie, but he brings the same style of Hollywood flair to solving the team’s problems. While this is “the real world” for Marty and Crimson, this is just another shot for Phillip, so of course he attempts to handle every situation as over-the-top and high-octane as possible. 

With characters as loveable and strange as these, it’s no wonder that this universe is being expanded in the near future. Writer Sidney Williams has written a spinoff called Something Big! This story will follow Phillip Chandler and a new host of characters as they tackle a brand new case brought to Phil’s desk. This will, of course, be brought to you by Silverline Comics.

The Scary Book was written by accomplished novelist Sidney Williams, whose recent releases include Dark Hours and Disciples of the Serpent. Sidney has also written comics such as The Mantus Files, Marauder, and Sirens.

The The Scary Book was pencilled by Steve Willhite. Steve has also done work for titles like FUBAR and Jesus Hates Zombies. Steve also inked issue 4 of The Scary Book.

Issues 1 through 3 of The Scary Book were inked by Dan Schaefer who Silverline adepts would recognize from The Mantus Files and Cat & Mouse. Dan has also inked for The Green Hornet, New 52, and Predator.

Nick McCalip lettered issue 1 and pages 1 through 9 of issue 2. Nick has also lettered for The Mantus Files, Cat & Mouse, and Krey.

Debbie Woods lettered pages 10 through 24 of issue 2

Brad Thomte letters issue 3. Brad also lettered Switchblade, Marauder, Silverstrom, Pantheon, and Mouseguard: Tales of The Guard

Mike Belcher lettered issue 4. Mike is perhaps most well known for creating his own title Man in The Mask for AMK Comics.

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.

15Oct/19

Silverline Title Spotlight: The Mantus Files, 1-4

New Orleans is home to many heroes and do-gooders in the Silverline Universe. In The Mantus Files, we learn that the Crescent City is also the home of things that go bump in the night, ghoulish conspiracies, and the handful of characters that are about to get tangled up in it all.

This four-issue mini-series, originally published in 1991, is set in the familiar city but explores the dark workings in the city’s shadows. It is the job of Peter Mantus, investigator of the arcane, to dive into those shadows and thwart the evil within.

The story of Peter Mantus has a standout role in Silverline, not only bringing a unique view on the arcane and magic but also being one of the press’s few titles to deal with horror themes. Silverline’s dedicated readers will notice that like many of Silverline’s titles, the series is rooted in crime. It takes the crime-thriller structure to play on and bend some tropes and concepts commonly found in horror.

Peter Mantus himself is a play on a type of character seen throughout literature. Mantus has been haunted by demons ever since he was a young boy. After his family’s dark dealings were put to an end, and he was rescued, Mantus raised himself to fight the darkness that nearly consumed him. He has spent so long investigating supernatural evil that he has become an expert in the subject. To better his fellow man, he has written down his knowledge on all things evil in hopes that the lay-man could equip himself to fight off the darkness. The pure sensationalism of it all, however, seems to be what grabs most people’s attention. Through publication and publicizing Mantus has earned himself a reputation as a celebrity “ghost hunter.” Mantus finds himself in situations where to get others to take him seriously, he’ll have to show them just how malevolent the forces of darkness can be.

The series starts with little attention paid to Peter Mantus, instead focusing on the evil he is sworn to destroy. Jennifer Morris, a lady of the night, suddenly finds her life is at its end as a madman raving about “closing the gate” sets her and himself ablaze in a dingy hotel room. From there we transition to Sgt. Ferris Jackson, a detective for New Orleans homicide. After establishing the current state of New Orleans, we are introduced to Peter Mantus as he returns home to search for his friend Raymond Evers. Raymond is a social worker with a long and deep relationship with Peter. He is also one of many individuals tied to the city’s homeless population to go missing.

This brings Peter into contact with Sgt. Jackson as he thinks one of the bodies in the fire might have been Raymond. Sgt. Jackson takes away two things from their interactions. The first being that now he has the name of Raymond Evers as a suspect in a murder-suicide. Second, Mantus is a talking head on television, espousing mystical nonsense. Mantus’ search then leads him to find Tammara, a mother whose daughter went missing. As they investigate, they draw the attention of a group of vampires who would prefer they stop asking questions.

Issue 2 picks up with the duo of Mantus and Tammara cornered by the pack of vampires. Mantus launches into action with a big boot to the chest of one of the vampires. Mantus discovers the vampires to be surprisingly fragile. The attackers themselves seem surprised to have a victim that’s putting up a fight. It’s not long before Mantus creates an opening for their escape. As Mantus and Tammara break for it, a photographer by the name of Quaid assists in their retreat, blinding the vampires with the flash on his camera. After they regroup, Quaid leads Mantus to the cemetery where the disappearances and vampire sightings seem to be dense. There Mantus begins to unravel the mystery of the dark power orchestrating the recent events in New Orleans.

The series continues as Mantus draws connections from his past to the cult conspiracy, bringing him closer to learning the truth of what happened to his friend Raymond Evers. Quaid enlists the help of a special local magic practitioner to ascertain the motives of the dark forces in the city. Sgt. Jackson Ferris and Peter Mantus attempt to break through the distrust to develop a professional relationship for the sake of the city. As each investigator moves closer to the truth, we learn that much more than the Crescent City is at stake.

The Mantus Files doesn’t truly fit in just one particular category. It’s more like Demon-Noir, with the tone and trappings of a hard-boiled detective novel. The Mantus Files feature strong narration from the characters, a slow burn as the layers of the mystery are peeled back by the team of investigators, and an explosive finish when it all comes to ahead. This unique voice delivers the story of a dark thriller. The clock is ticking for the heroes to make it out alive. Around every corner is a beast looking to turn an investigator into prey. The dead rise, and mortal men are used as fuel for dark and ancient plots set in motion long ago. Bookended with a splash of body horror for the connoisseur. The Mantus Files sets itself apart as both a crime-procedural and horror-thriller.

Written by the incomparable Sidney Williams, this is one of Sid’s four entries with Silverline Comics. A novelist by trade and madman by heart. Sid has also written several novels and pieces of short fiction as he has honed his craft over the years.

Penciled by Thomas Giles. The Mantus Files showcases his ability to illustrate anything and everything from a crime scene investigation to ancient unspeakable horrors.

Inked by the prolific Dan Vincent Schaefer. Dan has done just about everything from writing, to illustrating, editing, and inking on too many titles to count since 1986. Some notable credits of his include writing Mickey Mouse Adventures and inking Spider-Man: The Next Chapter.