Tag Archives: New Orleans

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.

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.