KICKSTARTER FOR SILVER VOL. 3 IS LIVE!

For Immediate Release:

 A Graphic Novel Caper About The Search for Dracula’s Lost Treasure  

Stephan Franck’s SILVER Returns to Kickstarter

July 10, 2017) It’s been over 30 years since Professor Abraham Van Helsing visited Dracula’s castle. Now his descendent, the mysterious vampire hunter Rosalyn Van Helsing, is teaming up with a ragtag group of con men for a high stakes heist to rob Europe’s richest vampires. Welcome to the world of Stephan Franck’s SILVER, a globe-trotting graphic novel series that mashes up the world of Bram Stoker’s classic novel Dracula with action, adventure, humor, pulp storytelling and modern sensibilities. As Batman: The Long Halloween artist Tim Sale has said, “With SILVER, Stephan Franck shows how much excitement can be packed into a fast-moving, thrill-filled story... a really, really fun ride.” Having previously funded the first two volumes of SILVER via Kickstarter, Franck and his company Dark Planet Comics are launching a Kickstarter campaign to fund the third volume of SILVER and help bring the first two volumes to a wider audience.

In SILVER, a group of cons discover the late Jonathan Harker's secret ledger, which discloses the existence of an exotic treasure of silver hidden in Dracula's castle. Finnigan, the group’s leader, may be ethically challenged, but he knows a retirement plan when he sees it. He’s willing to do whatever it takes to pull off the heist of the last ten centuries, even if it means allying with a beautiful, sword wielding vampire hunter…. who just happens to be a descendent of Van Helsing.

“I started Dark Planet Comics because I had to tell the story of SILVER and wanted to forge my own way, without having to answer to a corporate overlord,” said Stephan Franck. “Kickstarter has allowed me to connect with an audience, print the book, attend comic conventions and, most importantly, tell the story the way I wanted, with action, adventure, mystery, humor and plenty of vampires. I didn’t have to sell a publisher on doing a period story or justify my decision to do a black and white comic because I went straight to the audience.”

When he’s not writing and drawing comics, Franck is the Head of Story for the PLAYMOBIL Movie for Lionsgate. Previously, he worked as a supervising animator on the cult classic film THE IRON GIANT and as a key story contributor to DESPICABLE ME. Franck also co-created the award-winning animated TV Series CORNEIL & BERNIE (Nicktoons, Hub Network), and received an Annie Award nomination for Best Director in a TV Program, for the special SMURFS: THE LEGEND OF SMURFY HOLLOW, the first ever hand-drawn version of the beloved characters done at a feature-animation quality level.

Now Franck is back with more of the SILVER story, and in Volume Three the con is in full swing and James Finnigan's uniquely talented band of grifters is deep undercover. But talent comes at a price. Secrets and agendas emerge, and characters are pushed past their breaking points. While Finnigan struggles to keep his team on track, thrilling action, suspense, and drama ensues in the most intense and gothic volume yet.

Since Stephan Franck founded Dark Planet Comics in 2014, SILVER has attracted some passionate—and notable—fans:

“SILVER is so big, bold, and juicy! I absolutely love this book!”—Bill Sienkiewicz (Elektra: Assassin)

“Stunning.”—NEWSARAMA

“Great book!”—Jim Lee (Batman)

“A beautifully drawn and masterfully told noir/heist story with a teasing side of the supernatural that constantly kept me surprised.”—Takeshi Miyazawa (Ms. Marvel)

“Franck knows his customers, what they expect, and he gives it to them in spades.”—AIN’T IT COOL NEWS

“A Hitchcock thriller. Vintage pulp. Grindhouse cinema. SILVER has all of the elements you crave and with a story that you’ll simply devour.”—David Gallaher (High Moon)

“Impressive. A Mignola-esque reshuffling of history with a fanciful legerdemain that keeps the story light on its toes.—Samuel Sattin (Legend)

“Exceptional…This fast moving, old-fashioned tale has the spirit of movies like Raiders of the Lost Ark and the 1999 version of The Mummy, but steeped in the Gothic atmosphere of Bram Stoker's novel, DraculaThere may not be a better original vampire comic book in America than SILVER.”—COMIC BOOK BIN

If funded through Kickstarter, pledges will be delivered to backers this fall. The SILVER Volume 3 Kickstarter campaign (https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/devastatorpress/wet-hot-american-summer-fantasy-camp-roleplaying-g) is live as of July 10th and runs for 30 days. For updates, follow Dark Planet Comics on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

“I love the world of animation,” said Franck. “But there’s something magical about the world of comics that I can’t resist. SILVER is a supernatural story, full of mystery, forgotten places and ancient secrets. I hope readers will continue with me on this journey.”

ABOUT SILVER: VOLUME 1 (2014):

1931, New York City. Meet Finnigan, ethically challenged master-thief, and his partners in crime Mullins and Brantley, as they rob the mysterious Harker foundation. What was supposed to be their last job turns into a narrow escape from the FBI, and Finn loses the team’s retirement money. However, Finn discovers a mysterious ancient silver bar, and the late Jonathan Harker's secret ledger, which discloses the existence of a fabulous treasure made of silver, hidden away in Dracula's castle. Finn assembles a crew of talented but broken misfits to pull off the heist of the last ten centuries. On top of Mullins and Brantley, the team includes Rosalynd “Sledge” Van Helsing, who continues the family tradition, but has fallen on hard times, Hamilton Morley, a washed out burlesque actor/con man, Maitre Moineaux, an old forger who may not live long enough to see the job through, and Tao, a ten year old boy with the gift of second sight.

ABOUT SILVER: VOLUME 2 (2015):

The team boards the Orient Express, which is filled with Vampires travelling to Dracula’s castle. Romantic tension builds between Finn and Sledge, but she may have an ulterior motive for being on the team. We also learn more about Finn’s broken past, as it quickly becomes clear that Tao needs a role-model in Finn...something that Finn is not equipped to provide. Nonetheless, the team succeeds in pulling off the first steps of the plan in spite of Hamilton having a panic attack at the worst possible time. The team reaches the castle, and we find a powerful, but broken Drac, who never got over the loss of Mina Harker. For years, Drac has been in a funk--caught between his morbid obsession for the Heart Of The Dragon (the missing silver bar stolen by Harker) and his feelings for Mina, which are still haunting him. To pacify his subjects and prove he’s moved on, Drac has agreed to take a bride. Lillian Duvalier, a cruel and ambitious vampire princess is scheming to become the one, adding even more intrigue and volatility to the situation. As volume 2 ends, Finn and crew have managed to infiltrate the court, passing themselves as vampires, and successfully baited Dracula with a chance to regain the coveted Heart Of The Dragon.

ABOUT SILVER: VOLUME 3 (2017)

Silver Vol 3: The con is now in full swing and James Finnigan's uniquely talented band of grifters is deep undercover. But talent comes at a price. Secrets and agendas emerge, and characters are pushed past their breaking points. While Finnigan struggles to keep his team on track, thrilling action, suspense, and drama ensues in the most intense and gothic volume yet.

ABOUT STEPHAN FRANCK:

Stephan Franck was a supervising animator on the cult classic THE IRON GIANT, a key story contributor to DESPICABLE ME. He co-created the award-winning animated TV Series CORNEIL & BERNIE (Nicktoons, Hub Network), and received an Annie Award nomination for Best Director in a TV Program, for the special SMURFS: THE LEGEND OF SMURFY HOLLOW, the first ever hand-drawn version of the beloved characters done at a feature-animation quality level. Stephan has worked for all the major feature animation studios as a supervising animator, story artist, writer and director, and has closely collaborated with talents as diverse as George Lucas and Adam Sandler. In addition to being attached to several features in development, Franck is currently Head of Story for the PLAYMOBIL movie for Lionsgate and lives in Los Angeles.

 

In 2013, Stephan reconnected with his lifelong passion for comics by creating the graphic novel series SILVER. Three years later, with two collected editions out, and a third one on the way, SILVER has connected with a very diverse and devoted fan-base, garnered glowing reviews from blogs big and small, nabbed a nomination for the prestigious Russ Manning Award at SDCC 2014, a 2015 Geekie Awards nomination for Best Graphic Novel, landed on ComiXology Submit’s ESSENTIAL READS list.

PRESS CONTACT:

David Hyde

Superfan Promotions LLC

3871 Revere Avenue

Los Angeles, CA90039

917-803-6684

david.hyde@superfanpromotions.com

@superfanpr

Issue #8 of Award-Nominated Stephan Franck's SILVER Coming March 29, 2017

Los Angeles, CA, March 29, 2017 –

Dark Planet announced today that its award-nominated graphic novel series SILVER returns with the ComiXology and Dark Planet Digital release of SILVER #8 “Revenants”, a new 42-page extended-issue which may be the series’ most haunting chapter yet.

An extension of Bram Stoker’s Dracula set 40 years after the seminal novel’s events, SILVER is told as a classic heist story. It features James Finnigan, a morally ambiguous, pulp-era conman, Rosalynd “Sledge” Van Helsing, who carries on her famous grandfather’s handywork, Tao Leu, a 10 year-old boy with the gift of second sight, and their team of grifters, as they attempt to steal The Silver Dragon--a massive treasure hidden in a castle full of vampires. Staying true to its literary origins while creating its own expansive and wildly original mythology, SILVER is both faithful homage and exciting reinvention.

In SILVER #8 “Revenants”, Dracula must contend with the return of his great love Mina Harker, while Sledge is forced to revisit the night her sister was taken. Both must confront the ghost looming large in their past, each coming to a fork in the road that may offer a chance for redemption or seal their fate.

Mina Harker returns

Sledge revisits the worse night of her life.

Following Rosalynd to her mind’s darkest corner also allowed Franck to experiment outside the series’ established visual style. “I approached Sledge’s ‘mental journey’ differently, using abstraction to distil the moments to their raw emotion, as they exist frozen and out of time,” says Franck. “This was probably one of the funnest and most affecting thing I’ve done on the series so far.”

Since the series’ inception, SILVER has counted some of the most original contemporary voices in comics among its fans:

Stephan Franck is a rare talent. He’s worked on so many amazing projects, stories many of us hold very dear, and he’s gathered up all those morsels of storytelling wisdom and dumped them into SILVER. It’s atmospheric but not broody, it’s funny but not quippy, touching but not sappy, and it’s vampires – REAL f***ing vampires. Stephan Franck is no joke!
— Andrew MacLean, author of Head Lopper

An indy grassroots sensation that came up through the convention scene, SILVER has connected with a passionate and diverse audience, including readers new to the comic book medium. “Coming from a movie background, I try to apply my film-language instincts to the comic book page, which means highlight a dramatic sense of point of view while keeping the audience oriented at all times,” says Franck. “I think that type of formalism has had a lot to do with making Silver’s storytelling accessible to people who had never picked up a comic book before. I am super proud of that.”

While Dark Planet releases SILVER’s single issues directly to digital, the series’ collected editions--SILVER Volume 1 and 2--are also distributed in print to comic shops everywhere, on Amazon, from the Dark Planet Webstore and from the Dark Planet booth at comic book conventions across the US, where the company maintains a dynamic presence. SILVER is also licensed internationally to foreign publishers around the world.

 

MORE ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Stephan Franck is an award-nominated animator/writer/director/comic book creator. He was a supervising animator on the cult classic THE IRON GIANT, and contributed story to DESPICABLE ME. He co-created the animated TV series CORNEIL & BERNIE (Nicktoons - Hub Network), and received an Annie Award nomination for Best Director In a TV Program for the featurette SMURFS: THE LEGEND OF SMURFY HOLLOW. Stephan has closely collaborated with talent as diverse as George Lucas and Adam Sandler, and in 2013, founded comic-book publishing and production company DARK PLANET. SILVER, his graphic novel debut under the Dark Planet Imprint, earned a nomination for the prestigious Russ Manning Award at San Diego Comic Con 2014, and a 2015 Geekie Award nomination for Best Comic/Graphic Novel. SILVER also landed on ComiXology Submit’s ESSENTIAL READS list and is now distributed around the world.

 

For more information, questions, or interview requests, please contact press@darkplanet.co

LINKS:

Dark Planet Comics website

SILVER Vol 1 trailer

https://goo.gl/cch05C

https://vimeo.com/131248274

SILVER Vol 2 trailer

https://youtu.be/AerzXsvDu6E

https://vimeo.com/140270722

 

REAL READERS SHARE THEIR PASSION FOR SILVER--.

https://vimeo.com/137669720

https://vimeo.com/176244419

https://vimeo.com/176245723

--Including FIRST TIME COMIC READERS:

https://vimeo.com/16935858



 

 

Issue #7 of Award-Nominated Stephan Franck's SILVER Coming December 14, 2016

 

Los Angeles, CA, December 14, 2016

Dark Planet announced today that its award-nominated graphic novel series SILVER returns with the digital release of SILVER #7 “Of Hunters And Prey”, an explosive 53-page new extended-issue full of action, drama, and character secrets. SILVER #7 will be available on ComiXology on December 14th and from the Dark Planet Webstore. ComiXology has previously included SILVER in its “ESSENTIAL READS” list.

An extension of Bram Stoker’s Dracula set 40 years after the seminal novel’s events, SILVER is told as a classic heist story. It features James Finnigan, a morally ambiguous, pulp-era conman, Rosalynd “Sledge” Van Helsing, who carries on her famous grandfather’s handywork, Tao Leu, a 10 year-old boy with the gift of second sight, and their team of grifters, as they attempt to steal The Silver Dragon--a massive treasure hidden in a castle full of vampires. Staying true to its literary origins while creating its own expansive and wildly original mythology, SILVER is both faithful homage and exciting reinvention.

SILVER #7 “Of Hunters And Prey” picks up where SILVER #6/ Vol. 2 left off. It focuses first on Finn and Tao’s relationship, as the kid was shaken by a recent brush with death. The issue then turns its attention to Sledge, with a 40+ page uninterrupted action sequence tour-de-force which sees her go rogue, puts her through the wringer, and ultimately culminates with the reveal of a deep,t dark secret 6 issues in the making.

Since the series’ inception, SILVER has counted some of the most original and contemporary voices from the comics world among its fans:

"What impresses me about SILVER isn't just its Mignola-esque reshuffling of history, or the fanciful legerdemain that keeps the story light on its toes. It's author Stephan Franck's ability to splice genres together like a narrative geneticist. Part Ocean’s Eleven, part From Dusk Till Dawn, with an added dash of American Vampire-cum-noir, SILVER will take you deeper and deeper under its spell until you can't help but beg for more."

--Samuel Sattin, author of  Legend and The Silent End:

“A Hitchcock thriller. Vintage pulp. Grindhouse cinema. SILVER has all of the elements you crave and a story that you’ll simply devour.”

--David Gallaher, author of High Moon  and  The Only Living Boy

An indy grassroots sensation that came up through the convention scene, SILVER has connected with a passionate and diverse audience, including readers new to the comic book medium. “Coming from a movie background, I try to apply my film-language instincts to the comic book page, which means highlight a dramatic sense of point of view while keeping the audience oriented at all times,” says Franck. “I think that type of formalism has had a lot to do with making Silver’s storytelling accessible to people who had never picked up a comic book before. I am super proud of that.”

While Dark Planet releases SILVER’s single issues directly to digital, the series’ collected editions--SILVER Volume 1 and 2--are also distributed in print to comic shops everywhere, on Amazon, from the Dark Planet Webstore and from the Dark Planet booth at comic book conventions across the US, where the company maintains a dynamic presence. SILVER is also licensed internationally to foreign publishers around the world.

MORE ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Stephan Franck is an award-nominated animator/writer/director/comic book creator. He was a supervising animator on the cult classic THE IRON GIANT, and contributed story to DESPICABLE ME. He co-created the animated TV series CORNEIL & BERNIE (Nicktoons - Hub Network), and received an Annie Award nomination for Best Director In a TV Program for the featurette SMURFS: THE LEGEND OF SMURFY HOLLOW. Stephan has closely collaborated with talent as diverse as George Lucas and Adam Sandler, and in 2013, founded comic-book publishing and production company DARK PLANET. SILVER, his graphic novel debut under the Dark Planet Imprint, earned a nomination for the prestigious Russ Manning Award at San Diego Comic Con 2014, and a 2015 Geekie Award nomination for Best Comic/Graphic Novel. SILVER also landed on ComiXology Submit’s ESSENTIAL READS list and is now distributed around the world.

For more information, questions, or interview requests, please contact press@darkplanet.co

 

DARK PLANET, GLENAT COMICS, EURO PUBLISHERS TEAM UP TO STEAL “SILVER” TREASURE

UPDATE: VAMPIRE HEIST IN FULL SWING IN GERMAN BOOKSTORES!

Book store window in Munich, Germany

SILVER in Italian

Los Angeles, CA, May 5, 2016

Dark Planet announced today that it will team up with Glenat Comics to bring veteran animator Stephan Franck’s award-nominated graphic-novel caper SILVER to French-language audiences worldwide. This new effort comes in addition to similar deals made with Renoir Comics and Schreiber & Leser, for Italian-language and German-language editions respectively.

An extension of Bram Stoker’s Dracula told as a classic heist story, SILVER is set 40 years after the novel, and features the adventures of James Finnigan, a morally ambiguous, pulp-era conman, Rosalynd “Sledge” Van Helsing, who carries on her famous grandfather’s handywork, and Tao Leu, a 10 year-old boy with the gift of second sight, as they attempt to steal The Silver Dragon--a massive treasure hidden in a castle full of vampires. Staying true to its literary origins while creating its own expansive and wildly original mythology, SILVER astonishes as both faithful homage and exciting reinvention.

Noted for the natural quality of its character writing, and the strength of its visual storytelling, the series has developed a devoted fan-base in the US, garnered glowing reviews, nabbed a nomination for the prestigious Russ Manning Award at San Diego Comic Con 2014, a 2015 Geekie Awards nomination for Best Comic or Graphic Novel, landed on ComiXology Submit’s ESSENTIAL READS list, while earning praises from legendary comics voices:

 “Silver is so big, bold, and juicy! I absolutely love this book!”

--BILL SIENKIEWICZ (Elektra: Assassin, Stray Toasters) 

“With Silver, Stephan Franck shows how much excitement can be packed into a fast-moving, thrill-filled story... a really, really fun Ride.”

--TIM SALE (Batman: The Long Halloween; Batman Dark Victory)

“I grew up in France, reading the French translations of American comics,” says Franck. “ Those stories and characters meant everything to me, they were great inspiration in both art and life, and I am incredibly grateful to the French publishers whose hard work and passion brought them into my life. Seeing SILVER offered in multiple languages around the world holds a special meaning for me, and I couldn’t be happier about the partners we are able to do it with.”

 “As a long-time fan of Stephan’s work in animation, I was thrilled to see him enter the field of comics, and to say he did so with a bang is an understatement!” says GLENAT COMICS’ Olivier Jalabert.  Glenat is #1 in the French-language manga-publishing market and a fast-rising force in comics. “With “GLENAT COMICS 2.0, which launched in April 2015,” says Jalabert,  “we have made the publishing of North American comics and a company priority, and partnerships with high-level content creators like Stephan a strategic priority.” 

“It only took us reading a few pages of SILVER to realize that Stephan Franck’s unique visual style and finely crafted storyline offers the kind of bold creative vision that our audience craves,” says Philip Schreiber of Schreiber & Leser.  Schreiber & Leser has been serving readers with sophisticated graphic novels for more than 30 years, and enjoyed success with other unique indy voices such as Terry Moore and Jimmy Beaulieu.

“Some of the best-selling titles in our catalog are from the world of US indy comics,” says renoir’s Andrea Rivi, who is releasing the Italian-language edition of Silver on May 16th.  “We look for gems to be found in the wilderness outside the Big Two, and Stephan Franck’s Silver is most certainly one.”

 

PUBLISHING DATES

Renoir: May 16, 2016

Glenat: Q1 2017

Schreiber & Leser: Q4 2016

 Silver’s original English version is published worldwide by Dark Planet. It is available in print through Diamond Comics Distributors on the direct market, Amazon, the Dark Planet Webstore, and from the Dark Planet booth at comic book conventions across the US, where the company maintains a dynamic retail presence. SILVER is available digitally through ComiXology and Kobo.

CLICK HERE for GLENAT COMIC's teaser announcement and interview

For more information, questions, or interview requests, please contact press@darkplanet.co

 CLICK HERE to sign up to the Dark Planet press list.

FUN VIDEOS:

SILVER UNIVERSE TIMELAPSE (SHORT VERSION WITH CAPTIONS)

INKING SILVER UNIVERSE (FULL VERSION)

SILVER Vol 1 trailer

SILVER Vol 2 trailer 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BUILDING THE SILVER UNIVERSE

For a while, I had been wanting to do a "Universe piece", an image that would present all the important characters from Silver, and set the mood. I didn't have a particular idea to approach it. My ideas tend to emerge as I doodle. So I doodled, and quickly landed on the idea to have a giant Drac, standing in front of his treasure, dominating the picture, a sort of "tree of life" from which the entire story flows, with the humans on one side, and the vampires on the other. The steps where a natural solution to stage a large number of characters AND to evoke the castle feel. I also loved that it gave the scene a Cecil B. DeMille sort of mad pageantry. The rough below, for being very rough indeed, has almost everything in it. I was originally playing with the idea of having the religious statues from the Harker crypt in the top left corner, but I found that a) Having big silhouettes in the background fought the perspective, and b) the city skyline would offer more contrast between the two worlds. This rough was done in photoshop, where I have brushes that I love because they recreate the look and feel of drawing with soft pencils. Anyway, the basic composition is here. A V-shape coming down the stairs.

Then comes what I call my working-out stage, and I like doing in in Manga Studio. Why? Because that's also where I will do the rough blacks-spotting later, and because of the great perspective tools available. MS lets you set up your points of perspective, and horizon tilt, and lets you snap your drawing to that grid. That doesn't mean it creates the perspective for you, but it allows you to execute it very fast. 

The challenge in an image like this is to maintain clarity AND point of view, among all the information. The only way that I know how to do this is to start from the eyes of the character who has the scene's central point of view, and expand from there in concentric circles. So the narrative flow guides the drawing in a way, and my as patience runs out, so does my urge to burden the peripheral characters with too much detail. Also fun little ideas come as I follow that narrative approach, like having Phedre Duvalier hold her severed head. 

The beauty of working digitally is of course the ability to reuse drawings. The dragon motif on the pyramid and the two little guys pulling on the chain top right are from the book.

At this point, I thought I was pretty much done with working out the rough, until I realized I had done Sledge completely wrong. See below.

Original Drawing                                                              Corrected drawing

On the original drawing, Sledge didn't look like herself. She looked pose-y and quite frankly objectified. To be honest, the issue of objectification is always a tricky one. It's a fine line when drawing attractive woman in adventure stories, and sometimes you have to catch yourself. And even setting aside political correctness, I'm talking about staying true to the character.Just from a draftsmanship stand-point, you are always trying to push the pose, and it's true that, regardless of context, the drawing on the left is more exciting. But it's a different character. So I did the second version (on the right). A less "exciting" drawing in the abstract, but ultimately, a real character, not a swimsuit model. 

The next step is spotting the blacks. On a large piece like this, there is way too much trial and error for me not to work it out digitally first. Before getting to the nitty gritty of all the characters, I wanted to lay down the image's main contrast motif: the cascading blood/"tree of life" shape at the center, framed by the background black. It took me a few attempts to design the central pattern, but I finally ended up with something I was happy with.

Then, I added the rest of the black. I wish I could say that there is a method to the madness, but there isn't one. However, I approach differently the hero characters, which will be more "high-key" in spirit, and where the black describes specific local colors (hair, garments, etc...), and the secondary characters who are part of an ensemble (like the cop crowd top left). For those areas, I zoom out as much as possible, to treat the whole area as one shape, and design within it, sometimes merging characters. Then I zoom back in to refine.

Then, it's time to transition from the digital to the physical world. I print the blacks as light blue on bristol, ready for ink. In this case, because the image is very big, I had to print it in 2 sections. The entire image is 22"x29".  Because it's a big image, it seems that it is very clean, and that all I have left to do is trace, but by zooming in, you can see that it is in fact still quite rough, and that there is a lot left to formulate while inking. I usually like my roughs to be worked out enough so that there isn't too much anxiety while inking, but open enough so that the piece really peaks in that final stage. Basically, for the last stage, I want to be drawing, not tracing. Also notice that I wanted the city seen through the window to be in "zip-a-tone", so I printed that part in black on the bristol.

Then, it's the moment of truth. Coptic markers are my weapon of choice.

And here we go...

 

Here too, I start from the eyes of the character whose POV this is, and expend concentrically from here, organizing lines and shapes around it. As you see on the video below, I start each character by the eyes, and out. There is of course no right or wrong way to do this. I've seen people first draw the outlines, and then add the facial details. To me, that's like trying to put he toothpaste back in the tube. I jus't cant do it. It only flows one way. On the video, you can see that I started with Mullins, not Finn. That's because this piece was making me a little jittery, and I needed a trial run. But once I got through my Mullins warm up, I started up with Finn.

It's very important to understand that for harmony and clarity, conceptually blocking out the characters, or even the shapes, is not enough. On an abstract level, the lines of the drawing all have to come together in a unified flow. The simplest way to think about it is to picture a stylized drawing of the sun.

The drawing on the left is what a young child or someone with absolutely no drawing skills will do. It'll show the inability to organize lines and make them flow together harmoniously into a coherent system. The same basic principle is true in a more complex system like an illustration or a comic page. Beyond the specifics and semantics of what is represented, the lines must all flow together in a unified way. Like vibrations in the same field, if you will. And the epicenter is the image's focus, hopefully based on the main character's point of view. Although it is easy to do in that simplistic sun doodle, it is more difficult in actual drawings, and there is no real way to teach someone how to do it. It is something that the eye must learn to see and the hand learn to do until it becomes second nature. It's a pathway in the brain that has to form with practice. 

CLICK HERE TO SEE THE FINAL IMAGE

 

Stephan Franck's Genre-Bending SILVER Reveals Its Dracula In Epic World-Building Volume 2, Coming December 16, 2015

Dark Planet  is proud to announce that on December 16,  SILVER Volume 2, the new trade paperback in Stephan Franck’s acclaimed high-concept graphic novel mini-series SILVER, will be simultaneously released on the direct market, Amazon, and day-and-date on ComiXology Submit, which features the series on its well respected “ESSENTIAL READS” list.

Following a widely acclaimed first volume, which sent instant fan-favorite master-thief James Finnigan, Rosalynd “Sledge” Van Helsing, and Tao Leu, a 10 year-old boy with the gift of second sight, on a quest to  steal an ancient treasure hidden in Dracula’s castle, SILVER Volume 2 goes into full world-building mode!

A direct extension of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, and told as a classic heist story, SILVER astonishes as both a faithful homage and an exciting reinvention. The graphic novel series stays true to its literary origin while creating its own expansive and wildly original mythology.  “I have a deep fascination with the original Stoker novel,” says Franck, “and kept wanting to lift the veil and see more of that world… What happens once the Victorian strictures disappear and the 20th century sets in? What happens to the characters and their descendents? What is that world’s history--going all the way back to the Bronze Age, with epic tales otherwise lost to the sands of time?” As we follow the team leaving pulp-era New York City, and traveling across Europe to reach its final destination, we enter the hidden world of vampires--a culture of intrigues, vanity, decadence and ancient traditions. Franck says: “I couldn’t wait to present my take on the legendary castle and to reveal my version of Dracula. A damaged character in search of himself. Not as dead as we thought he was. And his spirit definitely not as freed.”

Such a character and his world provide a great thematic foil for Finnigan and his group of con-men. Franck says: “Conmen and vampires are related in the sense that they both are predatory creatures, who don’t engage with life in the way most people do. So taking a bunch of broken characters with bruised souls, and pitting them against the truly soulless, leads to the idea that walking around in the world and feeling truly alive are two completely different things.”

As SILVER volume 2 puts its long con in motion, it sets Finigan and the king of the undead on a collision course. Franck says:  “I always saw Finnigan as a good guy trying to be bad, and this Dracula is a bad guy trying to be good, which means that they will meet at an interesting crossroads.”

This new volume continues the series trademark character work as Hamilton, Tao, Finnigan and Sledge further build their relationships, revealing more about their past and inner lives, in a powerful combination of light-hearted, suspenseful, and emotional moments. Meanwhile, new characters appear on the scene, including the particularly cruel and fearless vampire princess Lillian, with whom Sledge seems to have a secret history.

As with previous installments in the series, comic books luminaries have been vocal supporters of Franck’s storytelling:

“Silver is so big, bold, and juicy! I absolutely love this book!”                                                                                                 --BILL SIENKIEWICZ (Elektra: Assassin, Stray Toasters)

“With SILVER, Stephan Franck masterfully drives his narrative home. A breath of fresh air in the world of comics!”           --TOMMY LEE EDWARDS (Marvel 1985, The Question, Turf)

“Why was I not reading this before?  Why? Why? Why?  It’s everything I love about comics.  And everything I miss about a lot of comics these days. ”                                                                                                                                                    — JIM KRUEGER (Earth X, Justice, The Runner)

SILVER Volume 1 and 2 are also available from the Dark Planet Webstore and from the Dark Planet booth at comic book conventions across the US, where the company maintains a dynamic presence.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Stephan Franck is an award-nominated animator/writer/director/comic book creator. He was a supervising animator on the cult classic THE IRON GIANT, and contributed story to DESPICABLE ME. He co-created the animated TV series CORNEIL & BERNIE (Nicktoons - Hub Network), and received an Annie Award nomination for Best Director In a TV Program for the special SMURFS: THE LEGEND OF SMURFY HOLLOW, which presented the Smurf for the first time in 2D animation at a feature-animation level of quality. Stephan’s graphic novel debut, SILVER Volume 1 earned him a nomination for the prestigious Russ Manning Award at San Diego Comic Con 2014, a 2015 Geekie Awards nomination for Best Comic or Graphic Novel, and landed on ComiXology Submit’s ESSENTIAL READS list.

For more information, questions, or interview requests, please contact press@darkplanet.co

2001 A SPACE ODYSSEY -- the coming story singularity?

2001 A Space Odyssey, one of the greatest movies of all time, came back up in conversation recently, and it's always the same question: what does it mean?  Well, how should I know?! Anyway, here's my take.

When I was a kid, seeing 2001 A SPACE ODYSSEY was almost a rite of passage among film buffs. You were supposed to see it. And love it. Getting it, however, was not required. In fact 2001 was the movie you were not supposed to get. That was part of the mystique. Kubrick himself would decline to comment on what the movie was about.

Almost 50 years later, and armed with the now widely spread concept of “technological singularity”, we can easily look back and frame the film’s first 2 acts within that narrative: Man creates tool; tool becomes sentient, leaves man behind. Even the visual metaphors are pretty literal. In my view, the monolith is simply a metaphorical milestone. A cosmic milestone, marking the time span from one emerging form of consciousness to the next. Then the guy falls through a black hole--literally a singularity. Boom. Done. Case closed. A fun techno-thriller based on concepts well ahead of their time. But then there is that act 3.

In that narrative, Act 3 is as a representation of transhumanism. The post-human experience. The melding of man and machine. One with the information fabric of the universe.  Which turns quite contemplative. And okay, let's be honest, a little bit boring, and quite complacent.. Way too complacent for Kubrik in my book.  Unless… that was exactly his point.

What if the final act of 2001 ASO was not only an exploration of the future of the human story, but a meta fiction on the nature of Story itself?

A story-singularity, if you will, where all the rules of storytelling ultimately break down?

Think about all the set-ups planted in the film, for instance, the scientist being flown to the moon; the sort-of-flirty moment with the stewardess; the cover-up... all those classic  “act 1 set-ups” would normally develop into plots in a “traditional” story, but here, they never pay off. They disappear from the movie, gobbled up as the singularity approaches--a story-crushing singularity.

So maybe, in a meta-fictional way the movie is asking: Is there a point in human experience beyond which story--whose principles have never changed since the dawn of recorded history-- doesn’t work anymore? A point after which story disappears?

Staying with the cosmological metaphor, I will say that In my view, just like there is an electromagnetic field, or a gravity field, there is such a thing as a story field. What I mean is there is a continuum of shared common human experience that we all participate in. Like seeking your parents’ validation, trying to find your own purpose in life, brotherly love, romantic love, parental love, growing old, dying. And the reason we gather around the campfire to listen to stories, is because they engage those universal experiences. In other words, story works because it references life as we all know it. But what if...what if past a certain point, we no longer experience life in the same way?

Up to now, rich or poor, we all die, but scientists have identified genes responsible for aging. It is not inconceivable that within this century, people who can afford it might be able to postpone aging indefinitely. Most likely, not everybody would be able to afford it. Little by little, the universal fabric of human experience would begin to stretch, and eventually just tear apart.

And about the melding of man and machine? Well, who doesn’t have their iphone permanently grafted to their hand by now? What if in a near future, your internet was connected directly to your optic and auditory nerves, creating a brand new nonlinear cognitive experience. Moments from your own life--think your facebook timeline--could be re-lived and re-experienced ad-nauseam. We surely put enough photos and videos of ourselves online to pull that off. Data from a pregnant mother’s sonogram is probably stored in a computer somewhere. At a later date, one could probably look at themselves as a baby in-utero. Sounds familiar?

So ultimately, I choose to believe that that’s what that 3rd act is about. It’s Kubrick warning us of what’s on the other side of that singularity.  Seemingly endless narcissistic, contemplative loneliness. No drama. No stakes. No way to relate. Just a guy in a room, endlessly googling images from his past.

The end of Story.

Stephan Franck

Dark Planet Launches Kickstarter Campaign On September 8, 2015, In Support of Award-Nominated Stephan Franck's SILVER Volume 2

Los Angeles, CA, September 8, 2015

Dark Planet announced today that “SILVER Volume 2”, the new trade paperback in Stephan Franck’s acclaimed mini-series SILVER, will launch a Kickstarter campaign on September 8, 2015. SILVER Volume 1 was funded through a successful Kickstarter in 2014.

A direct continuation of Bram Stoker’s Dracula universe, set forward 50 years into the pulp/noir era of the 1930's, SILVER introduces James Finnigan, a con man, who endeavors to separate the vampires from their precious silver.  Personal entanglements and character comedy ensue, as Finnigan assembles the team of talented but broken misfits needed to pull off a heist for the ages.  Released last year, the first volume in the series earned Stephan Franck a 2014 Russ Manning Award nomination at San Diego Comic Con and a 2015 Geekie Award nomination (winner TBA in october 2015). ComiXology recently ranked SILVER number 2 on its well respected “ESSENTIAL READS” list.

“The very reason for Dark Planet’s existence is artistic independence,” says Franck, “which only comes from financial independence. And while the artistic content for this book has already created, this Kickstarter campaign will allow our fans to get the book early, and help us with our printing, and marketing costs aimed at an even wider audience.”

While the new 112-page trade paperback continues the series’ trademark character explorations, in particular the inevitable bonding between Finn and Tao, it is also an exciting feat in WORLD-BUILDING. As the train reaches its final destination, we enter the hidden world of vampires--a culture of intrigues, vanity, decadence and ancient traditions.

“I couldn’t wait to present my take on Dracula’s legendary castle and to start lifting the veil on our unique mythology” says Franck, “everything we’ve seen and heard so far in the story has been leading up to this.”

Since the series’ inception, SILVER has been noted for its strong female characters, in particular troubled vampire-hunter and fans favorite Rosalynd “Sledge” Van Helsing. In issue #5 we  discover vampire princess Lillian, described by Finnigan as “A real troublemaker, someone with an agenda. A bonafide nutball”, with whom Sledge is on a collision course.

As with previous installments in the series, comic books luminaries have been vocal supporters of Franck’s storytelling:

“With SILVER, Stephan Franck cuts right to the bone of the story and masterfully drives his narrative home. A breath of fresh air in the world of comics!”
--TOMMY LEE EDWARDS (Marvel 1985, The Question, Turf)
“Why was I not reading this before?  Why? Why? Why?  It’s everything I love about comics.  And everything I miss about a lot of comics these days. Hey Stephan Franck, I want more.”
— JIM KRUEGER (Earth X, Justice, The Runner)

The Kickstarter campaign for SILVER volume 2 is live at:


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