The Silent Invasion’s Lost Fridge Magnets

We’ll be at TCAF—the Toronto Comic Arts Festival—on May 11 and 12 promoting the newest volume in The Silent Invasion reprint series—The Great Fear. In the past when we were more active in the comic book field and attended the odd convention, we would bring promotional items as give aways for interested readers and fans. These “trinkets and trash” have included buttons, bookmarks, fridge magnets, flyers and mini-comics.

This year we’ll have a series of four brand new bookmarks we’re in the process of designing. Since TCAF is held at the Toronto Reference Library, we think the bookmarks are doubly-appropriate. Drop by the NBM table and Larry will regale you with tall tales of our misadventures at past conventions! We hope to see you there.

In the meantime, here are reproductions of the fridge magnets we produced a number of years ago.

Magnet artNext time we’ll give you a sneak preview of the opening pages of the new Silent Invasion “epic” slated for release next year.

And remember to watch the skies!

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UFOs, Flying Saucers, Conspiracies and Union City

Many fans and readers have asked us (all right, maybe one or two) “Where is the Union City that we see in The Silent Invasion?” Now is a good a time as any to try to answer this burning question.

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As you can see by the sign in the above panel, Union City is miles from “Rockhaven” (see “The Rockhaven Conspiracy” in our upcoming book The Great Fear), but only a short drive from Endicott which is just down the road from Johnson City and Binghamton, New York. However, Orangeville is northwest of Toronto. Obviously the aliens have been messing with our universe.

It is a place dripping with paranoia.

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The Union City found in The Silent Invasion is not located in New Jersey, California or Ohio. It could be located in Ohio—but not where the real Union City, Ohio is on the border of Indiana. And it’s not in Connecticut, Georgia, Indiana, Michigan, Montana, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania or Tennessee (other states that have places named Union City).

Our Union City is a place where the streets are have no names and are devoid of life. Buildings tower and twist over the few brave souls who venture out into the lonely night where newspapers blow through the empty streets.

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When we set out to create The Silent Invasion, Larry and I both wanted to set the series in a generic comic book city much like Superman’s Metropolis, Batman’s Gotham City or The Spirit’s Central City. It would be a place that was fairly large, close to a million people in population. It would be located in a fictional part of America that’s not far from deserts, mountains, cottage country or rolling farmland. Union City is close to whatever setting a particular story demands.

And of course it’s always 1957, whether the actors in our stories like it or not.

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But where in that fictional America? We like to think it’s located on one of the Great Lakes. No deserts or mountains nearby, but it’s an alternate universe. How do we know that? Because in The Silent Invasion Union City is one of 12 American cities to have a franchise in a 24-team Canadian Football League. More on this in a future post for all you CFL fans out there!

In this page from a new story set in 1970, we see Walter Sinkage’s work pals trying to get him to watch a game between the Union City Pipefitters and the Sarnia Imperials.

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At the end of the day, I think our real inspiration for Union City was Buffalo, New York.

I grew up in Oshawa, Ontario; Larry in nearby Whitby. They’re on the north shore of Lake Ontario, about 50 kilometres east of Toronto and almost directly north of Buffalo. As kids, we watched American television coming out of Buffalo. American TV was always more exciting than the fare being served on Canadian channels. Commander Tom was on at 3:30 showing the old Superman TV show; Irv Weinstein read the news on Channel 7; and there always seemed to be a fire somewhere in Buffalo with “film at eleven!”

And Toronto didn’t start to become exciting until at least 1967, maybe even a few years later.

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Larry has said Union City might be located somewhere on the south shore of Lake Ontario between Buffalo and Rochester.

But I think the real location is in the dusty corners of our imaginations…

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Remember to watch the skies!

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For more information on The Silent Invasion click here.

UFO Aliens Seize Farmer and Steal His Brain!!!

With the upcoming release of NBM’s new reprint of The Silent Invasion: The Great Fear, we thought we’d share a few covers from the original floppy comics published by Renegade Press way back in the summer of 1987 during the last century. Because I worked—and still do work—as a graphic designer, I treated the covers as as mini-experiments in design. Sales were “fair to middling,” so we determined we really had nothing to lose.

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Issue 7 featured the “crazy farmer.” We wanted the cover to emulate one of those trashy National Enquirer-like supermarket tabloids, since at this point in the story, our hero—Matt Sinkage—is moonlighting for a similar publication. The crazy farmer is a real person—a work colleague at the time—who decided it would be fun and hilarious to photo-copy his face using the new photocopier the design studio had just purchased. (Graphic designers really know how to have fun.) I took the image and continued to copy it until it had been degraded to coarse black and white areas, with no grey-tones.

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With number 8, I thought I’d go for the old Life magazine look, and was only moderately successful. Looking back, the image should have been black and white and preferably a photo, but where we going to get a real person to pose as Matt Sinkage? Then with number 9, the explosion was used to “deconstruct” the standard cover elements, harkening back to one of my favourite old-time DC covers (Batman 194 by Carmine Infantino and Murphy Anderson). My attempt at this was not nearly as dramatic.

In a future post, we’ll look at the covers for issues 10, 11 and 12.

Next time: Where is Union City, and why does it always seem to be 1957 in The Silent Invasion?

And remember to watch the skies!!!

For more information on The Silent Invasion click here.

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The Silent Invasion World Tour

Announcing our World Tour of 2018!!!

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Both Larry Hancock and I will be appearing at the Small Press Expo in Bethesda, Maryland on September 15. And then through the magic of Amtrak we’ll be at the Brooklyn Book Festival on September 16.

If you’re in the area, and want to talk about conspiracies, secret government organizations, the Great Alien-Earth War of 1943, alien-human hybridization, the perils of the deep state, or why there were once two teams with the same nickname in the 9-team CFL look for us at the NBM booth and Larry will be happy to answer all your questions.

We’ll have more details in soon.

Here’s a scene from one of our previous appearances at a comic book convention.

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And remember to watch the skies!

Before The Silent Invasion

Long before The Silent Invasion ever saw the light of day, I had worked with John Ellis Sech on a short-lived feature called Dick Mallet. The series was a pastiche of the the hard-boiled private detective genre. Dick Mallet’s superpower was that he didn’t carry a gun. The strips appeared in the Canadian Comics Annual and the Canadian Children’s Annual. Then Larry Hancock wrote a couple of Dick Mallet stories that appeared as back-ups in Cerebus.

Here’s a page from Dick Mallet’s very first appearance in the Canadian Comics Annual:

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Then a full-colour adventure from the Canadian Children’s Annual:

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Dick Mallet was one of our initial proposals to Renegade Press. Even though the Dick Mallet proposal was rejected, we included Mallet as a minor character in the very first issue of The Silent Invasion.

Here’s a layout sketch…

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And the first three pages of The Silent Invasion… 

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Poor Dick Mallet. The lesson is: Be careful when you watch the skies!!!

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Some Lost Art of The Silent Invasion

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Here are some lost sketches from The Silent Invasion. Some of these were done as convention sketches while you’re sitting around wondering when someone will come by your table and talk to you. Others were cover roughs, and I’ve included an old ad we created for Renegade Press promoting our third issue back in the day of floppy comics. The art for this ad has been adapted for the cover of NBM’s second volume, The Great Fear.

You can tell that in the above sketch, Matt Sinkage is not worried about the alien takeover. There are no flying drops of sweat or crazed worry lines. He has obviously already been brainwashed by The Deep State into believing the alien takeover of American institutions will be a positive development.

Here’s a cover rough…

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A couple of convention sketches…

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Below is the old ad for Renegade Press and the new cover for NBM’s upcoming second volume of The Silent Invasion. The ad was scanned from the original “paste-up.” Remember those days using waxers and X-acto knives or scalpels? You really had be on the ball so you didn’t bleed all over the art board…

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The cover to The Great Fear…

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That’s it for now.

And remember: Watch the skies for things that go bump in the night!

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Behind the scenes with The Silent Invasion

Larry and I are long-time collaborators on The Silent Invasion and other comic book work. We work the “Marvel method.” That is we discuss the story and roughly formulate the plot over a pizza or burger. I make a few rough sketches, then go away and do tighter layouts and send them to Larry. He scripts the story. I take the script and pretend to make it work. We make additional edits over much gnashing of teeth, fist fights, Sugar ‘n’ Spike inspired tantrums and other childish behaviour. I pencil it using non-repro blue pencils; letter; and ink the page.

I’m pretty methodical about it the process once I start pencilling. I begin with page one at each stage and work from the top left-hand panel on the first page to the bottom right-hand panel on the last page. A creature of habit, I guess.

Here’s a sample page ( a page from chapter 4 of “Abductions”) from the first rough sketch to final product:

The initial sketch done at the pizza meeting:

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Larry’s script with my scribbles:

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The page layout:

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The pencilled page:

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A test ink sketch that I usually do while I’m finessing the point on my brush:

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And the final page:

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Next time: more on the CFL in The Silent Invasion!

Remember to watch the skies, because they are watching you!

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