Abductions! The Lost Covers

Abductions! is coming from NBM May.

And to get you all feverish with anticipation, here’s a look at four of the covers from Secret Messages—the long-lost floppy comic—in which Abductions! was first serialized.

Secret Messages Cover_02_small

Secret Messages covers_3-4-5

Next week: more lost art… plus answers to the following burning questions about Canadian football: Why are there two 50-yard lines? How can the entire backfield be in motion without confusing both the offensive and defensive teams? And why are the end zones so big?

Keep watching the skies, even though it’s already too late! The aliens are here and stealing your precious bodily fluids!

More Alien Abductions!

FINALLY! We’re relieved that Abductions—the third volume of The Silent Invasion—will soon be collected and published by NBM next May.

Abductions has had a long and tortuous history beginning when the first chapter was published by Caliber back in 1998. We self-published the second chapter as a mini-comic in July 1999. Then it was shelved until 2001, when NBM released it as a five-issue mini floppy comic book series.

Then it disappeared into the mists of time…

Abductions takes place in 1965, five or six years after the end of Book Two. Matt Sinkage, our hero from the first two volumes is—apparently—no longer with us, but private investigator Phil Housley is reluctantly drawn into the unsolvable puzzle of UFO conspiracy theories when he is hired to look for a missing lawyer, one Mr. Howard Finster.

Chapter One_Page22

Here’s a glimpse into the past with the cover to the Caliber published first issue from 1998…

Abductions_1.cover_Caliber

The cover to our self-published mini-comic (a hotly sought after collector’s item!)

Abductions mini comic cover

And then, the above was re-coloured for the first issue of the NBM published Secret Messages

Sil_Invasion_NBM_Abductions01_small copy

Look out behind you! Over your left shoulder! No! Over your right shoulder! The aliens are coming!!! Or they may be here already…

Bookmarks_01

Don’t be afraid! Watch the skies!!!

 

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!

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.

silent invasion2 interior 89_bottom

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.

silent invasion book one 135_small

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.

silent invasion2 interior 147_small

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.

silent invasion2 interior 93_small_top

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.

Chapter One_Page 5_small

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.

Chapter One_Page 7_bottom

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…

silent invasion2 interior 110_small

Remember to watch the skies!

You can follow us on Facebook.

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.

Silent_Invasion_7_small

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.

Covers_7-8

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.

You can follow us on Facebook as well.

 

 

The Silent Invasion World Tour

Announcing our World Tour of 2018!!!

SI_World_Tour_Revised

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.

PrpleRay_page5

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:

Dick Mallet_01_small

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

Dick Mallet_02_small

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…

Dick_Mallet_disappears_small

And the first three pages of The Silent Invasion… 

Sil_Invasion_page1

Sil_Invasion_page2

Sil_Invasion_page3

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

Follow us on Facebook.

Some Lost Art of The Silent Invasion

lost_art_03_small

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…

lost_art_01_small

A couple of convention sketches…

lost_art_02_small

lost_art_04_small

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…

Sil_Invasion_old_ad_small

The cover to The Great Fear…

The Great Fear_Cover_small copy

That’s it for now.

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

Follow us on Facebook.

 

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:

Sketch_01

Larry’s script with my scribbles:

Script_01

The page layout:

layout_01.jpg

The pencilled page:

pencils_01

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

ink sketch

And the final page:

final_art_01

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

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

And follow us on Facebook.

The Terror of the 1950s

The Roots of the Silent Invasion

Congress

The Silent Invasion first appeared back in the age of dinosaurs, 1986, to be precise. It was released by Renegade Press, a line of indie comics published by Deni Loubert. We had contributed a couple of back-up stories to Cerebus; when she left Aardvark-Vanaheim to start Renegade, Deni asked us to develop a series for the new line. I (we) jumped at the opportunity. I knew I had no chance at working in mainstream comics (couldn’t draw then, still can’t today). So I quit my day job as a graphic designer and art director and committed myself to the project for the next few years. 

Sil_Invasion_Renegade_cover01_small

And that’s when we looked to the skies for inspiration. 

During the 1950s — and well into the 1960s when I was growing up — there were numerous UFO sightings across North America. UFO researchers called them “UFO flaps.” Even my older brother claimed to have seen a flying saucer.

I was fascinated by these UFO sightings. I grew up in Oshawa, a city located on the north shore of Lake Ontario about 30 miles east of Toronto. It’s claim to fame is the junior hockey team, the Oshawa Generals, and the GM plant. Oshawa is not not the entertainment capital of the world, so in looking for diversions and excitement, I would — with a couple of pals — spend long evenings staring into the night skies hoping to see one of these mysterious discs visiting us wretched earthlings from the deep reaches of outer space. 

But, alas, we had no such luck. 

Fate_Adamski

My imagination was fuelled by “bad” sci-fi movies; Fate Magazine; the charlatan, George Adamski, who claimed to have been taken on tours of the solar system by friendly aliens; and the story of Barney and Betty Hill, the New Hampshire couple famously “abducted” by aliens back in 1961.

Betty and Barney Hill

Larry and I decided to build the series around these UFO sightings and abductions; and the communist witch hunts of the 1950s that were orchestrated by Joseph McCarthy and his crowd of hooligans.

mccarthy-1

Our main character — the diligent, idealistic reporter Matt Sinkage — gets caught up in this mess. whose grip on reality might be described as tenuous. Sinkage is sure there is a deep state of corrupt capitalists, politicians and scientists who are manipulating events to the benefit of the chosen few. He just needs to convince the public through the efforts of his investigative reporting. Of course no one believes him. He’s accused of being paranoid and worse. He is our classic “Dickian” (as in Philip K. Dick) anti-hero.

I had “discovered” Dick in the mid-1970s (long after everyone else had). I’d been aware of him since I started reading science fiction as a young lad but didn’t read any of his books until I was at art college Then I read Time Out of Joint and I was hooked. 

Time Out of Joint

Into that bubbling stew of UFOs, “commonists,” and the shifting realities of Matt Sinkage, we added aspects of film noir, the wacky 1950s, bad sci-fi movies and good European comics. The Silent Invasion was born. 

After the first 12 issues of The Silent Invasion were completed we didn’t abandon comics all together. We collaborated with John van Bruggen on a 4-issue mini-series called Suburban Nightmares. Then, with John Sabljic, I worked on The New Frontier (not to be confused with DC’s The New Frontier by Darwyn Cooke). The New Frontier was an alternate world political satire that in retrospect seems somewhat prescient as it resembles Trump’s America.

Sub_Night_New_Frontier

In 2001, we returned to The Silent Invasion with a sequel set in the 1960s. NBM serialized the 5-part story, titled “Abductions” as a floppy comic and next year they will publish it for the first time in a more widely available collected edition. For those completists out there, I will be redrawing three pages for the new collection.

Sil_Invasion_NBM_Abductions01_smallest

Now, over to you Larry…

For more information on The Silent Invasion click here.

You can follow us on Facebook as well.