True North Country Comics Podcast – The Silent Invasion: Dark Matter

Here is another interview with Michael Cherkas and Larry Hancock, this time with True North Country Comics podcast about Dark Matter, book 4 in The Silent Invasion series which has just been released.

You can listen to it here https://truenorthcountrycomics.com/2021/11/12/larry-hancock-and-michael-cherkas-discuss-the-silent-invasion-dark-matter-graphic-novel/

As always… Watch the skies!

THEY….. are… out… there!!

Michael Cherkas and Larry Hancock

For more information on The Silent Invasion click here.

You can follow us on Facebook as well.

You can find Larry’s previous blog posts here

And posts by Michael Cherkas, here

Secret Stacks podcast interviews The Silent Invasion

Larry Hancock and Michael Cherkas were recently interviewed on the Secret Stacks podcast to promote the release of Dark Matter, Book 4 in the series. Episode 64 went live on October 26, 2021.

The podcast is primarily aimed at librarians in the USA, but can be enjoyed by anyone.

To find out what Hancock and Cherkas have to say about their latest book, click the link here https://directory.libsyn.com/episode/index/id/20939198

Meanwhile… Watch the skies!

THEY….. are… out… there!!

Michael Cherkas and Larry Hancock

For more information on The Silent Invasion click here.

You can follow us on Facebook as well.

You can find Larry’s previous blog posts here

And posts by Michael Cherkas, here

The Silent Invasion at Fan Expo Canada 2021

Michael Cherkas and Larry Hancock appeared at Fan Expo Canada 2021 Limited Edition to promote The Silent Invasion.

Keep watching the skies!

THEY….. are… out… there!!

For more information on The Silent Invasion click here.

You can follow us on Facebook as well.

You can find Larry’s previous blog posts here

And posts by Michael Cherkas, here

The Silent Invasion at Fan Expo Canada

The Silent Invasion Book 4: Dark Matter will be available in bookstores, comic shops and digitally in mid-October. The first (and so far only) stop on our WORLD PREMIERE BOOK LAUNCH tour will be at Fan Expo Canada in Toronto from October 22 to 24, 2021 at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre

Come by and see us at our table in Artist Alley. We will have copies of all four books available for purchase. Michael will have original art for display and for sale. You can also cajole Michael to provide a sketch!


Meanwhile… Watch the skies!

THEY….. are… out… there!!

Michael Cherkas and Larry Hancock

For more information on The Silent Invasion click here.

You can follow us on Facebook as well.

You can find Larry’s previous blog posts here

And posts by Michael Cherkas, here

The Silent Invasion: In-depth interview

What do you think of that cover for Book 4? Pretty snazzy, eh?

Looking for more background on The Silent Invasion? Here is a fun, long, in-depth interview from 2018 when Michael and I appeared at SPX in Bethesda Maryland to promote the release of Book 2.

http://comicsdc.blogspot.com/2018/10/the-silent-invasions-michael-cherkas.html

The Silent Invasion: Dark Matter is almost here!

NBM will be releasing Book 4 of our Silent Invasion series in October. This is the first brand new material that we have produced in the series since we did the Abductions story in 2002 (which NBM released as Book 3 last year)

Above you will see a synopsis from the back cover of the book.

Over on his portion of the Blog, Michael has been posting some artwork from the book. Check that out.

Some of you reading this may not be familiar with The Silent Invasion. So for a bit of background information here is the text that we wrote as an Afterward for a french language edition of Book 1 which was published in mid 2020.

The Silent Invasion; Aliens Ate Our Brains

The Silent Invasion was first published by Renegade Press in comic book form in 1986. This volume contains the first six issues and, in the beginning, that was all that there was supposed to be.

We had contributed a couple of back-up Dick Mallet stories to Dave Sim’s Cerebus, published by Aardvark-Vanaheim. When Deni Loubert left Aardvark-Vanaheim to start Renegade Press she asked us if we wanted to develop a series for the new line. We jumped at the opportunity. Michael knew that at that time he had no chance at working in mainstream comics.

As we searched for a topic, our minds turned to our childhood fantasies and fears for inspiration.

During the 1950s, and well into the 1960s when we were growing up, there were numerous UFO sightings across North America. UFO researchers called them “UFO flaps.” Michael in particular was fascinated by these UFO sightings. He grew up in Oshawa, a city located on the north shore of Lake Ontario about 50 kilometres east of Toronto. In looking for diversions and excitement he would, with a couple of friends, spend long evenings staring into the night skies hoping to see one of those mysterious discs visiting us wretched earthlings from the deep reaches of outer space.

Our 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 in 1961.

We thought we could have some fun by creating a series that would follow the adventures of a delusional reporter (Matt Sinkage) as he tries to link the UFO sightings and “alien abductions” of the 1950s and 1960s to the Cold War and the communist witch hunts that were orchestrated by Joseph McCarthy and his crowd of right wing hooligans. And this link would be a deep-state (in the days before we knew what the deep state was) conspiracy run by a shadowy government organization.

The series was always meant to be a light-hearted and somewhat satirical pastiche of 1950s film noir thrillers and science fiction movies.

Visually, Michael looked to the European cartoonists for inspiration. He was first introduced to European cartoonists around 1970-71 through the fanzines Graphic Story World and Graphic Story Magazine. Additionally, he found that he could buy Pilote and Tintin at a smoke shop/pool hall/magazine stand in “culturally-deprived” Oshawa. It was then that he discovered Jean Girard, Hergé, Hugo Pratt; and then later Yves Chaland, Serge Clerc, Jacques Tardi and others. His eyes were truly opened as to what was possible in comics.

The premise of The Silent Invasion is that there is something terribly rotten in the American government. This book and the second volume are set in the 1950s during the time of the communist witch-hunts. But Matt Sinkage, our main character, thinks he is on to something when he believes he discovers evidence that a recent rash of UFO sightings is somehow connected to the so-called communist infiltration of government departments and agencies. What’s never clear is whether the “communists in government” is a cover story to detract from the “alien invasion of earth” or the other way around. And as with any good conspiracy theory, the conspiracy can never be resolved. It can only get more complex.

And now, in 2020, the world has caught up with The Silent Invasion. As we type these words, the Pentagon has just released videos of “unidentified aerial phenomena” – videos which it admits are real, but unexplainable. A President has been elected about whom conspiracy theories abound – was he fairly elected or was there manipulation by foreign or, dare we speculate, alien powers? And we are all locked indoors, fearing the worst from Covid-19!

In the months before the release of the original comic book series, our promotional campaign used headlines such as… “What kind of alien is your neighbor? What kind are you?” and “We are under surveillance! Who do you trust?” and “There are 187 aliens in Congress! Who did you vote for?” These phrases speak to the atmosphere of the 2020s just as much as they did to the 1950s.

Today The Silent Invasion resonates even more: the current president is no stranger to creating, and sustaining, conspiracy theories. It is unlikely that he’s ever seen a conspiracy theory he didn’t like. Is he under the influence of aliens? If so, are they terrestrial or extra-terrestrial?

As we mentioned, The Silent Invasion began as a six issue series in 1986, and that is what you presently hold in your hands. This was a staggeringly innovative year for comic books. Amazing Heroes magazine chose The Silent Invasion as one of the ten best comics of 1986, a list which was topped by Frank Miller’s Batman: The Dark Knight and also included Watchmen, Love and Rockets and Alan Moore’s Swamp Thing. We were also nominated for a 1987 Kirby Award for best black-and-white comic of the year (losing to Cerebus by fellow Canadian Dave Sim)

Before we completed those issues we realized we wanted to continue the story, and wrote and drew a further six issues. Several years later, aliens possessed us and forced us to tell yet another tale. And we are currently are working on a brand new story to be published soon.

Hopefully you will enjoy this book enough that Delcourt brings you the next perplexing adventure of Matt Sinkage!

Meanwhile… Watch the skies!

THEY….. are… out… there!!

Michael Cherkas and Larry Hancock

Toronto, Canada

May 2020

For more information on The Silent Invasion click here.

You can follow us on Facebook as well.

You can find Larry’s previous blog posts here

And posts by Michael Cherkas, here

The Stringer – Making of (2)

Hello everyone!

Let’s show a new “making of” for a page of “The Stringer”. As I said in a previous entry, I start by doing a fast schematic scketch directly on the margins of the script sent by Ted.

As you can see, there were initially only 4 panels, but I added three more in order to feel more confortable and give the reader all the information. Lucky me, Ted is a very detailed writer, but also very flexible and open to change if it makes my life easier. So you can see the final 7-panels structure under the text.

Ok, first drawing on the new panel structure:

For the central panel background, supposedly showing a street in Amsterdam, I mixed two photos from a trip I made some time ago. It’s actually not Amsterdam, or even Holland, but Ghent and (I think) Bruges, in Belgium.

And voilà, a beautiful fake view of Amsterdam!

Now let’s move to the inking, adding some extra details: the beard for the first character, the 500-Euro banknotes and the bank statement:

Then I add the plain colors:

Some shadows, the only text balloon, and it’s done! Ready to receive one of those wads of cash in payment for all the hard work! 😁

I hope you liked it! More interesting stuff to come!!

Watch the October Skies for the Return of The Silent Invasion

Dark Matter, Book Four of The Silent Invasion will be released this coming October. This tale of shadowy, out of control, international cabals weaving byzantine webs of deep state conspiracies, fear, and paranoia in an America that may be controlled by mysterious space aliens “continues” in an alternate-world 1970—five years after the “conclusion” of Abductions, the previous book in the series.

The jury is still out on whether The Silent Invasion is a documentary or just the addled ravings of a couple of comic book geeks from southern Ontario.

Here are a couple of finished pages from Chapter Two…

Until next time, stay safe and watch out for those little green men!

The Stringer on wheels

Hello!

I always loved drawing cars, motorcycles and anything with wheels.

My sister-in-law Helena keeps some of my first drawings that I made (aged 3-4 years) in the letters my older brother sent her when they were still sweethearts . Those drawings were invariably of cars, crazy racing stories, influenced by the cartoons “Wacky Races” and “Mach GoGoGo” (she jealously guards those letters in the absurd hope that someday they will have some value, poor little thing!).

Therefore, for someone like me it is a pleasure to illustrate a story written by Ted Rall, in which his characters are always running from one side to the other using all kinds of means of transportation, which he often describes in detail.

If we add that the story takes place in different countries and at different times, as in “The Stringer”, the pleasure of researching, documenting and drawing the appropriate vehicles, borders on lust for me, a maniac of documentation and accuracy.

So, let’s take a look at what we can find in “The Stringer” (in order of appearance in the book):

In the cover, I draw a Land Rover Defender with a lot of life behind it and certainly more than one interesting story to tell. Choosing this model is poetic license, because the quintessential all-terrain vehicle of the Middle East foreign reporters is the Toyota, as we will see later. But I find the Land Rover more beautiful, and it is a kind of tribute to its end of production after 67 years of faithful service.

Let’s go into the story: back in the early 70’s, Mark’s father drives a beautiful, massive, stylish Pontiac Grand Prix.

I would like to think it was the 455 cu in (7.5 L) rated at 310 HP, but I don’t see Mark senior as the wheel-burning type, more of a quiet cruiser. It must have been a pleasure to drive that liner with the V8 purring like a cat.

Fast forward in time: it’s the late 70s – early 80s. Mark enters the paradise of citizens allowed to drive. His girlfriend Patricia drives a white Camaro Z28 with red stripes to break hearts of everyone she comes across (at least mine, if I had crossed paths with her at that time). Mark, meanwhile, rides a fabulous badass Chevy Nova SS.

Anecdote: the Nova was Ted Rall’s first car, as you can see in this photo from his youth, in which Ted tries to convert a sports coupe into a station wagon.

Young Ted is under the boat…

Second anecdote: my first car was my father’s Simca 1200, a French shell rated at astounding 52 hp. It’s certainly not the same…

In that same colour!!

Patricia’s Camaro did not have a very good life; here it is a few years later, showing its scars, limping through heavy traffic on the freeway.

Ok, cut to the 21st century. In the middle East countries, modern Toyota Hilux from news agencies and NGOs and old Soviet UAZ trucks coexist seamlessly.

The Hilux was also, unfortunately, the preferred car of ISIS, to the point that in 2015 the U.S. government opened an investigation (with the collaboration of Toyota) to discover the origin of the hundreds of Hilux that ISIS used for its movements and attacks. Different explanations: jumps to dealerships in countries in conflict, “disappearances” of shipments in Australian ports, unscrupulous intermediaries…

Further north, bus travel in the former Soviet republics is a catalog of jalopies with millions of kilometers on their backs. Here we can see a LIAZ on a road in the middle of nowhere in Kazakhstan.

Roads where you can have the most unexpected encounters: for example, a MAZ 537, a prodigious monster from the heyday of Soviet military engineering, towing an old nuclear missile on its way to dismantling.

But it’s not all transportation hardship for Mark. Sometimes he gets around in style, for example in this Mercedes S500, with which he visits a business partner at a former Soviet factory. His partner still drives around in an old UAZ van that we can see parked in the alley.

Mark’s other partners have more budget and move around in better vehicles. And nothing better for a picnic in the dunes than a huge, massive Mercedes-Benz G63 AMG 6×6. And if it´s two of them, much better!!

A Lincoln Navigator is not bad either, and is somewhat more discreet, although it requires certain security precautions depending on the country you are in.

But luxury goes out the window when you have to resort to public transport in northern Pakistan. Although the cheerful and extravagant decoration of its buses is quite a spectacle

Anyway, when things get serious nothing like an old and reliable Toyota Land Cruiser, the king of the tough off-roaders ex-aequo with the Land Rover.

A brief parenthesis to better-known places: a Fiat 500, Vespas… which city could it be?

Too bad the Dolce Vita does not last long. Back to the rough roads of northern Afghanistan, where the ditches are overflowing with reminders that the situation is complicated. The ubiquitous Toyota also dominates the cab market in the Middle East, in this case we see a Hiace minivan.

The bandits in these parts have changed the horses for motorcycles. In the foreground, we have a Kawasaki KLE 500 from the first half of the 1990s.

The second one could be a Honda from about the same era. In any case, tough as nails, virtually indestructible and with minimal maintenance, ideal for ISIS blitzkrieg actions.

And this is the end of the automotive review of “The Stringer”, I hope you liked it!