The Silent Invasion, Abductions: A Visit to the Artist’s Garret

Abductions, Book Three in The Silent Invasion series will be released May 15.

This time around, here’s a tour of the tiny space where The Silent Invasion is drawn, erased, redrawn, lettered and inked.

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And now some photos:
Top row; the approach to the studio: bottom; the ink-stained desk, surrounded by some treasured and well-read favourite comics and other bric-a-brac.

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The artist’s materials, including his trusty blue pencils, numbers 4 and 5 Winsor & Newton Series 7 watercolour brushes, and jars of India ink.

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The bookshelves beside and behind my drawing table, and three very dusty 1/72-scale plastic airplane models built in the wayback time when I was in high school. The aircraft are a Hawker Tempest (in front), Grumman Bearcat (rear left) and a Grumman Hellcat.

The artists studio post_03

Until next time, watch the skies, and stay safe and healthy.

Abductions is coming but here’s a blast from our past!

Way back in the distant past (remember those days?), we created this 7-page tale telling the story of Dick Mallet’s last case. If you recall, it was Dick Mallet’s mysterious disappearance at the beginning The Great Fear that was the catalyst to get this wild goose chase going. Presented here for the first time in many years, is the story that explains how poor old Dick Mallet ended up on a lonely road somewhere in America back in the halcyon days of 1952.

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Click here for more information about The Silent Invasion.

The Silent Invasion, Abductions is coming!

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As we get closer to the release of Abductions, the excitement is almost unbearable!

No forget that…

Let’s talk about floating anxiety. I’m sure most people perusing this blog have it. I have it. How can we relieve that sense of uncertainty?

I know! Read something light and fluffy—not stuffy—like The Silent Invasion! Books One and Two are now available from NBM. Abductions, Book Three of the series will be released shortly. The art is a little quirky, and the story will take you down rabbit holes with no exits. And as I like to say, The Silent Invasion is a comic/graphic novel for people who LIKE to READ comics.

Before closing for today, here’s a look at some pages from Chapter Two of Dark Matter, Book Four of The Silent Invasion, coming next year from NBM. These images are not scans. They were photographed with my phone camera. So here they are, warts and all.

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Next—a visit to the artist’s lair.

Until tomorrow… Watch the skies! Stay safe and healthy! And read The Silent Invasion (and all those other comics)!

Watch for Abductions! Coming Soon!

Yes, Abductions, Book Three of The Silent Invasion will be released very shortly. Our challenge this week will be to post something every day.

Today, I’m going to give you a peek at some work from Book Four which will be released next year.

Here is the evolution of one page from Chapter Two of Book Four.

The initial rough of said page drawn with a big fat marker:

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Here is the first version of the pencils:

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Then after much thought the page was re-pencilled to this:

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Below is the inked version. Some background details are missing in panel 4. And we are still waiting for the wordsmith to provide words to the page. Of course when Larry sees this blog post that will the first time he’s seen the almost finished page.

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All of these images were shot with a phone camera in my kitchen under bad lighting.

Tomorrow: the artist’s secret sanctum; or pages from an alternate world Silent Invasion?

Remember, watch the skies! And stay healthy!

 

Abductions is Coming!

Stay Safe and Enjoy Abductions, Book Three of The Silent Invasion series

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Presented in glorious black and white, Abductions is an escapist, fun-filled, paranoia-filled romp through 1965-era Union City in which private detective Phil Housley searches for Matt Sinkage—the man he thought he killed six years earlier (see Books One and Two of our series for more conspiracy-riddled tales from America’s fictional heartland).

Here’s a short sequence from Chapter Two of Abductions:

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And then Phil Housley is mesmerized by the 25-yard end zones while watching a Canadian Football League game between the British Columbia Lions and the Hamilton Tiger-Cats:

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For more previews click here.

And remember to watch the skies while you stay at home.

It’s Christmas in Union City

Perk Up Readers! Don’t let the Paranoia, Alien Encounters, Lies or the Mad Conspiracies of the Oligarchy get you Down! It’s Christmas!

While searching through the disorganized archives of The Silent Invasion we found this Christmas-themed cover from the sixth-issue of the Caliber reprints, published in a far distant past—a past that today almost feels like it was an alternate reality.

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Watch the skies! They ARE coming for you! And look out behind you! You don’t want to end up like old Matt Sinkage here—nursing a bunch of beers in a lonely Ontario bar…

Happy Holidays! Merry Christmas! And all the best in 2020 from the Gang of Two that bring you The Silent Invasion.

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It’s Not a Hockey Game Unless a Fight Breaks Out

Abductions, the third volume in our series The Silent Invasion will be released this coming May. As we’ve been preparing book three, we’ve actually been harder at work on book four which, when complete, will be our first all-new Silent Invasion story in 20-plus years.

Here’s a sneak peak at the first six pages of book four, showing the evolution of these pages from raw layouts to final art.

Larry and I will get together and regale each other with ideas for a story. In between story ideas, he talks about baseball (the Blue Jays) and I talk about hockey (the Oshawa Generals and Whitby Dunlops). We are clearly not listening to one another. And as with hockey, bench clearing brawls often break out. After the first set of fisticuffs, I go away and roughly lay out the scenes as we think we’ve discussed them. The layouts are drawn with a ball point pen or felt pen in small notebooks.

layouts book 4

The layouts then go back to Larry and he says, “this scene is too long,” and I say “we don’t have the space limitation anymore. It doesn’t matter. Let’s keep it.” He then says, “The book will go on forever. We’ll never finish it.” Naturally there is a second set of blows—but no game misconduct yet. Pencils are then completed the old fashioned way—with non-repro blue pencils. Rough scripting is indicated on tracing paper. Scenes have been shortened, others moved or added. Then the pencils are photographed with a crappy phone camera and go back to Larry.

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Larry edits the scripting even more and after one final donnybrook, I make more changes to the art. Pages are redrawn and redrawn—and after much gnashing of teeth edited again and again. And then finally lettered and inked. The art is then scanned, cleaned up and grey tones added in Photoshop. And there you have it the final art as it stands now. I expect as we move further along in the story I will go back and make more adjustments to the art.

final art book 4

And you thought this post was going to be about (ice) hockey.

Next time: Remembering the Baltimore Stallions—winners of the Grey Cup in 1995 (and the only American-based team to win the CFL championship).

Watch the skies remember—all U.S. presidents since 1980 have been aliens from space!!! The radio in my fillings told me so.

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.

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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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