The Silent Invasion is back after a hiatus of almost 20 years. NBM will be releasing four volumes; the original series as two books, the never before collected story “Abductions,” and then a brand new volume with the working title “Dark Matter.” And after that, who knows?
Stefan Blitz of NBM recently asked us a few questions to set the scene of our return to graphic novels…
So where have you guys been for the last two-decades? Hiding somewhere up in the frozen wilds of Canada?
Michael Cherkas: I’ve spent the last 30 years working as a graphic designer, art director and sometime illustrator and cartoonist. Most of the work I’ve done would fall under the category of editorial design; magazines, corporate publications, annual reports, etc. Let’s just say I’ve created a lot of landfill over the past 20 years. And after staring at type on a computer screen for 10 hours or more a day, my eyes were pretty tired, so I had no desire to sit at a drawing board for another four or five hours.
Having said that we did continue to dabble in comics though our output was minimal. We wrote and drew “Abductions,” which NBM published as a 5-issue floppy-comic mini-series way back in 2001…
Then we self-published one issue of The Purple Ray…
I wasn’t happy with the art in that; I am in the process of re-drawing the entire first issue. There was also a three-pager I did for a small-press anthology. Larry actually was a character in the story. Stay tuned and you might see that 3-pager right here.
I’ve also been working on a graphic novel about the Ukrainian terror famine of 1932-33 known as the Holodomor…
This is also a good time for me to get more involved in comics again as I’m now the “president and chief bottle washer” of a one-person world-wide design empire which gives me more opportunity to work on comics or graphic novels.
Larry Hancock: In my daytime secret identity, I am a professional accountant. Back in 1998 I became self-employed and have been extremely busy. Because of my affinity with the arts I have a lot of clients who are authors, artists, animators, singers, film people, etc.
Michael and I get together quite often to talk story ideas, but we have not been highly motivated to work on comics. Back in the nineties, the comic book world was concentrating very much on violent superheroes and gimmicky covers. But these days there is so much variety available that it is time to dip our toes in the ink again.
Why The Silent Invasion again? Does it have something to do with the strange political culture America is living through?
MC: The premise of The Silent Invasion is that there is something terribly rotten in the American government. Books 1 and 2 are set in the 1950s during the time of the communist witch-hunts. But Matt Sinkage, our main character, believes he’s on to something when he thinks 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.
So yes, the story should resonate today since the current president is no stranger to creating and sustaining conspiracy theories. I don’t think he’s ever seen a conspiracy theory he didn’t like unless it has something to do with Russian influence on his election.
LH: As Michael mentioned we self-published one issue of our Purple Ray comic book. On the back we put a fake ad for the next Silent Invasion book, saying that it was coming soon, but not too soon. We weren’t really serious at that time. Yes we had, over the previous several years, been talking about the plot for a next book, if we ever did one, but we had no plans as to when to actually following through.
Then, when we met Terry Nantier in Toronto at TCAF in 2017, he looked at that fake ad, raised a quizzical eyebrow, and suggested the time is ripe to re-introduce The Silent Invasion to the wider world. I looked at Michael and said, “Let’s do it!”
MC: And I, grumpily, agreed.