Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief: You recently launched a Kickstarter campaign for the third volume of your epic vampire graphic novel series, Silver. For those who may be unfamiliar, what can
you tell us about the premise of the story?
Stephan Franck: Silver is an expansion of Bram Stoker’s original universe, and it begins 40 years after the events of the novel, into the noir/pulp era of the 1930s. There, you meet James Finnigan, who is the most notorious conman/gentleman-thief of his day, as he teams up with Rosalynd “Sledge” Van Helsing (grand daughter of the original Van Helsing, and altogether the last of the Van Helsings), to steal a mystical treasure hidden in Dracula’s castle. Finn, of course, brings his known associates—a fun assortment of conmen and grifters of all kinds—as well as with the kind of amoral attitude that puts him immediately at odds with Sledge. Lastly, the team enlists Tao Leu (or more accurately, he enlists himself), who is a 10-year-old boy with the gift of second sight and who might be the biggest scoundrel of them all. So, I like to think of it as “Ocean’s 11 in Dracula’s castle” and as a big fun pulp adventure with lots of very genuine character moments.
BD: What inspired you tell to this story, and what do you hope that readers will take away from it?
SF: Vampire lor, and the Dracula mythos in general are at the base of this, but as I started developing it, conmen presented themselves as a wonderful foil for vampires, because they are so thematically adjacent. Neither type engages in life in an emotionally productive fashion like normal people do. They live predatory, solitary lives on the outskirts of things. They both are soulless, of course, in different ways. So, pitting my conmen against the vampires led to a really interesting examination of what it really means to feel alive. Is it just about cheating death for a thousand years, or is there something more? The book also deals with issues of fatherhood and the insecurities of it, as it is a theme that's very personal to me. So, hopefully, Silver is high on imagination and entertainment, pup, gothic, and vampire fun, but also says things about life in ways that feel honest and relevant.
BD: This will be your third Kickstarter campaign for Silver, following the incredible success of the first two campaigns. What makes this crowdfunding platform such a valuable tool for independent creators?
SF: Kickstarter allows a completely independent company like Dark Planet to function with full artistic autonomy. We only do our Kickstarters when the books are finished and ready to go to press, so it is never a long wait for our backers, and it helps support the books' initial runs. By essentially pre-ordering through Kickstarters, the fans become a key part in our process. These early supporters not only help make the book happen for themselves, but they also make it possible for all the new readers down the line. It’s awesome.
BD: What are some of the fun backer rewards that are available to those who contribute to your campaign?
SF: We have tons of great stuff. First and foremost, we have the books. Not only the new third volume, but also great bundles that let you catch up on volumes 1 & 2 also. That gets you almost 350 pages deep into the Silver saga at a price that will raise the dead. The books also have great process material in the back pages. And by that, I mean a really meaningful conversation that lets the interested reader in on the visual storytelling process. I’ve had the opportunity to train a lot of artists, from being a mentor in the story training program at Disney Feature Animation, to giving masterclasses around the world, and I’m putting some of that approach in those pages. We also have fun limited edition prints—all signed and numbers—and some of my favorite originals, including an epic piece with Silver’s entire cast of characters. Lastly, we have some super-fun Silver-themed phone covers that have a super “Spidey-like” superpower. The back of the case has micro grooves that are cut by laser and that gives it the uncanny ability to stick to metal and glass—like on your mirror if you like watching the game while shaving, or the roof of your car if you accidentally left your phone on there—but most importantly they are very snazzy!
BD: Are there any upcoming conventions or other outlets where our readers will be able to find your work?
SF: Dark Planet Comics will have a booth at San Diego Comic-Con and more shows in the fall. Silver Volumes 1 & 2 are also available through Diamond at all good comic shops. It is also available on ComiXology.
BD: Are there any other projects on which you are working that you are able to share with our readers?
SF: There are new books coming soon that also take place within the Silver universe and that have to do with the backstory of certain characters. Let me tell you, they are super fun! Can’t wait to officially announce them.
BD: Lastly, what is the best way for our readers to find out more about Silver?
SF: You can go to the Dark Planet Website (www.darkplanetcomics.com), or follow Dark Planet Comics on Facebook or Twitter (@fromDarkPlanet).