Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief: You recently launched a Kickstarter campaign for the fourth and final volume of your epic vampire graphic novel series, Silver. For those who may be unfamiliar, what can you tell us about the story as it reaches its conclusion?
Stephan Franck: Silver takes place in an original universe inspired by Bram Stoker’s Dracula, 40 years after the events of the novel. We follow the adventures of a pulp-era con man/master thief named James Finnigan, as he teams up with Rosalynd “Sledge” Van Helsing (granddaughter of you know who) and a young boy with the uncanny gift of second-sight, to steal the Silver dragon, a mythical treasure hidden in Dracula’s castle. So, at heart, this is a super fun, epic, gothic, and pulp-to-the-max adventure, with a deep universe full of fun world-building. And all the while, it is populated with very human characters written with a modern sensibility. Good souls that are profoundly in need of redemption, but who may or may not be willing to pay the necessary price. As the third volume ends and the fourth one begins, the characters seemed to have moved past most of their dysfunction and succeeded in making Dracula’s treasure disappear. But that doesn’t mean that they’re out of the woods yet. They still need to get out of dodge before Dracula (and the readers) find out how 200 tons of history-grade silver disappear. So, a lot still has to happen with every dimension of the story, and in fact, Vol. 4 is the most action, suspense, drama and disclosure-heavy volume of all. I really feel that the series ends at its strongest.
BD: In connecting with Silver readers over the past 4 years, what have you found to be most impactful and resonant with readers about Abraham Van Helsing’s vampire-hunting descendent, Rosalynd, and her con men colleagues?
SF: I found that people have connected very strongly with both Sledge and Finnigan. Sledge is obviously as kickass character with a quasi-feminist point of view, and the wish fulfilment of it has resonated very strongly with readers. But in spite of her strength, she is also a wounded, vulnerable, and flawed character which makes her intensely human. Lastly, as with many tormented characters, she has a wicked sense of humor. That is her coping mechanism which, not only gives a great voice to the character, but also brings a fun, light tone to the story in what comes organically from the characters. The same is true with Finn. He is immensely charming and charismatic, and very physically adept, but we find it with a severe moral deficit at the beginning of the story. Meanwhile, we also immediately understand that there are lines that he will not cross. I like to think of him as a good guy trying to be bad. Then, there is his relationship with Tao, for whom he becomes a reluctant father figure, and that is very endearing. Lastly, readers have also strongly connected with our version of Dracula whose existence seems to be hanging in limbo since the loss of Mina Harker and who no longer seems like he belongs in his own world. So, we have a lot of fun with these characters who I would say are all very good at what they do, but somehow all suck at life. On some level, we can all relate.
BD: This will be your fourth Kickstarter campaign for Silver, following the incredible success of the first three campaigns. What makes this crowdfunding platform such a valuable tool for independent creators?
SF: Dark Planet being a completely independent publishing company, Kickstarter has become a key part in our process on several levels. The most obvious is that it gives our existing readers a chance to pre-order the books early, which is a tremendous help to us. But also, while a large part of our readership likes to get the books when they see us in person at shows and others like to get them as they hit the comic shops, there is a certain core group that has become invested in this act of almost co-creation. Through supporting Kickstarter, they shape their own cultural landscape, which is awesome. Lastly, a lot of press coverage is also concentrated around events like Kickstarters, and that gives us an opportunity to mount very effective press campaigns.
BD: What are some of the fun backer rewards that are available to those who contribute to your campaign?
SF: First and foremost, this Kickstarter is about the arrival of Volume 4 and brings the story of the theft of the Silver Dragon to a close. And to celebrate that, we’re offering a super cool slipcase that will turn your Silver trade collection into a really striking box set. It’s not only a treat for the completist Silver fan, but also the kind of awesome object that lets you win Christmas! Also, we have 3 amazing guest artists contributing prints with their take on Silver characters. They are master animator Rodolphue Guenoden, Ms. Marvel’s Takeshi Miyazawa, and the one and only Mel Milton. I had tons of fun doing the colors on Rodolphe and Takeshi’s pieces.
BD: Having recently attended Phoenix Comic Con, are there any upcoming conventions or other outlets where our readers will be able to find your work?
SF: Our next show is San Diego Comic-Con, and our books are available at every good comic book shop. Digitally, we have been working with ComiXology which has been extremely supportive from the start.
BD: Are there any other projects on which you are working that you are able to share with our readers?
SF: In a completely different space, I am an executive producer on the Playmobil movie which comes out nest spring and is absolutely awesome. Beyond that, there is a lineup of great projects that I can neither confirm nor deny at this moment.
BD: Lastly, what is the best way for our readers to find out more about Silver and to support your Kickstarter campaign?
SF: The best way to support Silver at the moment is to support our current Kickstarter. Beyond that, you can visit DarkPlanetComics.com for more information and find us (or me personally) on most social media platforms. Also, come visit us in person at comic cons around the country if you get a chance. We have great conversations with the fans who come to share our passion for the series. Those conversations actually are one of the most fulfilling part of the process. We also absolutely love it when you buy our books from the comic shops, with whom we have a great relationship.