We’ve been fans of the creator-owned comic series Silver for some time, first encountering the man behind the saga, Stephan Franck, at conventions. Franck has a mind-bogglingly impressive creative resume working on major animated films including The Iron Giant, How to Train Your Dragon and Despicable Me, but Silver is that something special–his personal project that he’s been unrolling in the course of the past few years. 2018 is a big year for Silver for two reasons: firstly, it appeared as a Free Comic Book Day offering for the first time, and secondly, it has just started campaigning on Kickstarter for its fourth and final volume. A loyal fanbase is all over this fourth volume, which brings the pay off for this gothic heist story grounded in tales of Dracula and Van Helsing’s occult hunts, but new readers are also discovering the series for the first time at just the right juncture to experience the complete story at once.
In case you’re not familiar with Silver, it follows an unlikely group of thief-allies who set off into Dracula’s kingdom of vampires to pull off the ultimate heist—raiding a massive treasure trove of silver belonging to Dracula himself. Our main characters all have their own purported reasons for agreeing to this plan, but also their own secret reasons for taking part. Key to the story is Rosalynd, the granddaughter of the famous Van Helsing. At the end of the most recent Volume 3, we see that the crew have actually succeeded in their heist–but there’s an ominous sense for the reader that things may not be entirely what they seem, and fallout from this event may be far from celebration-worthy.
Now, with the fourth volume live on Kickstarter until June 28th, 2018, creator Stephan Franck joins us to talk about this sweeping tale:
Hannah Means-Shannon: Can you tell us a little bit about your decision to bring Silver to Free Comic Book Day this year, what that entailed, and what fan response was like?
Stephan Franck: Although it takes place within a rich universe with a unique mythology, Silver is a complete story. It follows the adventures of James Finnigan, a 1930’s con man who teams up with Van Helsing’s granddaughter to steal the Silver Dragon, a mythical treasure hidden in Dracula’s castle. The story is epic, gothic, pulp to the max, filled with dramatic and compelling characters with modern sensibilities and a fun, light tone.
And because the 3rd volume was released to the stores in May, and the 4th one comes out this Fall, this is a great time for comic shop customers to discover Silver through FCBD, and get the full story within this year. I also have to say that the response was fantastic. I did signings on FCBD weekend, and as soon as the Saturday night, people were taking to twitter to report that this was one of their favorite books this year. I came back the following weekend for more signings, and the readers who had gotten the free issue were also back to get all available volumes. I have to give a shout out to Diamond, who believed in the series from the very beginning, giving the stores a chance to try it and build confidence enough to include us in FCBD.
HMS: That’s wonderful to hear. Volume three showed our team of thieves in motion as the con hit “full swing”, and yet we also saw that different agendas might tear a goal-driven team apart. Can you give us a reminder of the main conflicts and differences at work among the main characters that may continue to impact whether they can pull off this heist?
SF: As soon as they meet in Volume 1, it is clear that Finn and Rosalynd are coming at the world from completely opposite directions. She has dedicated her life to making sure the dead stay dead, which is a mission of self-sacrifice, bordering on self-punishment, and he is a conman with no problem stealing from a children’s charity. Finn has close associates, but no real friends, and Rosalynd has absolutely no one. Both their lives are pretty much a disaster at that point, yet, somehow, they land on a common goal.
Finn assumes she is tired of her thankless approach to vampire-hunting, and down for a more rewarding opportunity, but we soon learn that Rosalynd has a different agenda, and it’s all downhill from there. Meanwhile, Finn gets entangled in a father-figure/mentor relationship with Tao, a scoundrel of a kid whose uncanny ability to see the future (just not is own), is essential to the plan. But for Tao, who’s an orphan in need of a role model, and for Finn, who has his own father issues, keeping the relationship strictly business is almost impossible. So, while they embark on the heist of the last-10-centuries, and enter a world where one false move means certain death, the team is on thin ice before they even start.
HMS: Related to the previous question, I don’t think it’s too much a spoiler to reveal that readers learn Rosalynd is at least partially on a revenge mission for her sister Bernice, stolen by Vampires as a child. While Rosalynd continues to be haunted by this event, will a successful heist really ever lessen her suffering? Will she have other opportunities to get closure?
SF: In my mind, Rosalynd never cared about the treasure. She only saw the job as an opportunity to strike a major blow to the heart of vampire country, which beats playing vampire-whack-a-mole in back country graveyards. Then, when she spots Lillian at the train station in Volume Two, she recognizes the vampire who took her sister and the laser-focused revenge mission gets triggered in a bad way. At the end of Volume 3, saving the two babies from Lillian is the redemptive element that had eluded Rosalynd for so long. That said… just because the team has made the Silver Dragon disappear, and because they’re headed for the exit, doesn’t mean they are out of the woods yet. Many things will happen, including with that story line.
HMS: One of the big over-arching plots in Silver is that Dracula, deeply broken by losing Mina Harker from his life, is moving toward an Imperial marriage to the Vampire Lillian. In Volume 3, that comes to a significant crossroads, and our thieves manage to thoroughly disrupt this event. What danger does Dracula’s marriage pose to the world, exactly, and his ability to move past his obsession with losing Mina?
SF: I would say that the worse danger posed by Dracula’s union with Lillian is to Dracula himself. From Finn, to Rosalynd, to Dracula, the common theme to all the characters is the quest for redemption, and what path they will take when the moment of choice is upon them. For instance, after her wild ride through the village, and although we are led to believe otherwise, Rosalynd makes the right choice by agreeing to stick to the plan, put vengeance and her deathwish on hold to play out the con. She ends up saving the babies, and finding her way forward. Drac, however, starts out a conflicted character, suspended between the sense of compassion Mina used to represent, and Lillian’s unabashed nihilism. He may have been in pain, but that pain proved that there was still hope for him. By choosing Lillian, he goes back to a dark path from which there is no return. Lillian was his test, and he failed.
HMS: Volume 4 is teased very briefly with the ambiguous phrase “everything ends”! Well, in Volume 3, we learn that the team pulled off the heist of silver from Dracula’s treasury, but we don’t know how they did it, or what repercussions their action will have on their lives or on the wider world. What are the potential dangers of what they have done, and what difficulties might they face in getting away with this heist in the long term?
SF: As I was mentioning earlier, our team may have pulled a fast one on Dracula and his court, but they are far from home free. In fact, Volume 4 is the most suspenseful, action-packed, twisted and disclosure-heavy book of the entire series. It is not easy to talk about this last volume while avoiding spoilers, but when the Kickstarter trailer says the book will keep you guessing until the very end, that really is true. Every set up in the entire story gets paid off—even the ones you didn’t realize were set ups at the time. I have to say I am very excited about the ending, I think the series concludes at its best.
HMS: Since this is the final main volume of Silver, can you tell us what you have found most rewarding about working on this expansive story and bringing it to this point of finale?
SF: First, it is super magical to witness a fictional world and its characters come to life in a compelling way, to where we can discuss these characters as if they were actual complex people. I am a big believer in the idea that art is discovered, not decided, and that a story does tell you what it wants to be. So, surrendering to the process faithfully, one panel, one page at a time, and ending up with a story that people have a connection with is extremely rewarding. Seeing something you created being invited by readers into their lives—as a part of their imaginary landscape—is an incredible honor.
Also, for this Kickstarter, I did a series of collabs with three incredible artists: Takeshi Miyazawa, who you may know from Ms. Marvel, and Rodolphe Guenoden, known as a great BD artist and masterful animator (he supervised all the fights in the Kung Fu Panda movies). Silver is in black and white, but I like to play with color when I get the chance, so I had a blast painting Takeshi and Rodolphe’s incredible take on the characters. Then, there is Mr. Mel Milton, who contributed an awesome take on Sledge. As far as working with Mel, the extent of our collaboration is that he does it, and my jaw hits the floor.
Thanks very much to Stephan Franck for joining us on Comicon today and we congratulate him on completing this compelling story!
Don’t miss out on this grand finale to Silver! Find it on Kickstarter until June 29th, 2018!