|Text Page from The Silent Invasion: Abductions Issue #1
published in May 1998
So What Brings You Here?
When we set pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) to write one of these text pieces, we usually write about something that interests us. But we also have to determine how we can invade your minds - deceive you with something you think is light and entertaining - while we are actually brainwashing you to buy the next issue... buy the next issue... buy the next issue...
We have written numerous text pages dwelling on the state of the industry, the background and origins of The Silent Invasion, our own preferred reading (comic books, and otherwise). We have printed many letters from fans and tried to reply to all of them.
So what else is left to say?
What brings you to this text page - what would you like to read about? We polled several typical comics buyers and here's what we came up with for this issue (if you believe that, we have a used flying saucer in a barn in upstate New York)...
I haven't heard of The Silent Invasion before? What is it?
The Silent Invasion first appeared as a twelve-issue mini-series from Renegade Press in the mid- to late-80s. It was met with critical acclaim (which is defined by Max Allan Collins as selling 4 issues short of break even), received a Kirby Award nomination and was selected by Amazing Heroes as one of the ten best comics of the year. It has since been collected as four graphic albums by NBM. The first two albums have recently gone out of print from the publisher, but we expect them to be reprinted soon. Meanwhile, you should still be able to find copies in better comic shops. Also, Caliber reprinted the contents of those two volumes as six comic books in late 1996. If you can't find those in comics shops, you can order them directly from Caliber.
Yeah, yeah, but what was it about?
Oh, sorry. Let's see here. Oh yes, here it is...
"Set against the backdrop of the early 1950's cold-war, red-scare hysteria, The Silent Invasion is the story of reporter Matt Sinkage's routine probing into flying saucer sightings. His investigation leads him to believe that the UFOs are real and that there is an insidious alien conspiracy to take control of the hearts and minds of the American people. Chasing the conspiracy from small-town America right up to the White House, Matt becomes increasingly paranoid as he sees friends become enemies and enemies become aliens."
How's that for cribbing from our own notes?
Matt Sinkage? But I just read this issue - isn't he dead?
Yes. No. Well, maybe... The new story -Abductions - takes place five to six years after the conclusion of the previous tale. Besides, this is a comic book... Perhaps you might want to buy the next issue and find out more, eh?
So that was ten years ago. If the series was so well received then, why haven't I heard of you guys? What have you been doing in the meantime?
After The Silent Invasion, we did a four issue mini-series for Renegade Press called Suburban Nightmares - short stories that have been described as "a cross between Leave It To Beaver and The Twilight Zone." At about that time we began developing a superhero series in which we planned to deconstruct that tired old genre with a unique Hancock/Cherkas flavour. Comico had agreed to publish it but as we were finalizing the contract, they went out of business. We began doing work for Dark Horse but due to other demands on our time (non-comics work) it took us two years to complete a five-part serialized Suburban Nightmares story.
During that time, Michael also completed a graphic album called The New Frontier which was serialized in Heavy Metal before being issued as comics by Dark Horse and then collected as a graphic album by NBM.
Dark Horse had expressed interest in more work from us, including the aforementioned superhero series. But after waiting more than a year for a contract, Dark Horse reversed themselves and declined our projects, deeming them unlikely to make a profit. While we certainly disagree with that viewpoint, to be fair to Dark Horse, they turned back a lot of projects to other creators at the same time.
Over the next few years we completed other Suburban Nightmares stories and all of those stories have been collected by NBM in two graphic albums.
So why The Silent Invasion again, ten years later?
When we finished the first series, Michael swore he would never do another Silent Invasion story. However, in 1993 we received some interest - a lot of interest - in The Silent Invasion as a possible animated feature film. It began with Hanna Barbera/Turner, spread to Warner, several other studios, and even some independent producers. Unfortunately, nothing came of that flurry of activity, movie-wise. In Turner's case, they opted to go with another project which a name director brought to them, which had an art-style similar to Michael's.
But all this "excitement" did spark our own interest and we began toying with a possible ideas for a new series. We developed this into a proposal for a new mini-series Abductions and in the summer of 1994 we started shopping for a publisher for the new mini-series. Our most detailed conversations were with Kitchen Sink, but they eventually passed on the project when they realized that we were intent on handling our own media rights.
Still, that was almost four years ago. What took you so long?
We aren't young turks anymore who can whip off 70 pages of artwork in a month, while shirtless, no less! Heck, it takes Mike 2 or 3 days to finish a page and that's during a good week (I know, it's hard to believe). Then there's that nagging desire to eat and have money to live on. Family responsibilities and mortgages to pay are always looming in the background. More reliable, paying work has to take priority.
And then came the relatively poor sales of the reprint series...
We signed the agreement for this new series with Caliber in August 1995. Sales on black and white comics - hell, comics in general - have been in the doldrums since the speculators jumped out of the market a few years ago. Caliber reprinted the first six issues of the first series in the second half of 1996. We thought we would reacquaint regular (once a week, new comics only) comics buyers with The Silent Invasion prior to the new series, while at the same time trying to "cash in" on the interest in such johnny-come-lately programs as The X-Files, Nowhere Man, Dark Skies, etc.
Unfortunately, sales were in the toilet, even though we did a fair amount of promotion. Although to be fair, considering it was a reprint book in a depressed market, the first couple of issues actually didn't do all that badly. However the numbers on the following issues really knocked the wind out of our sails. We know that the comics that got onto the shelves sold well, but it was an uphill (heck, nearly vertical) climb to convince the retailers to carry the reprints. You have to remember that there is an excess of material out there, and for retailers it's like a roll of the dice to determine what to carry and what to pass on.
Perhaps if we had timed the reprint a few years earlier with multiple variant covers on paper that was made from the pulped seat covers of a crashed UFO...
Boy you guys are a couple of "gloomy gus's." Why do you persist in writing and drawing comics if it's such a hard slog?
Plain and simple, it's an addiction, a compulsion, a sickness. We do it because we love comics, have always loved comics, and probably always will. And though we don't do this as a full-time job (we would if we could) we love to tell stories using words and pictures.
Based on what you've said, your timing does seem to be a bit off, doesn't it?
A bit off? A bit off!? It seems our timing has always been cursed! We have, somehow, always managed to "jump onto the bandwagon" at precisely the wrong time.
For example, the first issue of The Silent Invasion from Renegade Press went on sale in 1986 just before the Black and White Boom. Our numbers were respectable, but could have been much better. Unfortunately we didn't benefit from the boom, but were certainly hurt by the great "Black and White Bust" of 1987-88. And then Renegade gave up the ghost.
But what really kills us is that The Silent Invasion was a "UFO book" before the success of The X-Files. In fact the show hit the airwaves several years after our first series ended. And now that we're re-entering the market, you can be sure that our timing is off and interest in UFOs and the unexplained will wane. People who don't know us will probably even accuse us of jumping on the bandwagon. Don't they know? We only jump on after the wagon has gone by!
So here we are and there you are. You have Abductions number 1 in your hands. And If you all promise to buy the rest of the series, then we'll make sure that Caliber publishes them. But it would be a good idea to pre-order them from your retailer so he knows that you want them. And drop us a note. We like feedback. We like it so much we might even a few of your letters in this space next issue!
You can reach us by email at: