How Do You Steal From Dracula? Talking Silver with Stephan Franck
Interview conducted by James Ferguson
You may know Stephan Franck from his work in animation like The Iron Giant and Despicable Me. Horror comics fans will know him from Silver, his vampire heist comic that he's been self-publishing for the past few years. The series follows a ragtag group of con men and the daughter of Van Helsing as they look to steal valuables from Dracula's castle.
I had previously spoken with Franck last year when he was working on the third volume of Silver. He's currently running a Kickstarter campaign to fund the release of the fourth and final volume. I caught up with him to chat about the book as it nears its conclusion.
James Ferguson: Where do we find the main characters as Silver: Volume 4 begins?
Stephan Franck: As you know, Silver takes place in an original universe that is inspired by Bram Stoker’s Dracula, and 40 years after the events of the novel, we meet conman/master thief James Finnigan and Rosalynd “Sledge” Van Helsing as they assemble a team to steal the Silver Dragon, a mythical treasure hidden deep inside Dracula’s castle. So as Volume 3 ends and Volume 4 begins, we found our team having managed to make Dracula’s massive treasure mysteriously disappear, and seem to have surmounted all their personal conflicts and various dysfunctions. They are now in a race against time to get out of dodge before Dracula understands how they pulled off the heist. That is of course easier said than done, and just in case the end of Volume 3 lulled you into a sense of false security, things are about to get crazy. In fact, Volume 4 is the one that is the most action, suspense, and disclosure heavy of all, and will keep you guessing until the very end. I’m really excited as I feel that the series ends at its strongest.
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JF: Has the story changed over the course of its creation?
SF: Nothing big has changed in the story since the script, as I wrote the full story in one piece, then broke it into the 12 issues before drawing anything. The script was written in movie script format (as that’s the format I’m the most used to). There is a natural 4-act structure in a movie script (yes, you often hear 3, but it’s because act 2 is twice as long and breaks into 2 halves). So essentially, we have act 1, 2a, 2b, and 3 and each organically became a volume in the 4-volume graphic novel series. Being a complex heist story with a lot of moving pieces, there was no wiggle room to change stuff around in later volumes. That said, the characters do evolve as you write them, and as you perform them through drawing, and I did adjust quite a few scenes along the way in terms of Sledge’s voice and acting choices. Lastly, two major story lines that you thought had been resolved return in Volume 4, and one of them was in fact a late minute addition.
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JF: How does it feel to bring the series to a close?
SF: It is bittersweet, as I have been living with this story for many years. But it’s really incredible to finally see some scenes that only existed in my head or as words in a script become visually realized. Also, as the series is not only expanding its core fan base but also starting to peak out into the mainstream, it is extremely fulfilling to see that it is not only my story now, but that it belongs to the readers.
JF: Although this serves as the end of the series, are there plans to potentially expand the world of Silver down the line?
SF: Absolutely; the big idea is that Silver is a universe, with its lore, mythology, storylines, and recurring characters. However, the universe is made of complete interlocking stories. All stories, like Silver, will have a beginning, middle and end, and will be able to be enjoyed on their own, but of course they will all participate in this tapestry. In other words, I didn’t want the world of Silver to be an endless soap, or a series of sequels that keep retreading the same ground, like those movies where the two guys finally become friends at the end, and in the sequel, they hate each other all over again. Another piece of the Silver universe already in existence is the illustrated novella Rosalynd, which is Sledge’s diary as a child.
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JF: Are there any other monsters you'd like to take on now that you've conquered vampires through Silver?
SF: Currently, the plan is to continue exploring the secret world of vampires, as we’ve just lifted the veil in Silver, and build up their own mythology and lore. I’m more interested in digging deeper and deeper into fewer elements and mining them for new ideas and meaning, than to brush on a whole menagerie of things. That said, we’re probably due for a werewolf.
The Kickstarter for Silver: Volume 4 is in full swing. At the time of this writing, there are 19 days left and Franck is at 96% of his funding goal. Rewards include all four volumes of the series, a signed slipcase to collect all the books, prints, and more.
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