You may not have heard his name before, but you may have heard of his work. Stephan Franck is an acclaimed animation veteran who served on films such as The Iron Giant (animation supervisor) and Despicable Me (storyboard artist). From 2004 to 2006, he was the co-creator of a British-French animated TV show titled Watch My Chops (known in the US as Corneil & Bernie) and most recently, he directed the traditionally-animated short film The Smurfs: The Legend of Smurfy Hollow. Now he takes his skills and expertise to a new area: comics.
Animation World Network reported that Stephan Franck will be making his comics debut with the first collected volume of a comic book series titled Silver. Published by Dark Planet Comics, an indie comics label created by Franck as an umbrella for his comic book creations, Silver is a noir-style pulpy adventure tale that is described as follows:
“Expanding Bram Stoker’s original universe fifty years hence, into the pulp era of the 1930’s, SILVER introduces James Finnigan, a witty but (figuratively) soulless con man, who sets out to separate the living-dead from their precious silver. Personality conflicts, emotional entanglements and character comedy abound, as Finnigan assembles the crew of talented but broken misfits needed to pull off the heist of the last ten centuries.”
Franck’s inspirations for the series come twofold. As a kid, he grew up on old black-and-white pulp adventure films that were jam-packed with action, horror, mystery, and romance. At the same time, he was also inspired by the work of legendary comics creators such as Jack Kirby (“his insane mythologies”) and Will Eisner (“master of noir”). Franck himself explains this and more about the story of the comic book in the video below:
The first volume, which collects the first three issues of the series, came about as the result of a successful Kickstarter campaign, which is significant given the fact that Franck does plan for these collected editions to be a vital part of the company: “The trade paperback edition of SILVER volume 1 will open us store distribution. Comic Book stores have expressed strong interest in SILVER, and are waiting for the trade.”
The series has already garnered praise from many of his contemporaries, which isn’t bad for an animator who’s starting to get his feet wet in the comic book world. Tim Sale (best known for his work on Batman) says of Silver:
“With SILVER, Stephan Franck shows how much excitement can be packed into a fast-moving, thrill-filled story…dynamic, unfussy, black and white art, all in the service of speed and momentum…a really, really fun ride.” Takeshi Miwazawa also praises: “A beautifully drawn and masterfully told noir/heist story with a teasing side of the supernatural that constantly kept me surprised with it’s reveals. I was particularly taken aback by the creative camera angles and use of shadows. I was kinda blown away, really.”
For those who are curious as to what Franck is up to next in the world of animation, one of the bullet points in the press section of the Dark Planet Comics website mentions that he is “currently developing new animation projects with Sony Pictures Animation.” Considering the number of diverse and interesting projects that are already set up at the company, it makes perfect sense that somebody who’s just as diverse in their talents and skills would carve out the next few years of his career with Sony Animation. As such, I personally look forward to anything that Franck does next, whether animated or otherwise.
Silver Vol.1 is currently available on Comixology and at your nearest comic book store.
What do you think? Are you interested in this title? Are you looking forward to Franck’s projects at Sony Animation?