While attending this year’s COMIKAZE Expo, I was lucky enough to sit down and speak with Stephan Franck.
He’s the creator, writer and illustrator of that wonderful independent comic, Silver.
You may not immediately recognize the name but you know his work, scroll on to discover how!
UTF: First I want to talk about your comic book “Silver.” Can you tell me what the inspiration of that was? Can you tell our readers what it is and why should they be buying it?
Stephan Franck: Silver is a 12 issues in a series. Book one and two are out right now. It’s a continuation of the original Bram Stoker Dracula story. The story continues 50 years later into the pulp era, the 1930’s. It’s a great, crazy kind of lore adventure that gets entangled into the legacy of the Bram Stoker universe.
The whole story is taking place inside the original universe with the original Dracula series at the heart of it and we just extended it into the future, in the past. We’re adding all those dimensions to it but keeping the original story at the core, unmolested if you want. It’s great because it’s a homage and an expansion / reinvention at the same time.
UTF: It does sound like a wonderful series. I gotta say I am a huge fan of anything that takes place in the pulp era. I actually cover “The Shadow” for UTF, and I’ve been fortunate enough to review Flash Gordon as well so I’m certainly versed in that type of mythos.
I also want to talk about something more recent, you just oversaw the completion of The Smurfs: The Legend of Smurfy Hollow. I would like to hear your thoughts on that.
Stephan Franck: It’s on DVD right now. It’s a Halloween special. You’ll get some fun Smurfy fun and some spooky stuff there too. It’s kind of fun. What’s great about it is that it’s a companion to the Smurfs movies that you seeing in theatres recently in the sense that the movie starts with the CGI Smurfs of the movies but in this Halloween special they get lost in the woods. Then they have to spend the night there. They tell ghost stories around the campfire.
As we go into the stories within the story, we go into traditional hand-drawn animation, which is great because for me I used to be a 2-D animator. I worked on The Iron Giant and An American Tale: Fival Goes West and movies like that. I have this great love and tradition for 2-D animation which I haven’t been able to do in a really long time. We’re bringing 2-D animation back right now but the other thing too is that the Smurfs have never been done really right in traditional animation because the original a series, which is cute and everything, but it’s not exactly the golden age of animation.
This time we get to animate the Smurfs in 2-D with some great Disney animators. Doing the Smurfs with quality imaging and quality acting in a way that you’ve never seen them before. For me who grew up with the Smurfs, to get to do a Smurfs movie was really an honor. We were really getting to do them just as in traditional animation in their original hand-drawn form was really exciting.
UTF: That does sound really amazing. I will be checking that out with my little brothers because they love the live action flicks. I actually remember watching the old cartoon myself on Cartoon Network.
Moving on from that, I also do want to talk about your history with films. You told me that you were the supervising animator for “Iron Giant.” What was that like? What was your favorite project work on? What did you learn from them?
Stephan Franck: Definitely the ‘Iron Giant” was a defining job for me for many different reasons.
A: because I get to work with Brad Bird. That was his first new feature as a director. He was already wonderful both artistically and as a person. I felt like I learned a lot from him on many, many different levels. That was fantastic. It’s also because I fell in love with animation very early on but not necessarily with the art form. I was already in love with the art form but not necessarily with the movies that were getting made. I didn’t grow up really that excited about the Disney movies. However, when I saw “Heavy Metal” I was like, “That’s what I’m going to do.”
B: When we did the “Iron Giant” that was really the first time that I got to work on a movie that felt like it was more in my real house in terms of the movies I liked to see, the movies I liked to make, just having a cold war story or science fiction set in the ‘50s. All that stuff was just incredible. Little princesses just aren’t the thing for me.
For all those reasons, that really was a defining experience for me.
UTF: Thank you so much. If I had to ask you just one last question: do you have any future projects that you’re currently kicking around that you might want to talk to fans about? Maybe get them excited about what might come next for you, especially after “Silver” wraps up after its 12th issue?
Stephan Frank: A bunch of different things. I’m still working with Sony Pictures right now and love doing a couple of different things. I can’t say what they are right now but keep an eye for that. The other thing is “Silver” it’s the beginning of that series but it’s also the beginning of Dark Planet Comics which is a dream of mine as always being to have my own independent. These are humble beginnings but we’re building this up. It’s going to get bigger. There’s another series called “Futureopolis” that you should pay attention to. Remember that name.
I want to take the time to thank Mr. Stephan Franck, it was a great pleasure to meet and discuss with you. It was one of my favorite moments from this convention.
But what did you guys think of the interview? Sound off with your thoughts and opinions in the comments section below!