Dread & Alive creator Nicholas de Silva talks heroes and history

Credits: ZooLook Comics

Dread & Alive creator Nicholas de Silva talks heroes and history

Nicholas Da Silva, award winning creator and writer of ZooLook Comics Dread & Alive took time out of a busy schedule (he recently had a presence at New York Comic Con with much fanfare) to share about what is in the works for the incredibly successful and ground breaking series. For those interested in learning more about the historical backdrop against which this series is set, be sure to check out www.abengcentral.wordpress.com. This site is a goldmine of information on the Maroons and includes an active news section on what is happening in the community. As far as Dread & Alive, check out what Mr. Da Silva had to say about his title, music, the creative process, digital comics vs print and more. Enjoy!

(MT) Hello Nicholas, thank you for joining me, could you tell the readers who the creative team on Dread & Alive?

(NDS) In producing/publishing Dread & Alive as a comic book series, I work with two of the best comic book talents on this planet, Rodney Buchemi and Mike Kelleher. My main role is creator and writer of the series but I also work with Rodney Buchemi to create the storyboard/script for each page to be drawn. Rodney then handles the pencil and inks for
the series. He has a special gift of being able to create stunning pages that can stand alone as black and white or full color art. The final inks are then passed on to Mike Keheller who works his color magic. Rodney and I call him the God of Color. Once the pages are complete, I handle the lettering and then prep the files for print and digital production/distribution.

(MT) Well, my compliments, you and your team produce a title that is sure to blow readers away. Can you share what the title is about for those who might not be familar (yet) with it?

(NDS) Dread & Alive is a multicultural fiction series that’s a mix of action, adventure, fantasy, horror, mystery and thriller all wrapped up into one story. It’s about the never-ending conflict between good and evil; in this case Myal and Obeah magic. It’s also a story that meshes cultural fact with fiction. Inspired by the Maroons of Jamaica and the sounds of reggae music, the story of Dread & Alive centers around a precocious Jamaican boy named Drew McIntosh who at the age of seven journeys with his parents to the eerie Cockpit Country of Jamaica at the fervent requests of a great Maroon village chief named Cudjoe. Drew’s father, Philip McIntosh, a direct descendant of the Maroons and a devout Rastafarian, has been summoned to investigate a series of unexplained deaths in the mountain village of Accompong. An anthropologist by trade, Philip is also skilled in herbal science. Drew’s mother, Maria McIntosh, a Zoologist, has reluctantly agreed to the move and sees it as a way to explore the fauna of the Cockpit
Country.

As the McIntosh begin their work, Drew befriends the benevolent village chief and a bond is quickly formed between them. It isn’t long before Drew earns Cudjoe’s trust and eventually inherits a sacred amulet with untold powers, an amulet once owned by Cudjoe’s brother, a
powerful Obeahman named Quaco who was banished from Accompong. By accepting the amulet, Drew’s life is forever changed.

Drew soon discovers that the two brothers are not just Maroon men, but powerful spirits or Deities. Cudjoe, possessing the ability to heal mystically by hand as well as drive away evil spirits or duppies and Quaco, possessing the ability to steal a man’s shadow (soul) and turn
the living into the walking dead. And when Drew learns that Quaco is plotting his return to power and will attempt to take back the amulet, he must now act as protector of the amulet under the guidance of Cudjoe and defend it from the nefarious Obeahman, a responsibility
that will ultimately bring tragedy to his family and plunged the dreadlocked Islander into a dark world of duppies (malevolent ghosts) and zombies.

(MT) Fascinating! You did an incredible job of using history as a backdrop to this incredible adventure. Now, What would you say is the importance of Dread & Alive and why did you feel the need to create it and what role does series serve in an educational capacity.

(NDS) When I was a kid, my dad would take me to the library to check out books to read which I found fascinating. To me, the library was not only a place where one could come to seek or gain knowledge but also where one could escape into a world of fantasy and fiction. At the time, I was into reading science fiction novels and comic books. The more I read, the more I discovered the lack of stories centered around African-based characters. I set out to create a series of my own, one that introduced a storyline mixing fiction with historical facts but
from an multicultural perspective. Once the dust had settled, Dread & Alive was born!
In writing Dread & Alive, my goal was to create a story that entertains while at the same time educates the reader about the characters in the story; in particular, the Maroons. Because of my
efforts, Dread & Alive has been used in a few college courses that explore mythology in Caribbean literature.

(MT) What are your feelings on digital comics VS print?

(NDS) I’m a fan of both digital and print comics. In publishing Dread & Alive, I want to be able to offer my fans a choice so I’ve elected to go both routes. My one concern with the digital side of comics is that not all of the available platforms provide some sort of protection (DRM) against piracy which can be detrimental to independent artists trying to earn a living from their work. Because of this and the fact that I am an Apple developer and a diehard Apple User (since 1990),I’ve elected to release my series only through Apple’s App program and
iBooks platform.

(MT) With this project you’ve managed to build up some tremendous support in the music industry (those interested in some of the incredible music associated with this title can find four volumes of music. Volume 1 and 4 on iTunes, 2 and 3 on Amazon.com. Kindah Vol. 1, Kindah Vol. 2:South America, Kindah Vol 3, Kindah Vol. 4, all available now. Musical artist interested in contributing music to this incredible project can reach out to Mr. Da Silva here.) Could you share the names of some of the contributing artist and what role the music plays in the series?

(NDS) In publishing Dread & Alive in comic book and novel format, I like to release a soundtrack with every issue. To date, I’ve had the opportunity to feature music by reggae artists like Anthony B., Lutan Fyah, SOJA, Freddy Locks, Tasha Rozez and Wio K, Buju Banton, Beenie Man, Taddy P, Cocoa Tea and Bunny Rugs to name a few. I’ve also had the honor to include the works of the dub poet, Mutabaruka. For the release of Dread & Alive #0, I will be working with Bunny Wailer to offer two tracks to go with the release of the comic.

(MT) Dread & Alive possess a level of quality that sets a standard that even some of the bigger publishing companies fall short of. How important do you think it is that independent publishers equate the quality of their finished product to being representative of their
brand?

(NDS) It’s very important! As an independent publisher, I will not release a title unless I feel that I’ve put my best work into it and that means in the writing, in the artwork and in the presentation of the story as a comic book. Fans can tell whether or not a story has been well
thought out or if the story or artwork has been rushed just to get something out to the markets.

(MT) Artistically, you are a jack of all trades. What part of the process do you enjoy the most?

(NDS) I really enjoy the conceptual process. There’s something about taking an idea, crazy as it may seem, and developing it into a reality. With me, every new idea brings a different creative experience, whether it’s sketching a new character, writing a short story for a new series
or composing a rough track for a song.

(MT) What is on the horizon for Zoolook Comics and the Dread & Alive series.

(NDS) I’m currently writing the last of the three books that make up the story of Dread & Alive; Book Two. It follows Drew’s life in San Francisco as a teenager trying to fit in and his journey back to Jamaica to fulfill his destiny. I plan to release the three books as a special package entitled, Dread & Alive: A Hero’s Journey. The scheduled release date is April 20, 2013. I’ll also be working on the graphic novel versions for each book with the first graphic novel tentatively scheduled to release on August 6, 2013. Next month, (Nov15, 2012), I’ll begin work on the official soundtrack for the Dread & Alive series, a music project which will be kind of a Roots Reggae Rock Opera. I plan to invite artists to collaborate on this unique music project.

(MT) Here’s wishing you and your endeavors much success, we will be sure to check all of it out…and thank you so much Mr. Da Silva for your time and sharing. Before we go, do you have any advice for aspiring creators who feel discouraged in a market place that seems more likely to rehash old concepts than take a chance on fresh new ideas?

(NDS) Don’t get discouraged and don’t give up on your dreams. If you have an original story to tell, go for it!! Take the independent route!! I promise you, it will be rewarding. I recommend learning the business side of comic books. That includes production, publishing, marketing
and funding (crowdfunding). And take advantage of the social tools that can help push your series to the masses. If you do this, you will start to build a dedicated fan base that will follow you and your work and most importantly, buy directly from you. Being independent is
a beautiful thing… you just have to work at it.

Just Tink Diffran Mon!

The Dread & Alive series can be found on the offical website (check it out, the site is packed chock full of ancillary content that helps pull readers into this wonderful story). Be sure to check out this fantastic tale of a Bay Area superhero that unfolds against a historical backdrop. You will not be disappointed.

Read More by Mark Turner

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