“…our novel is, and will continue to be, littered with mythological characters. The Greeks had it all worked out.” -The Brothers of Silence

DarkMedia Interviews The Brothers of Silence:

Don Richmond and Ian LeWinter, the Brothers of Silence, have taken the comic distribution to the next level.  As the first to ever launch a graphic novel through Facebook and Twitter, Don and Ian have pioneered the change we’ve all been waiting for.  Years from now, when hundreds, if not thousands, of incredible graphic novels and comics are exclusively available at the click of a button, when we can watch the progression of the stories through social networks and beautifully designed websites, they’ll say, “It all started with Blank.”

And Blank is so much more than merely a way to mark the graphic novel’s evolution; it’s a story, a myth, worthy of distinction. “The transmogrification of Blank’s life into Blank’s death continues. John meets, for the second time, the human he killed first.”

DarkMedia is honored to have had the opportunity to talk with Don and Ian about Blank, mythology, archetypes, the evolution of the graphic novel, and how it all comes together.

Blank is really something special. Can you tell us a little about the project and how it came about?

The Blank project came about as something both of us were working on individually. Don brought up the idea that we should collaborate on a graphic novel. He proposed the idea of a beleaguered hit man and a bone-handed ghost girl. Ian pulled it all together with a psychotic prodigy who builds an extinction-event virus and who heads a religious cult that includes three women, nurtured from birth to unleash worldwide judgement. We both had the idea of placing the story on a backdrop of Greek myth. Ian became ferociously productive with the first few chapters. We started constructing a novel with illustration and talk bubbles. The rest just sort of happened on its own.

Through Blank, you’ve pioneered a completely new way to develop and present a graphic novel that’s truly a step ahead of the game. Do you see social network presentation as something that will sweep through the entire genre? Was it ever your goal to revolutionize the comic/graphic novel industry?

We never said, “We’re going to revolutionize the genre by posting this free on social media.” It was more like, “We should probably post this for free on social media because that’s the next logical step in content distribution.” It was more like a given than an innovation.

What challenges have you experienced in producing and distributing a graphic novel through social media outlets?

Our biggest challenge is organizing our time to respond to the larger conversation. Ian is a madman of total availability. Don is more reserved. We always knew there would come a breaking point when the comments, questions, access and conversation that developed from the social media engine would be impossible to continue alone. But we said to ourselves, “What if we tried to push that breakpoint as far out in the future as possible?” Neither of us knows the answer to that question. But we haven’t hit that point yet.

You call yourselves “The Brothers of Silence”. Can you explain the origin of the title, and what silence means to you?

The Brothers of the Silence an allonym alluding to the feature of novels whereby they bring stillness when read. We have so much noise in our worlds. We wanted to capture the event that takes place when you read a work of fiction and the rest of the world vanishes, only to be replaced by one equally — or possibly more — magical. We point our readers to the Melville quote: “Silence is at once the most harmless and the most awful thing in all nature. It speaks of the reserved forces of fate. Silence is the only voice of our God.” He was right about one thing: There’s power in silence. A suppressed scream, for example, can often be more chilling than its counterpart.

Who, or what, are your greatest inspirations?

Our greatest inspirations are manifold. The work of Alan Moore, to be sure. For Ian it has to be Tolkein, Abraham Lincoln, Cormac McCarthy, Lawrence of Arabia, and the Robert B. Parker mysteries. Seeing Star Wars on the screen for the first time was a big moment — it extended possibilities. Anything Kubrick did, for sure. For Don it includes Annie Dillard, the Psalms, Gregory Maguire, Guillermo Del Toro, Mike Mignola, Jeff Jones, Edward Gorey and Jean Giraud. The Bosch triptych is beyond words. It is impossible to get enough Odd Nerdrum.

What role do mythological and archetypal figures play in Blank? Beyond that, what role do you believe they play in life?

Great question. As humans, we think in archetypes. Words, themselves, are archetypes. “Father” and “Mother” are so prototypically charged, they are blurred beyond recognition. We are in a constant struggle (another Greek archetype, the “agon”) with the idea of mythological forerunners. And, of course, since we are working so closely with mythos, the nemesis of cliche scampers close behind, biting at our heels as we create. It’s a tough balance. As you have seen, our novel is, and will continue to be, littered with mythological characters. The Greeks had it all worked out. As far as the invention of the human, the Greeks played Bach to Shakespeare’s Mozart. They map out the beginnings of psychological thought and their characters are still used today in our psychology textbooks. Oedipal drives. Electra complexes. Phobias. The idea of a Psyche, itself. We figured, “What if we assume a landscape in which they’re all real — now what?”

In the experience of reading Blank online, you’ve added music to the mix. Can you tell us a little about the music itself? Who composed it? What role would you like it to play in the telling of these stories?

Ian composed the music, which he calls “Completion Is Death.” He describes it the story like this: “I just did it — I’ve always had a love of music. And there’s something soulful about that piece of music. Don said that it wasn’t soulful, it was messed up, and I said my soul is not multi-dimensional. I can feel abject horror and still believe it’s soulful. Everyone reacts by freaking out, yet they can’t stop listening to it. Somehow they believe it’s right for the site.” Music will continue to be an integral part of our journey. Ian has a new piece (Dance Death), which he’d probably email to anyone who asked him. Don describes it as “What would happen if the Sufis met the Legion of Mark, chapter 5.”

After Blank is completed, what’s next? Are there sequels in store? More Facebook/Twitter launched graphic novels?

After “Blank Death” is completed, we have two more books scheduled: “Blank Strife” and “Blank Life.” We are also working on a separate side project called “Unify.”

Oscar Wilde once said, “Give a man a mask and he’ll tell you the truth”. Do you agree or disagree with that statement? Do you see it as something relevant in the world you’ve created in Blank? Why or why not?

What a wonderful quote. The way we look at it, people will never tell you the truth. And there is nothing that exists other than a mask. The symbols of theater are the Greek masks of comedy and tragedy. We get our word “mascara” (blackening) from “mask.” Its converse, oddly enough, is “cosmos” (whereby we get our word “cosmetic”), which means to unveil order from chaos. Both are words with common root ideas of hiding and revealing to imbue meaning. This is the truth. None of art is a solid baseline. There is no fundament, only an evanescent off/on. The world of Blank is no different. The landscape of the In Between will reveal itself to be responsive to the wills that inhabit it, shaping itself to their intentions. Truth, by definition, cannot exist in such a shape-shift environment as that.

What can your fans do to support the progress and success of this project? And, for those who haven’t had the opportunity to read it yet, where can they find out more about Blank and you, The Brothers of Silence?

Anyone can find us at ““. Support us by signing up, by reading, by commenting. Follow “BlankMustDie” on Twitter. And, of course, tell your friends about the Blank project.


Blank Must Die can be found on DarkMediaCity, and at the above links.

Come by DMC for our brand new group dedicated to discussion and networking about Blank.  Exciting things are in store.  You won’t want to miss this.

(All interviews are the exclusive property of DarkMedia, and may not be reproduced or shared without permission, excepting links to the interview.)

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