Markdown:Recently, I sat down with Nicholas Da Silva for a discussion about his work and his plans for making a difference in the lives of the children in my hometown; Accompong Town, Jamaica. Because Nicholas possesses so many talents and interests, I thought it best to let him tell you his own story.**Who are you and how can people learn more about you and your work?**My name is Nicholas Da Silva and I am of Brasilian-American descent. I am an independent artist, musician, writer and storyteller. I have been drawing since I was two and daydreaming probably since birth! I like to produce original content that promotes a multicultural experience. **Dread & Alive** is a great example. The official website for Dread & Alive can be found at and to become a Facebook fan, visitors can go to and join the 175,000+ fans who actively follow the series.**Can you tell us about the story of Dread & Alive and it’s hero, Drew McIntosh?**Dread & Alive is a storytelling experiment that fuses art, history and music. First published as a short story in 1997, it is a mix of action, adventure, drama, mystery and thriller. The series is accompanied by a soundtrack that includes conscious reggae music to heighten the reader’s experience. The story is about a young Jamaican boy named Drew McIntosh on his mythological adventure as a hero, from childhood to adulthood, as he goes out and achieves greatness on behalf of the Maroons of Jamaica. Dread & Alive takes you into the world of Duppies (spirits) and the Undead (Zombies). It also introduces the reader to the ultimate sorcerer, the blackheart mon, “Shadowcatcher”, a nefarious Obeahman possessed of malignant magic.**Why did you choose to research the Maroons of Jamaica?**I have been an avid fan of history since childhood and a love that my father, Philip Crist Taylor, instilled in me. I remember spending time in his den as a child, looking at all the newspaper clippings of stories about our ancestors pinned on his wall. In school, I did exceptionally well in American Studies and World History. There was only one problem. I never read about the Maroons and their legacy of slave resistance. I don’t think the Maroons were ever discussed in my history books. When I set out to create the comic book series, Dread & Alive, I was surprisingly introduced to the Maroons while researching Jamaica’s history. Once I learned about their legacy, I knew that this was something that I needed to explore and expose to the masses and what better way to do so than through comics. I’m still blown away that there were a group of Africans living free in autonomy since 1739, way before the American Revolution (1775-1783) began.**Dread & Alive cleverly meshes historical fact with fiction. What is the reason behind this?**In creating the Dread & Alive series, I wanted to produce a series that featured a hero of African descent that everyone could look up to. But more importantly, I wanted our youth to discover the world of history through comics.**Comics and Music? Please share why this plays and important role in Dread & Alive?**Music inspires my work whether I am drawing or writing. When I set out to write the short story of Dread & Alive back in 1993, I had a special playlist of songs that I would listen to while I worked. A lot of the tracks were of Bob Marley & the Wailers. Other songs included tracks from Black Uhuru, Steel Pulse, Third World, Seal and Front 242.**Who are your influences? Your heroes?**My parents have and always will be my biggest influence and heroes! They raised me to be independent and self-confident. They also allowed me to discover and pursue my love for the arts! When it comes to writing the Dread & Alive series, I draw inspiration from Joseph Campbell’s theory of the mono myth (Hero with a Thousand Faces). Other influences include Bob Marley, Martin Luther King, Albert Einstein, Nikola Tesla, Ray Bradbury, George Lucas and Michael Mann, to name a few.**In 2010, you were offered a publishing contract for Dread & Alive but turned it down, opting to take the independent route. Explain why?**I had just finished working on a graphic novel project entitled Black Jesus. The book was published by a company that expressed interest in publishing my series; Dread & Alive and HITLESS (a spy thriller centered around the Vietnam War). When I received the contract from them, I was shocked to find that it was not an actual publishing contract but instead an acquisition contract. I remember that the filename was labeled “Standard Publishing Contract JOINT” but when I opened the document it was entitled “Comic Book Rights Acquisition”. The company had no intentions of publishing any Dread & Alive comic books. They just wanted 50% of the rights to my intellectual property to exploit. When I contacted them about the contract, they actually got nasty with me. the told me that the comic industry was dead so I decided to do what my dad would have done. I declined and took the independent route.**Next, could you tell us what is Project Accompong?**[Project Accompong](http://www.dreadandalive.com/causes/project-accompong/) is my way of giving back to the community, specifically, the Maroon Community. I want to be able to help the youth of Accompong Town so that they can continue their education without having to worry about the things that may prevent them from focusing on getting the best education like; bus fare, lunch money, school supplies, etc. Living in partial isolation poses many barriers to getting ahead in life.**What other subjects would you like to tackle in future issues of Dread & Alive?**Drew McIntosh fights to protect the rights of all living things; humans, animals and the earth! I would like to have Drew take on issues such as human rights, human trafficking, the environment and war and conflict to name a few.**Do you have any advice to aspiring comic book writers and artists?**Be original in your work and do the research! Our history has many untold mysteries that can be translated into great comic book series. I also recommend collaborating with others to create your series. If you are a writer, team up with an artist to get your story out. Last, but not least, remember this… _comics are like movies_. When we go see a movie, we are basically asking to escape our normal lives and be taken on a journey to experience something new, something different. **Tink Diffran**!**Thank you for taking the time to talk with me. Your [Project Accompong](http://www.dreadandalive.com/causes/project-accompong/) as you know, is of great personal interest to me and I hope those who wish to help the children of Accompong Town Jamaica will support the worthy cause. Finally, you have such a passion for music, I wonder if you could name a Jamaican artist and song that inspires you?**Bob Marley”s Concrete Jungle…. so powerful!