Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Bullets: KILL OR BE KILLED #10 Out Today, Sean Phillips Art in AMC's Preacher, and More!

 We have a few things to cover before we head out to our local comics shop.

Kill Or Be Killed #10 Out Today, with a Preview and Extra Pages? After a brief delay, the finale to the second arc of Brubaker and Phillips' ongoing vigilante series reaches stores today:  Image Comics is featuring the issue on its homepage this week, with cover art from issue #11...

...and just yesterday the site posted a four-page preview of issue #10, focusing on the NYPD task force assigned to catch the masked serial killer. 

The irony is quite humorous, that the cops are trying to infer some deep significance in what we know to be Dylan's very haphazard behavior, but we can understand their hope for a pattern in his behavior:  if the killer's actions are random, he's all the less likely to be caught.

And, whether the demon is real or a delusion, none of the detectives would imagine that their prey is killing bad guys trying to fulfill a supernatural monster's monthly quota.

Since the narration seems to pick up from the prior issue's cliffhanger, we presume that the preview comes from this issue's first few pages, and we see that the action opens on some natural scenery that surrounds the very unnatural scene of the crime.

Between Sean Phillps' inks and Bettie Breitweiser's colors, the artwork is beautiful but eerie.

In addition to this official preview, we expect an email newsletter from Ed Brubaker any time now, with more inside info and possibly additional artwork.  Interested readers should subscribe to the newsletter, but everyone can check out the online archives.

In the meantime, we noticed something of interest in ComicList's extended preview for Image Comics, posted last week.  Look what's included in the list of product changes:
• KILL OR BE KILLED TP VOL. 2 will now run 176 pages, not 160 pages, with no change in price.

This trade paperback will collect issues #5-10.  By my count, the first five issues comprise 121 pages, with Kira's story in issue #7 having one page more than the typical 24 pages of story, not counting extra content.

This leaves some 55 pages of story for today's issue, and the additional content would quite easily explain its delay.

[UPDATE:  Just read the new issue, and it only has 26 pages, meaning the second arc comprises 147 pages.  Either that product update is in error, or the Volume 2 TPB has much more content than we expect.]

Kill Or Be Killed #11 Delayed a Week, Preview Art Appearing Online.  In the newest extended forecast for Image Comics, ComicList confirms our prediction that issue #11 would be pushed back a week, to coincide with the delayed release of the Volume 2 trade paperback.  Both are now scheduled for an August 9th release.

Last week, Sean Phillips posted some work-in-progress inks all evidently from this issue, including a pensive panel or two of Dylan, a panel of Kira we're reposting below, and a panel of the two once (and future?) lovers.

Phillips previously posted a panel of a new character from the series and artwork of Rita Hayworth, both in various stages of progress and evidently completed.  We suspect that this artwork of Ms. Hayworth will accompany an essay in the back of Kill Or Be Killed, in the issue for this month or next month -- though presumably not (just) for her important reference in The Shawshank Redemption.

Sean Phillips Artwork in AMC's Preacher -- and the Artist in a Romance Comic?  Finally, Sean Phillips was commissioned to create a poster that appeared in the July 3rd episode of AMC's Preacher, the series based on the Vertigo comic by Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon.  In addition to the screenshot we're reposting below, Phillips posted the sketches and final artwork on his blog.

Phillips' initial tweet of the poster art elicited more than 500 likes (625 as of right now), the most any single tweet of his has ever received. 

At least one fan thinks he should investigate selling prints of the artwork: for now, Phillips is currently adding "free, signed, random comics" to each order from his Big Cartel store as he clears out some inventory.

As well as posting his recent work, Sean has also posted quite old work from his friend and colleague Pete Doree, as well as a comic strip that they did together with their friend David Holman.  At his own blog, Doree writes that this particular strip was for Leeds' Thought Bubble festival, and it captures how the three of them experienced the Bronze Age of comics as kids.

But that work from Doree includes a very interesting character, a kind, gentle bachelor by the name of Sean Phillips:  the non-fictional Phillips writes that Doree plans to post the fictional Phillips' entire story on his blog.

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Thursday, June 29, 2017

Beer & Fiction: Undertow Podcast #13 on KOBK #9 and a Little Blogging on Guinness.

We're reaching the end of June, and we see that the latest episode of The Undertow Podcast was released just today.

Robert and I discuss the latest news in the world of Brubaker and Phillips -- both the revised summer schedule and the first news about a Criminal graphic novella -- and we take a close look at the latest issue of Kill Or Be Killed, the penultimate chapter in the series' second arc.

Episode #13 is a little shorter than our usual podcast, as we're skipping recommendations this month but producing a bonus episode to review the compelling mini-series A.D. After Death, by Scott Snyder and Jeff Lemire.  The oversized hardcover collection of the book was released Wednesday, and we should have our podcast review out in the next few weeks.  We'll keep everyone posted.

In the meantime, we hope you enjoy episode #13:  The Undertow Podcast is available at iTunes and on Podbean.


Prompted by a recent favorable iTunes review -- thanks, Pizza Spirit! -- I rambled a bit about Guinness, my favorite among the very few beers I drink.

In a couple videos online, Guinness Master Brewer Fergal Murray explains that there's a proper way to pour the Irish stout, from the can, from the bottle -- though he confirms that it's really best straight from the bottle -- and straight from the tap.

These videos really do seem ridiculous, and they make Guinness fans look like lunatics, but I've discovered that the method really does matter:  these methods are all quite easy to learn, and they improve both the pint's appearance and its creamy texture.

My favorite place to get a pint is at the Shakespeare Tavern Playhouse in midtown Atlanta, home of the city's most active professional theater company and a cozy kitchen that serves dinner before the show and desserts during intermission.

Volunteering there once a month (or more), I've had a good bit of experience serving beer, wine, and soft drinks, and I'm proud to say that I pour a damn fine pint of stout.

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Tuesday, June 27, 2017

KILL OR BE KILLED: Summer Schedule Revised -- and a CRIMINAL Novella! (Updated Below)

We have a few noteworthy items about the upcoming books from Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips -- one looking at the immediate future and one looking toward the horizon.



First, Kill Or Be Killed #10 was originally solicited to be released this week, but the most recent extended forecast from the quite reliable ComicList shows that the issue has been rescheduled to the 2nd Wednesday in July.

This issue wraps the second arc, and the trade paperback collection for Volume 2 has also been pushed back, from late July to early August.  Interestingly, issue #11 is still listed as on-schedule, but I would expect it to be pushed back a week to coincide with the prior arc's trade collection.

Image Comics released its September solicitations last week, and issue #11 has been scheduled for the middle of the month.

SEPTEMBER 13 / 40 PAGES / FC / M / $3.99
It's Dylan vs. the Russians, with the whole city caught in between! Things continue to heat up in BRUBAKER and PHILLIPS’ multiple Eisner-nominated hit!
In looking at these dates, it's clear that the planned "skip month" between arcs has been consumed by a brief delay, but it seems the book is getting right back on-schedule.
  • Jul 12 - KOBK #10
  • Aug 9 - KOBK Vol 2 TPB, with KOBK #11?
  • Sep 13 - KOBK #12
That's four weeks between #10 and (our guess for) #11, and then we're back to the planned five-week gap between issues.



Much more interesting is a bit from the latest email newsletter from Ed Brubaker, sent just hours after our most recent post and similarly announcing the release of issue #9 and its online preview.

In answering a question about the magazine-sized variants -- explaining that, unfortunately, the format isn't as popular with retailers as it is with readers -- Brubaker writes that they're still experimenting with formats.

And he lets slip some amazing news.
Right now, I'm slowly writing a short CRIMINAL graphic novella as our side project, but no idea when it'll be out. Next year sometime, I'm guessing. [emphasis mine]
We're excited, to say the least.

The news does raise some obvious questions:  Will Sean Phillips be the artist?  If so, does this mean Kill Or Be Killed will be wrapping up soon, or is it just going on hiatus next year?  And how long will we be without a monthly fix from Brubaker and Phillips?

I go into much more detail in the upcoming episode of The Undertow Podcast, which is currently in production, but here are my entirely speculative guesses.
  • This Criminal graphic novella will indeed be created by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips.
  • If the work does come out next year, Kill Or Be Killed won't end; instead it will go on hiatus, perhaps at a cliffhanger or some intriguing status quo at the conclusion of the third (or fourth) arc, which may eventually constitute the first deluxe hardcover collection.
  • If the graphic novella is about the same length as Criminal arcs with four issues or less -- such as "Bad Night" or "The Last of the Innocent" -- we should expect its production to take about six months.
A half-year without Brubaker and Phillips would be tough, but I'm intrigued by a full-length story without the conventions of serialization.

UPDATE, JUNE 28.  Sean Phillips graciously commented on my speculative thoughts, implicitly confirming his role in the Criminal novella and relaying via Twitter that he'll work on the novella while simultaneously continuing his work on Kill Or Be Killed.

He elaborates, "KOBK has been on a five week schedule, and will continue on that (apart from #10 which is a couple of weeks late). Plenty of time for  Crim!"

We're thrilled that we'll still have our monthly fix without any lengthy interruption, and this approach will let the pair take all the time they need to produce this graphic novella. 

Brubaker and Phillips will take the Paul Masson approach:

They will sell no crime until its time.


And, on an unrelated note, Ed Brubaker also mentioned his excitement for Steven Soderbergh's upcoming film, Logan Lucky.  It's a humorous heist film set against the backdrop of NASCAR's longest race, and it stars an ensemble cast that includes Daniel Craig as an ex-con.  The film will be released in August, and its trailer came out just last month.

That's uncanny timing, seeing as we just recommended Soderbergh's 1999 film The Limey in the latest episode of The Undertow Podcast

Brubaker wrote that he liked the director's version of retirement, "making 20 episodes of an insane TV show and re-editing movies on his website."  The former is an allusion to The Knick, a medical drama set in New York at the dawn of the twentieth century, a two-season series that aired on Cinemax in 2014 and 2015.

You can get a sense of The Knick from a 30-second spot for the first season, here.

It's a show that might be worth checking out while we wait for Logan Lucky.

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Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Kill Or Be Killed #9 Out Today, Online Preview Available Now!

The latest issue of Kill Or Be Killed is in stores today, from Ed Brubaker, Sean Phillips, and Elizabeth Breitweiser.  We see that Image Comics has just posted a four-page preview, showing that the story picks up with the last issue's ominous cliffhanger.

The Image website also shows a slight change to the cover: a blurb has been added to highlight the series' Eisner nominations -- four of the five nods we noted at the beginning of the month, one each for the book and its three creators, with the fifth nomination being for the Criminal 10th Anniversary Special.

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Saturday, May 27, 2017

Undertow Podcast Episode 12 on Kill Or Be Killed #8 -- plus August Solicits and Preview Art.

The latest episode of The Undertow Podcast was released yesterday.  In addition to examining Kill Or Be Killed #8 in great detail, Robert and I discuss the news on this year's Eisner nominations and offer some recommendations for comic fans and film buffs.

(I mentioned work on a blog post reviewing the Eisner nods and wins for Brubaker, Phillips, their collaborations, and their collaborators:  that post is still coming, and it should be up soon.)

As always, The Undertow Podcast is available at iTunes and on Podbean.  We really enjoyed the discussion as we watch the tension and the danger ratchet up for Dylan, and we hope listeners enjoy the show as well.


This second arc wraps in June with issue #10, and issues #5-10 will be collected in July with  Volume 2.  After that one-month break, the monthly issues return:  issue #11's cover art and August release date was mentioned in a recent Brubaker newsletter, and they were confirmed by Image's solicitations, released earlier this week.
"The insane third arc of BRUBAKER & PHILLIPS’ hottest book yet begins with a bang, as Dylan turns the tables on the men hunting him."
The issue is scheduled for an August 2nd release.


Issue #9 is on-schedule for its release this Wednesday, May 31st, and we expect an online preview, a new newsletter from Ed Brubaker, or both.

In the meantime, we've seen a few bits of in-progress preview art from Sean Phillips' social media feeds, and it looks like things are going to get very interesting indeed.

A few weeks back, Sean posted a few bits of work in-progress -- the thumbnail and the subsequent inks of the action shot shown below, and a panel of a closeup -- and these are presumably from the upcoming issue #9.  It looks like the mobster from the last scene in issue #8, and it seems things don't go according to plan.

Just yesterday, Sean posted another preview image and a photo of the smudge guard he sometimes wears while doing his digital inkwork.  The former is explicitly described as a preview of issue #10, and in both we see Lily Sharpe alongside, we're guessing, detectives in the NYPD.

Things look particularly grim for a body found in a van -- and I have a sneaking suspicion about exactly whose bitter end we'll see.

We'll have more previews for issue #9 this week, as we find them.

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Wednesday, May 03, 2017

Eisner: Nominations and a "Newspaper" Comic!

Just yesterday, the San Diego Comic-Con International announced the nominees for the 2017 Eisner Awards, and we're thrilled to find nods to Criminal, Kill Or Be Killed, and all three of the books' talented creators:
  • Ed Brubaker was nominated for Best Writer, for his work on the Criminal 10th Anniversary Special, Kill Or Be Killed, and Velvet.
  • Sean Phillips was nominated for Best Cover Artist (for multiple covers) for the Criminal Anniversary Special and Kill Or Be Killed.
  • Elizabeth Breitweiser was nominated for Best Coloring for the Criminal 10th Anniversary Special, Kill Or Be Killed, Velvet, and Outcast by Kirkman & Azaceta.
  • The Criminal 10th Anniversary Special was itself nominated for Best Single Issue/One-Shot.
  • And Kill Or Be Killed was nominated for Best Continuing Series.
In the nominations, both books were credited to Brubaker & Phillips, but we would be remiss not to note that, on the covers to both, Bettie Breitweiser is prominently listed -- quite rightly -- as the the third creator.  We're glad to see her receive her own nomination in recognition of her mesmerizing contributions.

(And we would be equally remiss if we didn't express our firm conviction that Steve Epting was snubbed for not receiving a nomination for his work on Velvet.)

Brubaker and Phillips have been earning awards and nominations and other accolades for well over a decade, including a 2006 Best New Series Eisner for Criminal and a 2012 Best Limited Series Eisner for "The Last of the Innocent."  We're glad to see that they continue to be recognized, both for maintaining their high-quality work and for frequently exceeding the already lofty expectations of their readers.

The awards will be announced Friday night, July 21st, at Comic-Con International.

But now is a perfect time to acquaint yourself (or your friends) to Brubaker, Phillips, and Breitweiser's latest twisted take on crime comics:  Kill Or Be Killed #1 was re-released just today (albeit without the bonus content) in a one-dollar "Image Firsts" edition.

...and, we have more interesting news involving Will Eisner, for whom the comics industry's most prestigious award was named.  

This past March, the Lakes International Comic Art Festival announced a trio of projects to honor the centenary of the comic creator's birth -- namely, an extensive exhibit of Eisner's work; a competition inspired by his famed creation The Spirit, inviting art students to invent their own vigilantes; and a newspaper-style comic featuring new work by some of today's top writer and artists.

Titled The Spirit of  Eisner, this 12-page publication is described as "a celebratory broadsheet comic" that honors both The Spirit and the original format in which the series was published.  The book is officially sanctioned by the Will Eisner estate, its original artwork will be featured in an exhibit in the festival site of Kendal, England, and Sean Phillips recently commented at our blog to elaborate that "a few of the contributors will be appearing in person, some for the first time in the UK."

(Comparing the list of contributors against those already announced as guests, I found five attendees other than Phillips himself:  Sergio Aragonés, Michael Cho, Duncan Fegredo, Jason Latour, and Peter Milligan.)

As a festival patron, Sean Phillips is quite heavily involved with the festival in general and with this centenary celebration in particular.  As well as judging the student competition with crime author Ian Rankin, Phillips is coordinating this comic's publication, and -- as he mentioned in the festival's official podcast, which we referenced last week -- he and writer Ed Brubaker are contributing a page to this comic.

That's news that is definitely worth emphasizing:

Ed Brubaker & Sean Phillips are creating a one-page story for The Spirit of Eisner newspaper-sized comic for this year's Lakes International Comic Art Festival.

A few weeks back on social media, Sean posted see two bits of related artwork.  One is a definite in-progress preview of the first panel of what he subsequently describes as "one (giant) page" of a story, which we're reprinting below; the other is reprinted at the top of this post, and it may just be a sketch of Eisner's famous crimefighter.  (But what a sketch!)

The press release announcing these projects also states that the book "will be launched" at the festival, which is scheduled for the weekend of October 13th to the 15th.

Sean Phillips has another quite interesting project, which was also recently announced by the Lakes Comics Art Festival:  he has designed a republication of the first ever book on creating graphic novels, first published by Rodolphe Töpffer in 1845(!!!), with this new edition translated, edited, and introduced by John McShane.

In the press release for this special edition of this historically significant work, we find that the book will be available at the festival, but it "can also be ordered online from Page 45, the Nottingham-based comic shop that has been a longtime supporter of LICAF."

We haven't seen anything similar, stating that The Spirit of Eisner will be available anywhere other than the festival itself, but we're encouraged by the verbiage that the book will be "launched" there.

We'll certainly keep our eye out for any news about the book's availability for fans unable to attend the festival, and we'll be sure to pass along what we find.

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Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Kill Or Be Killed #8 Out Now -- and Looking Ahead to Later Issues.

The next issue of Kill Or Be Killed by Ed Brubaker, Sean Phillips, and Elizabeth Breitweiser is out today:  yesterday afternoon, Image Comics posted a five-page preview of issue #8 on the official site, and Ed Brubaker sent out an email newsletter providing the same preview and MUCH more.

Everyone who visits this blog really should subscribe to Brubaker's newsletter, and you can do so by visiting -- and if you browse the online archives of the three emails sent over the last two months, you'll see a lot of in-progress work for this upcoming issue.

Between the newsletter, social media, and recent solicitations, we have even more info about this new issue as well as upcoming releases.

For issue #8, out today, the bonus essay is evidently on the 1958 film Murder by Contract, with the essay written by Kim Morgan and the accompanying illustration by Sean Phillips.

For issue #9, out in May, Brubaker just announced that Sean Phillips' son Jacob Phillips illustrated the bonus essay, also penned by Kim Morgan, this time on the 1976 film Mikey and Nicky.

(Issue #10 has already been solicited for a June release, and it's probably too soon to expect any interior-art previews or other details.)

We anticipated July to be a "skip month" without any releases, but Image proved us wrong with their July solicitations, released last week.  Kill Or Be Killed Volume 2 is scheduled for a July 26 release; the 160-page trade paperback edition collects issues #5-10, and it reuses the cover art from issue #5.  Retailing for $14.99, the book will be significantly less than the total cost for the individual issues, discounted nearly 40%.

Finally, issue #11 hasn't even been solicited yet, but yesterday Brubaker gave his newsletter subscribers an advance look at the completed cover art, which we had seen earlier as in-progress details on Sean Phillips' Twitter and Instagram feeds -- see here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.

Kill Or Be Killed #11 cover,
  From the Desk of Ed Brubaker

From Phillips' tags, we learn that the work was painted with acrylics, and from Brubaker's newsletter, we learn that this is the first of several connecting covers (similar to these), as all the covers for the upcoming third arc will combine to form "one long cover image of escalating violence."

Ed Brubaker also confirms our earlier guess that issue #11 will come in August.

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