Friday, March 31, 2017

Bullets: Brubaker's Green Light, Velvet Deluxe, and More Books on the Horizon.

• Green Light for Brubaker-penned Maniac Cop. There was big news late last week, as Variety exclusively reported that Nicolas Winding Refn’s Maniac Cop has been greenlit and is scheduled to film this summer, to be produced by Nicolas Winding Refn and directed by John Hyams.  As we noticed almost two years ago, Ed Brubaker has written the screenplay for this remake of the 1988 cult thriller.

Variety's Elsa Keslassy writes that, according to co-producer Lene Børglum, Maniac Cop "will not be a pure horror film but rather a contemporary and realistic action thriller."  We think the most interesting part of this news story is the summary of the movie's premise, which we believe we're seeing for the first time.
Set in the present, “Maniac Cop” follows a determined L.A. police officer who sets out to reveal the truth about the brutal murders of innocent people by one of her fellow cops.
Sounds like the protagonist is a female cop, perhaps much like Lily Sharpe, recently introduced as a likely antagonist in Kill Or Be Killed, or "Genuine Jen" Waters who has a minor role in Criminal, working in the city police's Internal Affairs Division.


• Velvet Deluxe Out This Week.  We noticed that the deluxe hardcover edition of Ed Brubaker's spy comic Velvet was rescheduled for release this week, on 3/29, moved from its original solicited date of February 22.

Comparing our original post on the book with the official listing on Image's website, we see two different cover images, and we believe the book features all-new cover art by Steve Epting, shown below.


The series is described as "a slick and sexy new take on the Cold War spy genre," and we note that this oversized volume collects the eponymous character's "first major storyline," so it appears we haven't seen the last of Velvet Templeton.


• More KILL OR BE KILLED in June.  We have some news items on a few upcoming releases.  First up, Image Comics released their June solicitations this past Wednesday, and it includes Kill Or Be Killed #10, with the cover Ed Brubaker showed fans in his most recent newsletter.


As his life spins out of control, Dylan and his demon come face-to-face once again.
The 40-page issue is described as the end of a story arc, and we presume this means that this will be the last chapter in the second trade paperback.  That would confirm our earlier theory that this second volume would be larger than the first, 4-issue volume, and we can now guess the schedule through the summer.
  • April: KOBK #8, currently scheduled for its solicited release date of 4/26
  • May: KOBK #9, also currently scheduled for its solicited release on 5/31
  • June: KOBK #10, solicited for 6/28
  • July: planned skip month
  • August: KOBK #11 and Volume 2, collecting #5-10
If past releases are any indication, Kill Or Be Killed Volume 2 and issue #11 will be released on the same day.

At The Undertow Podcast we'll take an in-depth look at each issue as it's released, and between arcs we plan to continuing our occasional series looking back through the collaborative works of Brubaker and Phillips, a series we started in January with Scene of the Crime.


KILL OR BE KILLED Image Firsts Edition in May.

In visiting ComicList and glancing at a recent extended forecast for Image Comics, we noticed an Image Firsts edition of the debut issue of Kill Or Be Killed.

As with their other popular titles -- including the previous books the publisher has produced for Brubaker and Phillips -- Image is releasing a one-dollar reprint of the title's first issue.


The Image Firsts series is "perfect for readers interested in trying out a variety of new titles without feeling the effects on their wallet."


 Original Graphic Novel Coming from Brubaker? Finally, Barnes & Noble's college-focused site The College Juice began this month with a spotlight interview with Ed Brubaker.  The article had quite a bit we already knew, but it included the intriguing revelation that the writer's "top secret" projects include "an original graphic novel."

We don't know anything else about this book, but we'll be sure to keep readers posted.

In the meantime, we'd like to thank Kevin Sels on Twitter for the heads-up!

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Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Ides of March Bullets: New UNDERTOW Podcast, New KILL OR BE KILLED, Sean-centric Solicitations, and More!

It's the Ides of March, and we have a lot to cover from the past few weeks.

UNDERTOW Podcast #10 on KILL OR BE KILLED #6!  The latest episode of The Undertow Podcast was released late last week, and Robert and I take and in-depth look at last month's issue of Kill Or Be Killed.

It was a good discussion on a dense issue, with the resolution of the cliffhanger in KOBK #5, the callbacks to every previous issue, the introduction of two antagonists for our vigilante Dylan, and an unexpected Easter Egg involving a previous work of Brubaker and Phillips.

As always, episodes are available at iTunes and Podbean.

KILL OR BE KILLED #7 In Stores Today! Our podcast is a great way to review the last issue before diving into the next one, which focuses on Dylan's best friend and former lover Kira. 

In February, Ed Brubaker provided an advance, black-and-white preview of the issue, and Image Comics has recently posted the same three-page preview, completed with Elizabeth Breitweiser's subtly increasing colors as Kira's scrapbook photos become more recent.

...and we see that Brubaker just sent out another email newsletter, describing this issue as his favorite for the series, at least so far.  The newsletter includes an additional preview page, proof that "the entire issue isn't all photo album pages."

Kill Or Be Killed #7 interior art detail,
  From the Desk of Ed Brubaker
And we can find one more preview image on Sean Phillips' blog, for the artwork accompanying the essay at the back of the new issue.  Writer Kim Morgan describes the subject as the "psycho-superb" Pretty Poison, and it's another crime story starring Tuesday Weld, this time paired with Anthony Perkins in a 1968 film.

• Advance Preview of KOBK #8.  In today's newsletter, Brubaker also treats readers to a few in-progress pages from the next issue, since he anticipates that some readers will miss Dylan this month.

Kill Or Be Killed #8 interior art, in-progress detail,
  From the Desk of Ed Brubaker
With the pages, Brubaker provides some insight into the production, noting that Sean Phillips moves directly from layouts to the final drawing.  For his part, Phillips has posted bits of a few other in-progress pages through Twitter and Instagram -- all evidently from the same issue, including a sketch of Dylan with the demon, the militarized NYPD, and "too much detail" of Dylan leaving the newsstand.

• KOBK #9 and More Sean Phillips in May Solicitations.  Toward the end of February, Image Comics released its May solicitations, and it includes Kill Or Be Killed #9. 


"Time is running out, and the demon won’t wait for the police to stop hunting him. Trapped between his curse and his own survival, Dylan takes to the streets."

With no gaps planned since issue #5, we infer that the second trade collection will probably include more than the first volume's four issues.  Since Brubaker and Phillips tend to produce ten issues a year, we're guessing that the typical trade will collect five issues: there will be a one-month gap after the conclusion to each "arc" in this ongoing series, and the following month will feature that arc's trade collection and the first issue in the next arc.

Phillips is also listed for another book, a hardcover reprint of User, an award-winning three-issue miniseries originally published through DC's Vertigo imprint in 2001.  Written by Devin Grayson with art by John Bolton and Sean Phillips, the story "explores sexual identity and online role-playing in the text-based MUDs [Multi-User Dungeons] of the nineties."

• KOBK #10 Cover Art.  We recommend subscribing to Ed Brubaker's newsletter -- and those who read the latest issue will find very interesting news about Fraction and Zdarsky's Sex Criminals and an homage to Brubaker and Phillips -- but there's one more item we'd like to mention here, on the subject of advance looks at Kill Or Be Killed.

In answering a question about the design of the comic's demon, Brubaker talks about the pleasant surprises that can result from collaboration, and it appears he gives us a first look at the next cover.

Kill Or Be Killed #10 probable cover
  From the Desk of Ed Brubaker
Those who follow Sean Phillips' Twitter feed will recognize the motif of the demon and Lady Liberty, featured in several work-in-progress Instagram posts from February: one, two, three, and four.

• More Sean Phillips in Movies for Criterion and Arrow!  We've previously reported on the artwork Sean Phillips has done for home video releases, both for the Criterion Collection and for Arrow Films.  We really should account for all his work in a single, organized list, but for now it suffices to note that, in February, both companies released work with art design by Sean Phillips.

On February 6th, the UK company Arrow Films released Willie Dynamite, a 1974 blaxploitation film.  The Blu-ray and DVD release features a reversible sleeve that has both the original artwork and newly commissioned artwork, the latter from Sean Phillips, who posted the full piece through Twitter.


On February 21st, the Criterion Collection released Mildred Pierce, a 1945 noirish melodrama starring Joan Crawford:  on his blog, Sean Phillips shared some artwork including the cover and additional sketches.



• Sales Surging for KILL OR BE KILLED?  Finally, we noticed that KOBK makes an interesting appearance in CBR's February sales report.  Apparently, KOBK led the month in gained sales for continuing titles, as shown in the excerpted graph below.





We might have to do some digging about just how good the title's sales have been...

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Friday, February 17, 2017

Now Online, UNDERTOW PODCAST #9 with a Look at Kill Or Be Killed #5!

The newest episode of The Undertow Podcast has just been released and is, as always, available on iTunes and Podbean.



Robert and I take a close look at Kill Or Be Killed #5 in an episode that was recorded just prior to the release of issue #6,  Listeners can see how well our analysis and speculation holds up in light of the latest issue -- and, in addition, we discuss Ed Brubaker's new TV project Too Old to Die Young and give some recommendations for other crime comics and creator-owned works.

Recording this podcast has become a great part of the reading experience for us, and we hope that other fans of Brubaker and Phillips join us, not only by listening in but by giving us your feedback, on Twitter or by email -- undertowpodcast@gmail.com .

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Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Kill Or Be Killed #6 On Sale Today, Preview Online!

While recording the upcoming episode of The Undertow Podcast, I speculated that last issue's cliffhanger might be left hanging for a couple months, since the upcoming issue may focus on the police investigation of Dylan's murders and the next issue is being told entirely from Kira's perspective.  It looks like, instead, we're picking up right where the last issue left off.

Kill Or Be Killed #6 is on sale today, and yesterday Image Comics posted a preview, evidently of the first four pages of the issue, where we see the immediate fallout from the confrontation at the core of KOBK #5.



We already know this issue features a bonus essay by Kim Morgan, about a 1962 episode of Naked City -- and we remind everyone that this issue features two covers by Sean Phillips, most notably the variant cover celebrating the 25th anniversary of Image Comics and paying tribute to the debut issue of The Walking Dead.


Careful readers will notice that the same cop appears in both covers.

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Friday, February 10, 2017

Advance Preview of Kill Or Be Killed #7.

In its most recent extended forecast for Image Comics, ComicList confirms that issue #6 of Kill Or Be Killed -- along with its Walking Dead-tribute variant cover -- is on-schedule for its release next week.  In yesterday's email newsletter about Too Old To Die Young, Ed Brubaker reports that Sean Phillips is already close to finishing the artwork for issue #7.

Brubaker included a few preview pages of Phillips' artwork for the March issue, which is told entirely from Kira's perspective, and we would be remiss if we didn't highlight this artwork in a separate blog post.

Kill Or Be Killed #7 interior art, in-progress detail,
  From the Desk of Ed Brubaker

We're quite curious how this issue's change in POV will affect the overall structure of the series:  so far, the story has only been told from a single perspective, and its narration has been surprisingly and humorously direct in addressing the reader with the suggestion that Dylan knows that person is reading a monthly comic book.  That changes with issue #7, and we wonder if the issue will shed any light on just how unreliable a narrator Dylan has been.

The entire newsletter is worth reading, not least for a link to an excellent article on that killer Criminal arc, "The Last of The Innocent."

As always, the newsletters are archived online, and fans can subscribe here:

http://tinyurl.com/edbrubaker-list

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Thursday, February 09, 2017

Coming From Brubaker, Refn, and Amazon: Too Old To Die Young.

At least since year's end, Ed Brubaker has been hinting about a few TV projects in various stages of development, including one that could be announced "at any moment."  That announcement came yesterday in an exclusive report from Variety.

Amazon has greenlit Too Old To Die Young, a crime series of at least ten episodes. Shooting will begin this fall in Los Angeles, and the series will be released through Amazon's streaming service.

Brubaker followed up by sending out his email newsletter, confirming today that this is the project that's been keeping him busy for the last few months.
It's a TV series that Nicolas Winding Refn and I co-created and are co-writing every episode of, and he's directing the entire thing. And yes, it is a crime series. Other than that, I am sworn to secrecy. 
I will let you know about further details as they're released, but I'm guessing they will be very spare.
Variety elaborates that Brubaker will be an executive producer and Winding Refn will produce the series -- and it reports that three big-name actors have already been offered roles.

And who is Nicolas Winding Refn?  He's a Danish filmmaker known for his stylized crime movies, including the Pusher film trilogy (1996-2005), for which Too Old To Die Young is being compared.  The former "looked at Danish criminals caught up in the drug trade," and this new TV series will explore "various characters’ existential journeys from being killers to becoming samurai’s [sic] in the city of angels."

Since that trilogy and his early crime film Bleeder (1999), Winding Refn has moved to English-language films, including the darkly comic biopic Bronson (2008), starring Tom Hardy -- a movie I still need to catch.  More recently, the Dane directed the critically acclaimed Drive (2011) and the polarizing Only God Forgives (2013), both starring Ryan Gosling. 

Last year, Winding Refn released another polarizing movie, the horror film The Neon Demon, released domestically by Amazon Studios with Broad Green Pictures.  And, as we reported last June, his company Space Rocket is producing the Maniac Cop remake written by Ed Brubaker, which began filming last summer.

We'll have more news as we find it, sparse as it may be in the lead-up to its release.

In the meantime, Brubaker highlighted a few articles about the new series, including an AV Club article that mentions some high hopes for the series, that it might become "the Miami Vice of the new millennium."  

And he writes that he laughed pretty hard at the Screen Rant headline:

Ed Brubaker & Drive Director Team For Amazon TV Series

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Wednesday, February 01, 2017

Today: Image Day, with the Return of Planetoid!

Undoubtedly, there has never been a better time to be the writer, artist, or reader of creator-owned comics.  There are great titles to be found from other publishers -- including Dark Horse and IDW -- but we think it's clear that Image Comics has become the premier publishing house for creators.  Image is also the home for the creator-owned collaborations of Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips, with their flexible five-year deal; the debuts of Fatale, The Fade Out, and Kill Or Be Killed; a new hardcover edition of Scene of The Crime; and reprints and new stories from our all-time favorite series, Criminal.

(And that's to say nothing of Velvet, Brubaker's other creator-owned title with longtime collaborator Steve Epting.)

Today, the publisher is celebrating the exact 25th anniversary of its founding with Image Day, with events all across the Anglosphere, from the British Isles to Australia, and coast-to-coast in North America.

As we previously reported, Image Comics is producing fifteen variant covers this month, in which current titles honor memorable covers from other works.  Eleven of the 15 covers were revealed in the original, January 13th press release -- including Sean Phillips' homage of The Walking Dead #1, for this month's Kill Or Be Killed #6 -- and last week, Image announced the "final four" covers, including a Manifest Destiny to one of our other favorite titles, Chew.

Even without a new issue from Brubaker and Phillips and without any extraordinary events at our own local shop, we find that there are plenty of reasons to visit the shop today, on New Comic Book Day.

We hope everyone is finding comic books that are worth the cover price, particularly those that most fully express the creators' vision -- and most fully benefit them financially.  This week, we're most excited about Planetoid: Praxis, continuing one of my all-time favorite sci-fi books, created by Ken Garing and published by Image.



A six-page preview is available online, at the Image website.

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