Tuesday, November 24, 2015

The Fade Out #11 In Stores This Week -- and Volume 3 in February.

The penultimate chapter of The Fade Out is upon us, and we see that Comic Book Resources just posted a three-page preview of the issue, where "All the threads of the mystery come together, as Charlie and Gil barrel headfirst towards trouble!"

Two weeks back, Elizabeth Breitweiser's husband -- and comic artist -- Mitch Breitweiser tweeted that they already got their comp copies, and he writes, "It's the best comic you'll read all year, no doubt."  The issue will reach retail stores tomorrow.

In the meantime, we've been keeping an eye out for news on the next project by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips, and we saw that, last week, Image Comics released its February solicitations.  There's nothing new yet, but we did notice the third and final trade paperback collection for The Fade Out -- once again, the price is discounted compared to the monthly issues, and this time the cover features a green logo over the cover art for issue #9

The Fade Out Act Three is scheduled to arrive on February 3rd.

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Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Fatale: The Deluxe Volume 2 In Stores Today -- and the Train Keeps Moving!

Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips' comic-book collaborations continue to be re-released in deluxe editions -- oversized, hardcover volumes with loads of extra content -- and today sees the release of the second and final deluxe volume of Fatale, their centuries-spanning mashup of noir and Lovecraftian horror.  From Image Comics' Twitter feed, we see Flipgeeks has provided an extensive review of the collection, praising it in comparison to the first volume as "bigger, better, and mind-blowing due to its size and scope."

Brubaker confirms the reviewers' estimation -- it's better than the previous volume --  and has retweeted a few images of the content from Sean Phillips, especially for those readers who have been waiting (somewhat understandably) for the deluxe hardcovers and pestering Brubaker about it for the past year.

Aside from single-issue stories -- mostly for DC Comics, along with this year's Special Edition one-shot for Criminal -- the only work not yet collected in a deluxe edition is the twelve-issue series currently in progress, The Fade Out.

(About those random issues from DC, I think they would be smart to collect those in a deluxe hardcover along with Batman: Gotham Noir, the story Brubaker wrote for Batman: Black & White, the story Phillips drew for the same anthology, and other assorted rarities.)

As we approach the last two issues of The Fade Out, Sean Phillips has treated us with an advance look of the bonus artwork for issue #11, a painting of the great Robert Mitchum.

On Twitter, Phillips explains that it's for the concluding essay on drug use in Hollywood, provides a look at how the painting will appear on the printed page, and reminds us of his artwork from the early days of Criminal, accompanying an essay by Brubaker on a classic noir starring Mitchum:  a blast from the past, Out of the Past.

The Moving Finger writes and, having writ, moves on! -- and early last week, Sean Phillips tweeted that he has started on the twelfth and final issue of The Fade Out.
Will this, their most successful series, be collected in a deluxe hardcover edition?  Undoubtedly:  we have no inside information, but we can be confident that we'll see a deluxe version of The Fade Out, presumably as a single volume.  Hopefully, Image Comics will also reprint the deluxe editions of Criminal and Incognito (and trades of the latter), and I wouldn't be surprised if The Fade Out is also collected in an omnibus trade paperback, since -- like Watchmen -- it tells a self-contained story in twelve issues.

How soon could we expect the deluxe version of The Fade Out?  Fatale #10 came out in November, 2012, and the first deluxe volume collecting the first ten issues was released in March, 2014, sixteen months later; the series wrapped up in July, 2014, and the concluding deluxe volume is out today, again sixteen months later.  With The Fade Out concluding in December, we should probably not expect a deluxe collection until April, 2017.

In the meantime, there's plenty to read.

Fans of Velvet -- and those who haven't picked up Brubaker's spy comic -- should check out a feature at Image Comics' website, focusing on the series' setting and tone:
"If you like your espionage tales to have a measured pace with surprising eruptions of violence, if you like your heroes competent and inexorably driven toward their goal, if you like stories that take full advantage of their setting in order to build up a level of tension and mood that can't be beaten: you like VELVET."
...and, of course, there's the complete story of Josephine, the mysterious and cursed center of Fatale, and there are loads of bonus features to read in the two deluxe editions collecting her story, both out now.

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Wednesday, November 04, 2015

Recommended Reading

We have a couple interesting links this week, highlighted in bold.

As we reported last week, Velvet #12 is in stores today. Comic Book Resources just posted a four-page preview for part two of "The Man Who Stole the World," the third arc in Ed Brubaker, Steve Epting, and Elizabeth Breitweiser's retro spy thriller.

We've earlier reported on Sean Phillips' continued work with the Criterion Collection, and through Twitter, Sean pointed out a brief piece in American Illustration - American Photography, profiling the Criterion Collection's art director Eric Skillman.  He mentions his "incredibly fruitful collaborations" with Phillips and other artists, and the profile (and the re-tweeted Tweet) highlights Phillips' moody cover for On The Waterfront.

Through its own Twitter account, the Criterion Collection also recently highlighted a story by The Paris Review.  Criterion's art directors walk through the process of creating the cover art and packaging for the series, in a story prompted by last year's release of the coffee-table book Criterion Designs, released for the company's thirtieth anniversary.  Phillips isn't singled out here, but the piece is definitely worth reading for those who appreciate the work behind the company's high-quality home-video releases of acclaimed films.

And, I noticed last week the release of a magazine-sized variant for another Image Comics debut, The Witch written by Greg Rucka, who co-created Gotham Central with Ed Brubaker.  With its extra-large size, unique cover art, and loads of bonus content for the premium price, the variant very much resembles the magazine-sized variants for The Fade Out #1 and the Criminal Special Edition.

The incident in the issue is a fairly self-contained introduction to what is obviously a much larger story, and I thought it was a good read that would probably be appealing to quite a few fans of Fatale and Gotham Central, especially fans of the character of Renee Montoya from the latter.

(Still, it doesn't hold a candle to the Criminal one-shot's magazine variant, which remains the single best comic book I've read in ages.  I wouldn't be surprised if it's nominated for multiple Eisners next year, including Best Single Issue and Best Publication Design.)

I haven't seen any comparisons online to the Brubaker/Phillips magazine variants, but writer Greg Rucka and artist Nicola Scott are featured in an interview at the Image Comics website, and Rucka is an another interview at Comics Bulletin.

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Wednesday, October 28, 2015

What's Next?

We're in the home stretch for The Fade Out:  the tenth issue arrived in stores last week, so all that remains is the penultimate issue and the grand finale, between which we plan a month's worth of posts to look back on this, Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips' period piece set in the golden age of Hollywood Babylon.

What next?  In the back pages of The Fade Out #10, Brubaker assured readers that this series is reaching its planned end, as sales have been "our best ever, with very little drop-off between issues," and he immediately hinted about the future.
"I hope this trend continues with our next project, because as soon as we finish, we're jumping right into the next thing as usual... So keep your eyes peeled, and stick around.  Me and Sean and Bettie aren't going anywhere."
There wasn't anything in Image's January solicitations, but we expect to hear the announcement sooner rather than later -- maybe in time for The Fade Out #11? is that why we had this hint in issue #10? -- and we'll be sure to cover the news here.

Until then, Sean Phillips is publishing preview art of The Fade Out, both in pencils and inks...


News in the last month had me wondering whether the new series would kick things off with a magazine-sized variant, like the debut issue to The Fade Out and the one-shot Criminal Special Edition.  On September 29th, covering the Diamond Retailer Summit, Publishers Weekly reported, "Image’s director of retail sales Corey Murphy drew applause at the panel when she announced that Image will no longer be doing variant covers."

And yet, on October 14th, Image itself announced a variant cover for The Wicked + The Divine, and then the January solicitations contained variants a-plenty.

The writer seemed to miss a key detail that what Image Comics is ending isn't variant covers in general, but a type of variant covers in particular:  retailer-exclusive variant covers for monthly issues.  In an interview with Bleeding Cool published last week, publisher Eric Stephenson elaborates that Image will still offer promotional giveaways at particular events and even retailer-exclusive variants for collected editions -- for trades, not "floppies."

So we may continue to see the magazine-sized variants for special issues -- and I hope we do, since they have been so striking, especially Criminal's cover-to-cover pastiche of classic Conan comics -- but, so long as Brubaker and Phillips remain at Image and this policy is in place, we may not see any additional retailer-exclusive variants, and the two retailer exclusives for The Fade Out #1 may turn out to be a one-time thing.


Coinciding with the Lakes International Comic Art Festival, Sean Phillips curated an exhibit of album covers created by comic artists, and the PHONO+GRAPHIC exhibition closed last week in Kendal, England.  On Twitter, Phillips hints that the exhibit may be touring other venues, and in the meantime he pointed readers to a BBC story on the exhibit, featuring a closer look at albums from artists including David Bowie and Johnny Cash.


Finally, there's news for us fans of Brubaker's other current creator-owned title, Velvet, which features art by Steve Epting:  according to both ComicList's ever-changing preview of next week's releases and its permanent record of its 10/28 extended forecast for Image Comics, the retro spy series returns next week with the long-awaited Velvet #12.

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Wednesday, October 21, 2015

THE FADE OUT #10 Preview Online and In Stores Today!

Confirming what we reported last week, yesterday Comic Book Resources posted a five-page preview of the tenth issue for The Fade Out, and Ed Brubaker relays that the issue is out today "in the best comics shops in the world."

This chapter of the sprawling noir mystery is titled "Where Angels Fear to Tread," which matches the title of a 1905 E.M. Forster novel but may be more directly an allusion to the original line by Alexander Pope, "For fools rush in where angels fear to tread."

The phrase hints at both the recklessness of the story's central characters and the danger they face as a result.  I think it's very unlikely they'll navigate the treacherous waters and find a happy ending on the other side.

And for Charlie, at least, the story's setting of debauchery and political intrigue is receding in importance, as his quest is driven by much more personal stakes.

It's probably too soon to look past The Fade Out, but it is worth noting that Image Comics released its January solicitations yesterday, and there were no listings for Brubaker or Phillips.  The convention season for Image Comics recently ended with the conclusion of the New York Comic Con on October 11th, and that was probably the last obvious venue for announcing the next Brubaker-Phillips collaboration.

Here's hoping that the announcement comes sooner rather than later, and we'll be sure to pass along any news as we see it; in the meantime, we'll be taking a closer look at The Fade Out as it cuts to black, and we'll also relay when Brubaker's other series Velvet returns to the stands.

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Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Bullets: THE FADE OUT Finale, Sean Phillips in Kendal, and More!

Been a couple weeks, so let's get right to it!

• The Fade Out Finale, Scheduled for December.  When we noted the latest releases of The Fade Out -- the ninth monthly issue and the second trade paperback collection -- we missed the other big news for the noir series:  Image's December solicitations have been released, and they include the series finale, The Fade Out #12.

THE FADE OUT #12 (OF 12)
DECEMBER 16 / 40 PAGES / FC / M / $3.99 
It all ends here! The dramatic wrap-up to the mystery and to Brubaker and Phillips’ bestselling and most ambitious project yet!
We previously speculated that the series would run 12 issues, but we believe that this is the first time the series has been presented as a 12-issue mini-series:  this solicitation is the first to list a release as issue X "(of 12),"and it does so with the 12th and final issue.

The finale is scheduled to be released on December 16th, and projections at ComicList do point to the series' home stretch arriving on time.  The site doesn't offer permalinks for its lists of weekly arrivals, but as of right now, the site's list for next week includes The Fade Out #10 -- copies of which Sean Phillips just received, confirming next week's arrival -- and its more persistent link for a recent extended forecast for Image Comics has all of the remaining issues coming out on their original solicitation dates.
10/21/15 The Fade Out #10
11/18/15 The Fade Out #11
12/16/15 The Fade Out #12
We've thoroughly enjoyed the series, with its sprawling cast being contained to a quite specific setting and the story being driven by the first issue's murder and cover-up.  We're considering doing what we did with the conclusion of Fatale:  after the release of the series' penultimate issue, we may look back with thirty days of short blog posts.

And we'll be sure to keep an eye out for what's coming next from Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips.

• Sean Phillips at the Lakes International Comic Art Festival.  We've noted Phillips' prior appearances at the prominant festival hosted annually in Kendal, England:  he appeared with Ed Brubaker in 2013, and then he created artwork with Rian Hughes in a burlesque-inspired event in 2014.  We've also already noted that, this year, Phillips is curating the PHONO+GRAPHIC exhibition of record covers created by comic artists.

The arts festival is this weekend, and Sean Phillips has announced that his only signing session will be this Saturday, from 11 am to 1 pm local time.  He also posted some striking images of the exhibit, which now features 61 record covers; the exhibit opened earlier this month and runs for another week, closing on October 20th.

Sean Phillips also recently blogged that some of his original art is being included in an auction organized by the Lakes International Comic Art Festival, to be held on November 24th at Orbital Comics in London.

The auction includes a "one-off digital print" titled "Bring Me Sunshine," part a series of postcards commissioned by the festival.  Created by "seven leading illustrators," the series is titled "Wish You Were Here – Postcards from the Edge of Reality."

...and fans of Fatale should note that Phillips' other contribution to the auction is the original cover art for the third trade paperback collection, West of Hell.

The auction also includes work by Frank Quitely, Jeff Smith, Dave Gibbons, Charlie Adlard, and Ed Brubaker's Deadenders collaborator Warren Pleece -- and Sean Phillips reminds fans that, if you can't attend in person, you can bid online.

• ...and Darwyn Cooke at Lakes International.  Sean Phillips isn't the only famous colleague of Ed Brubaker's who's making an appearance in Kendal.  Darwyn Cooke will be there, in what is evidently his first UK appearance and hot on the heels of this week's debut of The Twilight Children, his four-part Vertigo mini-series written by Gilbert Hernandez.  He'll introduce the New Frontier animated film adaptation and be the featured guest at an event focusing on his artwork, and Sean Phillips tweeted that Cooke has produced an "exclusive gorgeous, giclee" of Sean Connery's James Bond.

The limited-edition artwork is available from the festival's online store, along with two prints by Sean Phillips, the cover art to The Fade Out #8 and a monochrome "Hollywoodland" giclee featuring three of the main characters from The Fade Out.

• Other Work by Sean Phillips for the BBC.  Last year, we reported that Sean Phillips had produced artwork advertising BBC Radio 4's adaptation of Good Omens, a humorous 1990 novel by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman, and Phillips has recently announced that a tee-shirt featuring his art of Neil Gaiman is still available online, benefiting the Alzheimer’s Association.  The shirt is available at TeeFury, in multiple sizes and colors.

More recently, Phillips created artwork for BBC Radio 4's Woman's Hour, featuring portraits of the five women who were guest editors during the program's Takeover Week in September.  He's posted the final digital images and a few of the original hand-drawn pieces.

• Recommended Reading.  Finally, there are a few pieces we've stumbled across online that our readers might find interesting.  First, Michael Mann recently spoke at the Toronto International Film Festival on the 20th(!) anniversary of what is one of our all-time favorite films, Heat. Uproxx has posted a nice, meaty retrospective on the epic crime story, reporting on Mann's appearance and elaborating on the enduring appeal of "A movie that was made by thinking hard about who the characters were and what they should do, shot in as straightforward a manner as possible."

And, The Weekly Standard has an essay on Dashiell Hammett, the mystery writer who has a (fictionalized) cameo in The Fade Out #6.  In reviewing the new book The Lost Detective, by Nathan Ward, the essay recounts the writer's life and politics, concluding that Hammett was a complicated man and most prominently a "genius writer who created an entirely new way of talking about urban America."

I wonder what writers like Hammett would say if they knew that the torch of noir and crime fiction is being carried with aplomb by comic-book creators like Ed Brubaker, Sean Phillips, and Darwyn Cooke.

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Wednesday, September 16, 2015

THE FADE OUT Issue #9 and Volume 2 In Stores Today!

Ed Brubaker confirms what Sean Phillips suspected when he got his comp copies last week, that the latest issue and trade paperback of The Fade Out are both in stores this week, beginning today.

The Fade Out Act 2 collects issues #5-8 and, like the first collection, it retails for a little less than the total price of the monthly issues, albeit without the excellent back matter.  Comicosity includes the book in this week's "Trade Waiting" feature, which highlights five new collections each week, and a tweet from Pulp Fiction Comics shows that the book has a striking blue spine that complements the red spine from Act 1.

The Fade Out #9 begins Act 3, and Comic Book Resources just posted a four-page preview.  The text description appears to be for Mark Kidwell's zombie comic '68, but the preview images are correct.

New readers can quickly catch up with the series, as the danger continues to heat up.

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