Wednesday, May 30, 2018

New Undertow Podcast, New Kill Or Be Killed, and More.

We've been swamped in real life, but we would be remiss not to note a few things today, however briefly.
  1. Episode 23 of The Undertow Podcast was just released last week, with Robert reviewing Kill Or Be Killed #18.
  2. Kill Or Be Killed #19 is out today, and Image Comics has a five-page preview.
  3. Also out today is Where We Live, an anthology raising money for victims of last year's mass murder in Las Vegas.  Sean Phillips contributes to the book, and on Twitter he shared a few pages of his artwork.
  4. Finally, one of my favorite crime writers, Lawrence Block, is coming to comics:  his 1982 novel Eight Million Ways to Die is being adapted by John K. Snyder III, to be published by IDW on June 20th. 
The novel features Block's ex-cop Matthew Scudder, portrayed by Liam Neeson in 2014's movie adaptation of 1992's A Walk Among the Tombstones (reprinted by Hard Case Crime), and CBR has an extensive preview of Eight Million Ways to Die, with in-process art and commentary by Snyder.

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Friday, April 27, 2018

The Fade Out Single-Volume Softcover -- and More Kill Or Be Killed?

With the new issue of Kill Or Be Killed, we got some news on what comes next.  We still have other news we'd like to cover, but they'll have to wait -- hopefully not too long.

The Fade Out returns to stores this fall, perhaps October or November, this time in a single-volume trade paperback.

We guess that, around the same time of this new collection, we'll see the sequel to The Fade Out, as the team's next monthly title.


While we were finishing our most recent blog post, Ed Brubaker was sending out his latest email newsletter, the first in just over four months.  There's a ton worth reading there, in addition to an extended, five-page preview of the new issue, KOBK #18.

Revealing nothing else about the upcoming project, Brubaker writes, "today I will finally be reading the script for the KILL OR BE KILLED movie adaptation."

He also briefly mentions Too Old To Die Young -- now at the midpoint of its ten-month shoot, "which is I believe the longest shoot ever for a ten episode show with a single director" -- and he directs readers to the show's Instagram feed, which is now quite active. 

And he addresses a reader's question on the changing (and possibly declining) retail market of local comic stores, in a slightly longer answer than what he gave in the back pages of the new issue.

(In the email and in print, he concludes the mini-essay in almost exactly the same way, assuring readers, "Sean and I will keep doing our books as long as people keep buying them... And I hope that’s at least another decade or two.")

The biggest reveal is about this new single-volume softcover for The Fade Out.
I've been researching and planning for a new book, a follow-up to THE FADE OUT for the past six months or so, and I'm happy to announce that in the fall (in time for Christmas shopping even) we'll be releasing a complete edition of THE FADE OUT in paperback. This will collect all 12 chapters under one cover, and a lot of extra stuff, as well... 
This should be out in October or November this year, and I just love this cover Sean did. So keep your eyes peeled and tell your retailers if you want it.  
We previously reported, from his December newsletter, research into the 1950's and television's early golden age for the unconventional sequel to The Fade Out, and, in a subsequent interview, Sean Phillips revealed that this would be the first of two follow-up stories set in the same fictional universe.

If the team's next monthly title starts no earlier than October, it will presumably carry over into the new year.  We seriously doubt Ed Brubaker would commence lengthy research, at the end of 2017, for a book to be created in 2019 or later, so we think it's very reasonable to conclude that their next monthly title is this first follow-up to The Fade Out.

Since this new single-volume trade paperback would be a great way to promote the new series, we'd further speculate that the new title's first issue will come out no more than a month afterward -- and perhaps as early as the very same day.

But even apart from that, we're thrilled to see the story collected as the single graphic novel which it comprises, in an softcover edition presumably priced for a wider readership.

And while the choice of characters and their position is a bit surprising, Ed Brubaker is quite right that the new cover is gorgeous, as is the new design for the title.


In the newsletter, Ed Brubaker also writes about the project preceding this next monthly title.
As I mentioned in the recent issue's text pages, KILL OR BE KILLED is ending with issue 20 and we'll be announcing our next thing very soon (you'll in fact probably hear of it in issue 20 or this newsletter first). I already have said before one of the things Sean and I have started working on is an OGN - which will be an original hardback, novella length. But I don't want to reveal anything more about it yet.
We're looking forward to the announcement.


And, in the back pages of KOBK 18, Ed Brubaker drops one more bit of interesting news.
...I think it's been announced already, but some of you may have missed that issue 20 is our final issue (for now, at least).  This arc is actually where a lot of the threads come together, as you'll see the next three [sic] issues.  We may return to KILL OR BE KILLED at some point down the line, but it's time to move on to other stuff.  We have two new things coming out later this year -- first an OGN hardback and then the launch of our next monthly serialized thing.  I'll have more information about this stuff in issue 20.
The planned film adaptation would presumably be limited to this first volume of twenty issues, and we're quite intrigued about the possibility of returning to this world. 

Dylan's story might not end in June -- and even if it does, we may not have seen the last of that demon.

Either way, we do look forward to "another decade or two" from Brubaker and Phillips, reading whatever stories they'd like to tell.

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Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Bullets: New Kill Or Be Killed, New Undertow Podcast, New Edition of Sleeper, and News on Maniac Cop!

Regular readers know the drill:  a new podcast, a new issue from Brubaker and Phillips, and an online preview.

Details are below.

• Undertow Podcast 22 on Kill Or Be Killed 17.  A new episode of The Undertow Podcast was recently released, with a focus on the most recent issue of Kill Or Be Killed.  We covered a few recent news items, specifically the June solicitation for the KOBK finale (which we blogged about last month) and confirmation of the Maniac Cop reboot (covered below).

Robert and I also had some very unconventional recommendations.  We'll come back to those at the end of this post.

As always, The Undertow Podcast is available on iTunes and at Podbean.  We GREATLY appreciate our listeners' giving us feedback and letting others know about the show. 

• Kill Or Be Killed 18 In Stores Today.  Just yesterday, Image Comics updated its page for KOBK 18 by adding a three-page preview.  As shown above, the issue's apparent first page provides a more naturalistic reiteration of the striking cover art, which we now know features the slain body of the copycat vigilante.

This new issue is in stores today, and it seems to feature the return of Detective Lily Sharpe.  We wonder if her investigation of the copycat leads her back to Dylan -- that person of interest she saw at Rex's funeral -- and to his current predicament in a mental institution outside of the city.

One thing we do know, from a tweet from Kim Morgan ten days back, is that the bonus essay is on the 1949 film Too Late For Fears, "one of Lizabeth Scott's greatest roles."  The essay includes a moody illustration from Jacob Phillips, shown below.

• Sleeper Book  In Stores Today.  Serendipitously, KOBK isn't the only new book from Brubaker and Phillips.  From DC Comics, there's the softcover Sleeper Book One, which features what I would classify as the team's first major collaboration -- and it's their only series that has been work-for-hire rather than creator-owned.

Advanced solicited back in December, the book now features a "WildStorm Classic" trade dress, and while the book certainly qualifies as a classic for that larger superhero universe, we also found it to be a remarkably self-contained story. 

The series has been reprinted a few times, along with the prelude story Point Blank, with art by Colin Wilson (though using Sean Phillips' design for the protagonist Holden Carver).
  • Originally, the 2003-2005 series was collected in four 6-issue trade paperbacks, with the Point Blank TPB being treated as a separate work. 
  • In 2009, the series was collected in two 12-issue TPB's -- Season One and Season Two (for volume two, issues 1-12, with a newly collected Coup D'Etat prologue) -- and Point Blank was officially repackaged as a separate prelude story.
  • In 2013, everything was collected in a single, 720-page hardcover omnibus.
Book One collects Point Blank and Season One, and we're sure that there will be a Book Two to complete the series.

I would have guessed that this new trade collection was a bare-bones combination of the two 2009 trade paperbacks, but I've confirmed that includes a few additional features, including an old essay by Brubaker and the complete set of issue-one layouts from Phillips.

Though at some point even we are loathe to collect every new printing of a Brubaker/Phillips work, we're happy to see that the series remains popular enough to justify a new printing every half-decade.

Its super-powered trappings perhaps make it the most accessible Brubaker-Phillips story for fans of the "Big Two" publishers, and fans of the pair's more recent, creator-owned crime comics should definitely check out Sleeper.  I think it's still one of their best works, and I know readers won't be disappointed.

• Exclusive Sleeper print -- and Auctioned Original Artwork! -- at OK Comics.  It'w worth a separate bullet to note that Leeds' OK Comics announced an exclusive print by Sean Phillips, to accompany their copies of the Sleeper Book One softcover.  The print is evidently limited to 50 copies and is signed by the artist.

The online pre-order page hasn't yet been updated, so it's possible the book and print can still be ordered online.

Even better, the page mentions that every order comes with an opportunity to place a blind bid for the print's original artwork from Sean Phillips, signed and framed.

• Maniac Cop Reboot Still Underway.  As we mentioned on the podcast, Birth.Movies.Death. published part of a conversation with director John Hyams on the subject of the Maniac Cop remake, in response to last year's comments from Larry Cohen, the writer of the original cult classic.  Along with some _very_ critical comments about the new screenplay by Ed Brubaker, Cohen made clear his belief that the remake was dead, but Hyams flatly contradicted the assertion.

In short, "it is going to happen."

More specifically, the remake is going to happen after Hyams' eight-episode series in development for Netflix and Too Old To Die Young, the Amazon series now in production from the remake's writer Brubaker and its producer Nicolas Winding Refn.

• Online Curiosities.  Podcast listeners will find that Robert and I had a few, somewhat unusual recommendations this month -- online gems that deserve wider recognition -- and I'd like to close this post with the relevant links.
  • Cocaine and Rhinestones is what Robert recommended, "the podcast about the History of Country Music."  It's about the truth "that country music is wild and it is amazing because the people who made it were wild and they were amazing."
  • The Auralnauts and their heavily remixed Star Wars Saga was my long-form recommendation.  Not officially part of the three-hour playlist is a Youth Biology PSA featuring their alternate-dimension take on the droids as "mentally unstable sociopaths."
  • A mash-up music video from the mysterious YouTube user Isosine is my short-form recommendation:  its brilliance can hardly be described.  It's a perfect earworm, and it's almost impossible to shake it off.

We actually have much, much more to cover here on the blog, but perhaps we'll get to the other items later this week.

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Wednesday, March 21, 2018

KILL OR BE KILLED: New Issue Out Today, Final Issue Out in June.

Image Comics' June solicitations evidently came out over the weekend, and -- as Kevin Sels points out on Twitter -- Sean Phillips reposted the relevant info for Kill Or Be Killed, his latest collaboration with Ed Brubaker.

(I thought I had searched for the solicits earlier this week and came up empty-handed, but evidently not.)

The big news is that issue #20, due June 27, is described as the "grand finale" to the entire, ongoing series, and it promises to contain "all the answers" to the book's most pressing questions:
Will Dylan find a way to live his secret life as a vigilante, or will he throw away the mask? And was there ever really a demon, or is he just crazy? And will he (or any of us) get out alive?

On the official Twitter feed for The Undertow Podcast, Robert points out that the series' final cover is an impressive homage or allusion to John Romita Sr.'s famous cover for The Amazing Spider-Man #50, the fifty(-one)-year-old story, "Spider-Man No More!"

The series' impending end was recently announced in a January interview with Phillips and then confirmed by Brubaker in the back pages of February's issue #16, and this still seems sudden.   I was expecting a "final arc" leading up to this concluding issue, and it may be worthwhile to look back at how the end to other recent books were announced, specifically Fatale and The Fade Out.

We're curious how the story ends, and we may not be the only ones.  Despite joking, "They all live happily ever after!" Phillips consoles fan Fee McBee, whose Twitter feed is worth a follow.
"It’ll be fine. Probably. I’ve no idea how it ends."
Replying to one of many laments for the series' end, Phillips hints at the upcoming schedule, writing, "We’ll be back with something new in October."

In the meantime, we have a new issue of KOBK reaching stores today, following a the release of a three-page preview online.   It's available in a standard cover, shown above, AND in the striking virgin wraparound cover announced in February.

Oblivious to the trouble that's heading his way, seen in last month's cliffhanger ending(s), Dylan's getting ready to mete out justice to "Perry the orderly," this time trading his menacing ski mask for a warm cardigan.

Kill Or Be Killed #17 is out today, with the concluding issue #20 just three months out.

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Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Undertow Podcast 21 on Kill Or Be Killed 16.

A new episode of The Undertow Podcast was released this weekend:  in episode 21, Robert and I focused on the latest issue of Kill Or Be Killed -- namely, issue 16, released this past Valentine's Day shortly after Undertow episode 20.

As always, Robert and I had a blast recording the episode, and listeners can find the podcast on iTunes and at Podbean.

At the end of the episode, we both had a few musical recommendations, with Robert recommending Bruce Springsteen's understated 1982 album Nebraska as I focused on The Breeder's hit album from 1993, Last Splash.

I loved the Last Splash singles when I first heard them in high school, but I didn't "get" the album when I got the CD from a used bookstore.  I finally connected with the deep cuts -- understanding the album as a whole, and falling head over heels -- last year, when my high-school reunion prompted a review of all my old music from the 90's.

I since found more obscure songs on YouTube and tracked down an import copy of the album's 20th anniversary 3-disc rerelease ("LSXX"), for which the Last Splash lineup reunited in 2013.  That lineup has released a new album this month -- their first since Last Splash, and the first for the Kim Deal-led band in ten years -- and All Nerve is really, really good.

(My favorite track is one I hope gets some play at baseball stadiums this year, ironically or otherwise:  SPACEWOMAN.)

I mention that, like another upcoming recommendation, The Breeders' Last Splash-era music rewards listening at multiple levels:  the singles are perfect gems of pop music, the album has a great groove blending punk and surf music, and the rare tracks include some great covers, including songs from The Who, Aerosmith, and (in a live version of a track from their debut Pod) The Beatles.

A few B-sides have their English bassist Josephine Wiggs singing lead vocals, and that's just about the only proper preparation one can have for the All Nerve track MetaGoth.

And any fan of Last Splash simply must check out All Nerve.

For our listeners who may not be all that familiar with The Breeders, here are the music videos from the Last Splash era, including songs (and versions) that can still ALL be found on LSXX.

  • "Cannonball," their first single from Last Splash and their biggest hit, reaching #2 on Billboard's Hot Modern Rock Tracks in the U.S.
  • "Divine Hammer," the single version
  • "Saints," another single version, released in the subsequent Head to Toe EP
  • "Safari," the title track from the Safari EP, released the year before Last Splash, with a guitar solo by Tanya Donelly, who would soon lead the band Belly
  • "Shocker in Gloomtown," also from 1994's Head To Toe, a cover of a short, fast song by the obscure but prolific band Guided by Voices, another band hailing from Dayton, Ohio.
I warn you, these songs have a way of getting stuck in one's head.

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Saturday, March 03, 2018

May Solicitations, Other Phillips Projects, and a Behind-the-Scenes Video!

Kill Or Be Killed #16 came out two weeks ago, and in the back pages Ed Brubaker confirmed what Sean Phillips had previously mentioned in a video interview, describing the team's upcoming schedule in very broad strokes.

Mentioning that the team starts a new project every year or two, Brubaker confirmed that KOBK "does have an ending coming up," and he wrote that -- "right now" -- the team is working on an even shorter project, a "novella OGN" (original graphic novel) to be released later this year.

We were wondering if this year's Image Expo might shed some more light on at least one of the upcoming projects from Brubaker & Phillips, but evidently not.  Instead, all of last week's news was to be found in the May solicitations.

First up is Kill Or Be Killed #19, described as the fourth arc's finale and featuring rather psychedelic colors in Sean Phillips' cover portraying Dylan, still institutionalized but wielding deadly force.

We're also surprised to see Sean Phillips' name in the list of credits for Where We Live, a 256-page anthology about last year's mass shooting in Las Vegas.  All the creators donated their time and effort to the book, and all proceeds are going to a fundraising campaign for survivors.

Both books are scheduled for a May 30th release.

We have some details on a few other projects for Phillips.  A few weeks back, we highlighted an interview where the artist mentioned research on World War I, and we guessed (wrongly) that it related to the upcoming graphic novella that Ed Brubaker is writing.  On Twitter, the great Kevin Sels filled us in on what the work is for, a collaboration with crime writer Ian Rankin for an anthology commemorating the centenary of the armistice that ended WWI.

(Thanks, Kevin!)

Here's how the official press release describes the book.
Traces of the Great War is an ambitious anthology of new illustrated short stories by internationally acclaimed comic book artists, graphic novelists and writers, all of which explore the continued relevance and resonance of the First World War and its aftermath in our lives today.
The book will debut in October, in England and in France -- in the former, at the Lakes International Comic Art Festival -- to be followed by touring exhibitions.

As this project was being discussed on social media, Sean Phillips elaborated that his contribution will be illustrating an eight-page story written by Rankin.

There's one more project we noticed over the last month, and we would be remiss not to mention Sean Phillips' latest contribution to film, creating the cover art for Arrow Academy's Blu-ray release of Smash Palace, a 1981 drama from New Zealand filmmaker Roger Donaldson.

Phillips posted some work-in-progress details online -- here, here, and here -- and Arrow Films has the completed cover, shown below.

We love seeing these pieces of work in-progress, but there's an even closer glimpse behind the scenes, in a rare video interview with Sean Phillips, at his home studio.

Just last week, the Japanese tech company Wacom posted this "artist profile," in part to highlight some of the tools he uses in his work.  The company specializes in graphics tablets, pens, and styluses, and -- quite justifiably -- they take great pride in the professionals who use their tools; the week prior, they posted a similar interview with Charlie Adlard.

Online, Phillips writes that the producers condensed "four hours of waffling" to produce this seven-minute video.  We see the artist work on the roommates' fight toward the end of KOBK #15 -- which probably places the interview around New Year's -- and walk through various files for another cover for Arrow Academy, The Hired Hand, a 1971 Western and directorial debut by Peter Fonda.

We see just how much Sean Phillips still uses a traditional approach even with the latest tools -- starting with a physical sketchbook and even using blue coloring for the page's initial sketches and reference images -- and Phillips showcases his favorite part of the job, the inexhaustible work of drawing people.  We see the emphasis not just on drawing, but on storytelling, as Phillips walks us through the books in his library and a few of the artists he loves.

It's great stuff and a must-watch for fans.

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Wednesday, February 14, 2018

KILL OR BE KILLED: New Undertow Podcast on #15 -- and #16 In Stores Now!

It's Valentine's Day, and comic fans can celebrate the holiday -- or ignore it entirely -- with a new Undertow Podcast and a new Kill Or Be Killed.

On Monday, episode 20 of The Undertow Podcast was released, with a focus on Kill Or Be Killed #15.  Robert and I also discuss the latest news about the future releases of Brubaker and Phillips -- the end of KOBK will evidently come later this year, preceding the follow-up to The Fade Out with a "romance comic" novella in between, which likely began its life as a Criminal story.

We both happened to recommend works from five years back.  Robert recommended a futuristic noir comic originally released online, The Private Eye by Brian K. Vaughan and Marcos Martin.  I recommended Locke, a film written and directed by Steven Knight and starring Tom Hardy -- almost entirely by himself, driving down an English highway as his life comes unglued.

I do think viewers should discover for themselves what's going on, with the central dilemma revealed very early on in the movie:  the trailer was more than enough to catch my attention.

On Tuesday, Image Comics released a three-page preview of Kill Or Be Killed #16.  The issue apparently begins with a true full-page splash page -- perhaps the first one of the series, without any white column of narration, with the iconic costume of the series' vigilante but without its being worn by our "hero" Dylan.

KOBK #16 is in stores today!

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