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 -- .

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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:

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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


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.


Monday, January 30, 2017

Bullets: Banana Pancakes and More!

The new issue of Kill Or Be Killed came out just last week, and we already have a few brief news items.

Store-Exclusive UK Variant for KOBK Volume 1.  We saw from a tweet from Big Bang Comics that, together with British store Forbidden Planet, the Irish comics retailer is selling an exclusive variant of Kill Or Be Killed Volume 1, with a signed bookplate.  It appears the variant cover is based on the first-printing cover for issue #2, and the bookplate is based on the second-printing cover for issue #1.  Forbidden Planet has the trade paperback available online for £9.99, and the description and preview images confirm that the bookplate is signed both by writer Ed Brubaker and by artist Sean Phillips.

• Preview Art for Issue #6.  As much as we obviously enjoy the books of Brubaker & Phillips, we were astounded how much we dug KOBK #5.  We can't wait to discuss the issue in The Undertow Podcast, but in the meantime we're already looking forward to the next issue, due February 15th.  Last Monday, Sean Phillips tweeted some work-in-progress artwork, and the following day he posted the complete artwork on his blog:  the illustration for the bonus article in issue #6, which essayist Kim Morgan explains is on the police drama Naked City, specifically a 1962 episode guest-starring Rip Torn and Tuesday Weld.

(Kim Morgan has one helluva Twitter handle, @SunsetGunShot.)

• Kill Or Be Killed #8 in April Solicts.  Image Comics' April solicitations for April 2017 were released last Wednesday, and the list of upcoming books includes KOBK #8:  "Dylan is being hunted by both the good guys and the bad guys, but his mission must go on, regardless."

The issue is scheduled for an April 26 release, the solicit is also featured on Sean Phillips' blog, and we're including the cover art below.

(Readers might also be interested in April's oversized hardcover collection of AD After Death, by Scott Snyder and Jeff Lemire.  Robert mentioned reading the book during our recommendations at the end of the December episode, and both of us at The Undertow Podcast have been thoroughly enjoying the book.)

• Fee McBee on Banana Pancakes.  Finally, we saw a quite amusing tweet from an online acquaintance -- and a writer and podcast host in her own right -- on a single panel from KOBK #5, reposted below.

Fee writes, "Pershing Square does the best banana pancakes."

Google relays that Pershing Square Cafe is a cafe restaurant located across from Grand Central Terminal, under its Park Avenue viaduct.  It serves breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner, and desserts, along with a bar menu, beer, and wine.

And for $17, they'll sell you traditional buttermilk and organic whole wheat pancakes, with 100% pure grade A maple syrup, blueberries, strawberries, banana, or chocolate chips.

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Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Now Online, UNDERTOW PODCAST #8 - Case File: Scene of the Crime!

Published just today is episode #8 of The Undertow Podcast, where we closely examine Scene of the Crime, the first collaboration between Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips in what has proven to be a long and productive partnership.

The book was created by Ed Brubaker and Michael Lark.  Lark would become another longtime artist for the writer in his transition from indie comics to superhero comics, for DC's Gotham Central and Marvel's Daredevil.  Here he did all the pencils, he inked issue #1 before recommending Sean Phillips to ink the rest of the series.

The title debuted in December, 1998, in the ten-page story "God & Sinners" in Winter's Edge #2, an annual publication by DC's Vertigo imprint used to feature upcoming titles and stories.  Scene of the Crime was first intended to be an ongoing series and then a sequence of mini-series, but ultimately it appeared in just a four-issue mini-series, containing the story "A Little Piece of Goodnight."

By the time Winter's Edge #3 was released in November, 1999, the creators were already moving on to other projects, going separate ways if only temporarily.  This third and final issue introduced writer Ed Brubaker's series Deadenders, his post-apocalyptic nod to "mod" with artist Warren Pleece, and it showed artist Michael Lark working on a Dead Boy Detectives title called Books of Magic, with writer Peter Gross.

The mini-series and its preceding short story were republished, first by DC in a bare-bones trade paperback in 2000 and then by Image in an deluxe, oversized hardcover in November, 2012.  Dropping the "Goodnight" title from the cover and introducing a few panels of new artwork, this new printing serves as the definitive version of the title.

Scene of the Crime was short-lived but significant -- confident, if a little wordy, in its telling of essentially two dark tragedies, the PI's backstory and the mystery he was investigating -- and it was a tremendous debut for the team of Brubaker & Phillips.

I believe that, in focusing on this book, we recorded our most interesting discussion yet.

As always, episodes are available on iTunes and Podbean.

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