Thursday, October 20, 2016

KILL OR BE KILLED: Volume 1 and Issue #5, Due in January.

Image Comics' solicitations for January 2017 were released Tuesday, Newsarama has the details, and we see that two Brubaker-Phillips books are scheduled for that month, following a quiet December.

More specifically, the first trade paperback collection and the subsequent monthly issue of Kill Or Be Killed are both scheduled for January 18th -- and the trade collection is bargain priced at $9.99, like most first volumes from Image.


JANUARY 18 / 120 PAGES / FC / M / $9.99

The darkly twisted story of a young man forced to kill bad people, and how he struggles to keep his secret as it slowly begins to ruin his life and the lives of his friends and loved ones. Both a thriller and a deconstruction of vigilantism, KILL OR BE KILLED is unlike anything this award-winning team has done before.

Collects KILL OR BE KILLED #1-4


JANUARY 18 / 40 PAGES / FC / M / $3.99

BRUBAKER & PHILLIPS’ runaway bestseller just keeps going! Now that we've seen the origin of our killer, it's only a matter of time before the NYPD realizes they have a vigilante on their streets.

The first issue of this new arc releases the same day as the first KILL OR BE KILLED trade, and is a perfect jumping on point for readers who've missed out so far. And every issue has all the backpage extras that BRUBAKER & PHILLIPS fans have come to expect.

We find the list of reoffered books interesting:  the current printings of the previous issues of KOBK, the trade collections of Criminal and Fatale, and the deluxe editions of Scene of the Crime and The Fade Out.  The trade collections of the latter -- Acts One through Three -- aren't being reoffered, and that fits with the idea that the single-volume hardcover is the definitive collection.

(After those trades go out of print, we wouldn't be surprised if Image offers a standard-sized, paperback edition of the single-volume version, perhaps without the complete set of bonus features.  The book would be roughly the same length as Watchmen, to which we think The Fade Out compares quite well.)

On Twitter, Ed Brubaker explains the team's practice of publishing a trade collection on the same day as the next arc's first issue:  for the last 12 years(!), Brubaker and Phillips have been pretty consistent in producing 10 books a year, so they need only one month off between arcs.

Brubaker also relays that the individual issues continue to be immediate sellouts, so he urges readers to tell their retailers if they're having trouble finding the book, and he reminds retailers that
the final order cut-off (FOC) date is evidently this upcoming Monday, October 24th, for November's KOBK #4 and "new printings of 1 - 3." 

(This implies a second printing for KOBK #3, which is news to us.)

Brubaker also provided a look at Sean Phillips' full wraparound cover for KOBK Volume 1, which we're reprinting above, and following a compliment for the painted covers, the writer responded, "Wait until you see #6. It's even better."

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Friday, October 14, 2016

Bullets: An Interview, An Appearance, and Insight into The Fade Out.

One massive omnibus post wasn't enough to cover a very busy week, so here are a couple more brief notes.

• Brubaker Interview on Comics and Westworld.  Wednesday, the AV Club posted an extensive interview with Ed Brubaker.  The writer discusses the genesis of The Fade Out and the themes and dark humor of Kill Or Be Killed.  There are hints of where the story might go, but Brubaker didn't want to reveal upcoming twists and turns that were present in his "basic pitch" for the story.

He also discusses the challenges, research, and experimentation in the new series' claustrophobic visuals.  Sean Phillips' transition to digital artwork has resulted in much greater detail in the images, and Brubaker says the art improves upon the already high standard set by The Fade Out: it's an assessment we won't gainsay.

The writer also discusses the modern state of Hollywood, the value of multitasking in his career, and the lessons he has learned as a supervising producer for Westworld and in its writing room.

The whole thing is worth a read, and again Brubaker recommends the podcast on Hollywood history, You Must Remember This.

(And, we notice that the top photo was taken by his wife Melanie, and we can't remember the last time we've seen the writer without a hat on.)

• Sean Phillips at the Lakes Comic Art Festival.  We hate that we didn't mention this earlier in the week, but we would be remiss in highlighting what we only alluded to previously:  Sean Phillips is attending the Lakes International Comic Art Festival in Kendal, England, this weekend.

There, the artist is making available the festival-exclusive screenprint that we mentioned in September.  A signing is scheduled for Saturday, along with other events listed in the program guide, which will be followed by signings as time permits as well as on Sunday afternoon.  Kendal also sees the month-long return of the Phono+Graphic exhibition that Phillips curated for the previous year.

A local site has also published a brief guide with selected highlights.

• More Insight into The Fade Out.  We saw a couple more things this week about The Fade Out that we'd like to share.  First, our copy of the book's deluxe hardcover is still on its way, but we're guessing that we've seen a couple pages in Wednesday's AV Club interview we mentioned above.

The interview includes the following low-res image of Sean Phillips' familiar headshots for the graphic novel's "Cast of Characters," but it's neither the single-page version found in the monthly issues nor any of the lists of 14-16 characters found in the trade paperback collection.  We believe this is the final cast list for the deluxe edition.

The same day, we saw a conversation on Twitter about something even better:  info that evidently didn't make the deluxe edition.  Twitter user @EllusiveJ brought up the subject of comic creators' playlists, and Ed Brubaker mentioned a playlist that he wanted to include in The Fade Out, presumably the single-volume book.

He then took a screencap and posted "THE FADE OUT playlist," which we're reproducing below.

Brubaker explains that this playlist helped with writing the book: "It really helped set the tone, to know what they'd be hearing on the radio, etc."  We've already mentioned his earlier revelation that most of the book's chapter titles were taken from contemporary song lyrics, so we're curious what we'll find in these songs.

• Classic Movies Online, Classic Muppets on HBO.  Finally, a couple other news items that our readers might find interesting, not directly related to Brubaker and Phillips.

First, the New York Post has an article on FilmStruck, a new streaming channel being launched by Turner Classic Movies:  "Starting Oct. 19, for $6.99 a month you will be able to sample a library of hundreds of TCM films at a time, on a rotating basis, via an app that will initially be available only on the web, Amazon Fire, iOS and Android devices."

We're salivating already.

Second, regular viewers of Westworld have another reason to appreciate their subscription to HBO, especially if they're of a certain age or have young children.  Just this week, IndieWire reported that all 96 episodes of Jim Henson's Fraggle Rock will return to the channel by year's end, remastered in high definition.

Dance your cares away, worry's for another day...

(Now try getting that song out of your head.)

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Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Bullets: New Undertow Podcast, New Books This Week, New Incognito Screenwriter, and Much More!

A huge, huge post ahead!

• Undertow Podcast Episode 5, Now Online!  Just in time for this week's bundle of new books (see below), the latest episode of the Undertow Podcast is now online.  Robert and I talk about Kill Or Be Killed #2, along with news, the latest Criminal trade paperback, and some movie recommendations.

As always, the episode is available on iTunes and at Podbean.

• Brubaker Newsletter -- and The Fade Out, Kill Or Be Killed, and Batman In Stores Now!  Late yesterday, we received Ed Brubaker's seventh email newsletter (full archive here), in anticipation of quite a few books that arriving today.
  • The Fade Out Deluxe Edition Hardcover
  • Kill Or Be Killed #3
  • Kill Or Be Killed #2, 2nd printing
  • Kill Or Be Killed #1, 3rd printing
  • Batman By Ed Brubaker Volume 2 TPB
Quite literally the biggest book is The Fade Out -- the 400-page, complete and oversized hardcover edition collecting all 12 issues of Brubaker and Phillips' Eisner-winning noir set in Hollywood's golden age.

We've really been looking forward to this one, and Brubaker writes that, with minor tweaks and fifty pages of extra content, this is how the book was always meant to be read -- as a novel rather than a series, with details that reward a close rereading.

We also have the next issue of Kill Or Be Killed this week.  Yesterday, Image Comics posted a three-page preview, and Brubaker provides two more preview pages along with an in-progress page from the upcoming issue #4.

Ed Brubaker also suggests getting a copy early -- or calling your comic shop to reserve one -- since the first two issues were immediate sellouts.  Reprints of these issues also reach stores today, and Brubaker writes that he continues to be overwhelmed by the response from readers old and new:  "It's humbling as hell."

And there's one book that wasn't mentioned in the newsletter, and which wasn't on our radar until we saw the weekly release summary from ComicList:  Batman By Ed Brbuaker Volume 2.  The collection follows from the first volume released this past January, and it includes stories from ten issues -- Batman #598-607 -- for a retail price of $19.99.  It features chapters from the "Bruce Wayne: Murderer?" and "Fugitive" arcs, and since Batman #608 kicks off "Hush" -- the popular arc from Jeph Loeb and Jim Lee, which I think a little overrated -- this collection completes Brubaker's work writing for the Dark Knight's eponymous title.

Most notably, this collection includes Batman #603.  A fairly self-contained story within the "Fugitive" storyline, "The Turning Point" features artwork from Sean Phillips, and it is one of the earliest Brubaker-Phillips collaborations, preceded only by Scene of the Crime and Batman: Gotham Noir.

• New Screenwriter for Incognito Adaptation.  Also breaking late yesterday, The Hollywood Reporter exclusively announced a new writer for Sony's film adaptation of Brubaker and Phillips' "apocalyptic pulp noir" Incognito.  Daniel Casey is the new writer, and his sci-fi thriller Kin is now in production; Fede Alvarez is attached to direct following his Evil Dead remake and this summer's hit Don't Breathe.

Work on an Incognito adaptation has been in the news off-and-on since 2010, confirmed by Brubaker in 2012 (along with the possibility of more Incognito comics), and news about the director Fede Alvarez was leaked last year when plans were still floating around about Image republishing the series.  My bet is that the series' two arcs will be republished near the film's eventual release.

• Hard Case Crime Comics, Out Now.  Going back to comics, there was another couple titles we almost overlooked, the first two comic books from the the Hard Case Crime imprint, published by Titan Comics.

It's clear from this blog that we've long been a fan of Hard Case Crime, thanks especially to its back-page ads in the first few issues of Criminal, in 2006.  This new arrangement to produce comics makes sense, as Hard Case Crime has been working with Titan Publishing since Dorchester Publishing ceased production on mass-market paperbacks in 2010.

Still, I find it ironic on a personal level, since their inexpensive and always entertaining crime fiction made me reevaluate the value I was getting from most of my comic-book purchases.  But with that yellow ribbon -- the editor's "assurance of quality" -- I'm going to have to check these out.

The comics imprint was announced in July, with CBR publishing exclusive preview art.

[UPDATE, 9:00 pm: forgot about this interview]  In early August, Previews World published a brief interview with HCC editor Charles Ardai, who explains why readers should pick up HCC comics:  "Because a great crime story will knock you on your ass and take your breath away. Because these comics will be like nothing else out there."

The (UK) Guardian ran a story on the imprint in late September, quoting Ardai who was reading comics before getting into mystery books, and who says, "The sharp, tough, high-velocity stories we tell are a natural for the medium."  Ardai then joined some of the books' creators at this weekend's New York Comic Con,

The first book was released last week: Triggerman #1, from screenwriter and director Walter Hill and French comics writer Matz and artist Jef.  The book is described as a "hardboiled crime thriller set in the bullet-ridden streets of 1930s Chicago," and from CBR's disjointed five-page preview from September, we're reprinting one particularly striking variant cover above, evidently from artist Fay Dalton.

The second book is out today:  Peepland #1 from crime authors Christa Faust and Gary Phillips and artist Andrea Camerini.  The book is set in the red light district of Times Square in 1986, and September's five-page preview validates a review that Faust retweeted, rating this seedy book not with stars but with "a lifetime supply of germ-x and Lysol wipes."  In September, the writers were interviewed by Crime Fiction Lovers, and yesterday Bleeding Cool posted an article with the creators' brief thoughts on their influences and some behind-the-scenes art.  Writer Christa Faust should be of especial interest to existing HCC fans as the author of Money Shot and Choke Hold.

On the horizon is a 2017 adaptation by Max Allan Collins of his popular hitman Quarry, who has just been brought to the small screen on Cinemax.  And just today Flickering Myth reports that the Triggerman team will produce an English-language adaptation of Walter Hill's thriller (Re)Assignment, which he first wrote as a graphic novel in France and then directed in a controversial film starring Michelle Rodriguez and Sigourney Weaver, first screened in September's Toronto International Film Festival.

• Steve Epting Drawing Batwoman.  In other news this past week, and in the lead-up to New York Comic Con, The Hollywood Reporter exclusively announced a new Batwoman series from DC Comics.  Apparently part of a second wave of DC's Rebirth soft reboot, the series will begin with a Rebirth one-shot in February and issue #1 in March, it will be written by Marguerite Bennett, and -- most relevant to readers of this blog -- it will feature artwork by Steve Epting, his first work for DC in over 15 years.

This probably rules out any major collaborations between Epting and Brubaker for the near term:  if news about Velvet is still in the works -- and we reported in June that Brubaker said he's sitting on "huge news" on that front, along with his next project with Epting, "still top secret"  -- it's probably not a sequel series.

(Yesterday, in response to a tweet begging for a crime noir TV series from the writer, Brubaker cryptically tweeted, "stay tuned.")

• THR List.  Finally, along with the news about the Incognito film and Epting's upcoming work for DC Comics, there's one more article worth mentioning from The Hollywood Reporter, published late last week:  their list of the "100 Greatest Superhero Comics."  Ed Brubaker, Sean Phillips, and the beloved Darwyn Cooke appear more than once.
95. Wildcats by Joe Casey, Phillips, Dustin Nguyen, and others
89. Daredevil by Brubaker and Michael Lark
75. Sleeper by Brubaker and Phillips
67. The Immortal Iron Fist by Brubaker, Matt Fraction, David Aja, and Travel Foreman
63. Catwoman by Brubaker and Cooke
36. Captain America by Brubaker and others
20. DC: The New Frontier by Cooke
We're surprised that the quasi-spy thriller Sleeper made it but Gotham Central didn't, and we wouldn't be surprised if The New Frontier continues to grow in stature as the years go by; the article also has some links to some great pieces on Darwyn Cooke.

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Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Bullets: KOBK Reprints and Screen Print, Velvet Volume 3, and Deluxe Details for The Fade Out!

We're summarizing highlights from a few sources:  the back matter of the latest issue of Kill Or Be Killed ("The Secret Ingredient"), the Twitter feeds of Brubaker and Phillips, Sean Phillips' official blog, and Ed Brubaker's email newsletter: we mentioned the 9/6 installment in our previous post, and another newsletter has already been sent out since then, on 9/14. 

If you're not keeping an eye on these sources yourself, you're missing out on things like additional art previews, updates on Sean's Big Cartel store, and Brubaker's recommendations on books and TV shows.

Kill Or Be Killed, Going Back to Print Again.  Image Comics has the official announcement, that the first two issues of KOBK will see additional printings as the "body count rises."

These additional printings will be available alongside the latest issue, all on October 12th.
  • KOBK #1, Third Printing
  • KOBK #2, Second Printing
  • KOBK #3
The announcement includes cover art for the printings, which are color variations of earlier printings.

Kill Or Be Killed Screen Print.  With help from Ben Dodge, Sean Phillips has created a limited-edition screen print for Kill Or Be Killed. The five-color, hand-pulled art measures just over 20-by-27 inches, and a variant was created exclusively for the Lakes International Comic Art Festival in Kendal, England, on October 14-16. 

Very limited quantities of both versions are now available for pre-order in Sean's online store, and just yesterday Sean lowered the price for the artwork.

Velvet Volume 3, In Stores Now.   Today sees the release of the third trade paperback collection for the retro spy comic by Ed Brubaker, Steve Epting, and Bettie Breitweiser.  In his 9/6 newsletter, Brubaker describes the three arcs as "one long novel, really, and while it's a complicated mystery with a lot of tangents, the answers are there for anyone looking, I promise."

Brubaker suggests, "please buy a copy for your dad, who likes spy stories and doesn't understand why you read comics."

(And he also mentions that the story was almost sold to television before it became a comic book, and he treats readers to a TV Guide mock-up that was part of the pitch presentation.  We'll let readers see the image at the archived newsletter.)

Details on The Fade Out Deluxe Edition.  Finally, in the back of KOBK #2, Brubaker gives us quite a few details on the forthcoming deluxe edition of The Fade Out.

The Deluxe Edition collects the entire serialized graphic novel in one beautiful edition.  I even went through the book and made some minor tweaks here and there, so I'm considering this the definitive version of the story.  And on the bonus content side, this is probably our biggest one yet.  We've got over 50 pages of extra content -- covers, articles, process stuff about the art and research.  We've been doing these hardbacks a while now, and we put out some of the nicest ones on the market, but I think Sean outdid himself with the design and extra content this time.  So, be sure to tell your retailer if you want one.

We're even more eagerly looking forward to this release, due on the same day as the three KOBK printings, October 12th.

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Tuesday, September 06, 2016

Kill Or Be Killed #2 Preview Online, In Stores Tomorrow with #1 2nd Printing and Criminal Volume 7!

As we mentioned in our last post, there are quite a few books due this week from Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips:
  • Kill Or Be Killed #1, 2nd printing
  • Kill Or Be Killed #2
  • Criminal Volume 7 TPB: "Wrong Time, Wrong Place"
London's Mega City Comics asks the right question on Twitter, "With this much Brubaker & Phillips out tomorrow, how will we afford anything else!?"  We're perhaps the most excited for the new issue of KOBK, as we hope to see how it expands on the series' unexpected premise.

A five-page preview is now available at Image Comics' website -- and in higher quality in Brubaker's just-published newsletter (about which, more soon) -- and it looks like we're in for more moody scenes of NYC in winter.

And there's more rambling dialogue from our potentially unreliable narrator.

Kill Or Be Killed #2 detail, From the Desk of Ed Brubaker

All three books are in stores tomorrow.

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Thursday, September 01, 2016

Bullets: UNDERTOW PODCAST #4, Brubaker Essay, Solicts, and More!

It's September already!  Let's kick things off with a few brief items.

UNDERTOW PODCAST, New Episode Now Online.  Our latest episode of The Undertow Podcast is now available on iTunes and Podbean.  Robert and I have a very interesting discussion following the debut of Kill Or Be Killed, talking about its unexpected premise and where the new series may be going next.

We hope our readers here enjoy listening as much as we enjoyed recording it.

Ed Brubaker in This Week's Image+.  We've been digging the inexpensive magazine Image+ since its May debut.  The second issue featured a cover story on Kill or Be Killed, and there was a pleasant surprise in the latest issue.  Out yesterday with a November cover date, issue #5 features a two-page "Industry Perspectives" essay by Ed Brubaker.  On Matt Fraction's suggestion, Brubaker penned an open letter to a younger version of himself, at the beginning of his career.

The entire thing is worth reading for its perspective on the last couple decades on comics, and it touches on creator-rights issues that Brubaker has been covering in his email newsletter, but there's also the more general word of wisdom that became the article's pull quote:  "Sorry, but your career doesn't go the way you thought it would (turns out almost no one's does)."

Ed adds, "you're happier, if it's any consolation."

Kill Or Be Killed Keeps Rolling in November.  Image Comics' November solicitations came out early last week, Newsarama has the complete listing online, and Sean Phillips reposted the details for KOBK #4 -- "The shocking end to the first arc, as Dylan's secret collides with his home life."

The 40-page issue is scheduled for a November 16th release.

More Details on Upcoming books.  We're eagerly anticipating October's deluxe edition of The Fade Out, and Ed Brubaker has shared some details on Twitter as the book went to print last week.

Brubaker describes the book as "the nicest hardback we've ever done."  We had guessed at least 30 pages of extra content, but the 400-page book contains more than 50 pages of bonus content, including research, production essays by Phillips and Breitweiser, and two of the bonus articles from the monthly issues.  Readers "keep asking" about these articles, but it's long been the creators' practice to reward those who support their projects by specifically buying the monthly issues.

Also on Twitter, Brubaker does mention that "you never know" about an eventual return of Incognito:  the film rights were sold to Fox in 2010, and a film adaptation is apparently still in development.

And on the subject of films, Sean Phillips recently highlighted a high-resolution version of the cover artwork for The Hired Hand, a 1971 western directed by Peter Fonda, out on Blu-ray and DVD this November from Arrow Films.  The dual-format release includes a "Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Sean Phillips."

A little closer on the horizon, Phillips' Twitter feed confirms a few arrivals for next week:
  • Kill Or Be Killed #1, 2nd printing
  • Kill Or Be Killed #2
  • Criminal Volume 7 TPB: "Wrong Time, Wrong Place"
(A photo of his comp copies, reprinted above, confirms the title's comma, which was missing from the solicited cover art.)

We haven't seen any extended previews of KOBK #2 online yet, but this week, on his blog, Sean Phillips posted a single panel in-progress, evidently from page 8.

He writes, "This is probably my favourite panel from this issue, Bettie did such a beautiful colour job here..."

We can't wait to see more!

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Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Bullets: Second Printing, Reviews, and Appearances!

KOBK #1 an Immediate Sellout, Gets a Second Printing.  It occurs to us that Kill Or Be Killed debuted in only one format -- a standard cover with no variants, "Just the one cover, the one comic," as Ed Brubaker described it on Twitter.

This hasn't happened with a Brubaker-Phillips project for some time.  Along with the two Criminal one-shots, The Fade Out #1 (2014) featured an oversized magazine variant, and Fatale #1 (2012) came with two covers, one featuring Jo the beauty and the other featuring the beastly Bishop.

You have to go back to Incognito #1 (2008) to find a title's debut issue released without a variant, as even its sequel "Bad Influences" (2010) began with a "pulp" variant cover that was reused as the cover for the deluxe "Classified Edition."  Something of a surprise hit for Marvel's Icon imprint, Incognito #1 went back to press for a second printing, and we see that the same thing has happened with Image's Kill Or Be Killed.

Yesterday, Ed Brubaker announced that KOBK #1 "sold out last week," and this news is on the heels of a press release from Image Comics, that the series is "marked for success" as its debut issue has been rushed to a second printing.  The cover art is shown below, and it appears to be new artwork based on a single memorable frame from page #6.

Image Comics reports that the second printing to issue #1 will be available on September 7th, the same day as issue #2, and the final order cutoff deadline for both books is Monday, August 15th.

KOBK #1 Review Roundup.  One indication of the book's early success is its positive reviews, and the aggregator site Comic Book Round Up reports an average score of 9.1 out of 10, currently from 23 critics. 

Brubaker has sent out thanks to reviewers who didn't spoil this first issue, and I'm sure we'll see more in-depth analysis as the book's premise becomes more widely known and its implications unfold in subsequent issues.

Brubaker Appearances.  Finally, a brief review of Ed Brubaker's recent appearances online -- and an upcoming personal appearance later today!
  • Last week, Blastr posted a video interview from San Diego Comic-Con, where the writer discusses the research and complexity of The Fade Out, the rapid genesis of Kill Or Be Killed -- including a discussion with Robert Kirkman -- and his other projects, writing the Maniac Cop remake and joining the writing team on Westworld.
  • Over the weekend, episode #142 of the podcast How Did This Get Made? was published, a live episode recorded in Los Angeles reviewing the 1996 Billy Zane vehicle and commercial bomb The Phantom.  The episode includes Brubaker's second appearance on the show, this time focusing on one of the biggest characters of the pulp era: in 2013, he appeared on episode #75 to discuss Ben Affleck in Daredevil, after an award-winning run writing for the character from 2006 to 2009.
  • Later today, Brubaker is appearing at Collector's Paradise in Pasadena, signing copies of KOBK #1 alongside artist Tomm Coker who is signing copies of his book The Black Monday Murders #1, which arrives today.  The event is scheduled from 6 pm to 9 pm Pacific, just a few hours from now.
Details about the signing can be found on the Facebook page for the event, linked above.

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