Saturday, February 02, 2008

Bullets: Myspace, Wizard, Newsarama, "Blast of Silence"

The promotional campaign for the return of Criminal is picking up, so I figure I'd cover the highlights of the last couple weeks as a quick list of -- appropriately enough -- bullets.
  • Myspace. It's the middle of "Criminal Week" at, and while I'll probably have more to say about their features after it wraps up, I'd like to go ahead and highlight the fact that they're featuring substantial previews of the first two story-arcs. If you or a friend still haven't given Criminal a try, you can check out two full-length issues for free:

    Criminal Volume 1, Issue 1: Part One of "Coward"

    Criminal Volume 1, Issue 6: Part One of "Lawless"

    I'm presenting the links via TinyURL so they're easier to pass along.

  • Wizard. For the first time in a very long while, I bought an issue of Wizard this week, Issue 197 for March 2008, and its "Book of the Month" is Criminal. The feature notes that Volume 2 will be getting better paper stock, which I hadn't heard before, and it includes a sidebar list of Ed Brubaker's top five criminals in noir fiction. It's now clear that any list that includes characters portrayed by both Steve McQueen and Lee Marvin is a good one.

  • Newsarama. Between the reveal this week of a new Captain America and his publicizing Criminal before the order cut-off that's apparently next week, Ed Brubaker's been a busy man. Before he talked again with Newsarama in the wake of Captain America #34, he conducted a lengthy interview that was published earlier this week. In Part 2 of that interview, here, he talks about Criminal.

    On the business side, he reiterates that the monthly issues include the substantive bonus features to make the format more attractive, because the monthly sales are so important to the series' success. And, he reveals that he hasn't paid himself for the work on the series, holding what money he can as a sort of "rainy-day fund."

    On the creative side, he answers that it is possible that, like Greg Rucka's work with Queen and Country, the fictional universe he's created with Criminal could spill over into novels. It has a bit of a precedent in the fact that Issue #1 includes "Caught in the Undertow," a short story written from Gnarly's point of view, about the night of Ricky Lawless' wake. Frankly, I'd love to see a Criminal novel, written by Brubaker and with a cover illustration by Sean Phillips, and I think I know the perfect publisher.

  • "Blast of Silence." Finally, Sean Phillips announced that Criterion is releasing a DVD of Blast of Silence, the obscure noir film from 1961 that Patton Oswalt discussed in Criminal #4. Phillips did the artwork for the cover and a four-page comic book that covers the film's opening scenes and will be included in the release. There's a preview of the comic at his blog, and the art style is not a million miles from Criminal.

The Criterion Collection release of Blast of Silence will be out this April, and I'll try to cover its release here. In the meantime, I'll keep updating this blog with the latest news and reviews of Criminal; if anyone sees anything interesting, do feel free to let us know in the comments section.

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Blogger ADD said...

Great update, Bubba, thanks!

Delighted to hear the new volume of Criminal will have better paper. Sean's artwork deserves a much better presentation. Speaking of better presentation, I sure would love an oversized hardcover of Vol. 1...I hope sales justify one.

6:22 PM  
Blogger Bubba said...

Me too, and I also hope that Brubaker and Phillips reputations' continue to grow, to the point that DC decides to cash in. If the two of them and Greg Rucka and Michael Lark become big enough names, I'd love to see DC print an omnibus of Gotham Central, one that includes the seven issues out of the forty-issue run that the trade collections skipped.

And, more importantly...

Absolute Sleeper.

As a complete, stand-alone work, an "Absolute" edition of Point Blank and Sleeper would be fantastic.

But, about hardcover collections for Criminal, I'm not sure it's very far out of the realm of the possible: Walking Dead isn't selling that much more than Criminal, and I noticed that it's released a limited edition hardback collection or two.

Releasing Volume 2 should help the book benefit from all the awards and accolades it's been getting. I would guess (and hope) that that's enough to help ensure the series' longevity, but I don't know the ins and outs of the publishing enough even to guess what would be required for a hardcover collection.

I've been keeping up with the estimated sales for Criminal, and really, I don't have much of a clue about what's healthy, what's typical, and what should really be expected for a series that avoids capes and other fantastical elements (e.g., zombies and apocalyptic scenarios), that isn't an adaptation of an existing franchise, and that doesn't involve the bit of the ultraviolence that we see in Sin City. Criminal seems to be doing a couple thousand issues better than 100 Bullets, and about 5,000 fewer than Y: The Last Man, but I have no idea what that means apart from Ed's assurances that they're doing well but would like to do better.

And, about formats, I'll preface this comment by saying that I adore Val Staples' colors: the mood they set is always perfect, and the nighttime car chase in the snow in Issue #10, with the red and blue police lights dominating the scene, was just thrilling.

But I've seen enough of Sean's preview art at his blog to know that his work stands very, very well on its own.

I wonder if B/W digest-sized collections of Criminal would one day do very well in sales.

7:59 AM  

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