Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Sean @ Comic Book Resources.

CBR posted a few things from Sean Phillips today, an interview and a tour of his studio. The interview includes an image, left, of the final cover for Issue #1 and three black-and-white preview pages of Issue #2, which apparently may be titled "A Wolf Among Wolves" rather than "Before the Living End." The studio tour gives us a very detailed look at the space Sean works in to create Criminal: the bookshelves, art supplies, computers, and the occasional toy.

What I find most interesting is that one picture features a model of the General Lee, from The Dukes of Hazzard. I grew up watching the show, and I can tell you that, aside from the custom paint job, this Dodge Charge bears an uncanny resemblance to the muscle car Tracy drove in "Lawless."

"Tracy wasn't some kind of car fanatic or gear-head, but he knew what he liked.

"And his whole life, he'd liked the Dodge Charger."


Yes, I suspect Tracy was driving the General Lee.

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Tuesday, February 26, 2008

"Second Chance in Hell."

Issue #1 of Criminal, Volume 2, is in stores tomorrow: "Second Chance in Hell," a stand-alone story focusing on Gnarly during his days as a boxer, and the first of three interlocking stories set in the 70's. As part of the promotional campaign, "Criminal Week" at myspace.com/comicbooks wrapped up, and there was more than just the issue-length previews of "Coward" and "Lawless." Bill Hader had a rather odd video interview with Ed Brubaker, Michael Lark interviewed Sean Phillips about his stunning artwork, and there's a substantial black-and-white preview of the new issue, here.

Over at his blog, Sean relays that his studio will soon be featured at Comic Book Resources.

And, I forgot to mention this earlier, but late last month Newsarama published a Word Balloon podcast with Ed Brubaker, about Criminal along with his recent work in Captain America. Ed discusses the double-edged sword of creative freedom that he has with Criminal, especially in the complexity of these three stand-alone "novellas". He talks about the informal community of writers and artists that has emerged around the extra content in the monthly issues, and he and John Siuntres even discuss recent crime movies like Eastern Promises and Kiss Kiss Bang Bang.

During the interview, Ed briefly mentions that Criminal doesn't have a concise "hook", but I think his summary of "Lawless" is an perfect high-concept description of the entire series.

What is Criminal? "A character exploration with random moments of crime and violence."

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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 myspace.com/comicbooks, 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"
    http://tinyurl.com/2a9jle

    Criminal Volume 1, Issue 6: Part One of "Lawless"
    http://tinyurl.com/2cctg4

    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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