Thursday, January 09, 2014

BREAKING from Image Expo: Fatale Ends, The Fade Out Begins, a Flexible Five-Year Deal, and a New Home for Criminal and Incognito.

As we reported late yesterday, Ed Brubaker used the column concluding the new issue of Fatale to tease some major news to come at today's Image Expo in San Francisco.  As we expected, the West Coast writer was on-hand, and he was the last creator brought on-stage during publisher Eric Stephenson's keynote address.

Highlights from Twitter as the news broke:









In the last picture above, Brubaker appears to be standing at the very end of the line of creators, at the far right (stage right).

Comic Book Resources had a great summary of the news coming from Stephenson's keynote address, in an article that was being updated in real time.  It repeats much of the same information, with something more that's definitely worth highlighting.

The last guest up: Ed Brubaker, another unannounced surprise. "Sean [Phillips] and I are doing a five-year deal with Image where basically we can do whatever we want, and they have to publish it," Brubaker says. "Fatale" is wrapping with issue #24, leading in to Brubaker and Phillips' next collaboration, "The Fade Out," which the writer says "Criminal" fans should enjoy. "It's loosely based on things that happened in Hollywood in the '40s," Brubaker says, whose uncle was a screenwriter.  
Speaking more of their new deal, Brubaker says that when he and Phillips were doing "Sleeper," the two always worried about whether they could keep doing projects together. "That's why this deal was so amazing to me, because they were willing to do it. Now all I have to do is worry about us doing great comics. I feel like this is a new stage of my career here, and I'm excited about." Brubaker says he probably won't do books like "The Walking Dead" or "Invincible" that get to the 100s, because he like shorter stories with a definite endpoint. Additionally, Brubaker's past creator-owned books like "Criminal" and "Incognito," originally published by Marvel's Icon line, will now be at Image.

 In brief:

The Five-Year Deal. Both Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips have signed a five-year deal with Image, allowing them a great deal of latitude to create what they want, which will probably result in short series with definite end points, keeping with their usual m.o.

Fatale's Finale. Their first move is to bring Fatale to its conclusion with issue 24, which means their first "ongoing" series will have run as long as Sleeper their first major collaboration (if you ignore the short story connecting the WildStorm series' two "seasons").  Fatale #19 concluded the arc set in the 90's, and -- to us, at least -- its cliffhanger ending did seem to be building momentum toward a kind of conclusion. 

Yesterday we mentioned the first deluxe collection, due in March and collecting the first ten issues; I imagine that issues #11-24 will end up in a second and final hardcover collection, and I would wager that we would see that volume in time for the 2014 holiday shopping season.

(In hindsight, I wonder if it would have made more sense to end the first volume with issue #14, collecting the equivalent of three trade collections in each hardcover.)

(EDIT:  Never mind, I just realized that there will be a total of five trade collections, not six, with the middle trade spanning issues #11-14.  There's no real way to split the series evenly.)

The Fade Out Fades In. After Fatale, Brubaker and Phillips will bring us The Fade Out, set in Hollywood in the 1940's.  With five more issues of Fatale to go, I would guess that (barring vacations or unforeseen delays) we see this new series debut in the late summer or early fall, probably sometime between July and September.

From Icon to Image. The earlier works of Criminal and Incognito may still return, and if they do, they will now be published through Image Comics rather than Marvel's Icon imprint for high-profile creator-owned projects.  We suspected this move as far back as June, 2012, and we made this suspicion an outright prediction that September, and we're glad to see that we were ahead of the curve.

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Speaking only for myself, Criminal remains my favorite book, and so I look forward to its eventual return and the long-awaited continuation of Leo's story, which had the so-called "coward" in prison when we saw him last.  (EDIT:  Could we see Leo's return in the run-up to the film adaptation for "Coward," which is in pre-production and is attached to a new director, as reported in October?)

In the meantime, I've been thoroughly enjoying every series they've put out, and we are fortunate to have deluxe, oversized hardcovers collecting all their major works, the mini-series Scene of the Crime with Michael Lark, and a perfect companion piece in the gorgeous Art of Sean Phillips.

(We also have the complete run of Gotham Central in attractive hardcovers.  Brubaker's early Vertigo series Deadenders was finally collected in 2012, and his complete run on Catwoman is being collected as well, to say nothing of the numerous collections of his work for Marvel.)

Sleeper.  CriminalIncognitoFatale.  And, soon, The Fade Out.

We're seeing the growth of a truly astounding body of work.

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According to the Image Expo program, the surprise guests from Eric Stephenson's keynote address will soon discuss their upcoming projects, beginning at 6:15 pm ET / 3:15 PT.  (The presentation is titled "I is for Incognito," which led me to wonder if Brubaker's announcement was going to concern the "apocalyptic pulp noir" originally published by Icon.)

At 8:00 ET / 5:00 PT, the expo features "I is for Interrogation," where a panel of writers, including "some of our special surprise guests," will discuss their creative processes.

Brubaker may attend either panel, and we'll cover the highlights, probably sometime tomorrow.

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