Tuesday, January 27, 2015

TODAY ONLY, Half Off Sean Phillips' Original Interior Art at Splash Page Comic Art!

This deserves its own post: Splash Page Comic Art has announced a one-day sale of Sean Phillips' original interior artwork, 50% off TODAY ONLY, in honor of the artist's 50th birthday.

The sale ends in about 10 and a half hours, at 11:59 PM Central Standard Time.

A few years back, my awesome wife purchased original art from Splash Page, an interior page from the debut issue of Criminal, and we could not have been happier with the process and the results.

Here's hoping the sale goes well -- and many happy returns to Sean!

Bullets: Criminal One-Shot Preview, First Trade Back in Stores This Week, and More!

• Five-Page Preview for the Criminal One-Shot.  Earlier this morning, the AV Club posted an exclusive five-page preview of the Criminal Special Edition one-shot, in advance of Image's first new Criminal trade, out this week.

The preview confirms our guess from earlier this month, that the sword-and-sorcery comic-within-a-comic is titled, "By This Sword, I Live!"  It introduces us to Zangar the Valandrian, and it recounts the darkly comic reason Teeg Lawless is in jail.

Image Trade for "Coward" In Stores Wednesday, without the Criminal One-Shot.  Along with the AV Club, other sites, including ComicList and Image's website, confirm that Image Comics' first new edition of Criminal is in stores tomorrow, but without the "Special Edition" one-shot.  Ed Brubaker has relayed that his copies have arrived, and he posted an image showing that the trade paperback will advertise all six volumes, presumably in the back pages.

As soon as we can, we'll have a closer look at this new edition to compare it against the original trade paperback released through Marvel's Icon imprint.

In the meantime, what about the Criminal Special Edition?  Both the AV Club preview and ComicList's extended forecast for Image gives us a release date of February 25th, which would actually be a week after the release of the second trade paperback.  We wouldn't be surprised if the trade paperback for "Lawless" is pushed back to coincide with the one-shot:  since the new story focuses on Tracy Lawless' brutal father, the timing would be more thematically appropriate, but I'm sure Brubaker and Phillips would have preferred that the issue kick off the return of Criminal with a January release.

With the news story from the AV Club, we can be fairly confident of a February 25th release for the one-shot.

• Criminal, The Fade Out, and Velvet in April Solicitations.  This time last week, Image Comics released its April solicitations, which include the fourth reissued trade collection for Criminal, the twisted "Bad Night."

Criminal Volume 4: Bad Night is due on April 22nd, along with Velvet #12, while The Fade Out #7 is due on April 29th.

For these dates to hold for the monthly issues, we would have to see four issues of Velvet (#9-#12) and three issues of The Fade Out (#5-#7), all between February and April. I wouldn't  be surprised if these dates got pushed back, but we can be assured that more issues of both excellent series are on their way.

• Image Comics Features The Fade Out.  Between now and April, we'll also see the first trade paperback collection for The Fade Out.  The first arc ended with issue #4, which came out at the beginning of this month, and in keeping with the company's new promotional campaign of  "Image Introduces... Volume Ones,"  this first collection will retail at the introductory price of $9.99.

Image Comics recently posted a brief feature on The Fade Out, relaying that the first trade collection is now available for pre-order,  to reach comic stores on February 25th -- the same day as the Criminal one-shot! -- and bookstores on March 10th.  The feature includes blurbs from reviews and a three-page preview from the first issue.

The feature also provides an email address for librarians, retailers, and reviewers to request a PDF galley of the book.

• Code 5, a New Web Series from Brubaker and Sandeep Parikh.  I haven't seen any press at all about this, but Ed Brubaker is collaborating with actor, writer, and producer Sandeep Parikh on Code 5, a comedy series described as "two cops on the longest stakeout ever."  The first three shorts have just been released on YouTube.

Parikh plays one of the cops, and Mel Cowan appears to be something of a stand-in for Brubaker.  A close look at the credits show that Parikh and Brubaker created the series and are executive producers along with Brubaker's wife Melanie Tomlin.  One of the credited production companies is Brubaker's Basement Gang Inc.

We think it's an okay series for its short length, but it comes quite close to being an R-rated version of the ad campaign for Sonic Drive-In's.

Best Fits for Michael Mann in Adapting Comics.  Over the weekend at CBR, the Spinoff Online blog had a post on five comic book titles that filmmaker Michael Mann ought to adapt, including Brubaker and Phillips' Criminal (with a "Coward" adaptation still in development), Matt Fraction's Hawkeye, and The Highwaymen.  The latter was a 5-issue miniseries published by  WildStorm in 2007, and it was a fun enough ride that I'm glad to see it hasn't been entirely forgotten.

As a huge fan of Michael Mann's Heat, I'd like to see the filmmaker take on some comic books or graphic novels.  His latest, Blackhat, was a critical and commercial dud, and he's only directed three films in the last decade, but at age 71, he probably feels little pressure to meet other people's expectation.

• Feature on The Art Of Robert McGinnis.  With a tip of the hat to Ed Brubaker's Twitter feed, I see  that Badass Digest has a preview of artwork from a new book on artist Robert McGinnis.  His pulp style of painting graced numerous paperback books before appearing on the posters for a few James Bond movies, Breakfast at Tiffany's, and The Odd Couple.  His work was featured in the movie Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, and it now graces the covers of 15 books printed by the fantastic Hard Case Crime imprint.

The preview is well worth checking out, and it appears that the book went on sale late last year.

• Darwyn Cooke's First Creator-Owned Work, Out Later This Year.  Finally, this time last year, we were hit with a maelstrom of news from the 2014 Image Expo:  the end of Fatale, the announcement of The Fade Out and Brubaker and Phillips' unprecedented five-year deal, and the move of their earlier works Criminal and Incognito from Icon to Image.

It seems this year's Image Expo had no news regarding Brubaker and Phillips, but one announcement should still be of interest to our readers here:  Darwyn Cooke's first creator-owned comic will be released by Image later this year.  Cooke collaborated with Brubaker on Catwoman, and he's perhaps best known in some circles for his work on The Spirit and the limited series DC: The New Frontier.   This past December, his work was featured on 23 variant covers for DC, and with IDW he's produced four gorgeous, award-winning adaptations of Richard Stark's Parker novels.

In June, Image Comics will debut Darwyn Cooke's first fully creator-owned work, Revengeance, which the promotional art describes as a three-part mini-series.

REVENGEANCE is a psychological thriller with darkly humorous overtones. When Joe Malarky is faced with a criminal tragedy, he sets out to make things right on his own. What follows is Joe's odyssey through the underside of the city and the madness that seems to drive his crazy world.
REVENGEANCE takes place in Toronto in the mid-eighties and is part crime story, part psychotronic melodrama, and a wholly fond look back at the author's hometown.

We're looking forward to it!

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Tuesday, January 06, 2015

Bullets: Fade Out This Week, March Solicitations, Year-End Reviews and More!

The Fade Out #4, In Stores Tomorrow. On Twitter, Ed Brubaker has confirmed that the latest issue of The Fade Out is in stores this week.  I haven't found any previews online, but ComicBook.com has an advance preview, providing a few panels and giving the issue an A grade.

On a somber note, Chase Magnett notes that the issue begins with a dedication to Elizabeth Breitweiser’s color flatting assistant Eduardo Navarro Lopez, who passed away on November 27th.  Magnett concludes his review by writing that "it’s worth lingering a little while longer on each panel and examining how colors bring this story to life."

More Criminal, Fade Out, and Velvet in March.  The same day we noted the release of the Image Firsts edition of The Fade Out #1, Sean Phillps posted an excerpt of Image's solicitations for March.  We'll see "The Dead and the Dying," the third Criminal trade paperback reprinted by Image Comics, with a cover that complements the new editions for the previous two books.

Also scheduled for March is another issue of The Fade Out and -- for Brubaker's retro spy comic Velvet -- the next issue and the second trade paperback collection, titled "The Secret Lives of Dead Men" and featuring a gorgeous cover by Steve Epting.

Velvet #11 and Velvet Volume 2 are both scheduled for March 18th.

The Fade Out #6 and Criminal Volume 3 are both scheduled for March 25th.

Brubaker Interview on The Criminal Special Edition.  On the subject of our favorite crime-comic anthology, at Comic Book Resources, Robot 6 posted a brief interview with writer Ed Brubaker, focusing on this month's upcoming Criminal one-shot.  He describes what makes the title unique among his collaborations with Sean Phillips, in that the book focuses on "violent character studies" and "tragic romances," and he mentions the challenge he has given Phillips in having to create an authentic look for comic within a comic -- a sword-and-sorcery comic from the 1970's.

(About that Conan pastiche, Phillips may have let us in on its title, hand-lettered in Manga Studio:  "By This Sword I Live!")

Brubaker also discusses the inspiration for the upcoming story.

The main idea for this is something that’s been percolating in my mind for about 15 years, ever since I heard from an old editor that in the ’70s and ’80s, lots of prisoners had subscriptions to the more adult comics magazines like Heavy Metal, Conan, Creepy, Eerie and Deadly Hands of Kung Fu, stuff like that. And hearing that, I just had this image of a guy lying in a cell, reading some black-and-white barbarian fantasy comic. And it always stayed with me.
Brubaker already has ideas for what will come after The Fade Out, but he likes the improvisation that comes with Image's five-year deal with himself and Phillips.  He may alternate longer projects and shorter projects, and he writes, "The next Criminal story is starting to fall into place in my notebooks finally, and it grows out of this one-shot special, in a way, although it takes place years later."

A story set years later, growing out of a one-shot set in prison?  We wonder if it's the long-awaited "Coward's Way Out."

Velvet Tee-Shirt Evidently Canceled.  Looking back on the year that was, we recall reporting in August on Image's November solicitations.  It included merchandise for Brubaker and Epting's spy comic Velvet, specifically a tee-shirt that "demands respect."

We didn't remember seeing the shirt in stores, and we noticed that the shirt was listed as cancelled in ComicList's year-end extended forecast.  We reached out to Image Comics for any explanation why, but we did not get a reply as this blog entry went to press.

Fatale, The Fade Out, and Brubaker Among the Year's Best.  Looking On a much more positive note to wrap up 2014, Image Comics posted a press release to trumpet that their creator-owned books "dominate" critics' year-end lists.  NPR named the Fatale Deluxe Edition Volume 1 one of the Best Books of 2014.   Multiversity Comics named The Fade Out #1 as one of comics' best issues and named Ed Brubaker as one of comics' best writers.

We anticipate that this year will be at least as stellar, especially with a new Criminal story just weeks away.

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