Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Bullets: CRIMINAL One-Shot & FADE OUT Trade Tomorrow, & More!

I've been re-reading "Lawless" in its new trade edition from Image, and it's been a real kick.  It had been far too long since I've read the book, and -- as with all the works by Brubaker and Phillips -- I catch something new every time.

The "fearful symmetry" was striking, but not just in how both Lawless boys had come to resemble their father -- especially Tracy, as "The Dead and the Dying" shows Teeg's unecessary brutality was driven by his own protective instincts.  There was also how Tracy had become both the hunter and the hunted, as he and his pursuer violently interrogated people simultaneously.

I continue to be awed with how intricate the plotting tends to be in each of these Criminal arcs, with no wasted moments, no obvious "plot hammering," and lots of irony in the juxtaposition of scense.  The world is set up very carefully before it all comes crashing down, but it all seems very effortless.  I don't think the comparisons are outlandish, between Criminal and Watchmen, and I think the former actually compares favorably in being less obviously overwrought.  The writing and the artwork almost seems impressionistic at times, so its elaborate structure sneaks up on the reader.

Since my neighborhood is seeing its first real snow days, now has been a great time to read "Lawless" with its cold, bleak setting, as hard and dangerous as the man returning to the city at Christmastime.

This is also the first time I've re-read the story as the father of young children.  Having first-hand experience of the natural and unconstrained joy of kids seeing their dad after a long day at the office, I'm even more repulsed at the simple evil of Teeg Lawless, striking terror in his sons.

But we have more to write about than the new reprint of an eight-year-old masterpiece.

The moving finger writes, and having writ, moves on!

• CRIMINAL Special Edition, and THE FADE OUT TPB in Stores Tomorrow.  It will have been almost 3 and a half years since the last issue of "Last of the Innocent" -- 1,261 days to be exact -- but a new issue of Criminal is in stores tomorrow.

The Criminal Special Edition one-shot will be released in a standard edition and in a magazine-sized variant:  we hope you've already ordered your copy of the latter, and as we reported late last month, AV Club has posted a five-page preview of the comic.

Comicosity has an interview with Ed Brubaker, where he mentions the origins of this new story, a writer firend telling him of the popularity that a lot of adult comic magazines like Heavy Metal, Eerie, and Savage Sword of Conan enjoyed among prison populations.  Brubaker was entranced by the idea of an inmate reading a barbarian comic, and with the mid-1970s being "such a great era for neo-noir pulp," Teeg Lawless became the obvious choice for the character.

All-Comic.com has a Brubaker interview combined with an advance review, awarding the book 4 out of 5 stars.   With the series being reprinted by Image, the creators wanted to produce something like an annual to celebrate its return to stands, with a magazine-sized variant that they and readers really seem to enjoy.

We've also seen a very positive reaction (and a few new pages) in an advance review from Coming Up Comics.  We can't wait to read the first new Criminal story in ages, and one song has been running through my head all day...

...but that's not the only book out tomorrow.  In that second interview, Brubaker confirms that more from The Fade Out is on the horizon, and tomorrow sees the release of the first trade paperback, priced at $9.99 and featured in this week's "Trade Waiting" spotlight at Comicosity.

THE FADE OUT Featured in Image Firsts Compendium.  This leads us to Image Comics and its "Image Firsts" promotion to provide inexpensive introductions to their best and most popular creator-owned work.

It started in 2010 with one-dollar reprints of first issues, which we have seen for all of Ed Brubaker's work for Image:  Fatale and The Fade Out with Sean Phillips, and Velvet with Steve Epting.

The approach has expanded to include "Image Introduces... Volume Ones," first-volume trade paperbacks at $9.99, of which The Fade Out Volume 1 is only the newest example.

We're not sure how much it's been promoted, as we missed its February 11th release entirely, but the approach now includes a trade paperback of first issues, Image Firsts Compendium Volume 1.

The hefty book containing NINE first issues for the incredibly low price of $5.99, not much more than the typical single issue.
  • Wytches by Scott Snyder and Jock
  • Outcast by Kirkman & Azaceta by Robert Kirkman and Paul Azaceta
  • Nailbiter by Joshua Williamson and Mike Henderson
  • Southern Bastards by Jason Aaron and Jason Latour
  • The Fade Out by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips
  • The Wicked + The Divine by Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie
  • Low by Rick Remender and Greg Tocchini
  • Shutter by Joe Keatinge and Leila del Duca
  • C.O.W.L. by Kyle Higgins, Alec Siegel, and Rod Reis
In addition to Brubaker and Phillips' take on Hollywood's Gilded Age, the collection features their partner Bettie Breitweiser providing colors on Outcast.

I still think that The Fade Out stands out even among the best books on the shelf, but at less than 70 cents an issue, this trade paperback is impossible to pass up.

• Feature on Donald Westlake's Getaway Car.  Finally, one can draw a fairly straight line from Criminal to Hard Case Crime to my becoming a fan of the crime writers Donald Westlake and Lawrence Block.  One can't say enough about the former's Parker books, written under the pen name Richard Stark, available in prose or in Darwyn Cooke's award-winning comic adaptations, and the latter's non-fiction books on writing are must-reads even for the poor souls who don't like noir.

(Thanks to Block's email newsletter, I also discovered Jerrold Mundis' Break Writer's Block Now!  Block had been selling the book on "block" through his eBay store, I got a copy, and it's been a great help in my professional life.  It's funny how you can stumble across the most useful things.)

Westlake passed away on New Year's Eve, at the end of 2008, and this past September, the University of Chicago Press published The Getaway Car, an anthology of non-fiction work.  With a foreword by Block and cover art by Cooke, it's a great stand-alone book that also complements the trade paperback reprints of the Parker and Grofield novels that they've been releasing.

Toward the end of last year, Alan David Doane posted an extensive interview with the book's editor Levi Stahl, who lists his personal favorites, recommends a few works as entrees into Westlake's extensive bibliography, and praises Memory, Westlake's lost novel published by Hard Case Crime.

Between the Criminal one-shot and new trade for "Lawless," the new trade for The Fade Out, and a new issue of Chew (following up on the twisting ending of issue #45), there's a LOT to read this week, but the interview is worth your time.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Loved the Savage Sword one shot. Been Lawless really is one of the great totally doomed characters of comics. I feel like you missed a big opportunity to change the title on the magazine edition to "Crominal" though.

5:37 PM  
Blogger Bubba said...

By Crom, you have a point!

We're just a fan blog not officially tied with Brubaker and Phillips, but we do exchange words from time to time, and we'll pass along your observation.

And we THOROUGHLY enjoyed the one-shot, too. It kicked ass, mightily.

7:02 PM  

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