Wednesday, October 28, 2015

What's Next?

We're in the home stretch for The Fade Out:  the tenth issue arrived in stores last week, so all that remains is the penultimate issue and the grand finale, between which we plan a month's worth of posts to look back on this, Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips' period piece set in the golden age of Hollywood Babylon.

What next?  In the back pages of The Fade Out #10, Brubaker assured readers that this series is reaching its planned end, as sales have been "our best ever, with very little drop-off between issues," and he immediately hinted about the future.
"I hope this trend continues with our next project, because as soon as we finish, we're jumping right into the next thing as usual... So keep your eyes peeled, and stick around.  Me and Sean and Bettie aren't going anywhere."
There wasn't anything in Image's January solicitations, but we expect to hear the announcement sooner rather than later -- maybe in time for The Fade Out #11? is that why we had this hint in issue #10? -- and we'll be sure to cover the news here.

Until then, Sean Phillips is publishing preview art of The Fade Out, both in pencils and inks...


News in the last month had me wondering whether the new series would kick things off with a magazine-sized variant, like the debut issue to The Fade Out and the one-shot Criminal Special Edition.  On September 29th, covering the Diamond Retailer Summit, Publishers Weekly reported, "Image’s director of retail sales Corey Murphy drew applause at the panel when she announced that Image will no longer be doing variant covers."

And yet, on October 14th, Image itself announced a variant cover for The Wicked + The Divine, and then the January solicitations contained variants a-plenty.

The writer seemed to miss a key detail that what Image Comics is ending isn't variant covers in general, but a type of variant covers in particular:  retailer-exclusive variant covers for monthly issues.  In an interview with Bleeding Cool published last week, publisher Eric Stephenson elaborates that Image will still offer promotional giveaways at particular events and even retailer-exclusive variants for collected editions -- for trades, not "floppies."

So we may continue to see the magazine-sized variants for special issues -- and I hope we do, since they have been so striking, especially Criminal's cover-to-cover pastiche of classic Conan comics -- but, so long as Brubaker and Phillips remain at Image and this policy is in place, we may not see any additional retailer-exclusive variants, and the two retailer exclusives for The Fade Out #1 may turn out to be a one-time thing.


Coinciding with the Lakes International Comic Art Festival, Sean Phillips curated an exhibit of album covers created by comic artists, and the PHONO+GRAPHIC exhibition closed last week in Kendal, England.  On Twitter, Phillips hints that the exhibit may be touring other venues, and in the meantime he pointed readers to a BBC story on the exhibit, featuring a closer look at albums from artists including David Bowie and Johnny Cash.


Finally, there's news for us fans of Brubaker's other current creator-owned title, Velvet, which features art by Steve Epting:  according to both ComicList's ever-changing preview of next week's releases and its permanent record of its 10/28 extended forecast for Image Comics, the retro spy series returns next week with the long-awaited Velvet #12.

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Wednesday, October 21, 2015

THE FADE OUT #10 Preview Online and In Stores Today!

Confirming what we reported last week, yesterday Comic Book Resources posted a five-page preview of the tenth issue for The Fade Out, and Ed Brubaker relays that the issue is out today "in the best comics shops in the world."

This chapter of the sprawling noir mystery is titled "Where Angels Fear to Tread," which matches the title of a 1905 E.M. Forster novel but may be more directly an allusion to the original line by Alexander Pope, "For fools rush in where angels fear to tread."

The phrase hints at both the recklessness of the story's central characters and the danger they face as a result.  I think it's very unlikely they'll navigate the treacherous waters and find a happy ending on the other side.

And for Charlie, at least, the story's setting of debauchery and political intrigue is receding in importance, as his quest is driven by much more personal stakes.

It's probably too soon to look past The Fade Out, but it is worth noting that Image Comics released its January solicitations yesterday, and there were no listings for Brubaker or Phillips.  The convention season for Image Comics recently ended with the conclusion of the New York Comic Con on October 11th, and that was probably the last obvious venue for announcing the next Brubaker-Phillips collaboration.

Here's hoping that the announcement comes sooner rather than later, and we'll be sure to pass along any news as we see it; in the meantime, we'll be taking a closer look at The Fade Out as it cuts to black, and we'll also relay when Brubaker's other series Velvet returns to the stands.

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Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Bullets: THE FADE OUT Finale, Sean Phillips in Kendal, and More!

Been a couple weeks, so let's get right to it!

• The Fade Out Finale, Scheduled for December.  When we noted the latest releases of The Fade Out -- the ninth monthly issue and the second trade paperback collection -- we missed the other big news for the noir series:  Image's December solicitations have been released, and they include the series finale, The Fade Out #12.

THE FADE OUT #12 (OF 12)
DECEMBER 16 / 40 PAGES / FC / M / $3.99 
It all ends here! The dramatic wrap-up to the mystery and to Brubaker and Phillips’ bestselling and most ambitious project yet!
We previously speculated that the series would run 12 issues, but we believe that this is the first time the series has been presented as a 12-issue mini-series:  this solicitation is the first to list a release as issue X "(of 12),"and it does so with the 12th and final issue.

The finale is scheduled to be released on December 16th, and projections at ComicList do point to the series' home stretch arriving on time.  The site doesn't offer permalinks for its lists of weekly arrivals, but as of right now, the site's list for next week includes The Fade Out #10 -- copies of which Sean Phillips just received, confirming next week's arrival -- and its more persistent link for a recent extended forecast for Image Comics has all of the remaining issues coming out on their original solicitation dates.
10/21/15 The Fade Out #10
11/18/15 The Fade Out #11
12/16/15 The Fade Out #12
We've thoroughly enjoyed the series, with its sprawling cast being contained to a quite specific setting and the story being driven by the first issue's murder and cover-up.  We're considering doing what we did with the conclusion of Fatale:  after the release of the series' penultimate issue, we may look back with thirty days of short blog posts.

And we'll be sure to keep an eye out for what's coming next from Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips.

• Sean Phillips at the Lakes International Comic Art Festival.  We've noted Phillips' prior appearances at the prominant festival hosted annually in Kendal, England:  he appeared with Ed Brubaker in 2013, and then he created artwork with Rian Hughes in a burlesque-inspired event in 2014.  We've also already noted that, this year, Phillips is curating the PHONO+GRAPHIC exhibition of record covers created by comic artists.

The arts festival is this weekend, and Sean Phillips has announced that his only signing session will be this Saturday, from 11 am to 1 pm local time.  He also posted some striking images of the exhibit, which now features 61 record covers; the exhibit opened earlier this month and runs for another week, closing on October 20th.

Sean Phillips also recently blogged that some of his original art is being included in an auction organized by the Lakes International Comic Art Festival, to be held on November 24th at Orbital Comics in London.

The auction includes a "one-off digital print" titled "Bring Me Sunshine," part a series of postcards commissioned by the festival.  Created by "seven leading illustrators," the series is titled "Wish You Were Here – Postcards from the Edge of Reality."

...and fans of Fatale should note that Phillips' other contribution to the auction is the original cover art for the third trade paperback collection, West of Hell.

The auction also includes work by Frank Quitely, Jeff Smith, Dave Gibbons, Charlie Adlard, and Ed Brubaker's Deadenders collaborator Warren Pleece -- and Sean Phillips reminds fans that, if you can't attend in person, you can bid online.

• ...and Darwyn Cooke at Lakes International.  Sean Phillips isn't the only famous colleague of Ed Brubaker's who's making an appearance in Kendal.  Darwyn Cooke will be there, in what is evidently his first UK appearance and hot on the heels of this week's debut of The Twilight Children, his four-part Vertigo mini-series written by Gilbert Hernandez.  He'll introduce the New Frontier animated film adaptation and be the featured guest at an event focusing on his artwork, and Sean Phillips tweeted that Cooke has produced an "exclusive gorgeous, giclee" of Sean Connery's James Bond.

The limited-edition artwork is available from the festival's online store, along with two prints by Sean Phillips, the cover art to The Fade Out #8 and a monochrome "Hollywoodland" giclee featuring three of the main characters from The Fade Out.

• Other Work by Sean Phillips for the BBC.  Last year, we reported that Sean Phillips had produced artwork advertising BBC Radio 4's adaptation of Good Omens, a humorous 1990 novel by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman, and Phillips has recently announced that a tee-shirt featuring his art of Neil Gaiman is still available online, benefiting the Alzheimer’s Association.  The shirt is available at TeeFury, in multiple sizes and colors.

More recently, Phillips created artwork for BBC Radio 4's Woman's Hour, featuring portraits of the five women who were guest editors during the program's Takeover Week in September.  He's posted the final digital images and a few of the original hand-drawn pieces.

• Recommended Reading.  Finally, there are a few pieces we've stumbled across online that our readers might find interesting.  First, Michael Mann recently spoke at the Toronto International Film Festival on the 20th(!) anniversary of what is one of our all-time favorite films, Heat. Uproxx has posted a nice, meaty retrospective on the epic crime story, reporting on Mann's appearance and elaborating on the enduring appeal of "A movie that was made by thinking hard about who the characters were and what they should do, shot in as straightforward a manner as possible."

And, The Weekly Standard has an essay on Dashiell Hammett, the mystery writer who has a (fictionalized) cameo in The Fade Out #6.  In reviewing the new book The Lost Detective, by Nathan Ward, the essay recounts the writer's life and politics, concluding that Hammett was a complicated man and most prominently a "genius writer who created an entirely new way of talking about urban America."

I wonder what writers like Hammett would say if they knew that the torch of noir and crime fiction is being carried with aplomb by comic-book creators like Ed Brubaker, Sean Phillips, and Darwyn Cooke.

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