Monday, January 30, 2017

Bullets: Banana Pancakes and More!

The new issue of Kill Or Be Killed came out just last week, and we already have a few brief news items.

Store-Exclusive UK Variant for KOBK Volume 1.  We saw from a tweet from Big Bang Comics that, together with British store Forbidden Planet, the Irish comics retailer is selling an exclusive variant of Kill Or Be Killed Volume 1, with a signed bookplate.  It appears the variant cover is based on the first-printing cover for issue #2, and the bookplate is based on the second-printing cover for issue #1.  Forbidden Planet has the trade paperback available online for £9.99, and the description and preview images confirm that the bookplate is signed both by writer Ed Brubaker and by artist Sean Phillips.

• Preview Art for Issue #6.  As much as we obviously enjoy the books of Brubaker & Phillips, we were astounded how much we dug KOBK #5.  We can't wait to discuss the issue in The Undertow Podcast, but in the meantime we're already looking forward to the next issue, due February 15th.  Last Monday, Sean Phillips tweeted some work-in-progress artwork, and the following day he posted the complete artwork on his blog:  the illustration for the bonus article in issue #6, which essayist Kim Morgan explains is on the police drama Naked City, specifically a 1962 episode guest-starring Rip Torn and Tuesday Weld.

(Kim Morgan has one helluva Twitter handle, @SunsetGunShot.)

• Kill Or Be Killed #8 in April Solicts.  Image Comics' April solicitations for April 2017 were released last Wednesday, and the list of upcoming books includes KOBK #8:  "Dylan is being hunted by both the good guys and the bad guys, but his mission must go on, regardless."

The issue is scheduled for an April 26 release, the solicit is also featured on Sean Phillips' blog, and we're including the cover art below.

(Readers might also be interested in April's oversized hardcover collection of AD After Death, by Scott Snyder and Jeff Lemire.  Robert mentioned reading the book during our recommendations at the end of the December episode, and both of us at The Undertow Podcast have been thoroughly enjoying the book.)

• Fee McBee on Banana Pancakes.  Finally, we saw a quite amusing tweet from an online acquaintance -- and a writer and podcast host in her own right -- on a single panel from KOBK #5, reposted below.

Fee writes, "Pershing Square does the best banana pancakes."

Google relays that Pershing Square Cafe is a cafe restaurant located across from Grand Central Terminal, under its Park Avenue viaduct.  It serves breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner, and desserts, along with a bar menu, beer, and wine.

And for $17, they'll sell you traditional buttermilk and organic whole wheat pancakes, with 100% pure grade A maple syrup, blueberries, strawberries, banana, or chocolate chips.

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Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Now Online, UNDERTOW PODCAST #8 - Case File: Scene of the Crime!

Published just today is episode #8 of The Undertow Podcast, where we closely examine Scene of the Crime, the first collaboration between Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips in what has proven to be a long and productive partnership.

The book was created by Ed Brubaker and Michael Lark.  Lark would become another longtime artist for the writer in his transition from indie comics to superhero comics, for DC's Gotham Central and Marvel's Daredevil.  Here he did all the pencils, he inked issue #1 before recommending Sean Phillips to ink the rest of the series.

The title debuted in December, 1998, in the ten-page story "God & Sinners" in Winter's Edge #2, an annual publication by DC's Vertigo imprint used to feature upcoming titles and stories.  Scene of the Crime was first intended to be an ongoing series and then a sequence of mini-series, but ultimately it appeared in just a four-issue mini-series, containing the story "A Little Piece of Goodnight."

By the time Winter's Edge #3 was released in November, 1999, the creators were already moving on to other projects, going separate ways if only temporarily.  This third and final issue introduced writer Ed Brubaker's series Deadenders, his post-apocalyptic nod to "mod" with artist Warren Pleece, and it showed artist Michael Lark working on a Dead Boy Detectives title called Books of Magic, with writer Peter Gross.

The mini-series and its preceding short story were republished, first by DC in a bare-bones trade paperback in 2000 and then by Image in an deluxe, oversized hardcover in November, 2012.  Dropping the "Goodnight" title from the cover and introducing a few panels of new artwork, this new printing serves as the definitive version of the title.

Scene of the Crime was short-lived but significant -- confident, if a little wordy, in its telling of essentially two dark tragedies, the PI's backstory and the mystery he was investigating -- and it was a tremendous debut for the team of Brubaker & Phillips.

I believe that, in focusing on this book, we recorded our most interesting discussion yet.

As always, episodes are available on iTunes and Podbean.

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Sunday, January 22, 2017

Details on the KOBK Walking Dead Variant Cover -- FOC This Monday!

After we posted Wednesday, about the new releases of Kill Or Be Killed and next month's variant cover presenting an homage to The Walking Dead's debut issue, we received Ed Brubaker's latest newsletter, which is also archived online.

In addition to reminding everyone of the new books in stores, Brubaker provided more info on that variant.  He confirmed that Sean Phillps created the "awesome tribute," and he gave a word of advice to interested readers.
If you want one of these, I'm guessing you'd better tell your retailer. I expect they'll disappear pretty quickly. 
We reached out to the always-friendly staff at our local comic shop -- Great Escape Comics & Games -- to reserve a copy (or two), and they relayed some additional information that's worth passing along.

  • Orders on the variant cover aren't limited by ratios or any other type of incentive, so retailers can order as many copies as they want.
  • Perhaps even more importantly, final orders on this book are due THIS MONDAY.
With an apparent Final Order Cut-off (FOC) date of Monday, January 23rd, fans who want to guarantee a copy with this very cool variant cover should reach out to their retailers immediately, to have them order and reserve a copy. 

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Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Kill Or Be Killed Vol 1 & #5 In Stores Today, Walking Dead Tribute Variant in February -- and More!

After a relatively quiet December, Kill Or Be Killed returns today.  At your local shop, you should find both the first, discounted trade paperback collection and the next issue in Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips' ongoing vigilante story.  A four-page preview of KOBK #5 is available at Image's website, linked above, and on its homepage, Image Comics highlights the new issue with a couple extra image details and some cryptic allusions to the new issue.


We saw that the year ended with a new email newsletter from Ed Brubaker, and subscribers were treated to an early look at the 4-page preview, at a slightly lower resolution.  We also got a preview of the artwork for the back-matter essay, in which a new contributor -- culture critic Kim Morgan -- takes a close look at the 1971 black comedy Little Murders.  And, we get a bit of behind-the-scenes artwork and some elaboration on the premise of Kill or Be Killed,

Brubaker briefly explained why he abruptly shut down his Twitter feed in late November:  he explains that one reason is that, despite attracting some 90,000 followers, more people receive his newsletter than see an individual tweet.

And, he reminds readers that he's working on other projects...

(The culture site Vulture ended 2016 with a preview of this year's upcoming horror movies, and the list includes the Brubaker-penned remake of Maniac Cop, with a release date still TBD.  We last reported that the movie was scheduled to be filmed this past summer.) his newsletter, Brubaker teases, "I have a few secret TV projects in various stages. One that you could hear about at any moment."  We haven't seen any announcements so far, but we'll be sure to keep our readers posted.

Readers can check out the entire newsletter online, and Ed Brubaker has now provided a simpler web address for new readers to subscribe:


Finally, the big news this month was that, on Friday the 13th, Image Comics announced a set of variant covers to be released this February, on the 25th anniversary of the publishing company's debut.  Current series will honor the past with homages of important covers from other Image titles -- for instance, Sex Criminals and The Wicked + The Divine pay tribute to each other's debut issues -- and the press release includes eleven of the fifteen 25th anniversary variant covers.

At the top of the page is the variant cover for Kill Or Be Killed #6, honoring what may be Image's most widely read single issue, The Walking Dead #1.

It appears that Sean Phillips did this cover -- check out the SP17 on the wall, just underneath Dylan's shotgun-filled hand -- and a close look reveals what has captured Dylan's attention.  In the reflection of the shattered storefront window, we see the cop from the standard cover for issue #6.

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Tuesday, January 17, 2017

The Complete, Collaborative Works of Brubaker and Phillips: A Brief Bibliography.

Robert and I are starting off the new year with a long look back to the very beginning of Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips' amazing work together.  Since we've had a month-long break between issues of Kill Or Be Killed, we're taking time this week to devote an Undertow Podcast episode to their very earliest collaboration, Scene of the Crime.

The pair tends to produce ten comic books a year, and we may use these occasional quiet months to slowly work our way through their entire body of work -- or at least their work as a team, a still quite hefty subset of the many books that list Brubaker or Phillips in their credits.

To prep for this literary travelogue, I made some notes on their books' order of publication:  we posted a brief list of their major and minor collaborations back in 2011, but it didn't go into details about story arcs.  The two keep returning to our favorite series Criminal between their other titles -- and we've had three new titles debut in the last half-decade -- so it was worth putting together these additional notes, and we think our readers might appreciate our posting the list online.


The following are the collaborative works of Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips, listed by the original sale date of the single-issue story or the story arc's debut, cross-referenced against Comic Collector Live and the Grand Comics Database.  Dates are listed by month, with the day included in parentheses only to resolve any ambiguity in the order of release.

Titles that currently span more than one story arc are color-coded, and the original trade paperback collections are listed if a single listed work spans more than collection.

Unless otherwise indicated, all works below credit Ed Brubaker as the sole writer and Sean Phillips as the sole artist, excluding lettering and coloring.  Relevant works that exclude one or the other creator are included in parenthesis.

Scene of the Crime
Pencils by Michael Lark, Inks by Lark (#1) & Sean Phillips (#2-4)
DC Vertigo, Mar-Jun 1999

Batman: Gotham Noir
DC, Mar 2001

Batman #603 - “The Turning Point”
DC, May 2002

(Point Blank, Sleeper prologue, written by Brubaker and drawn by Colin Wilson, with the protagonist Holden Carver designed by Phillips: WildStorm, Aug-Dec 2002)

Collected in “Out in the Cold” (#1-6) & “All False Moves” (#7-12)
WildStorm, Jan 2003 - Jan 2004

(Coup D’Etat: Sleeper written by Brubaker and drawn by Jim Lee: WildStorm, Feb 2004)

“Sleeper, Season Two: Prelude”
Coup D'Etat: Afterword
Wildstorm, Mar 2004

Hawkman (2002) #27 - “The Black Bird”
DC, Apr 2004

Catwoman (2002) #32 - “Only Takes a Night”
DC, Jun 2004 (June 23)

Sleeper: Season Two
Collected in “A Crooked Line” (#1-6) and “The Long Way Home” (#7-12)
WildStorm, Jun 2004 - May 2005 (June 30)

Gotham Central #33-40
Cover art by Phillips, #33-35, 37-40
Created by Brubaker & Greg Rucka; Brubaker stopped writing for the series after #36
DC, Jul 2005 - Feb 2006 (series debuted in Dec 2002)

Criminal: Coward
Criminal #1-5
Icon, Oct 2006 - Mar 07

Criminal: Lawless
Criminal #6-10
Icon, May-Nov 2007

Criminal: The Dead and the Dying
Criminal Vol. 2 #1-3
Icon, Feb-Jun 2008

Criminal Emission: “No One Rides for Free”
Liberty Comics
Image, Jul 2008

Criminal: Bad Night
Criminal Vol. 2 #4-7
Icon, Aug-Dec 2008

Icon, Jan-Sep 2009

Criminal: The Sinners
Icon, Oct 2009 - Mar 2010 (Oct 7)

Criminal Emission: “21st Century Noir”
Noir: A Collection of Crime Comics
Dark Horse, Oct 2009 (Oct 21)

Incognito: Bad Influences
Icon, Oct 2010 - Mar 2011

Criminal: The Last of the Innocent
Icon, Jun-Sep 2011

Collected in five trade paperbacks:
Book 1: Death Chases Me (#1-5)
Book 2: The Devil's Business (#6-10)
Book 3: West of Hell (#11-14)
Book 4: Pray for Rain (#15-19)
Book 5: Curse the Demon (#20-24)
Image, Jan 2012 - Jul 2014

The Fade Out
Collected in three trade paperbacks, each comprising a 4-issue “act”
Subsequently collected in a single-volume deluxe HC and bare-bones TPB
Image, Aug 2014 - Jan 2016

Criminal: Wrong Time, Wrong Place
Criminal Special Edition & 10th Anniversary Special
Image, Feb 2015 & Apr 2016

Kill or Be Killed
Collected in four trade-paperback volumes:
Vol. 1 (#1-4); Vol. 2 (#5-10); Vol. 3 (#11-14); Vol 4. (#15-20)
Image, Aug 2016 - June 2018

"The Spirit" single-page story
The Spirit of Eisner: Celebrating the Centenary of the Birth of Will Eisner
Lakes International Comic Art Festival, Oct 2017
(Phillips also coordinated the publication of the newspaper-sized comic)

My Heroes Have Always Been Junkies
A Criminal Novella, published as a hardcover OGN
Image, Oct 2018

Criminal Vol. 3
Story Arcs Forthcoming
Image, Jan 2019 - present

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