Friday, August 25, 2017

Bullets: November Solicits, Postcards and Beer Cans, and More!

We saw a very cool tweet from Sean Phillips today:

Wikipedia's featured article for today, August 25th, is the entry on The Fade Out, Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips' award-winning noir set in the Golden Age of Hollywood.  Debuting three years ago this month, The Fade Out has proven to be one of the team's best books, one which we must revisit soon.

The Wikipedia article is exemplary, placed by the editors in the top 0.1% of the site's pages, and it sets the table for our lengthy post of news items.

Kill Or Be Killed #14, Scheduled for November.  Image Comics released its November solicitations on Tuesday, and it includes another issue of Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips' ongoing vigilante series. 
"The shocking conclusion of the third arc of BRUBAKER & PHILLIPS’ bestselling series! Dylan's war against the Russian mob hits a fever pitch, as the demon returns from the shadows."
Since this wraps the third arc, this issue presumably includes the last of Sean Phillips' interlocking covers, which will form the collage shown above.

The issue is scheduled for a November 29th release -- the week after Thanksgiving -- and we would expect December to be a "skip month" for the series, allowing the next arc to debut in the new year.  The third trade paperback collection might still be released just in time for Christmas, but prior releases suggest that Kill Or Be Killed Volume 3 will reach stores the same day as issue #15.

...and, looking even further ahead, our guess is that these first 14 issues will eventually comprise the first deluxe hardcover collection of the series, with a page count similar to the deluxe editions of The Fade Out (12 issues), Fatale (two volumes, collecting 10 issues & 14 issues), and Velvet (15 issues).

Inspector Rebus Turns 30, with Postcards by Sean Phillips.  We completely missed this last time, but Tripwire magazine's creator and editor-in-chief Joel Meadows published an interview with Sean Phillips on the artwork he created for the 30th anniversary of Ian Rankin's Inspector Rebus.

The Scottish novelist recently released the 22nd full-length novel for the Edinburgh detective, and Entertainment Weekly briefly interviewed Rankin about this latest entry in the popular, bestselling series -- and how he became a murder suspect researching the first Rebus novel. 

From Meadows' interview, we learn that Sean Phillips and Ian Rankin are friends: Phillips has read all the Rebus books and is a fan of a few British crime writers, "especially Ian, Denise Mina and Mark Billingham," and Rankin happened to have purchased a few issues of Kill Or Be Killed the day after Phillips took this assignment.

Sean used ink on paper to create the black-and-white artwork, keeping the title character in shadows and a trench coat.  Ian Rankin had final approval, but he and Orion Publishing approved all ten pieces without recommending any changes.  The artwork is featured in a slideshow at Tripewire's website, linking to a single Imgur page with all ten images, and we've posted four of our favorite images above.

It's been difficult to find more details about where exactly these postcards are being made available, but a search of the Orion Publishers' website produces only one hit for "Sean Phillips," a three-book hardcover box set.  Amazon's listing for the Rebus Anniversary box set notes that the package "also includes 10 limited edition postcards," and these are almost certainly what Phillips produced.

It appears the Rebus Anniversary set was released earlier this month.

From top: Lauren Bacall, Rita Hayworth, Veronica Lake, & Gene Tierney
• Femme Fatale Beer, with Can Designs by Sean Phillips.  Some quite surprising news came out Wednesday, revealing the purpose for that lovely Rita Hayworth artwork we noticed in July.

OK Comics in Leeds, England, is celebrating its 15th birthday with a party on the night of September 23rd -- the same weekend as the Thought Bubble Comic Art Festival, taking place just a short walk from OK Comics' city centre location.

The store is launching a beer for the occasion, brewed by North Brewing Co and available for purchase that entire weekend at Tallboys Beer Market, next door to the city centre OK Comics.  You can see both the comic shop and the beer market below, in the quite picturesque photo OK Comics recently tweeted.

Evidently named Femme Fatale beer and based on North Brewing's Herzog brand of Kolsch-style German ale, the beer features four different can designs from Sean Phillips, "based on his favourite Femme Fatales."

On Twitter, Sean Phillips identified his four subjects for us:  Lauren Bacall, Rita Hayworth, Veronica Lake, and Gene Tierney.

Above, we've posting a collage of the process for the image of Rita Hayworth in the title role of the 1946 noir Gilda.  The images Phillips tweeted include an in-progress drawing, the completed inks, the completed, colored artwork, the can layout incorporating the pencils, the nearly finalized beer can label, and the finished design,

Lauren Becall was also featured in that "inks" tweet above and in a subsequent detail of the final image, and Phillips also posted the in-progress art of an earlier drawing of Gene Tierney -- in-progress details of the inkwork, shading, and coloring -- which we're reposting below.

Perhaps the most interesting aspect about this announcement can be found among the details for the shop's birthday party, in the event's Facebook page:
- Sean Phillips PrintsWe'll have a small quantity of limited edition prints, based on the Sean Phillips beer can designs. They will be signed, framed and ready to display.
It is not clear whether the beer or the artwork will be available elsewhere, either for purchase within the UK or for international orders.

And, although he is not included in the list of creators participating in the party's signing event, Sean Phillips is officially listed as a featured guest at Thought Bubble.

• Recommended Reading on Donald Westlake, Robert Mitchum, and Elvis Presley.  Finally, we'd like to highlight a few online essays that might interest our readers.

First, thanks to the official Twitter account of Hard Case Crime, we see that the Los Angeles Review of Books has published a lengthy essay on Donald Westlake, the "writer's writer's writer."

As Richard Stark, Westlake created Parker, the consummate professional thief whose novels were adapted by Darwyn Cooke in four killer graphic novels.  Hard Case Crime has already published (or reprinted) six of his novels with a seventh novel, a comic caper, already scheduled for next year.  Most recently, the imprint released the never-before-published Forever and a Death, based on a treatment of a James Bond film that was never produced -- and thereby hangs a tale and another interesting article.

Next up, the incomparable Mark Steyn recently published an essay on the classic noir Out of the Past, whose star Robert Mitchum was born 100 years ago this month.  The film itself turns sixty later this year, and in the back pages of this month's Kill Or Be Killed, Ed Brubaker named it his personal favorite noir and possibly his favorite film of all time, with "one of the greatest endings in the history of film."

Long-time readers might remember that Brubaker himself wrote a bonus essay about the movie in one of the very first issues of Criminal -- issue #2, I believe.  We're reposting Sean Phillips' artwork for the essay above, and the essay's another good reason to dig through our back issues.

Finally, Mark Steyn has also been commemorating the fortieth anniversary of the death of Elvis Presley.  One quite long piece stands out above all the rest, the most recent "Song of the Week" essay on one of the most beautiful songs of all time, the quiet "Love Me Tender,"

One doesn't have to read his Twitter feed long to realize that Sean Phillips isn't politically simpatico with the conservative pundit, but Steyn's apolitical writing on culture -- and especially music -- is worth everyone's time.

I also know that, like U2's Larry Mullen Jr and my own departed mother, Sean Phillips is a hu-u-uge Elvis fan, and I couldn't recommend Steyn's essay more highly to him and any other fans.

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Wednesday, August 09, 2017

New This Week: Kill Or Be Killed and the Undertow Podcast!

Almost exactly a year after its debut on August 3rd, 2016, Kill Or Be Killed continues with two new releases, both out today:  the Volume 2 trade paperback collects issues 5-10, and issue 11 continues the crime series by Ed Brubaker, Sean Phillips, and Elizabeth Breitweiser.

Image Comics has released a three-page preview of the new issue, and the story comes full circle to the opening scene, reusing the layout of some memorable key panels, as shown below.

KOBK #1 page 2, #11 preview page 2

In his first-person narration, Dylan directly addresses some questions we've been expressing in our podcast, and -- on the subject -- episode 15 of The Undertow Podcast delves into the previous issue to find that it raises more questions than it answers.

The episode was just released a few hours ago, and we think the discussion might be a good way to transition from the series' second arc to the brand-new issue.  As usual, Robert and I enjoyed discussing the comic -- and we recommend a couple movies on the way -- and the podcast can be found at iTunes and on Podbean.


Finally, from social media, we see that there are a couple special offers of Kill Or Be Killed being made available through a few retailers in the British Isles.

OK Comics in Leeds, England, is offering, with copies of the KOBK Volume 2 trade collection, an exclusive mini-print drawn and signed by Sean Phillips.  From a photo of the monochromatic print, shown above, it seems the print is limited to 50 copies; the store has announced that they received more orders for the book than for any other title, ever, and that they can no longer take any additional pre-orders.  They're selling the remaining copies on-site, starting today.

And Dublin's Big Bang Comics is selling a variant of the KOBK Volume 2 TPB with both an exclusive cover -- with the cover art from issue 8 rather than issue 5 -- and the exclusive bookplate shown below, signed by Brubaker & Phillips and featuring the enigmatic watercolor that the artist showed fans in July.

Big Bang Comics is selling the variant/bookplate combo online through eBay.  We see from the photos and description that they're doing so in association with Forbidden Planet London, which has a parallel listing on its ownn website.

Having previously purchased comics from the UK, we can confirm that American readers can often have books shipped internationally (if not always), but personally we're most interested in the next chapter of this twisted vigilante series.

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Tuesday, August 01, 2017

Bullets: Undertow Podcast on A.D. After Death, Spirit Preview Art, New Inventory and a New Vertigo Collection, and Much More!

New releases for Kill Or Be Killed are just around the corner -- issue #11 and the Volume 2 trade paperback are both due on August 11th, and Sean Phillips has already tweeted a photo of the comp copies he's received -- but we'll kick off the month with quite a few items of interest.

• Undertow Podcast Bonus Review of A.D. After Death. In lieu of our usual segment of monthly recommendations, Robert and I recorded a bonus episode of The Undertow Podcast to discuss a previous recommendation:  A.D. After Death, a combined comic book and illustrated prose novel written by Scott Snyder with art by Jeff Lemire.

A hardcover collection of the three-issue mini-series was released at the end of June, our podcast discussion recently came out, and I couldn't sum up both any better than Robert did in the description for episode 14:
"Great sci-fi, with a touch of crime, and gorgeous watercolors made this a fun to book to read and break down."
As always, The Undertow Podcast is available at iTunes and on Podbean.

• Preview Art of Brubaker and Phillips' The Spirit.  As we reported in May, Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips are contributing a one-page story to The Spirit of Eisner, a 12-page newspaper-sized comic honoring The Spirit, on the centenary of the birth of its extraordinary creator.

Phillips is also coordinating the publication of this comic, to be released by the Lakes International Comic Art Festival in October, and in subsequent tweets he's treated fans to previews of eight different pages.  In addition to a signed drawing by Michael Cho and the distinctive cartoony style of Sergio Aragonés, we see a panel crediting Chris Samnee, who was not listed in the March press release.

Perhaps even more exciting for Brubaker and Phillips fans, the artist has announced that he's finally underway with their contribution to the project, and he has posted more than a dozen preview photos, from thumbnails and photo reference, to digital pencils subsequently transferred to paper and inked.  Over the weekend, Phillips tweeted that he has completed the inks and will do his own color work for this story (confirming his role as colorist on Twitter), and he's posted a partial preview of the vibrant neon colors with some completed lettering.

We've seen quite a bit of the first few panels -- including photos of the artist holding up the single page, in pencils and again in partial inks, shown in the collage below -- but we're sure that, for both his work and for the others, Sean Phillips is saving a lot of surprises for the book's readers.

New Art By Sean Phillips, for Rawhead Rex and JD's Revenge.  We mentioned that Sean Phillips has been creating artwork of Rita Hayworth in our previous post, and Phillips relayed that the work is for a separate project and not for a bonus essay.  This project has still not yet been formally announced, but it appears that Ms. Hayworth is not the only subject.

In the meantime, other projects have been officially announced.

First, AICN reports the return of the 1986 British horror film Rawhead Rex, with a screenplay by Clive Barker and based on a previously published short story by the horror writer.  The film is getting a 4K restoration for a limited summer run and a Blu-ray release in the fall, and Sean Phillips created the poster for the re-release.

AICN provided an exclusive look at the resulting work, which we're including below.  The distributor's official site lists ten North American theaters screening the film between August and October.

And, at his own blog, Sean Phillips has posted both a preliminary draft and the final version of the menacing artwork for Arrow Video's release of a 1976 blaxploitation horror film JD's Revenge.  The release is due in October but not yet listed on the distributor's official site.

Phillips will apparently be reusing the artwork in a promotional banner for his artwork, shown below and making its debut at September's Thought Bubble festival in September.

Kill Or Be Killed & Criminal Fall Short at the Eisners.  The winners of the 2017 Eisner Awards were announced at Comic-Con last Friday night, and Brubaker, Phillips, their collaborators, and their collaborations all fell short in the five categories in which they were nominated -- all against very tough competition.

We congratulate the winners, and we're happy to see Black Hammer win the award for Best New Series: according to The Beat's live blog of the awards ceremony, writer Jeff Lemire said the award was won only because of artist Dean Ormston's incredible recovery from a stroke after finishing the first issue.

We weren't aware of the stroke, we're so glad that Ormston is recovering, and we've been enjoying the series thoroughly.

• Westworld Second-Season Preview.  The Eisner Awards weren't the only big news from Comic-Con, as a lot of film and television projects have been promoted with new footage.  Along with an elaborate installation promoting the fictional, futuristic resort, producers of HBO's Westworld debuted a two-minute trailer of new footage from the upcoming second season.

Ed Brubaker was quite heavily involved in the first season, joining the writer's room, being credited as a supervising producer for five episodes, and receiving a writer's credit for one episode.  It's not clear whether Brubaker is working on the second season, but we're sure we'll find out soon enough.

• New Inventory for Older Hardcover Collections -- and a New Hardcover of Brubaker's Vertigo Comics?  On Twitter, an online friend Kevin Sels has been telling us about some interesting new listings he's found on Amazon.

The Criminal The Deluxe Edition Volume 2 hardcover (the listing has the cover art from volume 1) and Incognito: The Classified Edition hardcover are both scheduled for a January 2nd release date.  These listings might have been the first hints of new printings by Image Comics, but Sean Phillips explains that the books are "just old stock that was found in a warehouse somewhere."

We're even more intrigued by Kevin's tweet about a February listing, for a 272-page hardcover, scheduled for a February 27th release:  Vertigo by Ed Brubaker.  This is the very first we've heard about this.
Classic Vertigo tales by Eisner Award-winning author Ed Brubaker collected for the first time in hardcover edition. The best Ed Brubaker's Veritgo stories are collected together for a wild and sometimes supernatural ride!
It begins with reprinted material from VERTIGO VISIONS: PREZ #1 in election year '96, with the country coming apart at the seams. Prez Rickard, long missing and presumed dead, has been sighted at a roadside diner in the American heartland. A trio of restless young misfits, one of whom believes he is Prez's son, sets out across America in search of answers for their country's woes--answers that only the former Chief Executive can provide. Then, from WINTER'S EDGE #2, a gang of suburban kids devises a fool proof get-rich-quick scheme. Followed by stories from the best supernatural detectives that are not alive, in DEAD BOY DETECTIVES.
These amazing tales from one of the great voices in the comics industry today are collected together in hardcover in VERTIGO BY ED BRUBAKER! Collects VERTIGO VISIONS: PREZ #1, WINTER'S EDGE #2, GANGLAND #3 and DEAD BOY DETECTIVES #1-4.
These kind of listings are always subject to change, but this may give serious fans a second chance to get some oversized hardcovers, stuffed with bonus features, and a first chance to get some of Ed Brubaker's earliest stories, collected for the first time.

We will certainly relay more info about these books as we find it.

And big thanks to Kevin for sharing these discoveries with us and eliciting more info from Sean!

• Solicitations and Preview Art for Upcoming Issues of Kill Or Be Killed.  Finally, Image Comics have released their October solicitations, and they include another issue of Brubaker and Phillips' ongoing vigilante comic.
Caught in the crossfire between the police and the Russian mob—and his sanity—Dylan begins to realize his problems are more dire than he thinks. BRUBAKER & PHILLIPS’ multiple Eisner-nominated series keeps racing from hit to hit in this action-packed third arc!
Lucky number 13 of Kill Or Be Killed continues the connecting cover art which Brubaker previously described as "one long cover image of escalating violence," and the issue is scheduled for an October 18th release.

But even more interesting is a bit of artwork that Sean Phillips posted on Instagram on July 17th, which we're including below.  In a previous tweet showing the work in-progress, we learn that the work is a watercolor, and the artist subsequently reveals that it's for the "Next issue of Kill Or Be Killed."

We're intrigued, to say the least.

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