Friday, September 22, 2017

Yes! The Spirit of Eisner Newspaper Comic will be Available by Mail Order!

The Thought Bubble Festival is underway in Leeds, England, and OK Comics is selling their Femme Fatale beer this weekend, with label artwork from Sean Phillips:  the labels (and prints!) came in earlier this week, followed by the fresh cans of brew.

Seeing the finished product, we wonder how the labels are attached, and whether they can be easily removed after purchase -- and we see that at least one design (and presumably the entire batch) is now described as a Sputnik Pale Ale rather than the Herzog Kolsch Style beer.  And we see that the artist himself has arrived in Leeds and has signed at least some of the cans of Femme Fatale beer.

We hope this weekend's festival goes well, but we have some very big news for next month's Lakes International Comic Art Festival.

Sean Phillips has tweeted that The Spirit of Eisner newspaper comic has been printed and has already arrived, allowing him to share a few photos of the finished work, including the cover photo we're reposting above and a little bit more of his one-page Criminal-style collaboration with Ed Brubaker.

Asked how fans can get a copy if they can't attend the festival, Sean replied, "It'll be available mail order too."

Just yesterday, he elaborated: "It’ll be available mail order from @PageFortyFive"

We haven't found a listing in Page 45's online store, but we'll keep looking, and we note that the Nottingham comic shop's Twitter profile includes the very encouraging notice, "We Ship Worldwide!"

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Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Brubaker/Phillips: Partial Reprint of Gotham Noir and Newly Found Inventory of Criminal Deluxe Hardcovers.

Yesterday Image Comics released its December solicitations, and we see that nothing is scheduled from Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips:  we'll apparently have to wait until the January solicits, at the earliest, to get more info on the partial cover art we mentioned in our last post, which seems to show Dylan being institutionalized.

We still have a couple things to cover today.

Just last week ComicList published a press release announcing a "free new, promotional comic BATMAN IN NOIR ALLEY from Turner Classic Movies and DC."

The comic promotes a new "programming franchise" from the always great TCM. Noir Alley features a different noir classic each Sunday at 10 am ET and is hosted by Eddie Muller, founder and president of the Film Noir Foundation.

This promotional comic includes cover art by Dan Panosian, a new 14-page story by Stuart Moore and Valentine De Landro, and a 14-page excerpt of Batman: Gotham Noir by Brubaker and Phillips.

Gotham Noir was the team's second collaboration and the first featuring artwork entirely by Sean Phillips.  It was originally printed as a prestige-format Elseworlds comic in 2001, then reprinted in 2011, and it's well worth checking out -- but as someone who already has Gotham Noir, I'm just as interested in the other, all-new Batman story.

In a separate press release announcing the comic -- and a 360-degree experience and a 7-episode digital feature -- TCM gives a few more details:
The free comic book follows Batman and [TCM host Eddie] Muller on the trail to solve a case after the famed Moroccan Raptor goes missing from the Gotham City Museum. Written by Stuart Moore and cover art by Dan Panosian, the comic is available in select comic-book stores nationwide starting today and will also be available in DC’s booth at NY Comic-Con in October. [emphasis mine]

Batman In Noir Alley is in stores today, but supplies are presumably limited for the free book.

The other bit of news is about Criminal, more specifically its two deluxe hardcover editions.  In August, we relayed some info about new listings for the books found on Amazon: Sean Phillips explained online that the listings are for old stock that was found in a warehouse.

These two books were included in ComicList's rundown of Image's new releases for the week of September 6th, albeit without verification from Diamond Comic Distributors.  Since then, more info has been relayed in a CBR forum thread, after one forum member reached out to retailers and publishers.

The retailer InStockTrades is quoted as writing, "These items are not new printings. These are copies of the old printings that were recently found and have been transferred to Image from Marvel. The books say Icon on the spine and on the inside of the books it says Marvel. The only difference is that Image added a sticker to the back of the book to cover up the Marvel ISBN and to show an Image ISBN. Please let us know if you have any other questions."
Image Comics was asked whether there are plans for true reprints of the deluxe editions, and they replied, "We don't currently have a release date for that Criminal edition, but keep an eye out on the website for any updates. Thank you!"
Between the two volumes, the books collect all the Criminal stories that Brubaker and Phillips released while the title was being published through Marvel's Icon imprint.

Volume 1 collects the following:
  • Coward
  • Lawless
  • The Dead and the Dying
  • "No One Rides for Free", the short-story "emission" from Liberty Comics #1
  • "Caught in the Undertow," the prose story from the very first issue
And Volume 2 rounds out the work before the team's big move to Image.
  • Bad Night
  • The Sinners
  • The Last of the Innocent
  • "21st Century Noir," the short-story "emission" from Dark Horse's Noir: A Collection of Crime Comics
Both books have a complete set of cover artwork, lots of artwork that Phillips created for the bonus essays, and some behind-the-scenes features.

Personally, we'd like to see truly new printings, perhaps ones that make some very minor changes to how the oversized hardcovers present the material.  We wonder just how much new stock was discovered, and -- between the two one-shots (collected in Wrong Time, Wrong Place) and the upcoming "novella" -- we wonder how much material would be needed for a third volume.

While we think it would definitely be overkill to buy a second copy of these books just for the Image ISBN sticker, we have long considered these editions to be must-have books for Criminal fans.

...and we greatly appreciate the heads-up from Kevin Sels, who pointed us to the CBR forums!

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Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Bullets: Undertow Podcast on KOBK #11, Preview of KOBK #12, and Much More!

Lots happening today:  the latest episode of The Undertow Podcast was just published, with a lengthy look at Kill Or Be Killed #11, and Image Comics has released a suspense-filled three-page preview of issue #12, which reaches stores tomorrow.

We have more details on both in a quite lengthy post below, along with a few other items.

Undertow Podcast on KOBK and Kirbyesque Craziness.  Robert and I very recently recorded our thoughts on issue #11, the first chapter in the series' third arc and an apparent turning point in Dylan's effort to leave behind his new career in vigilante justice.

With its reprise of the series' opening flash-forward and a renewed focus on whether Dylan is delusional or truly demon-possessed, the issue seemed to be a kind of response to the discussions we've had in earlier episodes -- just as it was awfully eerie to read that Rex was a family man who liked reruns of Perry Mason.  The creators probably don't listen in, but it's still gratifying to see that our close look at the book is paying off down the road.

As always, episodes of The Undertow Podcast are available on iTunes and at Podbean.  We hope everyone enjoys listening as much as we do making this show, and if you do, we'd appreciate your spreading the word, especially with an iTunes review.

And if Ed, Sean, and/or Bettie do listen in... hi, y'all! We hope ya like the show.

In addition to discussing KOBK, I heartily recommended Strange Science Fantasy, a 2010 mini-series by Scott Morse and IDW.  Marvel and DC are both commemorating the 100th anniversary of the birth of "King Kirby," and I can think of no better book to recommend than this one, which honors Kirby with entirely new tales.

I stumbled across the series when it was first published in monthly issues.  I was immediately struck by the cover art, which we're including above.  The covers sum up the book quite nicely:  loose artwork and bombastic narration telling almost primal stories of heroism.  Each issue tells a complete story, which is why it was so much fun to read the serialized issues, but readers will discover a work that is greater than the sum of its individual chapters.

I quoted at-length from two articles that give a good introduction to the work, CBR's 2010 interview with the creator and a 2011 review at Full Stop, by a reader who is frustrated by the melodrama of modern comics and their sprawling continuity.

Those who like this book might also enjoy other works by Morse, including the crime story Volcanic Revolver, the boxing tale in Southpaw, and the autobiographical Tiger! Tiger! Tiger!  I still find that Strange Science Fantasy is the most complete, most satisfying work I've read by Scott Morse.

I can't imagine that the book will be to everyone's taste, but those who are intrigued by the premise and especially the cover art should definitely give it a shot.

Updates on Sean Phillips Projects: Femme Fatale Beer and The Spirit of Eisner Newspaper.  In the podcast, we mention a few recent developments on Sean Phillips' side projects, and we should definitely make note of them here.

In our last blog post, we relayed news about that mysterious Rita Hayworth artwork that the artist had previously teased:  Sean Phillips has created four can designs for Femme Fatale beer, a Herzog Kolsch style beer to be brewed by North Brewing Co. and sold at Tall Boys Beer Market in Leeds, England, commemorating OK Comics' 15th birthday with a party toward the end of next week's Thought Bubble Comic Art Festival.

In addition to the beer, the announcement noted the sale of "a small quantity of limited edition prints, based on the Sean Phillips beer can designs. They will be signed, framed and ready to display."

On Twitter, OK Comics has since provided more info on these prints, including a photo of the framed artwork, which we're reposting above.  The signed and framed print will sell for 20 pounds, and while they anticipate the store will sell out quickly, Jared promises that the store will stock the item until the supply runs out.

For those of us unable to visit the festival next week, even better news came from Sean Phillips himself, tweeting his own announcement about new prints launching at Thought Bubble in Leeds.  As before, the prints are of the artist's favorite femme fatales, but -- going by the photo he posted, shown above -- there's a separate print for each actress, and the artwork is unadorned by the beer can layout.

In that tweet and elaborating on Instagram, Phillips relays that leftover prints will be available after the festival, in his online store at Big Cartel.

The other big news is for another big festival in England -- the Lakes International Comic Art Festival in mid-October.  In May, we noted the announcement of the festival's Spirit of Eisner newspaper comic, which Phillips is coordinating and which will include a one-page story by Brubaker and Phillips; in August, we highlighted preview art from the Brubaker/Phillips contribution and hints at creators not mentioned in the original press release.

Since then, Sean Phillips has pinned a tweet with the apparent cover art of the newspaper broadsheet comic, shown above -- and he's given followers on social media previews of more artists' contributions, including Jason Latour and Bryan Hitch (drawing a story written by Jonathan Ross).

It looks like Phillips' rendition of the Will Eisner's celebrated masked hero is in the upper right corner, and the previously seen signed drawing by Michael Cho is in the bottom right corner.

The comic is part of a celebration of Eisner's centenary: Will Eisner was born in Brooklyn in March, 1917; Jack Kirby was born less than six months later, across the East River in Manhattan.  The festival's page for the nearly month-long "Spirit of Eisner" art exhibition describes the comic as "a 12-page broadsheet newspaper with 10 self-contained stories," and Cho is not listed as one of the contributors.

On Twitter, Phillips describes the book as "twelve massive pages of awesome Spirit stories," and the twelve images on the cover seems to come from 12 quite distinctive works.  We wonder if the final book is a little bigger than originally advertised.

According to the official site, "The newspaper will be on sale at the festival with proceeds towards LICAF’s Artists’ Development Fund."  We're still hoping the comic will also be available for purchase online.

• More Details on the Criminal Graphic Novella.  Another item briefly covered in the podcast is the Criminal graphic novella that was first announced in June.  In the back pages of KOBK #11, Ed Brubaker gave readers a little more information.
  • Sean Phillips is confirmed as the book's artist, and he'll work on the title alongside drawing the monthly issues of Kill Or Be Killed
  • The book's publication should be in 2018, most likely in the summer or fall.
  • The format will be similar to the recent adaptation, from Dark Horse Comics, of Neil Gaiman's short story How to Talk to Girls at Parties.
  • The story's central character is from the first Criminal tale, "Coward," but not Leo or Gnarly. 
We confirmed that the Gaiman adaptation, by Fábio Moon and Gabriel Bá, is a traditional comic of sequential artwork.  It is not a book of illustrated prose, like Neil Gaiman and Charles Vess' Stardust.

Personally, I wonder if the upcoming book's protagonist might be Genuine Jen Waters, the old friend of Leo and Tracy who now works as a cop in the Internal Affairs Department, a pariah among both her old friends and her current coworkers.

• Kill Or Be Killed Allusions and Illustrations.  Finally, we come back to Kill Or Be Killed, beginning with the movie mentioned in today's online preview.  It would be easy enough for curious readers to track down the movie title online, but we recognized it fairly quickly as The Edge, whose trailer is embedded above.  Wikipedia notes that the 1997 thriller, starring Anthony Hopkins and Alec Baldwin, is also one of the last film appearances for the trained Kodiak Bart the Bear, who naturally enough has his own entry.

That preview isn't the only hint of things to come:  as we also noted in the podcast, Sean Phillips has been posting a detail of a piece of artwork in several stages of development -- here, here, and presumably completed here -- and we're reposting the latest version below.

We can't help but notice the familiar row of fangs in the upper right corner, and we suspect that this is another piece of artwork from Dylan's disturbed dad.

If that image weren't eerie enough, in his Instagram feed and reposted in Twitter, Sean Phillips has provided previews -- here, here, and just today here -- of an impasto-style painting, what is now undoubtedly an upcoming cover to Kill Or Be Killed, possibly issue #15 kicking off a new arc or perhaps a new cover for the third arc's trade collection.

We're wrapping this overlong post with that last preview, posted without commentary.

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