Saturday, June 23, 2018

Bullets: a Virgin Variant, an Eisner Nod, and The Next Project Announced!

It's been one very busy week, not even counting a news item that we previously overlooked.

Virgin Variant for KILLED OR BE KILLED 20.  Looking at ComicList's advance forecast for Image Comics, we saw an intriguing second entry for the upcoming final issue to Kill Or Be Killed, for "Cover B Sean Phillips Virgin Variant", linking to a TFAW product page with the second image shown below.

We reached out to the artist himself, and Sean Phillips confirms the listing:  the final issue of Kill Or Be Killed reaches stores with a second, "virgin variant" cover with all the trade dress removed, allowing readers to enjoy the homage to Romita's Spider-Man in all its undiluted glory.

Phillips has since posted a pic of what appears to be his comp copies of both versions, telling readers that the issue "includes a teaser for our new book," which we'll cover further down.

Both versions of the issue -- standard cover and virgin variant, both shown above -- are due next week, on June 27th.

• Brubaker & Phillips Interview for KOBK Finale.  As we were investigating the variant cover this past week, CBR was doing its own work of journalism, posting an extensive interview with the primary creators of Kill Or Be Killed as the vigilante series wraps up.  We think this is the first interview with Phillips since January, and we can't remember the last time Brubaker talked with the press.

Ed Brubaker doesn't want to spoil the final issue -- or even confirm Dylan's fate and "reveal whether he actually did die" -- but he describes it as "the weirdest comic I’ve ever written, probably."  Still being wary of spoiling the issue, he also says it deals "in some ways" with the question of whether the antagonistic Demon is real.

Sean Phillips, meanwhile, describes his characters' evolution, his use of Fairburn's popular reference book series from the 1970's, and Bettie Breitweiser's contributions in adding color to New York through all four seasons.

As coy as the pair is about how the series wraps, the interview includes pages from the upcoming issue, presumably from the opening act, constituting a three-page preview that we're including below.

Brubaker mentioned that he's learned, "never say never," regarding a return to any fictional world, and he's "keeping his fingers crossed" on the film adaptation involving members of the creative team behind John Wick: "I’m helping to produce the movie, but not on a day-to-day level like I am with my current TV show at Amazon [Too Old to Die Young]."

Sean Phillips, meanwhile, is working on covers for home video, film soundtracks, and a Glasgow band, and his eight-page WWI comic with Ian Rankin is still due in October.

And what about the pair's next collaboration?  It's evidently a pair of projects, first an original, hardcover graphic novel, due in October, and then another serialized book which we believe to be the anticipated return to the world of The Fade Out.

Phillips is returning to drawing on paper for the former -- this graphic novella -- and Brubaker said that this project "will be announced soon."

He wasn't kidding.

• Due In October, MY HEROES HAVE ALWAYS BEEN JUNKIES. The CBR interview was posted on Monday, June 18th.  The very same day, Image Comics released its September solicitations, which included an advance solicit for the pair's upcoming graphic novella.

OCTOBER 10 / 72 PAGES / FC / M / $16.99 
The first original graphic novel from the bestselling creators of CRIMINAL, KILL OR BE KILLED, THE FADE OUT and FATALE. Teenage Ellie has always had romantic ideas about drug addicts, those tragic artistic souls drawn to needles and pills have been an obsession since the death of her junkie mother ten years ago. But when Ellie lands in an upscale rehab clinic where nothing is what it appears to be... she’ll find another more dangerous romance, and find out how easily drugs and murder go hand-in-hand. MY HEROES HAVE ALWAYS BEEN JUNKIES is a seductive coming-of-age story, a pop and drug culture-fueled tale of a young girl seeking darkness... and what she finds there. A gorgeous must-have hardback from the award-winning team of ED BRUBAKER and SEAN PHILLIPS, with acclaimed color artist ELIZABETH BREITWEISER.
The title may be a riff on the melancholic country song popularized by Willie Nelson. I wonder how often I'll conflate the titles here and on the podcast -- or combine them and reference the Cowboy Junkies.

The next day, Image posted a press release for the book, which Sean Phillips reposted at his blog.

In the release, Brubaker describes the book as their version of a romance comic, confirming that it's also a crime story: "But it's one that allows me to mine some of my own pop culture obsessions and delve back into my teen years and the kind of trouble you can only get into when you're young."
This is evidently the "romance comic" that Phillips reference in an earlier interview, and we do wonder if this started out as that Criminal novella.

On Twitter, Phillips adds that, along with returning to paper for this project, he'll be providing the colors along with his son Jacob Phillips.  I believe this will be only the second time Sean Phillips has been a colorist, the first being the pair's contribution to The Spirit Newspaper.

• Eisner Nod for The Spirit Anthology.  On the subject, we had earlier overlooked the late-April announcement -- covered by the LA Times among others -- of the 2018 Eisner Award nominations.

We found the following among the nominees for Best Anthology:
  • The Spirit Anthology, edited by Sean Phillips (Lakes International Comic Art Festival)
By our reckoning, this is the first year since 2014 that a Brubaker and Phillips collaboration hasn't been explicitly nominated for any Eisners, but they did have a one-page contribution to The Spirit newspaper-sized comic.

The Eisner Awards will be announced Friday night, July 20th, at Comic-Con International in San Diego. Between the Spirit comic's subject matter and rationale (the centenary of its creator Eisner's birth) and the murderer's row of creators, we're expecting good things.

On Twitter, Sean Phillips has a pinned tweet to remind readers that this anthology he edited is exclusively available through worldwide mail order from Page 45 Comics -- and here is the direct link.

• New Prints for Upcoming Works from Brubaker & Phillips.  Finally, Sean Phillips very recently announced new prints at his Big Cartel store, for artwork from this fall's big releases:  the cover for the single-volume trade collection for The Fade Out and the cover for the new novella, My Heroes Have Always Been Junkies.  In the case of the latter, two options are available, with and without the creators listed.

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