Thursday, September 10, 2009

Bullets: Auction, Interview, Preview, & Gotham Central.

Busy week.
  • Update on Criminal Auction for Ostrander. The auction we mentioned Monday wrapped up the next day, selling three opportunities to have a Criminal corpse named after you, to benefit comics writer John Ostrander as he struggles with very serious medical bills.

    I wonder if the auction's short span over the Labor Day weekend kept it from raising even more, but the three eBay listings -- here, here, and here -- raised $2,240. It appears the auction was quite successful, and Ed Brubaker has relayed his thanks to everyone who bid.

  • Criminal Interview and Preview. We've begun to see some promotional work for the return of Criminal, as late last week Comic Book Resources published an interview with Ed Brubaker on "The Sinners."

    The interview seems to confirm a suspicion I had in May, that the title will no longer be numbered as an ongoing monthly.
    "Criminal: The Sinners" marks the beginning of a new publishing model for the series. Instead of an ongoing series with continuous numbering, the book will now operate similar to "Hellboy" in that it will become an ongoing series of miniseries. "The idea is we’ll do 'Criminal' and then another project, the next one being a follow up to 'Incognito.' Then we'll do another 'Criminal' story and after that something else," Brubaker explained. "That way we can keep changing things up. Doing different projects helps revitalize us, and keep us excited about bring good stories to our readers. I always joke that our books are like public radio, in that we’re reader-supported, but it really is true. So we always want to make sure we’re giving our all to the people who are making our collaborations possible."
    This quote also suggests that Criminal will alternate with other projects rather than be interrupted only occasionally. This approach heightens risks that I outlined in December, that creator interest and reader interest might wane if the title shares too much of the spotlight with other works, with the end result being that fewer Criminal stories are told. I continue to hope that these risks are worth the reward.

    On a more immediate subject, Brubaker relays that "The Sinners" will provide a wider view of the comic's universe, including reappearances of Sebastian Hyde, his muscle Chester, and even Gnarly and the Undertow. As with previous arcs, the story is self-contained, but it rewards faithful readers: "You can grab 'The Sinners' and just start from there and hopefully it will be the kind of thing where if you’ve read all the 'Criminal' stories you’ll find Easters [sic] eggs here and there."

    The interview includes a five-page preview of the new issue -- a preview that's also available at Sean Phillips' blog -- that may already show some of the subtle ties to earlier stories.

    Tracy Lawless has proven to be an inconsistent hitman for Hyde, deciding to kill only those he deems deserving of death. We're told, "Tracy wouldn't just erase a guy who stood in the way of some real estate deal," which may be an allusion to the same shady deal that drove "No One Rides for Free," the Criminal short story in Liberty Comics #1.

    But the narrator also notes that Tracy has no qualms about killing "a scumbag, a degenerate gambler who wouldn't pay." That's a potentially revealing detail into Tracy's inner psychology, considering the gambling debt that motivated the brutal actions of his father Teeg Lawless, in the trio of stories under "The Dead and the Dying".

    And, I believe the interview gives us the first look at the full cover art for issue #3, complete with the title branding. Earlier Sean showed us a preview sketch and the completed artwork, and the new image -- posted above -- confirms that issue #3 has its title in a more traditional location.

  • Second Gotham Central hardcover, in stores now. I had first noticed this in April but failed to add it to the extensive fall schedule, which I'll update shortly: the second hardcover collection of Gotham Central is hitting comic stores this week.

    The forty-issue series was written by Ed Brubaker and Greg Rucka, illustrated primarily by Michael Lark, and eventual had cover art by Sean Phillips. It focused on Gotham's Major Crimes Unit and its difficult cases dealing with the city's infamous psychopaths and caped vigilantes. My first extensive encounter with noir comics, Gotham Central served as a "gateway drug" of sorts, leading me from traditional superhero fare to work like Criminal, Sleeper, and Greg Rucka's Queen & Country.

    Gotham Central is probably the main reason I was so eager for Criminal. (For what it's worth, subsequent stories involving some of its originally down-to-earth main characters is a big reason I've largely soured on the "DC Universe.")

    This volume -- Book Two: Jokers and Madmen (no relation to the lackluster Batman Confidential arc, "Lovers and Madmen") -- collects issues #11-22, complete with cover art and an introduction by Duane Swierczynski. In addition to "Soft Targets," a Joker story that may well have informed The Dark Knight, the book includes four issues that haven't been previously collected, including a personal favorite, Ed Brubaker's quiet stand-alone story, "Daydreams and Believers."

    I got my copy last night, and I confirmed that it corrected a problem with the trade paperback collection, "Unresolved Targets," where there was a page where almost all the dialogue is missing. In a thread at the Comic Bloc forums, Greg Rucka explained that the problem affected the entire run, and another forum member provided a .jpg file of the original issue's dialogue.

    With that issue resolved, I could not recommend this book more highly. Hopefully the rest of the series will be collected in another volume or two over the next couple years.

Buy Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips comics from

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Blogger ADD said...

Thanks for the reminder about Gotham Central Vol. 2 in hardcover; I didn't realize it had some of the uncollected issues. Just ordered it from my comics shop.

8:02 PM  
Blogger Bubba said...

No problemo: it's what I'm here for. :)

With the first hardcover collecting 10 issues, and the second collecting 12 issues, I do wonder how the other issues will be collected -- and I do hope that we have all forty issues in hardcover over the next couple years.

But, yeah, because Vol 2 has those four previously uncollected issues, it's definitely worth getting even though Vol 1 just repeated material from the first two trade paperbacks.

I will note that, even if you eventually replace any Gotham Central trade paperbacks with the hardcovers, you SHOULD hold onto the second TPB, for "Half a Life." It includes two non-GC stories -- from Batman Chronicles #16 and 'Tec #747 -- both of which were written by Greg Rucka and which serve to set up "Half a Life."

9:34 PM  
Blogger ADD said...

It's like you read my mind; I really was thinking of getting rid of the paperbacks. Just what I need, MORE multiple versions of stuff!

2:43 AM  

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