Sunday, September 09, 2012

A New Era for Ed Brubaker.

In what appears to be, coincidentally, our 200th post (counting 8 unpublished drafts), we're looking at a milestone for Ed Brubaker and taking an in-depth look at what is essentially a two-part exclusive interview with Comic Book Resources, from the last half of August.

Both interviews are well worth reading in full, the first in particular for insight into the inspiration behind Fatale and hints at what we'll see next in the horror-noir comic, but I'd like to highlight what we learn about Brubaker's broader plans as a writer.

In part one, Brubaker revealed that the scope of Fatale has expanded beyond its original three story arcs.  Between the second and third arcs, we'll now have four stand-alone issues set in different time periods, bringing the total number of issues to 19 or 20.  Having missed a month already, we'll probably see no more than 11 issues this year, and even in this interview Brubaker confirms the historical average of 10 Brubaker-Phillips issues a year, so I would expect the pair to focus on Fatale through to the very end of 2013, at least.

He also revealed, "my goal is to have two comics a month every month. One will be by me and Sean [Phillips], and one will be by me and someone else."

The success of Fatale prompted him to think, "Maybe I can just do a couple of the comics I own as half of my time, and then I can devote the rest of my work time to stuff I've been putting off for years and years" -- projects involving screenplays and television pilots.

He's seizing opportunities that he would regret not taking, but he reassures fans, "I'll always be a comics guy, and I've told Sean several times that no matter what, he and I are going to be doing comics together until we're old men."

On the one hand, the interview leaves the impression that Brubaker will be working on Marvel's Winter Soldier comic for the time being.  On the other hand, we have this:

"I'm just taking the part of my life that used to be reserved for superhero comics and putting that time towards TV and film work instead."

The other shoe dropped in part two, where Ed Brubaker announced that his run on Winter Soldier is ending with December's issue #14.  He's quite clear that he would like to return to the character someday, but this will bring to an end his work-for-hire on costumed superheroes for the time being.

What we have is a true end of an era for Ed Brubaker, and the start of something new.

I find that online comic-book databases aren't always precise in their publication dates, but this chronological listing of Brubaker's work from gives us a rough outline from which to sketch a pattern.

It appears that every major period of work has lasted about five to seven years, with perhaps a single transitional year between periods.

Below I've captured these "eras" along with some of the prominent works in each, and the major collaborations with Sean Phillips given extra emphasis.
1991-1998  Independent Comics

Dark Horse Presents, including "An Accidental Death" and "The Fall"
At the Seams

1999-2004  DC Comics

Scene of the Crime (Vertigo)
Deadenders (Vertigo)
Batman / Detective Comics
Point Blank (Wildstorm)
Gotham Central
SLEEPER (Wildstorm)

2005 Transition

Work ended on Catwoman, Gotham Central, and Sleeper; work began on Captain America.

2006-2011 Marvel Comics

Captain America
Immortal Iron Fist
Marvels Project
Secret Avengers

2012 Transition

Work ending on Captain America and Winter Solider; work begins on FATALE, published through Image Comics.
We're at the end of another transitional period.  In 2013, and for the first time since 1999, Ed Brubaker will not be writing any books for either of the Big Two superhero publishers.  We're back to purely independent, creator-owned work, though with a much higher profile.

[Update, May 1, 2021: We have arguably seen some further changes in Brubaker's work, in format rather than in subject matter or publisher.]

2013-2017 Monthly Series at Image Comics

CRIMINAL one-shots

2018-2020 Transition

Monthly work continued with KILL OR BE KILLED, followed by the original graphic novel MY HEROES HAVE ALWAYS BEEN JUNKIES; the third volume of CRIMINAL included an expanded hardcover for BAD WEEKEND; and soon after additional OGNs were released, PULP and RECKLESS.

2021- Original Graphic Novels at Image Comics


The Incognito: Classified Edition Deluxe Hardcover hit stores just this week, and by the end of next month, all of Brubaker and Phillips' creator-owned work with Icon will have been published three times over:  once in monthlies, once in trade paperback, and once in an oversized, deluxe hardcover edition.

I return to my suspicion from when we covered the end of Brubaker's run on Captain America, and I'm now making it a full-fledged prediction:  the next time we see a new issue of Criminal or Incognito, it will be published through Image Comics.

Beginning in 2014 2013, Brubaker fans can probably expect two creator-owned issues a month, both through Image:  one will be drawn by Sean Phillips, and the other will be... well, something else entirely.

(Update, 11/28: corrected 2014 to 2013.)

More announcements are surely on their way.

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