Tuesday, November 05, 2013

A Criminal Revelation, a Preview of Fatale, and Much More!

Archie Lewis, a Fictional Writer in a Fictional World.

There's not much happening in the world of Criminal right now, but one new tidbit is worth repeating.

In the first chapter of "Bad Night," from Criminal Volume 2, #4, we came across a reference to a writer named Archie Lewis.   As we see from page 5 of the preview still in the archives at Comic Book Resources, Jacob monologues about how Lewis influenced his work habits.
I try to always leave a strip in progress, but close to being done.  It's an old Archie Lewis method, according to his biographer.  That way, the next morning you have something to start right in on.  Because that last panel calls out to you... like an unfinished sentence. 

We always just assumed that Brubaker was referencing an obscure writer in real life, but recently he revealed that the name was fabricated, his "riffing on Lew Archer, from the PI novels" -- a private detective created by Ross Macdonald (aka Kenneth Millar) in short stories and books published between 1946 and 1976.

In the Twitter conversation, Brubaker did confirm that the technique Jacob attributes to "Archer Lewis" is "real advice about writing, from someone, and it works to get you going the next day."

That's good, since I use the technique in my own writing, along with Raymond Chandler's "nothing alternative" -- setting aside time where I either write or do nothing productive whatsover, described in Roy Baumeister and John Tierney's book Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength

It's reassuring that this technique wasn't just conjured to add some color to an insomniac's inner monologue.

A Preview for Fatale #18.

For Brubaker fans, the new series Velvet has understandably been getting all the attention of late, but his horror-noir mashup with Sean Phillips keeps rolling along.  A five-page preview of Fatale #18 is now available from Comicosity and CBR.  The issue features one of the most striking covers in an already impressive run, and the preview begins to address that common conundrum in crime stories: what to do with the body.

This new issue of Fatale is in stores tomorrow.

Glowing Reviews for Velvet's Debut -- and a Second Printing.

Ed Brubaker and Steve Epting's creator-owned spy comic debuted to some very positive reviews, including at The AV ClubComics Alliance, Unleash the Fanboy, and The Outhousers.  An advance review was featured on We The Nerdy, and the comic is also discussed for a few minutes during a recent podcast by iFanboy, where it ends just behind Pretty Deadly #1 for Pick of the Week.

The good reviews accompany strong sales, and Image Comics has announced an immediate sell-out and second printing for the first issue.

The second printing will arrive simultaneously with Velvet #2, on November 20th.

An Award for Phillips in His Home Country.

With a tip of the hat to CBR's Robot 6, we saw that the 2013 British World Fantasy Awards were awarded this past Sunday at the World Fantasy Convention in Brighton, and Sean Phillips was given the award for Best Artist.  We congratulate Phillips for another bit of well-deserved recognition for his work.

Interviews with Brubaker, Breitweiser, and the Captain America Filmmakers.

Ed Brubaker has been interviewed quite a bit lately.
  • Two weeks ago, We The Nerdy put its Creator Spotlight! on Ed Brubaker. (See below for more.) They conducted a two-part interview at the Lakes International Comic Art Festival; in part one, they focus on Velvet, and in part two, they discuss Fatale, the Criminal film adaptation, and the end of his run on Marvel's Winter Soldier.  They also excerpted from a talk Brubaker gave at the Comics Art Fest, about the origin of Velvet.
  • Last week, Newsarama interviewed Brubaker about Velvet, its Cold-War setting and the narrative possibilities in the face of the era's technological limitations.
  • Just today, Earwolf released episode #75 of How Did This Get Made?, focusing on the Afflecked Daredevil film; Brubaker guest-hosts the one-hour podcast alongside regulars Paul Scheer, Jason Mantzoukas, and June Diane Raphael.
Bettie Breitweiser, the colorist for Fatale and Velvet, is also featured in a podcast.  She's interviewed in the last 20 minutes of yesterday's Giant Size podcast at the online network 5by5.

And, ComicBook.com highlighted part of an October 23rd USA Today story on the upcoming Captain America sequel.  The directors Anthony and Joe Russo have high praise indeed for Brubaker's take on the characters, and they intend to honor his work.
"He's an amazingly drawn character. He's so well conceived," says Anthony Russo of the Winter Soldier, who first appeared in Ed Brubaker and Steve Epting's Captain America comic book in the 2000s.

"It's one of the best comic runs in the last 20 years, one of our favorite comic runs of all time, and we really want to do it justice. It was important to us to make sure he just jumped off the page to the screen." [emphasis mine]
Captain America: The Winter Soldier is scheduled for an April 4th release.

Genre Books for Further Reading.

At the end of the Newsarama interview cited above, Brubaker makes an interesting point about the increasing diversity of genres in comic books.
“I feel there’s a revolution happening in creator owned comics; not about established guys doing books at Image but simply people creating good stories people want to read. I think Kim Thompson said something 20 years ago about how comics would improve in general if more crap was made. What he meant by that is that comics needs its John Grishams; it needs genre stuff that’s not just superhero, and finally that world is starting to happen. There’s stuff aimed at mainstream readers, from thrillers to horror to mystery. Last time I went to a comic store I bought twelve books, and ten of them were creator-owned comics, by some of the best writers and artists in comics.” 
It's worth reiterating, his point about comics: "it needs genre stuff that’s not just superhero, and finally that world is starting to happen. There’s stuff aimed at mainstream readers, from thrillers to horror to mystery."

Indeed it is happening, and vanishingly few of our recent purchases are superhero books.  More and more, my stacks are taken up by pulp and other genres, by creator-owned works and not just the latest reiteration of a long-established property.

What books would we recommend?

The book we've been most taken with lately is Planetoid by Ken Garing, a sci-fi tale that mixes world-building and myth with some quite personal, human touches.  The book isn't controversial, and it doesn't push the boundaries of what the medium can do -- which may explain why it's been somewhat overshadowed -- but it makes the most of the medium and is a book that rewards rereading.   The trade paperback was released just last week, and we expect years of exciting work from its creator.

Darwyn Cooke recently drew the cover art for Fatale #15's ghost variant, and he's been busy with gorgeous adaptations of a few of Richard Stark's Parker books, with the fourth adaptation Slayground due next month.  Just a few weeks ago, IDW Publishing announced that Cooke is designing deluxe, hardcover releases of the original prose novels, complete with color illustrations. (Hat-tip to The Outhousers.) 

The first book, The Hunter, is scheduled to be released in the first half of 2014.  Comics Alliance wrote that Cooke's adaptations are "nearing their conclusion," which is certainly true if the original plan of four books is still operative, but the press release states that Cooke "will continue producing his award-winning Parker graphic novel series for IDW." 

Either way, these illustrated crime novels would make another great bridge between the crime comics of Brubaker/Phillips and the hard-boiled prose in Hard Case Crime.

Finally, for those who are still exploring Brubaker and Phillips' work, I'd recommend the "Brubaking Bad" reading list from We The Nerdy.  It's included in their creator spotlight along with a Captain America reading list, spoiler-ish thoughts on Brubaker's Winter Solder character, and some thoughts on why we should eagerly anticipate the Winter Soldier film.

The Brubaking Bad reading list covers Brubaker and Phillips' work from Scene of the Crime to SleeperCriminal, Incognito, and Fatale

The pair has been responsible for some 1600 pages of  noir comics, intertwined with espionage, super-powers, and even Lovecraftian horror.  The works are readily available, in deluxe hardcovers for all but Fatale, so what's stopping you?

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