Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Bullets: Second Printing, Reviews, and Appearances!

KOBK #1 an Immediate Sellout, Gets a Second Printing.  It occurs to us that Kill Or Be Killed debuted in only one format -- a standard cover with no variants, "Just the one cover, the one comic," as Ed Brubaker described it on Twitter.

This hasn't happened with a Brubaker-Phillips project for some time.  Along with the two Criminal one-shots, The Fade Out #1 (2014) featured an oversized magazine variant, and Fatale #1 (2012) came with two covers, one featuring Jo the beauty and the other featuring the beastly Bishop.

You have to go back to Incognito #1 (2008) to find a title's debut issue released without a variant, as even its sequel "Bad Influences" (2010) began with a "pulp" variant cover that was reused as the cover for the deluxe "Classified Edition."  Something of a surprise hit for Marvel's Icon imprint, Incognito #1 went back to press for a second printing, and we see that the same thing has happened with Image's Kill Or Be Killed.

Yesterday, Ed Brubaker announced that KOBK #1 "sold out last week," and this news is on the heels of a press release from Image Comics, that the series is "marked for success" as its debut issue has been rushed to a second printing.  The cover art is shown below, and it appears to be new artwork based on a single memorable frame from page #6.

Image Comics reports that the second printing to issue #1 will be available on September 7th, the same day as issue #2, and the final order cutoff deadline for both books is Monday, August 15th.

KOBK #1 Review Roundup.  One indication of the book's early success is its positive reviews, and the aggregator site Comic Book Round Up reports an average score of 9.1 out of 10, currently from 23 critics. 

Brubaker has sent out thanks to reviewers who didn't spoil this first issue, and I'm sure we'll see more in-depth analysis as the book's premise becomes more widely known and its implications unfold in subsequent issues.

Brubaker Appearances.  Finally, a brief review of Ed Brubaker's recent appearances online -- and an upcoming personal appearance later today!
  • Last week, Blastr posted a video interview from San Diego Comic-Con, where the writer discusses the research and complexity of The Fade Out, the rapid genesis of Kill Or Be Killed -- including a discussion with Robert Kirkman -- and his other projects, writing the Maniac Cop remake and joining the writing team on Westworld.
  • Over the weekend, episode #142 of the podcast How Did This Get Made? was published, a live episode recorded in Los Angeles reviewing the 1996 Billy Zane vehicle and commercial bomb The Phantom.  The episode includes Brubaker's second appearance on the show, this time focusing on one of the biggest characters of the pulp era: in 2013, he appeared on episode #75 to discuss Ben Affleck in Daredevil, after an award-winning run writing for the character from 2006 to 2009.
  • Later today, Brubaker is appearing at Collector's Paradise in Pasadena, signing copies of KOBK #1 alongside artist Tomm Coker who is signing copies of his book The Black Monday Murders #1, which arrives today.  The event is scheduled from 6 pm to 9 pm Pacific, just a few hours from now.
Details about the signing can be found on the Facebook page for the event, linked above.

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Wednesday, August 03, 2016

In Stores Today, KILL OR BE KILLED #1 and More!

Ed Brubaker, Sean Phillips, and Elizabeth Breitweiser's newest series debuts today, with Kill Or Be Killed #1.  Image Comics features the book on its homepage, describing it as a "new ongoing series" staring "a reluctant vigilante."

Brubaker's latest newsletter was sent out Monday, briefly reminding readers of the new series:  "It's getting amazing advanced reviews, and a lot of great word-of-mouth, so be sure your store is saving you a copy, so you won't miss it."

He tells readers that the series isn't what we expect, but that it's both humorous and dark, and he asks us to spread the word about the book.  He also includes the six-page preview that was featured in the first newsletter, but he points out that a few lines of text had been cut in the meantime.

(Check out the bottom of page 3.)

The newsletter also features behind-the-scenes artwork for two covers for Fatale, for issues #3 and #24, and even some details on a project that never saw daylight, the vampire-pirate mini-series Black Sails!  Interested readers should definitely subscribe and check out the archive.

We see that KOBK is also featured in this week's slideshow of comics that have Paste Magazine's attention, and Newsarama's Best Shots feature has a mostly-positive advance review.  On Sunday, Previews World published an exclusive interview with Brubaker, evidently given prior to the Eisners ceremony on July 20th.

In the interview, Ed Brubaker gives some insight to why KOBK is planned as an ongoing series:

"It just felt like an idea that, once I started digging into it, had a lot of different avenues to explore, and I wanted the freedom of an ongoing series to do that. It's a very 'what happens next?' kind of story, and few things do that as well as a monthly comic book series. Kirkman told me to aim for at least 50 issues, but we'll see."

...and, Jared at OK Comics in Leeds, England, tweets that their copies of the comic comes with an exclusive print signed by all three creators.

With all this publicity, we're intrigued, to say the least.

...and reaching your local shop today are a couple other books you might find interesting.

First, there's Liberty from Image Comics -- or more precisely, The CBLDF Presents Liberty trade paperback.  It evidently reprints a book we mentioned a few years back,  the 2014 hardcover collection of the Liberty annuals from 2008 to 2012, benefiting the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund.  The collection includes a rare Criminal story, presumably "No One Rides For Free," which was originally featured in 2008's Liberty Comics and was subsequently collected in the first Criminal Deluxe Edition.

Second, there's the third and final trade paperback collection of Tom Scioli's bonkers Transformers vs GI Joe, which I've mentioned before and recommended in the first Undertow Podcast.  I'll be honest that, after reading all the monthly issues, I'm waiting for the deluxe edition this singular work deserves.

I might have more to say about my hopes for that deluxe edition some other time, but we'll definitely have more about Kill Or Be Killed, as it will be the focus of our next podcast.

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Tuesday, August 02, 2016

UNDERTOW PODCAST EPISODE 3 Now Online, with a Closer Look at Velvet!

The third episode of The Undertow Podcast has just been published and is now available on iTunes and Podbean:   recorded at the end of July and published on August 1st, this episode focuses on Velvet by Ed Brubaker and Steve Epting, which has just wrapped its first major story arc.  Robert and I also cover some recent news items and recommend a few other comics for our listeners.

Ms. Templeton is currently on vacation, with her spy series currently on hiatus, and we're commemorating "Book One" of her series with a collage of cover art from the 15 monthly issues and the subsequent trade paperbacks, including the third volume, which is currently scheduled for September.

As before, I've placed an extra-large, 2.2-MB version on Google Drive.

We'll have another post up soon, about this week's new issues, including the debut of Kill Or Be Killed by Brubaker, Phillips, and Breitweiser!

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Saturday, July 23, 2016

THE FADE OUT, 2016 Eisner Winner, Best Limited Series!

We wrote yesterday that we hoped this would happen, and it did, at least for the work if not its creators.  We believe Bleeding Cool announced the winners first, and the official site confirmed it:  The Fade Out has won the 2016 Eisner Award for Best Limited Series!

Our hearty congratulations go out to Ed, Sean, and Bettie, and we remind readers that the book's Deluxe Edition is scheduled for October 12th.

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Thursday, July 21, 2016

THE FADE OUT Deluxe Edition, Due October 12th.

In Image's August solicitations, which was released at the end of last month, we find an advance solicitation for the latest -- and much-anticipated -- deluxe edition from Brubaker and Phillips, a single-volume collection of The Fade Out.


OCT 12 / 400 PAGES / FC / M $49.99

The most ambitious project yet from the award-winning team of ED BRUBAKER and SEAN PHILLIPS, with acclaimed color artist ELIZABETH BREITWEISER—finally available in the gorgeous deluxe edition their fans have come to expect! A picture-perfect recreation of a lost era, THE FADE OUT is an instant classic from one of comics most acclaimed teams.

Collects THE FADE OUT #1-12
(It has been overshadowed by the news surrounding Velvet and especially Kill Or Be Killed, we didn't see any mentions on Twitter or in Brubaker's newsletter, and our own personal lives have been quite busy with only three blog posts in June or July, but we still can't believe we overlooked this.)

The cover art originally appeared in the oversized movie-magazine variant for issue #1, and here it appears without the effects that seemed to age and weather the cover.  And, it appears this deluxe edition has at least thirty extra pages of content, at least going by Amazon's page counts for the three trade paperback collections.

Of all of Brubaker and Phillips' collaborations, my favorite remains Criminal, with Sleeper a very close second, but with every reread -- and especially with my lengthy look back at the series -- my esteem has continued to rise for this sprawling noir novel and its look at the corruption behind Hollywood's postwar Golden Age. 

I'm quite looking forward to this release and to rereading this series, all in a single volume that best serves the story and in the deluxe format the story deserves.

...and we hope that our discovering this solicit today might be an omen for the Eisner Awards tomorrow night:  The Fade Out has been nominated for Best Limited Series, with Brubaker and Breitweiser getting nods for their respective work writing and coloring.

UPDATE, JULY 23RD. And it won, Best Limited Series!

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Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Bullets: Velvet #15 Out Now, Advance Reviews of KOBK, and More!

We have a long post that could have been made even longer, but we'll start with a couple big items, as one big story reaches a momentary conclusion and another one looms larger on the horizon.

Velvet #15, In Stores Today, with a Preview Online.  We recently covered the news that Ed Brubaker, Steve Epting, and Bettie Breitweiser's espionage period piece was going on a hiatus following this new issue and its "grand finale of the first big Velvet story."  The new issue hit stores today, following a three-page preview that Comic Book Resources published yesterday, and we can confirm that Brubaker doesn't reveal many additional details in the back pages, beyond plans "to return to Velvet, hopefully soon and often."

(Okay, there's also a hint of what we might see in the future, a reveal that might be considered a bit of spoiler in light of the preview.)

At the beginning of the month, ComicList's extended preview for Image Comics included a product change for the issue.
VELVET #15 will now run 40 pages at a price of $3.99, not 32 pages at a price of $3.50.
We can confirm both the slightly higher price and the extra-sized issue; we notice that finales tend to run long with Brubaker stories, but we're not complaining in the least.

Advance Reviews and Previews for Kill Or Be Killed.  In the back pages of Velvet, we find an extended preview of Kill Or Be Killed #1, the upcoming crime comic from Brubaker, Sean Phillips, and Breitweiser.  It's the same six-page preview that we mentioned earlier.  These first few pages of the debut issue were first released in Image+ #2 and then expanded upon with in-progress art in Brubaker's first email newsletter, and it has since made it to other publications.

Two weeks back, it was announced on Twitter that the preview was included in the new issue of The Walking Dead, and we see that it's in issue #156, upside-down in the back -- tête-bêche, a format popularized by the Ace Doubles books introduced in the 1950's --  which allows Phillips' cover art to serve as a proper cover to the preview.  Long-time readers may remember that, despite being published through the Icon imprint of Image competitor Marvel, Criminal was featured in TWD ten years ago next month, with the five-page "trailer" for its first arc "Coward" being included in issue #30, and four years ago this month, Sean Phillips created a variant cover for the series' milestone 100th issue.

From Sean Phillips, we also learned that the book is featured in a five-page article of the latest issue of British comics magazine Comic Heroes.  The issue, released in early July, features Harley Quinn and Man-Bat on the cover, and the article evidently includes an interview with both Brubaker and Phillips.

And, advance copies of the debut issue is apparently reaching select readers, resulting in advance, reviews -- and advance tweets, as Rick Remender calls the book "an eerie layered bit of stunning greatness."

In a spoiler-free review, Nerdist raves that issue #1 "is so much darker and more twisted than anybody guessed. It’s also freaking glorious and an awesome first issue of a promising new series."  Elsewhere, Comic Bastards gives the book a 5 out of 5, describing the issue's narrative structure but still avoiding much more detail, particularly for readers of Brubaker's newsletter.

The book should be hitting stores in just a couple weeks, on August 3rd, and ComicList's latest extended forecast for Image relays that the issue "will now run 48 pages, not 40 pages, with no change in price."

Solicitations, with Preview Art in the Latest Newsletter.  The latest issue of Ed Brubaker's email newsletter came out Sunday, and as before the issue is archived online, and readers should DEFINITELY subscribe to stay up-to-date.  In addition to fielding reader questions, Brubaker provides a ton of rare artwork:

  • a Fatale giclée that was available at the 2014 TCAF, where both Brubaker and Phillips made an appearance
  • several behind-the-scenes drafts of the cover art for Fatale #9
  • a "non-spoilery tease" for KOBK #2, black-and-white in-progress artwork for a single page, with text
  • the cover art for KOBK #3, along with an earlier sketch
We're reprinting the final cover art below, and it appears to have been omitted from the October solicitations that were released on Monday.

Kill Or Be Killed #3 cover, From the Desk of Ed Brubaker

(These first three issues' covers seem almost to tell a single story.  We wonder if that's deliberate, and we wonder if this "story" will continue to unfold on the covers.)

We overlooked Image's September solicitations, and the story's premise remains vague but very intriguing:
#2: Every killer has to have his first kill, and they're never easy.
#3: As our hero is drawn deeper into the shadows, his secret vigilante life begins to put everything he cares about in danger.
As with the first issue, these next two issues are solicited at $3.99 for 40 pages.

Fundraising and Tributes.  Finally, a couple brief notes, much more abbreviated than any one of these items deserve.

  • Ed Brubaker was announced among the first wave of the 2017 JoCo Cruise, a weeklong excursion down Baja California in early March, and it appears that the cruise continues its partnership with the Worldbuilders charity, where booklovers work together to help worthy causes.
  • Sean's wife Jeanette Phillips has set up a JustGiving page for Epilepsy Research UK. The 5K run/walk took place this past weekend, and she has already exceeded her goal, but people can still donate online.
  • Almost Darwyn Cooke's Blog has highlighted a tribute panel for the late, great creator at this year's San Diego Comic-Con International.  The one-hour event will start this Saturday evening, moderated by Jimmy Palmiotti and including Mike Allred, Scott Dunbier, Cully Hamner, Frank Tieri, and Bruce Timm.

We plan to pass along any reports on this panel.

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Thursday, June 30, 2016

Bullets: UNDERTOW PODCAST EPISODE 2, Brubaker's Newsletter and Audio Interview, and More!

We have couple big items to wrap up the month.

Undertow Podcast Now Online!  The second episode of The Undertow Podcast has been released and is now available on iTunes and Podbean.  Robert and I pay tribute to the late, great Darwyn Cooke, with an emphasis on two acclaimed works that might be of particular interest to our listeners -- and to our readers here:  his work with Ed Brubaker redefining Catwoman for the modern era and his four hardcover adaptations of Richard Stark's Parker series.

We also discuss and recommend two works I mentioned in my last post, both humorous looks at the genre of crime fiction: a new comic called The Fix and the movie (and accompanying novelization of) The Nice Guys.

(About The Fix, it looks like issue #4 is out next week, along with additional printings of the first three issues.  In the meantime, we've noticed, via Ed Brubaker's Twitter feed, that Paste Magazine posted an excellent article on the series early this month, resulting from an interview with the creators.  Nick Spencer is said to be a fan of "crime comic classics such as Criminal and 100 Bullets.")

We anticipate our next podcast episode will be released in late July, after the release of Velvet #15 -- and we're looking forward to it already.

Ed Brubaker on "How to Be a Person" Podcast. We're not the only one recording audio discussions for an online audience, and last week the podcast, "How to Be a Person," published their episode interviewing Ed Brubaker.  There's not much new about his creator-owned comics, but the wide-ranging conversation covers his childhood and his early encounters with comics, his work on Captain America and Gotham Central, and his recent job as one of the writers for the upcoming HBO series Westworld -- all before less serious segments, a how-to on creating the text for cartoon sound effects and a short game devising supervillain names for people in real life.

In the interview, Brubaker describes Westworld as the most ambitious sci-fi television series since the updated Battlestar Galactica.  A teaser trailer for the series was released just last week, and Ars Technica has more details on the creative staff and premise for the show, which premieres in October.

The one-hour podcast is available on SoundCloud, and we think it's worth a listen. 

More on Velvet & Kill or Be Killed in the Brubaker Newsletter. We mentioned this in our news digest at the beginning of the podcast, but Ed Brubaker's second full-length newsletter was sent out by email on June 15th.  He discusses DC's latest controversial moves involving the world of Alan Moore's Watchmen, and he's inviting readers to send questions -- and lucky readers who have their questions answered will also win a prize from the writer.

Brubaker includes some great artwork from his current books, both in-progress and in their final version.  There's a couple pages of action from Steve Epting for the upcoming issue of Velvet, and there's an advance look at Sean Phillips' cover art for Kill Or Be Killed #2, which we're reprinting below.

Kill Or Be Killed #2 cover, From the Desk of Ed Brubaker
There are quite a few items of note regarding both series.
  • Velvet 15 went to print the week of June 15th, and Ed explains that all of the various delays were due to him, not Steve Epting:  his workload has been too much, and this particular story has been intricate and difficutl to write.
  • This upcoming issue is the "grand finale of the first big Velvet story," and Brubaker is just starting the script for his next project with Epting:  this project is "still top secret," and the artist will be drawing something quite different from anything else currently on the stands.
  • This new project does NOT mean the end of Velvet, as Brubaker assures us that the series will return -- and that he's been sitting on "huge" news that he can't wait to announce.
We we're quite surprised to see that Velvet is going on a kind of hiatus, and while we have our guesses, we do wonder what the big news is on that front.  As always, we'll relay all news as we find it.

In the interim, one great way readers can keep up with the news themselves is to subscribe to Ed's newsletter.

The Grand Finale of Transformers Vs GI Joe. Finally, one of our other favorite series -- and the book I recommended in our first podcast episode -- wrapped up yesterday after an amazing two-year run:  Transformers vs GI Joe, a bonkers and brilliant series that pushes the very limits of what comic books can do, a self-contained riff on two licensed properties that has no business being as great as it is.

In that article on The Fix that we mentioned above, Paste Magazine mentions Scioli's "intricate Kirby-esque chaos" that makes it (like The Fix) a meaty book well worth rereading.  In its size and scope, it actually compares to another book we discussed in the latest podcast, Darwyn Cooke's epic love letter to the Golden and Silver Ages of DC Comics, The New Frontier.

On Twitter, series co-writer and artist Tom Scioli highlights a blogger's lengthy review of this last issue that points out that the entire run does things you can only find in comics -- and does it often, about six times an issue.  Printed in a prestige format for its extra-long content, this "Armageddon" issue did have quite a few cards up its sleeve, and -- to my surprise and delight -- it even left me wanting more from this particular universe. 

I've done this a few times before, for the works of Brubaker and Phillips...

- The 30 covers for Fatale's monthly issues and trade collections.
- The 6 covers for Image's reprints of the Criminal trades.
- The 12 covers for The Fade Out.

...but I've been so giddy over this sci-fi series that I made a quick collage of the cover art for the series -- at least of the standard covers for issues #0-#13 by Tom Scioli, and his wraparound variant for the finale.  (There have been more than two dozen other variant covers.)

As before, an extra-large version is available on Google Drive, clocking in at 4-MB.

If you grew up with these characters, and if these covers pique your interest, do yourself a favor and check out the series.

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