Tuesday, June 27, 2017

KILL OR BE KILLED: Summer Schedule Revised -- and a CRIMINAL Novella! (Updated Below)

We have a few noteworthy items about the upcoming books from Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips -- one looking at the immediate future and one looking toward the horizon.



First, Kill Or Be Killed #10 was originally solicited to be released this week, but the most recent extended forecast from the quite reliable ComicList shows that the issue has been rescheduled to the 2nd Wednesday in July.

This issue wraps the second arc, and the trade paperback collection for Volume 2 has also been pushed back, from late July to early August.  Interestingly, issue #11 is still listed as on-schedule, but I would expect it to be pushed back a week to coincide with the prior arc's trade collection.

Image Comics released its September solicitations last week, and issue #11 has been scheduled for the middle of the month.

SEPTEMBER 13 / 40 PAGES / FC / M / $3.99
It's Dylan vs. the Russians, with the whole city caught in between! Things continue to heat up in BRUBAKER and PHILLIPS’ multiple Eisner-nominated hit!
In looking at these dates, it's clear that the planned "skip month" between arcs has been consumed by a brief delay, but it seems the book is getting right back on-schedule.
  • Jul 12 - KOBK #10
  • Aug 9 - KOBK Vol 2 TPB, with KOBK #11?
  • Sep 13 - KOBK #12
That's four weeks between #10 and (our guess for) #11, and then we're back to the planned five-week gap between issues.



Much more interesting is a bit from the latest email newsletter from Ed Brubaker, sent just hours after our most recent post and similarly announcing the release of issue #9 and its online preview.

In answering a question about the magazine-sized variants -- explaining that, unfortunately, the format isn't as popular with retailers as it is with readers -- Brubaker writes that they're still experimenting with formats.

And he lets slip some amazing news.
Right now, I'm slowly writing a short CRIMINAL graphic novella as our side project, but no idea when it'll be out. Next year sometime, I'm guessing. [emphasis mine]
We're excited, to say the least.

The news does raise some obvious questions:  Will Sean Phillips be the artist?  If so, does this mean Kill Or Be Killed will be wrapping up soon, or is it just going on hiatus next year?  And how long will we be without a monthly fix from Brubaker and Phillips?

I go into much more detail in the upcoming episode of The Undertow Podcast, which is currently in production, but here are my entirely speculative guesses.
  • This Criminal graphic novella will indeed be created by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips.
  • If the work does come out next year, Kill Or Be Killed won't end; instead it will go on hiatus, perhaps at a cliffhanger or some intriguing status quo at the conclusion of the third (or fourth) arc, which may eventually constitute the first deluxe hardcover collection.
  • If the graphic novella is about the same length as Criminal arcs with four issues or less -- such as "Bad Night" or "The Last of the Innocent" -- we should expect its production to take about six months.
A half-year without Brubaker and Phillips would be tough, but I'm intrigued by a full-length story without the conventions of serialization.

UPDATE, JUNE 28.  Sean Phillips graciously commented on my speculative thoughts, implicitly confirming his role in the Criminal novella and relaying via Twitter that he'll work on the novella while simultaneously continuing his work on Kill Or Be Killed.

He elaborates, "KOBK has been on a five week schedule, and will continue on that (apart from #10 which is a couple of weeks late). Plenty of time for  Crim!"

We're thrilled that we'll still have our monthly fix without any lengthy interruption, and this approach will let the pair take all the time they need to produce this graphic novella. 

Brubaker and Phillips will take the Paul Masson approach:

They will sell no crime until its time.


And, on an unrelated note, Ed Brubaker also mentioned his excitement for Steven Soderbergh's upcoming film, Logan Lucky.  It's a humorous heist film set against the backdrop of NASCAR's longest race, and it stars an ensemble cast that includes Daniel Craig as an ex-con.  The film will be released in August, and its trailer came out just last month.

That's uncanny timing, seeing as we just recommended Soderbergh's 1999 film The Limey in the latest episode of The Undertow Podcast

Brubaker wrote that he liked the director's version of retirement, "making 20 episodes of an insane TV show and re-editing movies on his website."  The former is an allusion to The Knick, a medical drama set in New York at the dawn of the twentieth century, a two-season series that aired on Cinemax in 2014 and 2015.

You can get a sense of The Knick from a 30-second spot for the first season, here.

It's a show that might be worth checking out while we wait for Logan Lucky.

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Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Kill Or Be Killed #9 Out Today, Online Preview Available Now!

The latest issue of Kill Or Be Killed is in stores today, from Ed Brubaker, Sean Phillips, and Elizabeth Breitweiser.  We see that Image Comics has just posted a four-page preview, showing that the story picks up with the last issue's ominous cliffhanger.

The Image website also shows a slight change to the cover: a blurb has been added to highlight the series' Eisner nominations -- four of the five nods we noted at the beginning of the month, one each for the book and its three creators, with the fifth nomination being for the Criminal 10th Anniversary Special.

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Saturday, May 27, 2017

Undertow Podcast Episode 12 on Kill Or Be Killed #8 -- plus August Solicits and Preview Art.

The latest episode of The Undertow Podcast was released yesterday.  In addition to examining Kill Or Be Killed #8 in great detail, Robert and I discuss the news on this year's Eisner nominations and offer some recommendations for comic fans and film buffs.

(I mentioned work on a blog post reviewing the Eisner nods and wins for Brubaker, Phillips, their collaborations, and their collaborators:  that post is still coming, and it should be up soon.)

As always, The Undertow Podcast is available at iTunes and on Podbean.  We really enjoyed the discussion as we watch the tension and the danger ratchet up for Dylan, and we hope listeners enjoy the show as well.


This second arc wraps in June with issue #10, and issues #5-10 will be collected in July with  Volume 2.  After that one-month break, the monthly issues return:  issue #11's cover art and August release date was mentioned in a recent Brubaker newsletter, and they were confirmed by Image's solicitations, released earlier this week.
"The insane third arc of BRUBAKER & PHILLIPS’ hottest book yet begins with a bang, as Dylan turns the tables on the men hunting him."
The issue is scheduled for an August 2nd release.


Issue #9 is on-schedule for its release this Wednesday, May 31st, and we expect an online preview, a new newsletter from Ed Brubaker, or both.

In the meantime, we've seen a few bits of in-progress preview art from Sean Phillips' social media feeds, and it looks like things are going to get very interesting indeed.

A few weeks back, Sean posted a few bits of work in-progress -- the thumbnail and the subsequent inks of the action shot shown below, and a panel of a closeup -- and these are presumably from the upcoming issue #9.  It looks like the mobster from the last scene in issue #8, and it seems things don't go according to plan.

Just yesterday, Sean posted another preview image and a photo of the smudge guard he sometimes wears while doing his digital inkwork.  The former is explicitly described as a preview of issue #10, and in both we see Lily Sharpe alongside, we're guessing, detectives in the NYPD.

Things look particularly grim for a body found in a van -- and I have a sneaking suspicion about exactly whose bitter end we'll see.

We'll have more previews for issue #9 this week, as we find them.

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Wednesday, May 03, 2017

Eisner: Nominations and a "Newspaper" Comic!

Just yesterday, the San Diego Comic-Con International announced the nominees for the 2017 Eisner Awards, and we're thrilled to find nods to Criminal, Kill Or Be Killed, and all three of the books' talented creators:
  • Ed Brubaker was nominated for Best Writer, for his work on the Criminal 10th Anniversary Special, Kill Or Be Killed, and Velvet.
  • Sean Phillips was nominated for Best Cover Artist (for multiple covers) for the Criminal Anniversary Special and Kill Or Be Killed.
  • Elizabeth Breitweiser was nominated for Best Coloring for the Criminal 10th Anniversary Special, Kill Or Be Killed, Velvet, and Outcast by Kirkman & Azaceta.
  • The Criminal 10th Anniversary Special was itself nominated for Best Single Issue/One-Shot.
  • And Kill Or Be Killed was nominated for Best Continuing Series.
In the nominations, both books were credited to Brubaker & Phillips, but we would be remiss not to note that, on the covers to both, Bettie Breitweiser is prominently listed -- quite rightly -- as the the third creator.  We're glad to see her receive her own nomination in recognition of her mesmerizing contributions.

(And we would be equally remiss if we didn't express our firm conviction that Steve Epting was snubbed for not receiving a nomination for his work on Velvet.)

Brubaker and Phillips have been earning awards and nominations and other accolades for well over a decade, including a 2006 Best New Series Eisner for Criminal and a 2012 Best Limited Series Eisner for "The Last of the Innocent."  We're glad to see that they continue to be recognized, both for maintaining their high-quality work and for frequently exceeding the already lofty expectations of their readers.

The awards will be announced Friday night, July 21st, at Comic-Con International.

But now is a perfect time to acquaint yourself (or your friends) to Brubaker, Phillips, and Breitweiser's latest twisted take on crime comics:  Kill Or Be Killed #1 was re-released just today (albeit without the bonus content) in a one-dollar "Image Firsts" edition.

...and, we have more interesting news involving Will Eisner, for whom the comics industry's most prestigious award was named.  

This past March, the Lakes International Comic Art Festival announced a trio of projects to honor the centenary of the comic creator's birth -- namely, an extensive exhibit of Eisner's work; a competition inspired by his famed creation The Spirit, inviting art students to invent their own vigilantes; and a newspaper-style comic featuring new work by some of today's top writer and artists.

Titled The Spirit of  Eisner, this 12-page publication is described as "a celebratory broadsheet comic" that honors both The Spirit and the original format in which the series was published.  The book is officially sanctioned by the Will Eisner estate, its original artwork will be featured in an exhibit in the festival site of Kendal, England, and Sean Phillips recently commented at our blog to elaborate that "a few of the contributors will be appearing in person, some for the first time in the UK."

(Comparing the list of contributors against those already announced as guests, I found five attendees other than Phillips himself:  Sergio Aragonés, Michael Cho, Duncan Fegredo, Jason Latour, and Peter Milligan.)

As a festival patron, Sean Phillips is quite heavily involved with the festival in general and with this centenary celebration in particular.  As well as judging the student competition with crime author Ian Rankin, Phillips is coordinating this comic's publication, and -- as he mentioned in the festival's official podcast, which we referenced last week -- he and writer Ed Brubaker are contributing a page to this comic.

That's news that is definitely worth emphasizing:

Ed Brubaker & Sean Phillips are creating a one-page story for The Spirit of Eisner newspaper-sized comic for this year's Lakes International Comic Art Festival.

A few weeks back on social media, Sean posted see two bits of related artwork.  One is a definite in-progress preview of the first panel of what he subsequently describes as "one (giant) page" of a story, which we're reprinting below; the other is reprinted at the top of this post, and it may just be a sketch of Eisner's famous crimefighter.  (But what a sketch!)

The press release announcing these projects also states that the book "will be launched" at the festival, which is scheduled for the weekend of October 13th to the 15th.

Sean Phillips has another quite interesting project, which was also recently announced by the Lakes Comics Art Festival:  he has designed a republication of the first ever book on creating graphic novels, first published by Rodolphe Töpffer in 1845(!!!), with this new edition translated, edited, and introduced by John McShane.

In the press release for this special edition of this historically significant work, we find that the book will be available at the festival, but it "can also be ordered online from Page 45, the Nottingham-based comic shop that has been a longtime supporter of LICAF."

We haven't seen anything similar, stating that The Spirit of Eisner will be available anywhere other than the festival itself, but we're encouraged by the verbiage that the book will be "launched" there.

We'll certainly keep our eye out for any news about the book's availability for fans unable to attend the festival, and we'll be sure to pass along what we find.

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Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Kill Or Be Killed #8 Out Now -- and Looking Ahead to Later Issues.

The next issue of Kill Or Be Killed by Ed Brubaker, Sean Phillips, and Elizabeth Breitweiser is out today:  yesterday afternoon, Image Comics posted a five-page preview of issue #8 on the official site, and Ed Brubaker sent out an email newsletter providing the same preview and MUCH more.

Everyone who visits this blog really should subscribe to Brubaker's newsletter, and you can do so by visiting http://tinyurl.com/edbrubaker-list -- and if you browse the online archives of the three emails sent over the last two months, you'll see a lot of in-progress work for this upcoming issue.

Between the newsletter, social media, and recent solicitations, we have even more info about this new issue as well as upcoming releases.

For issue #8, out today, the bonus essay is evidently on the 1958 film Murder by Contract, with the essay written by Kim Morgan and the accompanying illustration by Sean Phillips.

For issue #9, out in May, Brubaker just announced that Sean Phillips' son Jacob Phillips illustrated the bonus essay, also penned by Kim Morgan, this time on the 1976 film Mikey and Nicky.

(Issue #10 has already been solicited for a June release, and it's probably too soon to expect any interior-art previews or other details.)

We anticipated July to be a "skip month" without any releases, but Image proved us wrong with their July solicitations, released last week.  Kill Or Be Killed Volume 2 is scheduled for a July 26 release; the 160-page trade paperback edition collects issues #5-10, and it reuses the cover art from issue #5.  Retailing for $14.99, the book will be significantly less than the total cost for the individual issues, discounted nearly 40%.

Finally, issue #11 hasn't even been solicited yet, but yesterday Brubaker gave his newsletter subscribers an advance look at the completed cover art, which we had seen earlier as in-progress details on Sean Phillips' Twitter and Instagram feeds -- see here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.

Kill Or Be Killed #11 cover,
  From the Desk of Ed Brubaker

From Phillips' tags, we learn that the work was painted with acrylics, and from Brubaker's newsletter, we learn that this is the first of several connecting covers (similar to these), as all the covers for the upcoming third arc will combine to form "one long cover image of escalating violence."

Ed Brubaker also confirms our earlier guess that issue #11 will come in August.

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Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Bullets: Undertow Podcast Episode 11, Details about Brubaker's TV Show, and Sean Phillips on the Comic Art Podcast!

A very busy work schedule has kept me from blogging sooner, but we have a few noteworthy items before tomorrow's release of Kill Or Be Killed #8.

• Undertow Podcast Episode 11, Now Online!  The latest episode of The Undertow Podcast was released just last week.  Robert and I focus on Kill Or Be Killed #7, and it was quite a good issue to discuss at length:  showing us "What Kira Sees," the issue seemed to come from an indie title about relationships, quite the change of pace from the series' usual vigilante killing.

As with all previous recordings, Episode 11 is available at iTunes and Podbean.

In the episode, we mentioned a couple news items that we hadn't already covered here, and they comprise the rest of this blog post.

• Miles Teller to Star in Brubaker's Too Old To Die Young.  We have news about the Amazon TV show that Ed Brubaker has co-created and is co-writing with Nicolas Winding Refn.  The Hollywood Reporter and Variety reported, nearly simultaneously, that Miles Teller, the star of 2014's award-winning film Whiplash, has been cast for the series.  THR reports that Teller will play "the lead role of Martin, a police officer entangled in the criminal underbelly of Los Angeles."

The article also provides more details about the show's premise.
"Die Young tells of a grieving police officer who, along with the man who shot his partner, finds himself in an underworld filled with working-class hit men, Yakuza soldiers, cartel assassins sent from Mexico, Russian mafia captains and gangs of teen killers. Amazon, which made the casting announcement on Monday [March 27], says the series will follow 'killers' existential journeys in becoming samurai.' "
The more we hear, the more we like.

• Sean Phillips Interviewed in the Comic Art Festival Podcast.  As Robert and I discussed quite a bit, there's an excellent interview with Sean Phillips in the official podcast of the Lakes International Comic Art Festival.

In the 2nd hour of their 2nd episode, Ian and Nikki interview the artist from his home studio, and the wide-ranging discussion serves as a kind of professional autobiography and companion to Dynamite's 2013 hardcover, The Art of Sean Phillips.

We learn that Scene of the Crime -- his first collaboration with Ed Brubaker -- was also Phillips' first project inking another artist's pencils, and Phillips worked on what became the breakout hit Marvel Zombies simply because he was "desperate for work." 

We get some details about how Phillips and Brubaker end up producing about ten issues every year: they work on a 5-week schedule, so releases seem monthly for quite a while before requiring a "skip month."

And, Phillips fields a question that my cohost Robert sent to the podcast, on his favorite musical artists.  As a technical writer in my day job, I can attest to the benefit of listening to music while I'm working, especially a great soundtrack album.

Most importantly, we learned that Brubaker and Phillips are working on a single-page contribution to a self-published, tabloid-sized newspaper comic commemorating the 100th anniversary of the birth of Will Eisner -- an announcement that deserves its own blog entry, which we plan to post later this week.

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Friday, March 31, 2017

Bullets: Brubaker's Green Light, Velvet Deluxe, and More Books on the Horizon.

• Green Light for Brubaker-penned Maniac Cop. There was big news late last week, as Variety exclusively reported that Nicolas Winding Refn’s Maniac Cop has been greenlit and is scheduled to film this summer, to be produced by Nicolas Winding Refn and directed by John Hyams.  As we noticed almost two years ago, Ed Brubaker has written the screenplay for this remake of the 1988 cult thriller.

Variety's Elsa Keslassy writes that, according to co-producer Lene Børglum, Maniac Cop "will not be a pure horror film but rather a contemporary and realistic action thriller."  We think the most interesting part of this news story is the summary of the movie's premise, which we believe we're seeing for the first time.
Set in the present, “Maniac Cop” follows a determined L.A. police officer who sets out to reveal the truth about the brutal murders of innocent people by one of her fellow cops.
Sounds like the protagonist is a female cop, perhaps much like Lily Sharpe, recently introduced as a likely antagonist in Kill Or Be Killed, or "Genuine Jen" Waters who has a minor role in Criminal, working in the city police's Internal Affairs Division.

• Velvet Deluxe Out This Week.  We noticed that the deluxe hardcover edition of Ed Brubaker's spy comic Velvet was rescheduled for release this week, on 3/29, moved from its original solicited date of February 22.

Comparing our original post on the book with the official listing on Image's website, we see two different cover images, and we believe the book features all-new cover art by Steve Epting, shown below.

The series is described as "a slick and sexy new take on the Cold War spy genre," and we note that this oversized volume collects the eponymous character's "first major storyline," so it appears we haven't seen the last of Velvet Templeton.

• More KILL OR BE KILLED in June.  We have some news items on a few upcoming releases.  First up, Image Comics released their June solicitations this past Wednesday, and it includes Kill Or Be Killed #10, with the cover Ed Brubaker showed fans in his most recent newsletter.

As his life spins out of control, Dylan and his demon come face-to-face once again.
The 40-page issue is described as the end of a story arc, and we presume this means that this will be the last chapter in the second trade paperback.  That would confirm our earlier theory that this second volume would be larger than the first, 4-issue volume, and we can now guess the schedule through the summer.
  • April: KOBK #8, currently scheduled for its solicited release date of 4/26
  • May: KOBK #9, also currently scheduled for its solicited release on 5/31
  • June: KOBK #10, solicited for 6/28
  • July: planned skip month
  • August: KOBK #11 and Volume 2, collecting #5-10
If past releases are any indication, Kill Or Be Killed Volume 2 and issue #11 will be released on the same day.

At The Undertow Podcast we'll take an in-depth look at each issue as it's released, and between arcs we plan to continuing our occasional series looking back through the collaborative works of Brubaker and Phillips, a series we started in January with Scene of the Crime.

KILL OR BE KILLED Image Firsts Edition in May.

In visiting ComicList and glancing at a recent extended forecast for Image Comics, we noticed an Image Firsts edition of the debut issue of Kill Or Be Killed.

As with their other popular titles -- including the previous books the publisher has produced for Brubaker and Phillips -- Image is releasing a one-dollar reprint of the title's first issue.

The Image Firsts series is "perfect for readers interested in trying out a variety of new titles without feeling the effects on their wallet."

 Original Graphic Novel Coming from Brubaker? Finally, Barnes & Noble's college-focused site The College Juice began this month with a spotlight interview with Ed Brubaker.  The article had quite a bit we already knew, but it included the intriguing revelation that the writer's "top secret" projects include "an original graphic novel."

We don't know anything else about this book, but we'll be sure to keep readers posted.

In the meantime, we'd like to thank Kevin Sels on Twitter for the heads-up!

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