Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Ides of March Bullets: New UNDERTOW Podcast, New KILL OR BE KILLED, Sean-centric Solicitations, and More!

It's the Ides of March, and we have a lot to cover from the past few weeks.

UNDERTOW Podcast #10 on KILL OR BE KILLED #6!  The latest episode of The Undertow Podcast was released late last week, and Robert and I take and in-depth look at last month's issue of Kill Or Be Killed.

It was a good discussion on a dense issue, with the resolution of the cliffhanger in KOBK #5, the callbacks to every previous issue, the introduction of two antagonists for our vigilante Dylan, and an unexpected Easter Egg involving a previous work of Brubaker and Phillips.

As always, episodes are available at iTunes and Podbean.

KILL OR BE KILLED #7 In Stores Today! Our podcast is a great way to review the last issue before diving into the next one, which focuses on Dylan's best friend and former lover Kira. 

In February, Ed Brubaker provided an advance, black-and-white preview of the issue, and Image Comics has recently posted the same three-page preview, completed with Elizabeth Breitweiser's subtly increasing colors as Kira's scrapbook photos become more recent.

...and we see that Brubaker just sent out another email newsletter, describing this issue as his favorite for the series, at least so far.  The newsletter includes an additional preview page, proof that "the entire issue isn't all photo album pages."

Kill Or Be Killed #7 interior art detail,
  From the Desk of Ed Brubaker
And we can find one more preview image on Sean Phillips' blog, for the artwork accompanying the essay at the back of the new issue.  Writer Kim Morgan describes the subject as the "psycho-superb" Pretty Poison, and it's another crime story starring Tuesday Weld, this time paired with Anthony Perkins in a 1968 film.

• Advance Preview of KOBK #8.  In today's newsletter, Brubaker also treats readers to a few in-progress pages from the next issue, since he anticipates that some readers will miss Dylan this month.

Kill Or Be Killed #8 interior art, in-progress detail,
  From the Desk of Ed Brubaker
With the pages, Brubaker provides some insight into the production, noting that Sean Phillips moves directly from layouts to the final drawing.  For his part, Phillips has posted bits of a few other in-progress pages through Twitter and Instagram -- all evidently from the same issue, including a sketch of Dylan with the demon, the militarized NYPD, and "too much detail" of Dylan leaving the newsstand.

• KOBK #9 and More Sean Phillips in May Solicitations.  Toward the end of February, Image Comics released its May solicitations, and it includes Kill Or Be Killed #9. 

"Time is running out, and the demon won’t wait for the police to stop hunting him. Trapped between his curse and his own survival, Dylan takes to the streets."

With no gaps planned since issue #5, we infer that the second trade collection will probably include more than the first volume's four issues.  Since Brubaker and Phillips tend to produce ten issues a year, we're guessing that the typical trade will collect five issues: there will be a one-month gap after the conclusion to each "arc" in this ongoing series, and the following month will feature that arc's trade collection and the first issue in the next arc.

Phillips is also listed for another book, a hardcover reprint of User, an award-winning three-issue miniseries originally published through DC's Vertigo imprint in 2001.  Written by Devin Grayson with art by John Bolton and Sean Phillips, the story "explores sexual identity and online role-playing in the text-based MUDs [Multi-User Dungeons] of the nineties."

• KOBK #10 Cover Art.  We recommend subscribing to Ed Brubaker's newsletter -- and those who read the latest issue will find very interesting news about Fraction and Zdarsky's Sex Criminals and an homage to Brubaker and Phillips -- but there's one more item we'd like to mention here, on the subject of advance looks at Kill Or Be Killed.

In answering a question about the design of the comic's demon, Brubaker talks about the pleasant surprises that can result from collaboration, and it appears he gives us a first look at the next cover.

Kill Or Be Killed #10 probable cover
  From the Desk of Ed Brubaker
Those who follow Sean Phillips' Twitter feed will recognize the motif of the demon and Lady Liberty, featured in several work-in-progress Instagram posts from February: one, two, three, and four.

• More Sean Phillips in Movies for Criterion and Arrow!  We've previously reported on the artwork Sean Phillips has done for home video releases, both for the Criterion Collection and for Arrow Films.  We really should account for all his work in a single, organized list, but for now it suffices to note that, in February, both companies released work with art design by Sean Phillips.

On February 6th, the UK company Arrow Films released Willie Dynamite, a 1974 blaxploitation film.  The Blu-ray and DVD release features a reversible sleeve that has both the original artwork and newly commissioned artwork, the latter from Sean Phillips, who posted the full piece through Twitter.

On February 21st, the Criterion Collection released Mildred Pierce, a 1945 noirish melodrama starring Joan Crawford:  on his blog, Sean Phillips shared some artwork including the cover and additional sketches.

• Sales Surging for KILL OR BE KILLED?  Finally, we noticed that KOBK makes an interesting appearance in CBR's February sales report.  Apparently, KOBK led the month in gained sales for continuing titles, as shown in the excerpted graph below.

We might have to do some digging about just how good the title's sales have been...

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Friday, February 17, 2017

Now Online, UNDERTOW PODCAST #9 with a Look at Kill Or Be Killed #5!

The newest episode of The Undertow Podcast has just been released and is, as always, available on iTunes and Podbean.

Robert and I take a close look at Kill Or Be Killed #5 in an episode that was recorded just prior to the release of issue #6,  Listeners can see how well our analysis and speculation holds up in light of the latest issue -- and, in addition, we discuss Ed Brubaker's new TV project Too Old to Die Young and give some recommendations for other crime comics and creator-owned works.

Recording this podcast has become a great part of the reading experience for us, and we hope that other fans of Brubaker and Phillips join us, not only by listening in but by giving us your feedback, on Twitter or by email -- .

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Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Kill Or Be Killed #6 On Sale Today, Preview Online!

While recording the upcoming episode of The Undertow Podcast, I speculated that last issue's cliffhanger might be left hanging for a couple months, since the upcoming issue may focus on the police investigation of Dylan's murders and the next issue is being told entirely from Kira's perspective.  It looks like, instead, we're picking up right where the last issue left off.

Kill Or Be Killed #6 is on sale today, and yesterday Image Comics posted a preview, evidently of the first four pages of the issue, where we see the immediate fallout from the confrontation at the core of KOBK #5.

We already know this issue features a bonus essay by Kim Morgan, about a 1962 episode of Naked City -- and we remind everyone that this issue features two covers by Sean Phillips, most notably the variant cover celebrating the 25th anniversary of Image Comics and paying tribute to the debut issue of The Walking Dead.

Careful readers will notice that the same cop appears in both covers.

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Friday, February 10, 2017

Advance Preview of Kill Or Be Killed #7.

In its most recent extended forecast for Image Comics, ComicList confirms that issue #6 of Kill Or Be Killed -- along with its Walking Dead-tribute variant cover -- is on-schedule for its release next week.  In yesterday's email newsletter about Too Old To Die Young, Ed Brubaker reports that Sean Phillips is already close to finishing the artwork for issue #7.

Brubaker included a few preview pages of Phillips' artwork for the March issue, which is told entirely from Kira's perspective, and we would be remiss if we didn't highlight this artwork in a separate blog post.

Kill Or Be Killed #7 interior art, in-progress detail,
  From the Desk of Ed Brubaker

We're quite curious how this issue's change in POV will affect the overall structure of the series:  so far, the story has only been told from a single perspective, and its narration has been surprisingly and humorously direct in addressing the reader with the suggestion that Dylan knows that person is reading a monthly comic book.  That changes with issue #7, and we wonder if the issue will shed any light on just how unreliable a narrator Dylan has been.

The entire newsletter is worth reading, not least for a link to an excellent article on that killer Criminal arc, "The Last of The Innocent."

As always, the newsletters are archived online, and fans can subscribe here:

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Thursday, February 09, 2017

Coming From Brubaker, Refn, and Amazon: Too Old To Die Young.

At least since year's end, Ed Brubaker has been hinting about a few TV projects in various stages of development, including one that could be announced "at any moment."  That announcement came yesterday in an exclusive report from Variety.

Amazon has greenlit Too Old To Die Young, a crime series of at least ten episodes. Shooting will begin this fall in Los Angeles, and the series will be released through Amazon's streaming service.

Brubaker followed up by sending out his email newsletter, confirming today that this is the project that's been keeping him busy for the last few months.
It's a TV series that Nicolas Winding Refn and I co-created and are co-writing every episode of, and he's directing the entire thing. And yes, it is a crime series. Other than that, I am sworn to secrecy. 
I will let you know about further details as they're released, but I'm guessing they will be very spare.
Variety elaborates that Brubaker will be an executive producer and Winding Refn will produce the series -- and it reports that three big-name actors have already been offered roles.

And who is Nicolas Winding Refn?  He's a Danish filmmaker known for his stylized crime movies, including the Pusher film trilogy (1996-2005), for which Too Old To Die Young is being compared.  The former "looked at Danish criminals caught up in the drug trade," and this new TV series will explore "various characters’ existential journeys from being killers to becoming samurai’s [sic] in the city of angels."

Since that trilogy and his early crime film Bleeder (1999), Winding Refn has moved to English-language films, including the darkly comic biopic Bronson (2008), starring Tom Hardy -- a movie I still need to catch.  More recently, the Dane directed the critically acclaimed Drive (2011) and the polarizing Only God Forgives (2013), both starring Ryan Gosling. 

Last year, Winding Refn released another polarizing movie, the horror film The Neon Demon, released domestically by Amazon Studios with Broad Green Pictures.  And, as we reported last June, his company Space Rocket is producing the Maniac Cop remake written by Ed Brubaker, which began filming last summer.

We'll have more news as we find it, sparse as it may be in the lead-up to its release.

In the meantime, Brubaker highlighted a few articles about the new series, including an AV Club article that mentions some high hopes for the series, that it might become "the Miami Vice of the new millennium."  

And he writes that he laughed pretty hard at the Screen Rant headline:

Ed Brubaker & Drive Director Team For Amazon TV Series


Wednesday, February 01, 2017

Today: Image Day, with the Return of Planetoid!

Undoubtedly, there has never been a better time to be the writer, artist, or reader of creator-owned comics.  There are great titles to be found from other publishers -- including Dark Horse and IDW -- but we think it's clear that Image Comics has become the premier publishing house for creators.  Image is also the home for the creator-owned collaborations of Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips, with their flexible five-year deal; the debuts of Fatale, The Fade Out, and Kill Or Be Killed; a new hardcover edition of Scene of The Crime; and reprints and new stories from our all-time favorite series, Criminal.

(And that's to say nothing of Velvet, Brubaker's other creator-owned title with longtime collaborator Steve Epting.)

Today, the publisher is celebrating the exact 25th anniversary of its founding with Image Day, with events all across the Anglosphere, from the British Isles to Australia, and coast-to-coast in North America.

As we previously reported, Image Comics is producing fifteen variant covers this month, in which current titles honor memorable covers from other works.  Eleven of the 15 covers were revealed in the original, January 13th press release -- including Sean Phillips' homage of The Walking Dead #1, for this month's Kill Or Be Killed #6 -- and last week, Image announced the "final four" covers, including a Manifest Destiny to one of our other favorite titles, Chew.

Even without a new issue from Brubaker and Phillips and without any extraordinary events at our own local shop, we find that there are plenty of reasons to visit the shop today, on New Comic Book Day.

We hope everyone is finding comic books that are worth the cover price, particularly those that most fully express the creators' vision -- and most fully benefit them financially.  This week, we're most excited about Planetoid: Praxis, continuing one of my all-time favorite sci-fi books, created by Ken Garing and published by Image.

A six-page preview is available online, at the Image website.


Monday, January 30, 2017

Bullets: Banana Pancakes and More!

The new issue of Kill Or Be Killed came out just last week, and we already have a few brief news items.

Store-Exclusive UK Variant for KOBK Volume 1.  We saw from a tweet from Big Bang Comics that, together with British store Forbidden Planet, the Irish comics retailer is selling an exclusive variant of Kill Or Be Killed Volume 1, with a signed bookplate.  It appears the variant cover is based on the first-printing cover for issue #2, and the bookplate is based on the second-printing cover for issue #1.  Forbidden Planet has the trade paperback available online for £9.99, and the description and preview images confirm that the bookplate is signed both by writer Ed Brubaker and by artist Sean Phillips.

• Preview Art for Issue #6.  As much as we obviously enjoy the books of Brubaker & Phillips, we were astounded how much we dug KOBK #5.  We can't wait to discuss the issue in The Undertow Podcast, but in the meantime we're already looking forward to the next issue, due February 15th.  Last Monday, Sean Phillips tweeted some work-in-progress artwork, and the following day he posted the complete artwork on his blog:  the illustration for the bonus article in issue #6, which essayist Kim Morgan explains is on the police drama Naked City, specifically a 1962 episode guest-starring Rip Torn and Tuesday Weld.

(Kim Morgan has one helluva Twitter handle, @SunsetGunShot.)

• Kill Or Be Killed #8 in April Solicts.  Image Comics' April solicitations for April 2017 were released last Wednesday, and the list of upcoming books includes KOBK #8:  "Dylan is being hunted by both the good guys and the bad guys, but his mission must go on, regardless."

The issue is scheduled for an April 26 release, the solicit is also featured on Sean Phillips' blog, and we're including the cover art below.

(Readers might also be interested in April's oversized hardcover collection of AD After Death, by Scott Snyder and Jeff Lemire.  Robert mentioned reading the book during our recommendations at the end of the December episode, and both of us at The Undertow Podcast have been thoroughly enjoying the book.)

• Fee McBee on Banana Pancakes.  Finally, we saw a quite amusing tweet from an online acquaintance -- and a writer and podcast host in her own right -- on a single panel from KOBK #5, reposted below.

Fee writes, "Pershing Square does the best banana pancakes."

Google relays that Pershing Square Cafe is a cafe restaurant located across from Grand Central Terminal, under its Park Avenue viaduct.  It serves breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner, and desserts, along with a bar menu, beer, and wine.

And for $17, they'll sell you traditional buttermilk and organic whole wheat pancakes, with 100% pure grade A maple syrup, blueberries, strawberries, banana, or chocolate chips.

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