Wednesday, February 14, 2018

KILL OR BE KILLED: New Undertow Podcast on #15 -- and #16 In Stores Now!

It's Valentine's Day, and comic fans can celebrate the holiday -- or ignore it entirely -- with a new Undertow Podcast and a new Kill Or Be Killed.

On Monday, episode 20 of The Undertow Podcast was released, with a focus on Kill Or Be Killed #15.  Robert and I also discuss the latest news about the future releases of Brubaker and Phillips -- the end of KOBK will evidently come later this year, preceding the follow-up to The Fade Out with a "romance comic" novella in between, which likely began its life as a Criminal story.

We both happened to recommend works from five years back.  Robert recommended a futuristic noir comic originally released online, The Private Eye by Brian K. Vaughan and Marcos Martin.  I recommended Locke, a film written and directed by Steven Knight and starring Tom Hardy -- almost entirely by himself, driving down an English highway as his life comes unglued.

I do think viewers should discover for themselves what's going on, with the central dilemma revealed very early on in the movie:  the trailer was more than enough to catch my attention.

On Tuesday, Image Comics released a three-page preview of Kill Or Be Killed #16.  The issue apparently begins with a true full-page splash page -- perhaps the first one of the series, without any white column of narration, with the iconic costume of the series' vigilante but without its being worn by our "hero" Dylan.



KOBK #16 is in stores today!

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Saturday, February 10, 2018

Upcoming Work: Second Printings, Solicitations, Variant Covers, and Very Revealing Interviews.

We missed this in our last post, but on January 25th, Image Comics announced a second printing for the most recent issue from Brubaker and Phillips, Kill Or Be Killed #15.  The issue features a new cover, shown below, a black-and-white rendition of the first printing's artwork with the series' familiar blood-red title.



Image frequently produces multiple printings for the first few issues in a new series, as retailers try to gauge what could be growing interest in an unexpected hit.  Far less common is an additional printing more than a year into a series' run:  this second printing indicates a growing readership for KOBK's monthly releases in analog, and we wonder what's driving that growth. 

Perhaps people have been making the leap from digital comics back to hardcopies or from trade-waiting to monthly reading.  The news of a possible film adaptation from the John Wick crew certainly couldn't have hurt, and perhaps it raised the comic's profile.

This second printing of issue #15 is scheduled to reach stores on February 21st, just a week after the first printing of issue #16, for which we expect an online preview very soon.

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Readers looking to catch up with that second printing will need to put issue #16 on hold, but they should also be careful looking at the solicitations for later issues.

I'm a technical writer in real life, and I do not envy the task of writing good comic solicitations, undertaken by marketing staff, editors, and -- as I believe to be the case for most creator-owned comics, including those by Brubaker and Phillips -- the writers themselves.

Each solicitation must briefly describe the book's contents, enticing prospective buyers without spoiling the story.  For a continuing series, the goal is even more daunting due to the delay between a single issue's solicitation and its subsequent arrival:  ideally, no future issue solicitation should spoil the contents of a previous issue, at least not before that early chapter's release.

The debut of Kill Or Be Killed presents us with a striking example:

• May 18, 2016, Image releases its August solicitations, including Kill Or Be Killed #1, with a scheduled release date of Aug 3rd.
"The bestselling team of ED BRUBAKER and SEAN PHILLIPS (THE FADE OUT, CRIMINAL, FATALE) launch their new monthly series: KILL OR BE KILLED, the twisted story of a young man who is forced to kill bad people, and how he struggles to keep his secret as it slowly ruins his life and the lives of his friends and loved ones. Both a thriller and a deconstruction of vigilantism, KILL OR BE KILLED is unlike anything BRUBAKER & PHILLIPS have ever done."
• June 23rd, the September solicitations include issue #2: "Every killer has to have his first kill, and they're never easy."

• July 18th, the October solicitations include issue #3: "As our hero is drawn deeper into the shadows, his secret vigilante life begins to put everything he cares about in danger."

• Aug 3: KOBK #1 is released to local retailers.

Prior to the debut issue's release, every description of upcoming chapters avoided that issue's big reveal, that the protagonist is "forced to kill bad people" by a demon, real or imagined.  In fact, I don't believe that the "curse" is mentioned until February, 2017, with the May solicitation for issue #9, and the demon isn't explicitly named until the June solicitation for issue #10, featuring the antagonist on the cover.

We see a similar dynamic with recent solicitations hiding the big reveal for issue #15.  The new arc found Dylan institutionalized, and the cliffhanger revelation was that (SPOILERS) vigilante killings were still taking place in the outside world.

We believe this reveal was entirely held back from the solicits until after the issue's release on January 17th; the April solicitations came out on January 23rd, and here the surprise makes it to the description for issue #18, due April 18th.


"While Dylan's been locked away inside, the vigilante has been running wild on the streets—but how is this possible? Featuring the return of Detective Lily Sharpe, who is hot on the trail of the masked man!"
It's an intriguing development.  We wonder if this second killer has anything to do with the demon, is merely a deranged copycat, or is something else entirely -- and we wonder how this will affect the NYPD's search for the vigilante, since Dylan now (presumably) has an airtight alibi for at least one killing.

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In the meantime, we have two more issues on their way, and -- alongside the second-printing variant for issue #15 -- we'll see an extra special variant cover for issue #17, with both versions due on March 21st.

Posted just this Thursday in a second round of announcements, Sean Phillips joins four other artists in creating virgin wraparound covers as part of Image's #WeBelieve campaign, bringing the total to 14 such covers on sale in March, "in celebration of artists and the importance and impact they have in defining the comics medium."

(We would express some skepticism about how artists' work is among "the important, lately overlooked contributions to the comics industry," but then again, most of the news coverage about the KOBK film adaptation focused on writer Ed Brubaker and barely mentioned -- or entirely ignored -- co-creator Sean Phillips.)

At his blog, Phillips includes a quote from Image publisher Eric Stephenson, from an apparent press release that -- alongside the Image news release -- details exactly what each cover will include and omit:  "Without titles, endorsement quotes, names, logos, or jacket copy, these wraparound covers feature solely the jaw-dropping artwork that fans won’t want to miss."

Shown below, the virgin cover features entirely new artwork from Sean Phillips, quite different from the standard cover's scene of Dylan unmasking in the padded room:  walking out from the mental hospital, with the straitjacket unbound but still on, our hero looks truly mental.


--

These virgin variants will highlight the work of the artist, and in a recent interview Sean Phillips points to a few important books by other, influential artists.

In an interview by The Reading Lists, devoted to "publishing the #readinglists of amazing people," Phillips reveals a few recommended titles and authors in his favorite genre -- crime fiction, no surprise -- and for those interested in working in comics, he recommends Understanding Comics by Scott McCloud.  We thoroughly recommend the book as well, a comic book on the principles of comic books, but Sean adds, "there’s no substitute for making your own comics. You learn best by doing!"

Asked what book humanity needs right now, Phillips gives a great answer:  "A new Calvin and Hobbes collection."  Indeed -- and either that or a new daily calendar of The Far Side would make me a very happy man.

Most interestingly, Phillips was asked, "What books or subject matter do you plan on reading in the next year?"  His answer points to the follow-up to The Fade Out, as well as other work:
"For two different work projects, research on World War One and television in the late 1950s. And lots of comics!"
And the question leads naturally enough to another item from January 25th, from the French site Comicsblog.fr.  On Twitter, the great Kevin Sels pointed us to the story and offered a brief summary:  at the Angloueme festival, Phillips announced that he and Brubaker are planning two stories following The Fade Out -- each a six-issue mini-series -- and a "romance" series for sometime in the fall.

(Thanks for the heads-up, Kevin!)

What does this mean for the long-term plans for Kill Or Be Killed and the upcoming Criminal novella?  Is it possible that, between Phillips' answers, the French-language news item, and Kevin's overview, something was lost in translation?

We would almost say that we'll have to wait and see, but just yesterday the same site posted a 21-minute video of the interview, with Phillips' answers in English, with optional French subtitles.


In the wide-ranging interview, the artist discusses whether he misses licensed work for the bigger publishers and why there's a long-term economic appeal in creator-owned work.  Phillips mentions how Ed Brubaker's wife pushed him to do creator-owned work, how the success of Marvel Zombies allowed Phillips to take a chance on such a project, and how the pair communicate while they work.

The artist says he assumes that Image's exclusive five-year deal will be extended, but he also mentioned what would be the team's dream project, where he and Brubaker spend a year on... [EDIT:] well, people should watch the video and find out for themselves.

Phillips discusses the violent but sympathetic protagonists in Kill Or Be Killed and their other titles, and he mentions the beauty of the comic-book medium, where the text and the picture need not always correspond.

He mentions that it might not be important whether the story's demon is real, but he admits not knowing in advance where these stories are going:  Brubaker told him what the ending would be, but he has since changed his mind, and even the script for an individual issue is almost always sent piecemeal.

He has no info on the KOBK adaptation beyond what's already been announced online, and he mentions how other projects have fallen through, including the Criminal adaptation.  Brubaker takes the lead on working with Hollywood, with Phillips always to be listed as an executive producer with no real need for control over this sort of project:  the real aim is -- and has always been -- to make great comic books, and the greater purpose of an adaptation would be in its enabling the team to make new books with an even higher profile.

And Sean Phillips did reveal quite a bit about the team's upcoming schedule, including their current project.

  • For KOBK, "the end is in sight," with the book to conclude sometime this year.
  • The next project is a "romance comic" out by year's end: October was explicitly mentioned as a release date.  Work on this book will take place between his drawing issues of KOBK, and the result -- title to be announced -- will be a "one-off" 60-page hardcover, to see if the format sells in the U.S.
  • After that will come the first of two sequels to The Fade Out, with a few carry-over characters, a setting of television production in the 1950's, and a story that probably involves murder:  two sequels are currently planned, the length of this first sequel might only be six issues, but the team generally doesn't determine a book's length in advance.

Phillips praises the breadth and quality of the French comics scene and its industry's preference for well-made graphic novels, when trade paperbacks in the U.S. are frequently printed as cheaply as possible.  He says that he would prefer producing one or two hardcovers every year -- one with Ed Brubaker and one with Delcourt or another French publisher -- but he doesn't think the American readership is ready to change their buying and reading habits.

And, looking even further ahead, Phillips mentions that there are two sequels planned for The Fade Out and "more ideas" for Criminal, but we note that, in both its production schedule and its format, that "romance comic" sounds exactly like the Criminal novella that was mentioned last summer.

We wonder if the Criminal novella is a "romance" story of sorts, or if that story has supplanted the earlier plans for the next chapter in their longest-running series.

And we suspect that, either way, that novella revolves around World War I.

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Friday, January 26, 2018

Saturday: Sean Phillips' Birthday Sales, at Big Cartel and Splash Page Comic Art.

Sean Phillips' birthday is Saturday, and, at the two online shops where one can find the rarest of items related to the artist, there are big sales to mark the occasion.

On Twitter, Phillips just announced a one-day sale at his Big Cartel store, on his birthday:  20% off everything when using the promo code B2018.

Similarly, in a recent news item and through their mailing list, Splash Page Comic Art has announced its own one-day sale for the birthday:  buy one piece of Phillips' original artwork, get a second piece of equal or lesser value at 50% off.


The Splash Page sale is for Saturday, January 27th, and the actual 24-hour span is for Sean Phillips' time zone:  since Sean resides in the United Kingdom, that means Greenwich Mean Time. 

So, that sale runs from 12:01 AM GMT, Saturday, to 12:00 AM GMT, Sunday -- or, from 7:01 PM EST Friday (today, here on the East Coast) to 7:00 PM EST Saturday.

It sounds like the Big Cartel sale runs for similar hours.


At Big Cartel, one can buy books, prints, and even the occasional single issue, such as the "Savage Sword" and "Deadly Hands" Criminal one-shots.  It's worth noting that Phillips often includes a hand-drawn sketch on a cover page inside books ordered directly from his store.

At Splash Page, the sale includes the original artwork for covers, double-page spreads, and interiors.  While Phillips has now made the transition to digital artwork for most interiors, he still creates physical artwork for his covers, including the painting in acrylics shown above, for the cover to Kill Or Be Killed #5.

We might just take advantage of the sale ourselves, and we wish Sean the happiest of birthdays.

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Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Sean Phillips variant covers for The Hellblazer.

In stores this week is DC's The Hellblazer #18, with the conclusion to Richard Kadrey's three-part story, "The Bardo Score."  Readers of this blog will be more interested to know that the issue ships with two covers:  the variant cover is by Sean Phillips, who twetted a photo of his comp copies, shown below.


This particular series is part of DC's 2016 Rebirth relaunch, but Sean Phillips has quite a history with the title character, John Constantine.  I believe Phillips' first work for one of the "Big Two" publishers was in 1990, providing the artwork for issue #31 of the original Hellblazer series, with writing by Jamie Delano.

It appears the solicitations have not included images of the variant covers, but Phillips has been treating readers with in-progress work and other previews on his Twitter feed and Instagram feed.

The original painted artwork for this cover is what Sean Phillips has recently put up for sale at Spash Page Comic Art, 'painted in acrylics and colored pencils on 11" 3/4 X16" 1/2 comic art board.'


Phillips' earlier tweet revealed the completed artwork for issue #19, a variant cover with an ominous view of blood-red London.

Solicitations and the subsequent listings on DC's website mention Sean Phillips variants at least through issue #21, covering an arc by the series' new writer Tim Seeley.

Each month, Phillips dedicates the bulk of his working hours to his monthly comic books with Ed Brubaker and the remainder to special projects, such as the artwork accompanying the DVD and Blu-ray releases for the Criterion Collection and Arrow Films. 

(We wonder if he's planning to pivot from these variant covers to that Criminal novella...)

We reached out to the artist himself, and Sean Phillips relays that he's working on a total of six variant covers for the series.

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Wednesday, January 17, 2018

New Undertow Podcast, New Kill Or Be Killed, New Twitter Feed, and Catching Up for the New Year.

It's a big week:  Robert has recorded and released an abbreviated episode of The Undertow Podcast, reviewing Kill Or Be Killed #14, and issue #15 is in stores today with a four-page preview already online.

(Preview pages without the obscenities obscured -- and a fifth page -- can be found in the latest newsletter from writer Ed Brubaker; see below.)

The third trade paperback, collecting issues #11-14, is also in stores today.  Ireland's Big Bang Comics and the UK's Forbidden Planet has an exclusive variation on this third volume, with a different cover and a mini-print bookplate signed by the writer and the artist.  Both covers are shown below, along with the eerie artwork for the bookplate.



International orders can be placed at the Forbidden Planet online store or at Big Bang's eBay listing.  (And Big Bang tweets that they still have stock of their previous two trade paperbacks, with variant covers and signed bookplates.)

Interestingly, Forbidden Planet lists a "virgin wraparound" variant for the upcoming KOBK #17, but currently the page has no image preview and no additional details.

In the meantime, we have issue #15 out today. Last Saturday, John Jack at Comic Watch offered a brief "First Watch" advance review of the issue, awarding it a 9 out of 10.  The review has no spoilers beyond what can be gleaned from Image's official preview, with the exception of a single two-panel image, with the Demon suddenly back in the story, following Dylan.


And for those who are looking for a quick refresher after the series' brief hiatus, our good friend Robert Watson covers the previous arc, along with the previous issue, in The Undertow Podcast Episode #19.  As always, as always, the podcast is available on iTunes and Podbean.

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I'm looking forward to joining Robert again for the next podcast, and it's been far too long since we've last blogged.  As the classic U2 song puts it, we've been "running to stand still" in real life, and there has been a lot of big news over the past few months.

For one thing, we have just created a dedicated Twitter account for the blog, @CriminalBlog, to separate our focus on all things Brubaker/Phillips from our personal account @TigerBeasley and my more idiosyncratic interests in faith, politics, movies, music, sports, and humor.

We do hope to blog much more frequently in the upcoming year, and we recommend that readers "follow" our new Twitter account to be notified of new posts and interesting retweets.

In the meantime, here is a very succinct timeline of the past few months, with the biggest news items highlighted in red.

• OCT 19, Page 45 Comics posted an extensive essay of reviews and photos from the Lakes International Comic Art Festival; among the featured festival-exclusive books is the Spirit newspaper curated by Sean Phillips (and featuring a one-page Brubaker/Phillips story) and Starting, a "one-day collaborative comic" that includes a four-page story from Sean's sun Jacob, and both products are available for international orders at Page 45's online store.

• OCT 30, Arrow Academy announces the upcoming Blu-ray and DVD release of Viva L'Italia, a 1961 documentary by Roberto Rossellini; the film is scheduled for a January 29th release and features cover artwork by Sean Phillips, shown below.


• NOV 13, Delcourt releases a 17-page preview of Fondu au Noir, the publisher's French translation of The Fade Out, in advance of its November 29th release.

• NOV 15, Image Comics announces its partnership with the Madefire digital program; details remain scant, but the press release includes Criminal in its reference to the publisher's back catalog.

• NOV 16, Marvel cancels two upcoming books from Brian Michael Bendis, a week after the writer announced his move to DC, effectively signaling the end of Marvel's Icon imprint for creator-owned works, at least for now; the imprint was the original home for Criminal and Incognito.

• NOV 16, Sean Phillips provided more information about the upcoming Criterion Collection release of Night of the Living Dead on DVD and Blu-ray February 13th; Sean Phillips painted the artwork for the cover, the wraparound sleeve, and the booklet -- the cover repurposes the poster for the recent 4K rerelease (also available at Criterion's online store) and the sleeve is the full artwork that Sean previously previewed in October and is reproduced below and on the artist's Twitter profile.


• NOV 21, director and co-writer Nicholas Winding Refn used his Instagram account to announce the main cast of Too Old to Die Young, highlighting the addition of Billy Baldwin; co-written by Ed Brubaker, the series stars Miles Teller and is apparently already in production.

• NOV 21, Image posted its February solicitations, listing a Valentine's Day release for KOBK #16; the cover art is the completed piece we saw as a work in progress, and the solicit confirms a literal interpretation of the artwork, mentioning Dylan's plight in a mental hospital.

• NOV 27, Robert and I released Undertow Podcast Episode 18; the podcast featured a review of KOBK #13 and recommendations for the comic books Whiteout -- artist Steve Lieber put the entire first issue online -- and Slots.

• NOV 29, Image Comics released KOBK #14 with a three-page preview; Hero Collector posted an essay explaining why people should be reading the title.

• DEC 14, The Hollywood Reporter exclusively announced that Chad Stahelski, the director of the John Wick films, is a directing a Kill Or Be Killed film adaptation; the script will be written by Dan Casey, who has written the script for the Incognito adaptation (not yet produced), and Ed Brubaker will be an executive producer.

• DEC 18, subscriber's received the latest installment of Ed Brubaker's email newsletter, his first in more than six months; the issue includes preview pages for KOBK #15, production work for the cover to issue #16, info on the KOBK movie, reposted news on a Velvet TV series, production photos from Too Old to Die Young, confirmation on his absence from Westworld's season two, and info on his research into the upcoming follow-up to The Fade Out.

(Not a traditional sequel, the story will be set in the late 1950's, when television became big in Hollywood, and it features "a side character" from the first story.  In earlier interviews, Brubaker specifically named Phil Brodsky, the studio's fixer.)

• DEC 18, DC Comics' March solicitations include an advance solicit for Sleeper Book One, in trade paperback; scheduled for April 25th, the book collects Point Blank and Sleeper Season One, both written by Ed Brubaker with the latter drawn by Sean Phillips in an early collaboration.

• DEC 18, Delcourt releases a French translation of KOBK #1, available for purchase online at Sequenicity.

• DEC 19, Image posted its March solicitations, with KOBK #17 listed for March 21 and described as "turning-point issue of the series so far;" perhaps meaningfully, the cover art has Dylan removing his now iconic red ski mask.

• DEC 20, Sean Phillips announces his work on the cover art for the Arrow Academy Blu-ray release of the 1947 Western Ramrod, starring Veronica Lake and scheduled for March 5th.

• DEC 20, Phillips also announces his work on a variant cover for Hellblazer #19, written by Tim Seeley; it appears that the issue has been solicited and is still scheduled for a February 28th release.

• JAN 10, the UK's Ink magazine publishes a retrospective review of Brubaker and Phillips' Sleeper, rightly describing the early work for DC's Wildstorm imprint as "a self-contained gem."

• JAN 15, Phillips announces new original artwork at Splash Page Comic Art, including paintings for covers of Kill Or Be Killed and Hellblazer.

• JAN 17, Phillips just announced that he's selling signed posters for Night of the Living Dead, at his Big Cartel store; it looks like quantities are very limited, possibly only two posters.

That just about covers it, but we'll have another blog entry up soon.

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Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Bullets: New Undertow Podcast, New Kill Or Be Killed, Solicitations, and More!

The newest episode of The Undertow Podcast came out just last week, and the newest issue of Brubaker and Phillips' Kill Or Be Killed reaches stores today, hot on the heels of a four-page preview -- one which promises that we'll finally reach the flash forward from the first issue, which was repeated in issue #11.

We have details about both new arrivals below, along with news on solicitations for January and much more.

One of these days, I'll actually blog often enough that I won't need these massive posts of bullet points...


• Undertow Podcast on KOBK #12.  We had a blast recording episode 17, which is now available available on iTunes and at Podbean.  After discussing what we agree is the best issue of the series, so far, we covered a few news items that we're repeating below (along with some we omitted), and offered a couple recommendations for our listeners.

I recommended The Hard Place, a crime comic mini-series from Image Comics, written by Doug Wagner (Plastic) with art by Nic Rummel and Charlie Kirchoff.  The story is about an former wheelman who gets caught up in a bank robbery and the kidnapping of a crime kingpin's daughter: I wouldn't normally recommend a book after only two issues, but so far the title is just that good, and I do hope it sticks the landing.

Meanwhile, Robert recommended a list of (about) five deep cuts from Tom Petty, who passed away earlier this month.  For convenience, here's his list along with YouTube links, some from official channels and some that may stretch the definition of fair use.
It's truly great stuff, though personally I'm hoping that we'll soon see the long-awaited additional material from the Wildflowers sessions, perhaps with the hard-to-find b-sides like "Girl on LSD."

• KOBK #13 On Sale Now, Preview Online.  The new issue's four-page preview was released just yesterday, it can be found at the link above, and the accompanying image is a detail from the first page.  In the preview, we see the promise that the timeline will reach the series' explosive opening -- "really soon," and "by the end of this chapter... for sure."

Presumably that means we'll see it this issue, but we also see Dylan giving more thought to the demon whose curse started this journey into vigilantism.  The issue's description hints that his investigation into the supposed hallucination might prove fatal to his mental health.

"Caught in the crossfire between the police and the Russian mob—and his sanity—Dylan begins to realize his problems are more dire than he thinks." [emphasis mine]

And, in the preview, Dylan acknowledges his rambling narration and alludes to The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman, an 18th-century novel written by an Irish, Anglican clergyman named Laurence Sterne.  The book was published in nine(!) volumes over the course of nearly a decade, and Dylan's apparent graduate studies in liberal arts is probably why he's familiar with the notably digressive work.

• The Spirit Newspaper Comic, Available for Online Orders.  We were ecstatic with last month's announcement that the Spirit newspaper comic -- overseen by Sean Phillips, with a single-page contribution written by Ed Brubaker -- would be available for online orders and international shipping.

The comic was initially available at this past weekend's Lakes International Comic Art Festival, which Phillips attended, and it is now available for purchase for a mere 5 pounds at Page 45 Comics, a store in Nottingham, England.

In an extensive, somewhat spoiler-heavy review on the product page, Stephen from Page 45 notes that the project was "directed and edited by Festival Patron Sean Phillips" -- and he notes that Phillips "also paid for its printing from his own pocket."

The product listing includes a few preview images, no doubt provided by Phillips, and one image evidently gives us the entire page produced by Brubaker and Phillips -- with Phillips doing the uncommon task of providing his own colors, and with almost a great enough resolution to make out the text.

Even if we could read the story on this page, we'd want to hold the work in our hands and see the other contributions from what the Page 45 reviewer calls "a breath-taking, broadsheet-sized spectacle at a whopping 23 x 14.5 [inches]."

The reviewer notes that sales proceeds will benefit the festival's Creators' Development Fund, but we're just as glad to have pre-ordered a couple copies for our own enjoyment.


• Femme Fatales Prints at Sean Phillips' Big Cartel Store.  On Twitter, Sean Phillips mentioned his trip to Kendal for the Lakes festival, and that he would only be selling The Spirit newspaper in the Page 45 room.  But he also pointed readers to his Big Cartel online store, where he has just added prints of the four pieces of artwork that were featured on the Femme Fatale beer.

The prints' names include a numbering order -- the reverse of which the prints were featured at Phillips' blog -- and we wonder if this was the order in which the works were created.

  • #1 Rita Hayworth
  • #2 Lauren Bacall
  • #3 Gene Tierney
  • #4 Veronica Lake
• Maniac Cop and Velvet: One Brubaker Project Possibly Scrapped, Another Announced.  In less than a fortnight, two news items broke regarding Ed Brubaker's projects outside of the printed page, with both items receiving plenty of coverage beyond their original publication.

On September 24th, Birth.Movies.Death exclusively reported some details from an interview with filmmaker Larry Cohen, the screenwriter behind the original Maniac Cop trilogy.  Ignore the reporter's hyperventilating about contemporary politics, and you'll see that Cohen appears certain that the Maniac Cop remake is dead:  the film, to be penned by Brubaker, was earlier given a green light to be filmed over this past summer.

While not detracting from Brubaker's skills as a comic-book writer, Cohen was not complimentary of Brubaker as a screenwriter or his script for the remake -- but the reporter seems both confused and even skeptical about some of the claims that his subject was making.

(So are we, and we hope this isn't the last we hear about the movie.)

On October 4th, The Hollywood Reporter exclusively reported a television series adapting Velvet, the spy comic created by Ed Brubaker and Steve Epting.  Writer, producer, and showrunner Kyle Killen will adapt the comic to be the first original drama for the Paramount Network, the cable network that debuts on January 18th, a rebranded Spike TV.

No date was given for the series premiere, but the show is described as "in development."  Killen will write and serve as executive producer, along with two executive producers from Anonymous Content, which produces True Detective and Mr. Robot.

We suspect that this is entirely separate from the "still top secret" project by Brubaker and Epting, which the writer mentioned in his email newsletter in June, 2016.

• Phillips Projects: Office Drones and Other Zombies.  Like Brubaker, Sean Phillips works on several projects at any given time, and here again we see that some bear more fruit than others.

(As the nearly comatose sailor put it in Master & Commander, the Lord taketh, and the Lord giveth away.)

On Twitter, Phillips posted cover artwork he did for The Apartment, the 1960 Best-Picture Oscar winner from Billy Wilder.  The film stars Jack Lemmon, Shirley MacLaine, and Fred MacMurray as office drones in what Mark Steyn brilliantly describes as "a sad but true urban Christmas fable."

The artwork was for Arrow Academy, a label for the British company Arrow Films, for which Phillips has produced artwork for at least four other films in the last few years.  As with Audition before it, Arrow ended up going in another direction, but a close look at Phillips' Twitter feed will reward fans with some in-progress pics from August, from digital pencils to "real" inks to colors.

We haven't yet seen what artwork Arrow went with, but we finally get to see what "Pink Shirley" was intended for...


...and we wonder if there are plans for that signed-and-dated drawing of Shirley MacLaine.

It seems Phillips is getting a reputation for his artwork of Hollywood stars -- I especially love his cover for the Criterion Collection's Sweet Smell of Success, another black-and-white classic set in NYC -- but the artist might always be known for zombies, and Phillips tweeted that he created the movie poster for the 4K re-release of The Night of the Living Dead.

At the end of September, the website Rue Morgue exclusively released the poster for the 4K restoration, which is being shown in select theaters throughout North America, now through January.

We're reposting the watermarked image below, and close readers can see Sean Phillips' signature and the year in the lower right:  we have no idea whether there are plans to make a print of this poster  available for purchase, but one could always talk to the theater owner where the movie's playing.


And this isn't the only zombie-related work that Phillips has produced recently:  two weeks back, he posted the following work-in-progress, and we're quite interested to see what it's for.


• January Solicitations and More Preview Art.  Finally, we turn back to Kill Or Be Killed and look forward to its future releases.  Image's January solicitations were released just yesterday, and they confirm our guess of a New Year release for the the third trade collection and the new arc's next issue, with both scheduled for a January 17th release.

Issue #15 is solicited with a full 40 pages, the full artwork for the detail which we previously noted, and a vague but intriguing description, that "Dylan is forced to confront the reality of his violent actions and his sanity...and nothing will ever be the same again!"


Sean Phillips used the same artwork to create a personal sketchbook, which he showed Twitter followers on Monday.  Even before that, he's treated fans to preview art of what appears to be the thematically similar cover for issue #16 -- created in acrylic paint, with red for the iconic ski mask, grays for the straitjacket, and an appropriately manic stare in the final version.


It's yet to be seen, how much of these images are literal or merely symbolic, and we hope readers don't go crazy waiting for the answer.

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Friday, September 22, 2017

Yes! The Spirit of Eisner Newspaper Comic will be Available by Mail Order!


The Thought Bubble Festival is underway in Leeds, England, and OK Comics is selling their Femme Fatale beer this weekend, with label artwork from Sean Phillips:  the labels (and prints!) came in earlier this week, followed by the fresh cans of brew.

Seeing the finished product, we wonder how the labels are attached, and whether they can be easily removed after purchase -- and we see that at least one design (and presumably the entire batch) is now described as a Sputnik Pale Ale rather than the Herzog Kolsch Style beer.  And we see that the artist himself has arrived in Leeds and has signed at least some of the cans of Femme Fatale beer.


We hope this weekend's festival goes well, but we have some very big news for next month's Lakes International Comic Art Festival.

Sean Phillips has tweeted that The Spirit of Eisner newspaper comic has been printed and has already arrived, allowing him to share a few photos of the finished work, including the cover photo we're reposting above and a little bit more of his one-page Criminal-style collaboration with Ed Brubaker.

Asked how fans can get a copy if they can't attend the festival, Sean replied, "It'll be available mail order too."

Just yesterday, he elaborated: "It’ll be available mail order from @PageFortyFive"

We haven't found a listing in Page 45's online store, but we'll keep looking, and we note that the Nottingham comic shop's Twitter profile includes the very encouraging notice, "We Ship Worldwide!"

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