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 -- 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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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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