Wednesday, August 09, 2017

New This Week: Kill Or Be Killed and the Undertow Podcast!

Almost exactly a year after its debut on August 3rd, 2016, Kill Or Be Killed continues with two new releases, both out today:  the Volume 2 trade paperback collects issues 5-10, and issue 11 continues the crime series by Ed Brubaker, Sean Phillips, and Elizabeth Breitweiser.

Image Comics has released a three-page preview of the new issue, and the story comes full circle to the opening scene, reusing the layout of some memorable key panels, as shown below.

KOBK #1 page 2, #11 preview page 2

In his first-person narration, Dylan directly addresses some questions we've been expressing in our podcast, and -- on the subject -- episode 15 of The Undertow Podcast delves into the previous issue to find that it raises more questions than it answers.

The episode was just released a few hours ago, and we think the discussion might be a good way to transition from the series' second arc to the brand-new issue.  As usual, Robert and I enjoyed discussing the comic -- and we recommend a couple movies on the way -- and the podcast can be found at iTunes and on Podbean.


Finally, from social media, we see that there are a couple special offers of Kill Or Be Killed being made available through a few retailers in the British Isles.

OK Comics in Leeds, England, is offering, with copies of the KOBK Volume 2 trade collection, an exclusive mini-print drawn and signed by Sean Phillips.  From a photo of the monochromatic print, shown above, it seems the print is limited to 50 copies; the store has announced that they received more orders for the book than for any other title, ever, and that they can no longer take any additional pre-orders.  They're selling the remaining copies on-site, starting today.

And Dublin's Big Bang Comics is selling a variant of the KOBK Volume 2 TPB with both an exclusive cover -- with the cover art from issue 8 rather than issue 5 -- and the exclusive bookplate shown below, signed by Brubaker & Phillips and featuring the enigmatic watercolor that the artist showed fans in July.

Big Bang Comics is selling the variant/bookplate combo online through eBay.  We see from the photos and description that they're doing so in association with Forbidden Planet London, which has a parallel listing on its ownn website.

Having previously purchased comics from the UK, we can confirm that American readers can often have books shipped internationally (if not always), but personally we're most interested in the next chapter of this twisted vigilante series.

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Tuesday, August 01, 2017

Bullets: Undertow Podcast on A.D. After Death, Spirit Preview Art, New Inventory and a New Vertigo Collection, and Much More!

New releases for Kill Or Be Killed are just around the corner -- issue #11 and the Volume 2 trade paperback are both due on August 11th, and Sean Phillips has already tweeted a photo of the comp copies he's received -- but we'll kick off the month with quite a few items of interest.

• Undertow Podcast Bonus Review of A.D. After Death. In lieu of our usual segment of monthly recommendations, Robert and I recorded a bonus episode of The Undertow Podcast to discuss a previous recommendation:  A.D. After Death, a combined comic book and illustrated prose novel written by Scott Snyder with art by Jeff Lemire.

A hardcover collection of the three-issue mini-series was released at the end of June, our podcast discussion recently came out, and I couldn't sum up both any better than Robert did in the description for episode 14:
"Great sci-fi, with a touch of crime, and gorgeous watercolors made this a fun to book to read and break down."
As always, The Undertow Podcast is available at iTunes and on Podbean.

• Preview Art of Brubaker and Phillips' The Spirit.  As we reported in May, Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips are contributing a one-page story to The Spirit of Eisner, a 12-page newspaper-sized comic honoring The Spirit, on the centenary of the birth of its extraordinary creator.

Phillips is also coordinating the publication of this comic, to be released by the Lakes International Comic Art Festival in October, and in subsequent tweets he's treated fans to previews of eight different pages.  In addition to a signed drawing by Michael Cho and the distinctive cartoony style of Sergio Aragonés, we see a panel crediting Chris Samnee, who was not listed in the March press release.

Perhaps even more exciting for Brubaker and Phillips fans, the artist has announced that he's finally underway with their contribution to the project, and he has posted more than a dozen preview photos, from thumbnails and photo reference, to digital pencils subsequently transferred to paper and inked.  Over the weekend, Phillips tweeted that he has completed the inks and will do his own color work for this story (confirming his role as colorist on Twitter), and he's posted a partial preview of the vibrant neon colors with some completed lettering.

We've seen quite a bit of the first few panels -- including photos of the artist holding up the single page, in pencils and again in partial inks, shown in the collage below -- but we're sure that, for both his work and for the others, Sean Phillips is saving a lot of surprises for the book's readers.

New Art By Sean Phillips, for Rawhead Rex and JD's Revenge.  We mentioned that Sean Phillips has been creating artwork of Rita Hayworth in our previous post, and Phillips relayed that the work is for a separate project and not for a bonus essay.  This project has still not yet been formally announced, but it appears that Ms. Hayworth is not the only subject.

In the meantime, other projects have been officially announced.

First, AICN reports the return of the 1986 British horror film Rawhead Rex, with a screenplay by Clive Barker and based on a previously published short story by the horror writer.  The film is getting a 4K restoration for a limited summer run and a Blu-ray release in the fall, and Sean Phillips created the poster for the re-release.

AICN provided an exclusive look at the resulting work, which we're including below.  The distributor's official site lists ten North American theaters screening the film between August and October.

And, at his own blog, Sean Phillips has posted both a preliminary draft and the final version of the menacing artwork for Arrow Video's release of a 1976 blaxploitation horror film JD's Revenge.  The release is due in October but not yet listed on the distributor's official site.

Phillips will apparently be reusing the artwork in a promotional banner for his artwork, shown below and making its debut at September's Thought Bubble festival in September.

Kill Or Be Killed & Criminal Fall Short at the Eisners.  The winners of the 2017 Eisner Awards were announced at Comic-Con last Friday night, and Brubaker, Phillips, their collaborators, and their collaborations all fell short in the five categories in which they were nominated -- all against very tough competition.

We congratulate the winners, and we're happy to see Black Hammer win the award for Best New Series: according to The Beat's live blog of the awards ceremony, writer Jeff Lemire said the award was won only because of artist Dean Ormston's incredible recovery from a stroke after finishing the first issue.

We weren't aware of the stroke, we're so glad that Ormston is recovering, and we've been enjoying the series thoroughly.

• Westworld Second-Season Preview.  The Eisner Awards weren't the only big news from Comic-Con, as a lot of film and television projects have been promoted with new footage.  Along with an elaborate installation promoting the fictional, futuristic resort, producers of HBO's Westworld debuted a two-minute trailer of new footage from the upcoming second season.

Ed Brubaker was quite heavily involved in the first season, joining the writer's room, being credited as a supervising producer for five episodes, and receiving a writer's credit for one episode.  It's not clear whether Brubaker is working on the second season, but we're sure we'll find out soon enough.

• New Inventory for Older Hardcover Collections -- and a New Hardcover of Brubaker's Vertigo Comics?  On Twitter, an online friend Kevin Sels has been telling us about some interesting new listings he's found on Amazon.

The Criminal The Deluxe Edition Volume 2 hardcover (the listing has the cover art from volume 1) and Incognito: The Classified Edition hardcover are both scheduled for a January 2nd release date.  These listings might have been the first hints of new printings by Image Comics, but Sean Phillips explains that the books are "just old stock that was found in a warehouse somewhere."

We're even more intrigued by Kevin's tweet about a February listing, for a 272-page hardcover, scheduled for a February 27th release:  Vertigo by Ed Brubaker.  This is the very first we've heard about this.
Classic Vertigo tales by Eisner Award-winning author Ed Brubaker collected for the first time in hardcover edition. The best Ed Brubaker's Veritgo stories are collected together for a wild and sometimes supernatural ride!
It begins with reprinted material from VERTIGO VISIONS: PREZ #1 in election year '96, with the country coming apart at the seams. Prez Rickard, long missing and presumed dead, has been sighted at a roadside diner in the American heartland. A trio of restless young misfits, one of whom believes he is Prez's son, sets out across America in search of answers for their country's woes--answers that only the former Chief Executive can provide. Then, from WINTER'S EDGE #2, a gang of suburban kids devises a fool proof get-rich-quick scheme. Followed by stories from the best supernatural detectives that are not alive, in DEAD BOY DETECTIVES.
These amazing tales from one of the great voices in the comics industry today are collected together in hardcover in VERTIGO BY ED BRUBAKER! Collects VERTIGO VISIONS: PREZ #1, WINTER'S EDGE #2, GANGLAND #3 and DEAD BOY DETECTIVES #1-4.
These kind of listings are always subject to change, but this may give serious fans a second chance to get some oversized hardcovers, stuffed with bonus features, and a first chance to get some of Ed Brubaker's earliest stories, collected for the first time.

We will certainly relay more info about these books as we find it.

And big thanks to Kevin for sharing these discoveries with us and eliciting more info from Sean!

• Solicitations and Preview Art for Upcoming Issues of Kill Or Be Killed.  Finally, Image Comics have released their October solicitations, and they include another issue of Brubaker and Phillips' ongoing vigilante comic.
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. BRUBAKER & PHILLIPS’ multiple Eisner-nominated series keeps racing from hit to hit in this action-packed third arc!
Lucky number 13 of Kill Or Be Killed continues the connecting cover art which Brubaker previously described as "one long cover image of escalating violence," and the issue is scheduled for an October 18th release.

But even more interesting is a bit of artwork that Sean Phillips posted on Instagram on July 17th, which we're including below.  In a previous tweet showing the work in-progress, we learn that the work is a watercolor, and the artist subsequently reveals that it's for the "Next issue of Kill Or Be Killed."

We're intrigued, to say the least.

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Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Bullets: KILL OR BE KILLED #10 Out Today, Sean Phillips Art in AMC's Preacher, and More!

 We have a few things to cover before we head out to our local comics shop.

Kill Or Be Killed #10 Out Today, with a Preview and Extra Pages? After a brief delay, the finale to the second arc of Brubaker and Phillips' ongoing vigilante series reaches stores today:  Image Comics is featuring the issue on its homepage this week, with cover art from issue #11...

...and just yesterday the site posted a four-page preview of issue #10, focusing on the NYPD task force assigned to catch the masked serial killer.

The irony is quite humorous, that the cops are trying to infer some deep significance in what we know to be Dylan's very haphazard behavior, but we can understand their hope for a pattern in his behavior:  if the killer's actions are random, he's all the less likely to be caught.

And, whether the demon is real or a delusion, none of the detectives would imagine that their prey is killing bad guys trying to fulfill a supernatural monster's monthly quota.

Since the narration seems to pick up from the prior issue's cliffhanger, we presume that the preview comes from this issue's first few pages, and we see that the action opens on some natural scenery that surrounds the very unnatural scene of the crime.

Between Sean Phillps' inks and Bettie Breitweiser's colors, the artwork is beautiful but eerie.

In addition to this official preview, we expect an email newsletter from Ed Brubaker any time now, with more inside info and possibly additional artwork.  Interested readers should subscribe to the newsletter, but everyone can check out the online archives.

In the meantime, we noticed something of interest in ComicList's extended preview for Image Comics, posted last week.  Look what's included in the list of product changes:
• KILL OR BE KILLED TP VOL. 2 will now run 176 pages, not 160 pages, with no change in price.
This trade paperback will collect issues #5-10.  By my count, the first five issues comprise 121 pages, with Kira's story in issue #7 having one page more than the typical 24 pages of story, not counting extra content.

This leaves some 55 pages of story for today's issue, and the additional content would quite easily explain its delay.

[UPDATE:  Just read the new issue, and it only has 26 pages, meaning the second arc comprises 147 pages.  Either that product update is in error, or the Volume 2 TPB has much more content than we expect.]

Kill Or Be Killed #11 Delayed a Week, Preview Art Appearing Online.  In the newest extended forecast for Image Comics, ComicList confirms our prediction that issue #11 would be pushed back a week, to coincide with the delayed release of the Volume 2 trade paperback.  Both are now scheduled for an August 9th release.

Last week, Sean Phillips posted some work-in-progress inks all evidently from this issue, including a pensive panel or two of Dylan, a panel of Kira we're reposting below, and a panel of the two once (and future?) lovers.

Phillips previously posted a panel of a new character from the series and artwork of Rita Hayworth, both in various stages of progress and evidently completed.  We suspect that this artwork of Ms. Hayworth will accompany an essay in the back of Kill Or Be Killed, in the issue for this month or next month -- though presumably not (just) for her important reference in The Shawshank Redemption.

[UPDATE, 7/28, later than planned:  In the comments below, Sean explains that the Hayworth artwork is not for a bonus essay but is, instead, for a separate project, to be announced soon.]

Sean Phillips Artwork in AMC's Preacher -- and the Artist in a Romance Comic?  Finally, Sean Phillips was commissioned to create a poster that appeared in the July 3rd episode of AMC's Preacher, the series based on the Vertigo comic by Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon.  In addition to the screenshot we're reposting below, Phillips posted the sketches and final artwork on his blog.

Phillips' initial tweet of the poster art elicited more than 500 likes (625 as of right now), the most any single tweet of his has ever received.

At least one fan thinks he should investigate selling prints of the artwork: for now, Phillips is currently adding "free, signed, random comics" to each order from his Big Cartel store as he clears out some inventory.

As well as posting his recent work, Sean has also posted quite old work from his friend and colleague Pete Doree, as well as a comic strip that they did together with their friend David Holman.  At his own blog, Doree writes that this particular strip was for Leeds' Thought Bubble festival, and it captures how the three of them experienced the Bronze Age of comics as kids.

But that work from Doree includes a very interesting character, a kind, gentle bachelor by the name of Sean Phillips:  the non-fictional Phillips writes that Doree plans to post the fictional Phillips' entire story on his blog.

[UPDATE, 7/28, later than planned:  Again in the comments, Sean corrects how we misread the exchange:  the panel is from an old romance comic produced by Marvel in the 1970s, which Doree pointed to Phillips because of the entirely coincidental naming of the unrequited lover.]

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Thursday, June 29, 2017

Beer & Fiction: Undertow Podcast #13 on KOBK #9 and a Little Blogging on Guinness.

We're reaching the end of June, and we see that the latest episode of The Undertow Podcast was released just today.

Robert and I discuss the latest news in the world of Brubaker and Phillips -- both the revised summer schedule and the first news about a Criminal graphic novella -- and we take a close look at the latest issue of Kill Or Be Killed, the penultimate chapter in the series' second arc.

Episode #13 is a little shorter than our usual podcast, as we're skipping recommendations this month but producing a bonus episode to review the compelling mini-series A.D. After Death, by Scott Snyder and Jeff Lemire.  The oversized hardcover collection of the book was released Wednesday, and we should have our podcast review out in the next few weeks.  We'll keep everyone posted.

In the meantime, we hope you enjoy episode #13:  The Undertow Podcast is available at iTunes and on Podbean.


Prompted by a recent favorable iTunes review -- thanks, Pizza Spirit! -- I rambled a bit about Guinness, my favorite among the very few beers I drink.

In a couple videos online, Guinness Master Brewer Fergal Murray explains that there's a proper way to pour the Irish stout, from the can, from the bottle -- though he confirms that it's really best straight from the bottle -- and straight from the tap.

These videos really do seem ridiculous, and they make Guinness fans look like lunatics, but I've discovered that the method really does matter:  these methods are all quite easy to learn, and they improve both the pint's appearance and its creamy texture.

My favorite place to get a pint is at the Shakespeare Tavern Playhouse in midtown Atlanta, home of the city's most active professional theater company and a cozy kitchen that serves dinner before the show and desserts during intermission.

Volunteering there once a month (or more), I've had a good bit of experience serving beer, wine, and soft drinks, and I'm proud to say that I pour a damn fine pint of stout.

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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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