A belated but very happy Mother?s Day to all of you out there that are of the maternal persuasion (or: I hope you had a good one)! For me it was a great day spent with two of the best moms in the universe (my lovely spousal unit and her mum). My mom, who of course makes up the Triumvirate of Awesome, was not around for this weekend. I?ll be seeing her soon, so no worries there. Anyhow, much love goes out to my three fave ladies: Mom, Mum-in-Law, and of course the wonderful being who is the mother of my cute-as-heck kids and somehow manages to tolerate me.
I know; you don?t envy her. She hears that all the time. S?okay.
What?s that? Oh, you want to get your Rage on? I think I can help you out in that department.
Ed Brubaker has been popping up everywhere recently pimping the outstanding title Criminal that he and artist Sean Phillips like to work on. Criminal is a creator owned work that focuses on realistic crime fiction and is ?a meditation on the clich?s of the crime genre while remaining realistic and believable?. The first arc of issues #1 – #5 will be released in trade later this month and #6 hit shelves this last week. From what people are telling, Brubaker seems to be a well-known writer. He killed off Captain Nemo or something.
I was fortunate enough to have Ed ?stop by? and answer a few questions?
(And, in case you are wondering, there are two uncoloured pages from Criminal #7 below? just for you)
EB: Yeah, getting recognized for your work, especially for creator-owned work like Criminal, where we’re taking such a risk. As for doing Criminal, it’s probably the hardest and yet the most satisfying thing I’ve ever worked on. I really enjoy the stories we get to tell, and I feel like Sean and I are really in a great groove on the book now, each sort of making the other push themselves. It’s a really exciting time, creatively.
ATR: Coward was a great first arc, I must say. Will we see Leo again? Or is this a series with new characters every arc?
EB: It’s a bit of both, actually. Leo is in the next arc, but the main character is someone completely new, but someone who was referenced a few times in Coward. So, it’s like we’re building a world, really, adding new characters to it with each arc. Although it really isn’t each arc. By the end of Lawless we’ve at least met most of the main players, I think. It’s just that someone who seems like a side character, like say Gnarly the bartender, might take center stage for a story at some point. You just never know, because every character that walks by might have some twisted noir story of their own to tell.
EB: A lot more heists in the next arc, LAWLESS. And it’s a lot more of a brutal arc than the first one was. At the same time, where in some ways it’s more action-packed and commercial, maybe, it’s told in a less linear fashion, and is probably more challenging to read. LAWLESS stars Tracy Lawless, the last living son of the criminal Lawless clan that’s been mentioned a lot in the series so far, and his story is an exploration of a lot of things, most of them swirling around family and brotherhood. Because he’s come back to town after twenty years in the military to find out who killed his little brother and why.
ATR: You said a while back that you and Sean Phillips were “going to create a book that’s worth the money” and that Criminal is geared for the “single-issue fix”. Would you still say that applies?
EB: Of course. I’ve said this again and again, but most of these kinds of more personal books really survive based on the sales of the singles. If the singles don’t sell enough, there won’t be any trades down the line. Luckily, our sales have been pretty solid so far, but still, for CRIMINAL we decided to reward the readers who make the book possible by buying it every month. Every issue has text pieces, behind the scenes stuff about the stories, or articles about crime and noir movies by me or other writers. And none of this stuff is reprinted in the trades of the arcs. These are bonuses just for the single issue buyers.
ATR: Okay, imagine someone is reading this interview and has never heard of this title before… Sell that reader on Criminal (short of saying “Just pick the damn thing up! It’s great!”), if you wouldn’t mind, please.
EB: CRIMINAL is the comic I always wanted to read. It’s a noir world of heists and cons, and it’s drawn beautifully by Sean (Marvel Zombies) Phillips. Each arc tells a complete story, and yet each builds on the ones that have come before, too. It’s got action and mystery and plenty of gunplay, but none of it is gratuitous. That’s something I’m especially proud of. My hard sell is always the same though, if you like my other stuff, from Catwoman to Gotham Central to Sleeper to Cap to Daredevil and anything in between, then you’ll love Criminal. It’s my favorite thing I’ve ever done.
EB: Actually, it kind of is. Years ago, when we were halfway into Sleeper, I tried to tell Sean what was coming up in the book, and he didn’t want to know. So, I write with Sean in mind as my first audience. It’s great to get that initial reaction when he sees pages.
As for my process, I’m just one of those people who thinks of crime stories all day long. I don’t know exactly why. I do have some background in my teens that was on the shady/criminal side, but I’m far, far from that part of my life, so I don’t think that’s it. I think good crime fiction just allows you to write people at their most human and vulnerable, and I find that compelling to explore as a writer.
ATR: Anything else you’re working on you would like to mention?
EB: Have you heard we killed Captain America? You can buy it on ebay for 100
(ATR Note: This wins for best answer in an interview I?ve conducted.)
ATR: Mr. Brubaker, I have one Captain America related question. I’m sure you received a barrage of them, so I will try to keep this as painless as possible. I want to know why Cap got all messed up on whatever and shoved a burrito down his pants. There has to be some kind of reasoning behind this… I need to make sense of it and I figured you’re the best guy to ask… And isn’t Cap supposed to be dead? What’s he doing in Florida?!
EB: I can’t reveal the truth about the “burrito” until issue 30, sorry.
Big thanks to Bru; and if you can?t get enough, I recommend you check out the interview he did for Suicide Girls. It?s pretty good.
This Has A ?Smooth Criminal? Factor Of Ten Out Of Ten
News From Bristol?
This weekend was the Bristol International Comic Expo in? well, Bristol (UK). Luke Handley, one of Silver Bullet Comic Book?s finest reviewers (a very fine lot, I must say), was kind enough to cover some panels. Now, I?m sure you may already know some of this news below, but Luke did such a damn good job, I thought it would be a crime to let it all go to waste. So, enjoy some bits concerning DC, Vertigo, Wildstorm, and The Transformers.
- Showed an upcoming cover for Countdown featuring a giant Mary Marvel in black outfit with purple lightning bolt holding a chained up Zatanna in one hand.
- Superman #666, shipping in August, will be a double issue and feature Superman in Hell and will have art by Walt Simonson. Zatanna and the Phantom Stranger will guest star.
- The Metal Men will make their return in August, written and drawn by Duncan Rouleau. Apparently it will feature new and old threads of Metal Men continuity.
- August will also see the start of a 2 part Batman/Lobo series by Sam Keith.
- This fall we’ll see a Justice League/Hitman mini written by Garth Ennis with art by John McCraig.
- Blue Beetle appears on the cover if Teen Titans #50, it would seem as a team member. The issue will also have 2 back-up features as well as the main story written by Adam Beecham: the first will be by Geoff Johns and Mike McKone (the original Teen Titans team) and the second by Marv Wolfman and George Perez (no comment there).
On the Wildstorm side of things:
- There is an upcoming special entitled Ex Machina: Masquerade, obviously by Vaughn, with art by Jon Paul Leon, that will take a look at Mitchell Hundred’s earliest days as a superhero and his first identity before adopting that of the Great Machine.
- After completing Y: The Last Man, Vaughn plans to take a break for a year or so before taking on anything new, but will likely return with an OGN.
- In the questions round Bob Wayne, VP of sales, went on to confirm that All Star Superman and Batman would definitely keep running whilst Morrison and Millar kept writing them. All Star Batgirl is not on the radar yet.
- Kurt Busiek said that after Astro City: The Dark Age 2 wraps we will be seeing The Dark Age 3.
Allan Heinberg did a panel with Paul Cornell about the transition from TV writing to comics and though Paul was very guarded about future work that he has planned for Marvel, Allan did reveal some things:
- The end of his Wonder Woman run with Terry Dodson will indeed appear in the Wonder Woman Annual that will be published in September. The main story will be 25 pages long and there will be a back-up feature drawn by Gary Frank that will explore the origins of Wonder Woman, Donna Troy, Wonder Girl, Nemesis and Sarge Steel.
- *When asked about Young Avengers, Allan admitted that at the moment he really couldn’t take on more than one thing at a time. He’s currently writing the end of Grey’s Anatomy, but he has almost finished the outline for season 2 of Young Avengers. Due to time constraints, he will most likely plot season 2 but have someone come in to script it. Jim Cheung will remain on art. This won’t be happening for a while though and the series will most likely be bi-monthly.
- Allan mentioned that he and Terry Dodson have talked about doing a Barbara Gordon project together.
- Similarly, he’s talked with Jim Cheung about doing a self-contained Identity Crisis style mini in the Marvel Universe.
- Oh, and when asked what character he would like to write for TV the most he said the Question “not the female one!”, and quoted the death of Vic Sage as one of the reasons he’s become a bit disillusioned with comics of late.
- New ongoing series by Si Spencer, with Simon Gane on art and Cameron Stuart on inks, called “The Vinyl Underground” will launch in October. It’s set in London and will follow 4 college students who become occult detectives.
- Mark Buckingham said he has no plans whatsoever to leave Fables and will keep drawing it for as long as he can. In the current “The Good Prince” arc, readers will also learn more about Frau Totenkinder, her real motivations, her schemes etc. Also, next month will see a major revelation in the pages of Jack of Fables. It will address the time frames of both books and bring both into the same time frame. Mark’s words: “Any issues you any have had about facial hair will be resolved”!
- Apparently there is a lot of nudity in Y: The Last Man #57, which didn’t sit too well with Jock because apparently a lot of their nudity in Fakers has been censored by the editors! Vaughn pointed out that this was probably because the nudity in Y is purely gratuitous, whereas that in Fakers is too meaningful.
- In Testament #21, things get “biblical” according to artist Liam Sharp, with the cover depicting a swarm of insects and plague in Times Square.
- New ongoing “Northlanders” in December by Brian Wood that will take a look at the heyday of the Vikings with a young warrior’s quest to reclaim his tribe.
- The Un-Men from Swamp Thing will return in their own ongoing in August written by Jon Welling (I think!).
- There are plans for a “Death” absolute edition.
Finally, a small Transformers panel:
- The new U.K. Transformers Mag published by Titans will follow the movie continuity and will have art by Transformers greats such as Andrew Wildman (issue 2), Nick Roche (3), Don Figueroa (4). Geoff Senior has provided a 10 page story for July’s issue.
- “Devastation”, the next IDW arc will kick-off in September but before that there will be an Optimus Prime Spotlight issue in August.
- The upcoming Galvatron Spotlight will mark the IDW debut of Sideswipe, Hound, Warpath and Generation 2 characters Scram and Leadfoot.
Some excellent stuff there, Luke. You make a respectable ninjCS: Keep it up, and I see bacon cookies in your future.
This Has A ?Biblical Insect Plague? Factor Of Nine Out Of Ten
78 Drunk Guys Later
Another interesting item from Bristol was the first annual Golden Champagne Glass Awards, brought to us and hosted by Tony Lee and Dan Boultwood. All of the sordid details can be found HERE. Hey look, ATR won? something! Huzzah! I?m looking forward to getting my hands on the award come SDCC. Then I shall pose with it, making me the envy of the civilized world. I wish I had been able to be there for the GCGA, but unless radioactive marmots bugger me good, I should be in attendance at Bristol next time around.
This Has An ?I Never Win Anything, And For Good Reason? Factor Of Ten Out Of Ten
Normally, I?m not very serious at all and everything seems quite funny to me. That said I?d like to take a moment to be serious. You see, Tom Artis, a comics industry veteran, passed away recently and his family is in financial trouble. Honestly, I had something further to say; but then I discovered that Dan Vado of SLG Publishing said it much better. Here?s that address again in case you missed it:
The Tom TC Artis and Family Memorial Fund
Attn: Gale Krueger
1401 North Dirksen Parkway
Springfield, IL 62702
Please help out if you can.
I?m a big fan of the classic Anglo-Saxon epic poem Beowulf. When I found out Markosia would be releasing a 64-page graphic novel adaptation of it written by Stephen L. Stern (Zen Intergalactic Ninja) and illustrated by Christopher Steininger (The White Elephant) I just had to engage Mr. Stern in a battle to the bitter end!
Okay, it was just a Q&A. But it was fierce, okay?
ATR: Why BEOWULF?
SS: I suppose because I was an English major in college, and was captivated by it when I first read it. I?ve read the poem many, many times since, and I?ve never lost my fascination for it. It?s simply?in my opinion, of course?the greatest heroic epic ever written, be it prose or poetry.
SS: Having read several different translations over the years, I feel strongly that Heaney?s is without compare. He?s an amazing, Nobel prize-winning poet and he was clearly at the height of his powers when he translated BEOWULF. It?s a masterpiece, clear and simple, and I knew that I wanted to base the graphic novel upon it.
ATR: Is it a direct adaptation, or did you get creative with it?
SS: Yes, and yes. It?s as direct as one can get, but of course, I had to condense the work into a sixty-four page, highly cinematic graphic novel. The three key battles are there: Beowulf versus Grendel, Grendel?s mother and the fire-breathing dragon. However, there?s a great deal more to the story than its violence.
SS: Well, as I said, it?s very cinematic, and part of the sheer pleasure of this book is just looking at Chris Steininger?s amazing artwork. This is some of the best, most expressive black-and-white art I?ve ever laid eyes on. Beowulf the man is the apotheosis of heroism, and I took pains to capture that. In the end, this is a very melancholy tale?even the greatest hero is ultimately brought down, if only by age. I believe that what will surprise readers is the emotive value of this story.
ATR: What was the process of putting this project together?
SS: Basically, I wrote the entire script over a period of about two months. I knew exactly how I wanted the action and the dialogue to flow, but I kept the scene descriptions as open as possible. I wanted Chris to bring all of his formidable talent to the work?and that he?s done beyond my wildest expectations.
ATR: You have some excellent work behind you. What else are you going to hit us with in the future?
SS: Thanks for the compliment. I?ve got a 10-page story coming up in the HEAVY METAL SUMMER SPECIAL that will be out in July. It?s a crossover of my character, Zen Intergalactic Ninja, with the British character Jack Brodie. The story leads into a graphic novel that will be out later in the year. There?s also a Zen comic called BLOOD AND WAR which I wrote, that will be a Wizard World Exclusive at their Chicago Con in August. There?s more, but let?s leave it at that for now.
Thanks for answering those questions, Steve! I really can?t wait to read this one.
Moving right along?
I had the pleasure of reading a new comic called SubCulture (published by Ape Entertainment), which is described by writer Kevin Freeman as ?a slice-of-life adventure centered on a closet geek, a proud fanboy, and a passive aggressive femme-fatale?. Take a look at the first four pages below (art is by Stan Yan) as well as covers and a webstrip. Notice that the cover for #1 is crafted by Jim Mahfood. Nice, eh?
This Has A ?I Wonder If Grendel Would Dig Manga? Factor Of Nine Out Of Ten
Comic Web: Herobot
This was just brought to my attention and I thought I would insert it as a last minute addition? Herobot is a webcomic created by Eric Allard and is ?about a world under attack by an evil presence that uses giant Robots to wreak havoc on earth. The world?s only hope comes from a mysterious machine called? Herobot!?
Just look at it:
This Has A ?Robot Love? Factor Of Eight Out Of Ten
There you go. Another week down.
Before I get back to my regular activities, I?d like to send my well-wishes to Dr. Scott of Polite Dissent and his family. Here?s to a speedy recovery, sir.
If any of you readers feel the need to stalk me, here?s how:
Always feel free to drop me a line or add me or whatever. I?m mostly friendly. Mostly.
Oh, one more thing, I have this crazy idea that Captain America will be brought back with the Power Cosmic or something like that. I joked about it a few days ago but then it got me thinking? Unless Cap is perma-dead? but we all know how that goes. Even Johnny Alpha?s death wasn?t all that permanent.