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Sleeper hits
January 8, 2012 7:28 PM   Subscribe

Everything you need to know about Ed Brubaker and Sean Philips, the best writer artist team currently working in comics, and their particular brand of noirish crime and noirish supercrime. With their latest project, Fatal, they add a new ingredient to the mix and bring us noirish Lovecraftian crime.
posted by Artw (58 comments total) 29 users marked this as a favorite

 
Holy crap, those guys are my heroes. I wrote an adaptation of SLEEPER for Warner Bros (sadly ddin't make into production) but probably the best comic I've ever read. Sean is an utter genius.
posted by unSane at 7:31 PM on January 8, 2012 [4 favorites]


I couldn't be fonder of you if you were my own son. But, well, if you lose a son, it's possible to get another. There's only one Cthulhu.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 7:37 PM on January 8, 2012


Sleeper is fantastic. I need to start Criminal, I'm just afraid that when I do I'll have to go out and buy the rest immediately, even if it means ignoring the trivial things like food and working for a living.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 7:39 PM on January 8, 2012


I think Fatale will benefit from being collected because this first issue didn't do a lot for me. I enjoyed the original Incognito but the second series was quite terrible, and maybe that's soured me on Brubaker. But then I rarely hear any bad noises about Sleeper so maybe I should give that a shot before I get too hasty with my decision-making.
posted by tumid dahlia at 7:53 PM on January 8, 2012


Yeah I just got Criminal vol 6 couple weeks back. It was ok. You should check out the Criminal Deluxe Edition if you are going to start At the first TBP. Now that it is down to $30 it is roughly the same price as buying 3 trade paperbacks. I have it, nicer paper, extra art, it's roughly textbook size so it isn't crazy unmanageable like absolute editions.

I am trying to get Fatale off comixology right now, but the app can't download data. Damn you comixology.
posted by Ad hominem at 7:54 PM on January 8, 2012


I really enjoyed the guest commentaries at the back of Criminal. I got some great move recommendations from there. Looking forward to the new one.
posted by not_that_epiphanius at 7:58 PM on January 8, 2012


Those are a greta part of the package - anyone know if those are included in the trades?
posted by Artw at 7:59 PM on January 8, 2012


All on ComiXology! Time to drop some $.
posted by painquale at 8:01 PM on January 8, 2012


I'm trying to think of another writer/artist pair that work together so consistently well and with such a distinctive result. Ennis and Dillon maybe? Wagner and Ezquerra? In both those cases they work togetehr really well but do a similar thing with others, Philips/Brubaker have a pretty unique and distinctive vibe to the stuff they do together.
posted by Artw at 8:08 PM on January 8, 2012


The text pieces aren't included in the collections as far as I know. They're put in the single issues as a way of rewarding people for buying them as they come out instead of waiting for the trades. Fatale #1 didn't do a whole lot for me. I'm not a fan of the horror genre... if Brubaker's doing it, I guess you could call it noiror.

The last Criminal series (Last of the Innocent) with the Archie comics homage really made me giddy.
posted by MegoSteve at 8:12 PM on January 8, 2012


(I am kind of excluding the dead and the retired there.)
posted by Artw at 8:12 PM on January 8, 2012


Those are a great part of the package - anyone know if those are included in the trades?

I don't believe so. I have the hardcover and the Bad Night trade - the trade doesn't have anything, and the hardcover reprints Phillips' art for the supplementals, but not the text, or at least only reprints a couple or maybe has an original (My copy's in a box somewhere, hence the equivocation.) I'm pretty sure Brubaker's said the text pieces are an incentive to buy the individual issues.

I wasn't big on Sleeper - there's something about Holden that reads a lot younger than I think is appropriate for the character. Or I'm biased against perceived Salinger references.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 8:13 PM on January 8, 2012


Morrison and Quitely comes to mind. Mignola, Arcudi and Davis are another great team, but Mignola is great with just about anybody. R
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 8:14 PM on January 8, 2012


Hardcover has the text peices. I did like Last of the Innocents, I should probably read it again but it was a neat twist on a noire trope. "the good guy who accidentally starts down the wrong path that inexorably leads to his destruction"
posted by Ad hominem at 8:17 PM on January 8, 2012


*Shakes fist at MegoSteve, mentions that folks may also be interested in Point Blank, Brubaker's prologue of sorts to Sleeper, which writing-wise isn't great, but has some moments and is drawn by Colin Wilson*
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 8:18 PM on January 8, 2012


If you like Criminal you are pretty much guaranteed to like Darwyn Cookes take on Parker, also available for not-a-lot of Comixology right now.
posted by Artw at 8:23 PM on January 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


The first issue of Fatale seemed *so* familar/cliche/by-the-numbers it's hard to believe it really is. I trust this team to do something interesting with it.

Morrison/Quitely is the obvious one, but Peter Milligan has a lot of really simpatico artists, too, especially McCarthy and Fegredo.
posted by Bigfoot Mandala at 8:24 PM on January 8, 2012


Criminal is one of the best things now in comics, wiiiiiiiiiiiiith the exception of Bad Night, a goofy misstep from which they bounced back so dramatically that I'm kind of happy to act like it only existed as some terrific covers and otherwise forget it happened. Wrt Fatale...man, how great is that prologue in the first issue? I think the material that follows it is (and I can't believe I'm saying this about a comic published in the 21st C) a bit dense and congested, but since that's the direct consequence of Brubaker clearly deliberately not writing for the collection, it's kind of hard to complain. (Except: I do think that a version of Fatale created as an original graphic novel would likely not have had this problem; I think that first chapter may well have been paced differently, and in a way that ultimately could be better for the story as a whole. Right now, I'm dying to get to about issue 3, when I figure everything will make sense and I'll be on the edge of my seat.)
posted by kittens for breakfast at 8:26 PM on January 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Stray Bullets was/is a pretty crime series.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 8:27 PM on January 8, 2012 [3 favorites]


I'm trying to think of another writer/artist pair that work together so consistently well and with such a distinctive result

Azzarello and Risso?
posted by painquale at 9:21 PM on January 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


Breyfogle and Grant, historically.
posted by tumid dahlia at 9:29 PM on January 8, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm trying to think of another writer/artist pair that work together so consistently well and with such a distinctive result

Brian Clevinger and Scott Wegener on Atomic Robo.

I will continue plugging this awesome comic until Disney buys the rights for a zillion dollars and then I will deny ever having heard of it.
posted by BitterOldPunk at 10:26 PM on January 8, 2012 [5 favorites]


Well, since we are all gung ho about comixology right now I'll point out that Atomic Robo book one was available for free there last time I looked
posted by Artw at 10:34 PM on January 8, 2012 [1 favorite]


They were the guys that did that great Gotham Central book, right?
posted by klangklangston at 10:44 PM on January 8, 2012


Some say COMIC SANS DEFENDERS, but somehow I read that as Cutie Mark Crusaders.
posted by ZeusHumms at 11:07 PM on January 8, 2012


klangklangston: I think that was primarily Greg Rucka writing solo after the first few issues but I'm too inept and lazy to check.
posted by tumid dahlia at 11:16 PM on January 8, 2012


Sorry, my bad, posted in the wrong thread.
posted by ZeusHumms at 11:45 PM on January 8, 2012


Oh, no worries. It works right into the conversation.
posted by P.o.B. at 1:37 AM on January 9, 2012


Mostly Greg Rucka and Michael Lark, no Philips - good though.
posted by Artw at 2:47 AM on January 9, 2012


I do need to say, I really like Incognito.
posted by P.o.B. at 2:49 AM on January 9, 2012


Yeah, Last of the Innocent was awesome. I'd say more, but don't want to spoil the explots of Noir Archie.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 4:45 AM on January 9, 2012


For an older pairing Douglas Moench and Paul Gulacy pretty much made Shang Chi: Master of Kung Fu as interesting as it was (although there were other artists later in the series who also did OK). I will admit that this is a series that I have resisted rereading on the assumption that it can't be as amazing as I thought it was when I was a kid....
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:41 AM on January 9, 2012


Just for the record, from the CRIMINAL Deluxe Edition hardcover book, Ed Brubaker speaking:

"In the Criminal single issues, where we originally serialized these stories, we have a lot of extra pages at the back of the issues. I consider Criminal to be a magazine, in many ways, a place for me and Sean to put our stories, but also a place to write about the crime genre itself, too. I generally ramble about whatever I'm reading or researching, or print a few letters, and then we have articles that are longer and more serious. Informal essays, sort of.

These are usually pieces about old movies or books, or sometimes both, and if they aren't written by me, they're done by friends of mine as a favor. It's something that makes the single issues a special thing, and gives Sean a chance to do some illustrations to enhance these pieces.

I often get asked why we haven't collected these articles in the trade paperbacks and my usual answer is that you don't get to the end of a crime novel and find a bunch of articles by the author's friends about '70s crime movies or Noir films from the '40s and '50s. But in addition to that, Criminal is a bit like Public Radio or TV - it's reader funded - so we want to make sure we're rewarding those readers who have helped make it a ll possible. And as I've said, most of the articles are done by friends of mine as favors, and I wouldn't want to abuse their charity, since they've helped make Criminal what it is.

That said, the following are Sean's illustrations for the articles in the 13 issues collected here, as well as a few of the pieces I've written for the series about some of my favorite crime films."

Eat that, Comixology. This is why (at my stores at least) CRIMINAL (and INCOGNITO and FATALE) get personally hand-sold by me and the counter monkeys, and receive lots of prominent display space... it helps that they're just plain great and personal favorites.
posted by Ron Thanagar at 6:09 AM on January 9, 2012


Oh and seek out Brubaker's early LOWLIFE (drawn by Ed himself!) and the excellent An Accidental Death with art by Eric Shanower, he of the gorgeous OZ books. I wish that stuff was in print so I could sell mountains of them.
posted by Ron Thanagar at 6:16 AM on January 9, 2012


I hadn't read any of these series before, thanks Artw. You have done a good thing.

Brian Clevinger and Scott Wegener on Atomic Robo.

Goddamn I love that comic so much it hurts me a little bit. I try to work the phrase "I just used my violence" into as many conversations as possible.
posted by middleclasstool at 7:10 AM on January 9, 2012


"When you return to your unspecified but empirically determined dimension of origin, tell them Carl Sagan sent you." is the greatest line of prose ever written.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 7:45 AM on January 9, 2012


Dammit, "unobservable but empirically determined." I suck.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 7:47 AM on January 9, 2012


We should really mention Queen and Country too, by Greg Rucka. Not in the same class as Sleeper, but definitely has a similar vibe.

100 Bullets is the only thing that's close IMO, though Loveless is all kinds of cool too. Brian Azzarello's Wonder Woman is going some really strange places---Wonder Woman as horror? But it works.
posted by bonehead at 8:10 AM on January 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


They were the guys that did that great Gotham Central book, right?

Ed Brubaker was about half of the writing. The book was split into Day Shift and Night Shift (I forget which writer handled which). Fantastic series. I also heartily endorse Queen and Country.
posted by yerfatma at 11:34 AM on January 9, 2012


I'm trying to think of another writer/artist pair that work together so consistently well and with such a distinctive result. Ennis and Dillon maybe?

Well, there was Preacher, but their work on Hellblazer was sort of uneven (although "Confession"--a single-issue story (although connected to Ennis' run overall), you know, the one with the serial-killing priest and the pencils--was my favorite work of Dillon's and my favorite issue of Ennis' run on that book). And, at some point on their Punisher run, Dillon settled into this sort of bland, repetitious style that he's maintained ever since. For that matter, I haven't been happy with Ennis' work of the last several years, with the exception of his Punisher MAX run; Crossed, The Boys, and Jennifer Blood are all examples of someone trying to have his cake and eat it too WRT simultaneously exploiting and commenting on various pop culture tropes, and often failing at either or both.

In terms of contemporary writer/artist pairs, I'd put in a vote for Morrison/Quitely, but the all time champs are still Lee/Kirby in my book (despite the, ah, subsequent unpleasantness).
posted by Halloween Jack at 1:17 PM on January 9, 2012


Image Comics is on a supersonic rocket ship to the future
posted by Artw at 1:45 PM on January 9, 2012


(One of those covers is a source of controversy as some nutjob blogger is objecting to it - can you guess which one?)
posted by Artw at 1:48 PM on January 9, 2012


Damn those kneejerk anti-art-theft reactionaries!
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 2:16 PM on January 9, 2012


It's would be as valid as most other entries in Rich Johnson's swipe files....
posted by Artw at 2:23 PM on January 9, 2012


This Atomic Robo sounds pretty good too, I'd never even heard of the thing. To the comics shop and the smug bald twat behind the counter!

You may judge me if you wish, smug bald twat-fellow, but I'm not the one who spends his days slapping $1 stickers on mountains of New Mutants Annual #5 and Dark Horse Presents: Dr. Giggles!
posted by tumid dahlia at 7:09 PM on January 9, 2012


Careful, purchasing Atomic Robo may lead him to think you are In the Know and welcome you into his Inner Circle of Comicsdom.
posted by Artw at 7:38 PM on January 9, 2012


Ah yes, the Magical Inner Circle Of Farting In The Storeroom And Talking About Tremé.
posted by tumid dahlia at 9:19 PM on January 9, 2012


if you like Hellboy, then you'll like Atomic Robo. Good stuff.

Hey, did you guys know that Incognito is really good? Because it is seriously good,
posted by P.o.B. at 10:35 PM on January 9, 2012


if you like Hellboy...

Well, I haven't read Hellboy but it turns out I don't like B.P.R.D. so maybe I'll give Robo Atomico a miss.
posted by tumid dahlia at 12:21 AM on January 10, 2012


It's VERY like Hellboy, and not a ht like BPRD.
posted by Artw at 12:24 AM on January 10, 2012


Yeah, very much like the Hellboy character.
posted by P.o.B. at 4:01 AM on January 10, 2012


Atomic Robo is what Hellboy might have been if Mike Mignola grew up on punchline-a-page webcomics instead of horror. Similar concepts, similar storytelling styles, very different execution.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 4:28 AM on January 10, 2012


Also it;s very much robots and nazis instead of demons and nazis.
posted by Artw at 12:58 PM on January 10, 2012


[SPOILER FOR HELLBOY] Considering Hellboy's Storyline has, for all intents, killed it's main character and subsequently has him in a fugue of wanderlust for years which doesn't make clear whether he really is still alive or not. Yeah, I would say the storylines are probably a bit different.
posted by P.o.B. at 1:15 PM on January 10, 2012


By that I mean,it very much is two kinds of the same character yielding two different kinds of goodness.
posted by P.o.B. at 1:21 PM on January 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


*SPOILERS CONTINUE*

You know, it never occurred to me that Hellboy could have been dead for the last three years, but now that I think about it, that makes The Storm and The Fury make a lot more sense.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 1:36 PM on January 10, 2012


Atomic Robo RPG
posted by Artw at 3:29 PM on January 10, 2012


Darwyn Cooke and the man called Parker - you should be reading this, basically.
posted by Artw at 8:30 PM on January 15, 2012


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