Friday, September 12, 2008


This week the newest issue of Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips Criminal came out with the second part of a four issue story called Bad Night. There are presently three Criminal collections out, Coward, Lawless, and The Dead and the Dying. There aren't recurring characters in Criminal and most issues are self contained and easy to pick up on as to what is going on so any issue a reader picks up of Criminal will give them a sense of what Brubaker and Phillips are doing with this title.

Brubaker and Phillips also worked on the excellent four volume Sleeper, which is sort of in the crime fiction genre except it features some Wildstorm characters with hard boiled edges. Criminal is crime fiction comics at its finest with great nasty characters, crazy scenarios, great moody art (with coloring that isn't monotone), and great dialogue and pacing. The newest storyline, Bad Habits, about a cartoonist with a shady past who gets forced into doing some ID forgery and other crimes, is my favorite so far and I can't wait to see how all of this plays out.

Every issue of Criminal also has a back up usually guest essay on something related to the crime fiction genre like movie or novel recomendations and this issue jas two essays, one by Steven Grant (who's written many great crime fiction comics such as Badlands) and the other by Marc Andreyko (who co-wrote Torso with Bendis and presently writes Manhunter for DC). Andreyko's essay is on the excellent movie from 1992 called One False Move, directed by Carl Franklin, and featuring actors Bill Paxton and Billy Bob Thorton. Reading that essay makes me want to watch that movie again because it really is full of surprises and just really good story telling. Steven Grant's essay is on crime fiction novelist Eugene Izzi and I want to tip my non-existant hat to him for attempting to introduce Izzi to a new audience. I used to follow (read) a lot of crime fiction novelists including Max Allan Collins, Lawrence Block, Warren Murphy, and Andrew Vachss. Andrew Vachss (his first novel, Flood, is especially excellent and will have you seeking out other books by him), a crime fiction novelist from Chicago, was the writer who turned me on to Eugene Izzi, also a crime fiction novelist from Chicago and as brutal as Vachss' writing often was, Izzi's writing was maybe even more so. As Grant writes in his essay, Izzi always struggled with finding a larger audience and he was found hanging at the end of a rope on Decmber 12, 1996. Eugene Izzi's hanging was ruled a suicide, but many are not convinced that that was what really happened. Off the top of my head I rember especially liking Izzi's Invasions, King of the Hustlers, and Tony's Justice.

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