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Read an Excerpt of Incognito: The Classified Edition

Want a sneak peak from the Classified Edition of Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips’ INCOGNITO, but can’t make it out to your local comics store? Marvel was kind enough to provide us a few pages below–now go grab yourself a copy! You won’t regret it.

Continue reading “Read an Excerpt of Incognito: The Classified Edition”

An Interview with Ed Brubaker

This week, our friends at Marvel publish the Classified Edition of Incognito, collecting, with bonus material, the first two volumes of the acclaimed, hard-boiled series Joe Hill describes as “what the albums of the Black Keys are to rock and roll and the pictures of Quentin Tarantino are to film.”

Our celebration of this truly bad-ass bind-up continues with an exclusive interview with writer Ed Brubaker. Check back tomorrow for an excerpt!

The idea of a bad guy disguised in plain sight is something that is universally frightening, is this where the idea of Zack Overkill came from?

I think part of it actually came from trying to figure out what the flipside to my and Sean Phillips’s series SLEEPER would be. That was about a good guy pretending to be a bad guy, so this would be about a bad guy pretending… something. I wasn’t sure yet. I came pretty quickly to the idea of supervillain Witness Protection, which to me, seemed like for some of these guys would be worse than prison.

Megan Abbott said recently that the line from Double Indemnity “I did it for the money and the woman. I didn’t get the money. I didn’t get the woman.” sums up noir. Incognito certainly adheres to this formula, what it is about noir that is attractive to you?

I’m not entirely sure. I guess because all of us, at some time or another, feel like everything could just fall apart. Or feels desperate. And I like stories that play into that. And there’s a certain mythic inevitability to noir stories. You watch all the parts of the story moving, and you know they’re going to end somewhere bad, but you can’t look away. You hold onto some desperate hope that your “hero” will somehow get out alive, if not intact.  I think Double Indemnity is the perfect example of why noir works — at the beginning of the movie (I can’t remember if it’s the same in the book) you already know everything has gone wrong, and yet you just want to see what happens anyway.  So much of film and tv and books and comics these days are about attempts to surprise readers or viewers, and while that can be fun, showing the aftermath first removes that, and allows you to just write from the characters, if that makes any sense.

One of the great things about the INCOGNITO series how well it incorporates the shades of grey between “good” and “evil”—something quite rare in comics even today. Where on the spectrum would you place Zack at the beginning and the close of the story arcs in Incognito: The Classified Edition?

I think at the beginning of the story, he’s a bad guy. An amoral prick at best. It’s a black comedy in some ways, so I played it for humor, but he’s not a guy you’d want to know. His best friend is the office drug addict and thief, after all. I think by the end, he’s been dragged through the wringer to the point where he feels just used by everyone on both sides — the good guys and the bad guys.

You’ve said elsewhere that you’re a big Hammett and Chandler fan—what’s your favorite of each of their novels? Did you draw on these writers or the work of other novelists in writing INCOGNITO?

I think the only conscious influences on INCOGNITO would be old pulp mags – Doc Savage and the Shadow — and Philip Jose Farmer’s A FEAST UNKNOWN.

My favorite Hammett and Chandler — Hammett it’s probably the Continental Op stories, and I love Red Harvest, of course. With Chandler, probably the Long Goodbye, although they’re all good. I even love his letters, which have so much of his dark humor in them.

When we first meet Zack Overkill, he’s powerless—just another office drone fighting boredom. What was it like to write a character with a life so run-of-the-mill, yet capable of such extreme superhuman acts without the restraints placed on him?

A lot of fun, really. I loved making a normal life feel like a trap. And I loved that even after he got his powers back, he still had to go to the office everyday, which made it even worse. I think that’s what makes these stories work, in the long run, is seeing him in his “secret identity” in both lives. Like in Bad Influences, when he has to live in an apartment building and deal with nosy neighbors.

Under the Influence

This week, our friends at Marvel publish the Classified Edition of Incognito, collecting, with bonus material, the first two volumes of the acclaimed, hard-boiled series that Joe Hill describes as “what the albums of the Black Keys are to rock and roll and the pictures of Quentin Tarantino are to film.”

Hill’s essay on INCOGNITO follows. Go check out INCOGNITO now! We’ll have more from Brubaker and the INCOGNITO series as the week continues.

I hate it when comic creators get bitching and moaning about how their art form doesn’t get the respect it deserves, isn’t honored the way theater or painting or mainstream literature is honored, and all that blah-de-blah-de-fucking-blah.

Oh, go cry a river somewhere over your twenty-year-old copies of Maus and leave me alone.

Then there are these card-carrying boys of Fanboy Nation who want to establish a “read-comics-in-public” day, to make comics seem more socially normative.

Fuck that.

I don’t want comics to be respectable. I don’t want everyone proudly looking at them in public. I want reading comics to feel dirty and unhealthy and transgressive, to feel like sin, like a visit to the whorehouse, or a secret fight club, or maybe both at the same time.I don’t read comics, I do comics, like shots, four-color grain alcohol slurped out of the White Queen’s dainty navel; afterwards she can slap me around  a little and tell me how she’s going to punish my wrongdoer. I didn’t put my money down for a moving literary epiphany. I dropped my cash to see badass women cavort in fetish costumes while fighting evil, to watch brutal men strangle monsters with their bare hands, to see a city block leveled (if not a whole city), and to have a front-row seat as malformed monsters of evil are sliced in half by their own death ray machines.

Don’t get me wrong. I am often engaged, enthralled, and moved by the redemptive experience of high art, as it is found in films like “Rules of the Game,” a book like Malamud’s “A New Life,” or a comic like “Fun Home.” It’s just that I don’t seem to be compulsively drawn to that kind of thing. What really gets my pulse jacked are stories of grime and punishment, lawlessness and disorder, the bad and the ugly(hold the good).

Stories of this ilk grab me like a magnet grabs iron shavings. The creators of such work are blood-slicked  MMA fighters, in a world where to fight at all is increasingly seen as barbaric, and embarrassingly out of step with the times. If I was a more sensible man, governed by more sensible, forward-looking notions, I’m sure I would invest my time in better mannered, more tasteful art forms. But my deepest enthusiasm has always been reserved for the creators that speak to my nerve-endings.

I suppose it’s a failing; I have always had compassion for the wrong people. Continue reading “Under the Influence”

Brian Michael Bendis Interviews Greg Rucka

iraqOur post-Comic Con celebration of come of our enormously talented, cross-media authors continues with an interview between Brian Michael Bendis, writer of Ultimate Spider-Man, Ultimate X-Men, Ultimate Fantastic Four and The Avengers, and Greg Rucka, whose first new thriller series in a decade kicked off with ALPHA, now in bookstores everywhere.

Brian Michael Bendis: So we’re being honest with our reading audience. Last week you were cool enough to come to my class—I teach a class at Portland State—and you came there and dropped some truth bombs on them, and rattled them to the core. It was a lot of fun. But I had questions left over that we never got to because it was more of a free floating conversation, so there was questions I was going to ask, and I didn’t. And the primary question I had that I think is more pertinent to this conversation than the one we were going to have in front of the students, was if you’ve given thought to your goals as a novelist at this point. Like, there’s the goals that you had when you started, which was to get published—and now you’re starting a new kind of phase in your career, in that age we’re in, we get more introspective. OK, we’ve been published—now what? OK, I get to do this—now what am I going to do with it? So I was curious if you had given thought to that, or if you were bring more take it as it comes.

Greg Rucka: You know, it’s weird, because coming into Mulholland, and Alpha is the first new series that I’ve done in over decade in novels, in prose.  Stumptown was sort of the next step, but Alpha is the first in what is initially conceived of as the first of three novels, and may grow beyond that. I did give it some thought. There were two factors at work. The first is the obvious commercial one—you want to write something that’s going to be successful and you want to justify the publisher’s faith in you. You want to return them the money they’re willing to extend to you to write this thing, and most of the other novels are selling pretty well, but none of them have really broken out, and I’m not sure that’s a top agenda point.

But I would like to be able to write something that rewards the publisher’s faith. That actually does matter to me. I don’t hear a lot of writers talk about it. But self publishing is so viable that if you do go with a publisher you do want to make it worth everybody’s time. Content-wise, you touched on it, you know—I’m older. Like you, I’ve got kids. I have a different perspective than I did when I was 24, when my first novel was published. Continue reading “Brian Michael Bendis Interviews Greg Rucka”

The Lineup: Weekly Links

Contrasted ConfinementGreg Rucka is everywhere on the internet this week!

Rucka’s new novel ALPHA has received fantastic reviews from the likes of Library Journal, who in a starred review wrote: “Rucka gets his new series featuring Ex-Delta Force Master Sergeant Jad Bell off to a smashing start with this pitch-perfect thriller [that] will appeal particularly to readers who like a strong hero along the lines of Lee Child’s Jack Reacher,” Publishers Weekly, who called the novel “pulse-pounding,” and Booklist, who proclaim it “gripping….A real corker.”

Also check out fantastic blogger reviews from the likes of IE Mommy, BrodartVibe’s Blog, Deer in the Xenon-Arc Lights, and this nice Staff Picks note from Mystery One Bookstore.

For more from Rucka himself, don’t miss the amazing conversation between Rucka and Brian Michael Bendis (Parts I and II), Rucka’s io9 post on writing strong female characters, and Rucka’s interview and podcast with Russ Burlingame of ComicBook.com. Then consult Greg’s schedule and head on down to the event nearest you!

Liam Neeson just signed on to play Matthew Scudder in a forthcoming adaption of Lawrence Block’s A Walk Among the Tombstones. Congrats, Larry!

In other Mulholland news, bloggers like Mysterious Reviews have continued to shower the love on Marcia Clark’s GUILT BY DEGREES, while Marcia recently dropped by KTLA in Florida to discuss her newest Rachel Knight thriller. And Deadline reports that Nick Santora has signed a deal to develop new projects with CBS TV Studios and rights to his new novel FIFTEEN DIGITS are currently under auction.

We’re going to go ahead and call The Great Gatsby a crime film if that’s OK with you.

Did we missing something sweet? Share it in the comments! We’re always open to suggestions for next week’s post! Get in touch at mulhollandbooks@hbgusa.com or DM us on Twitter.

TORSO Revisited

Earlier this month, Marvel reintroduced a refreshed and reformatted edition of the classic, Eisner Award-winning crime comic TORSO, by Brian Michael Bendis and Marc Andreyko to graphic novel readers everywhere. Read on for an interview with Brian Michael Bendis and an excerpt from the comic’s opening pages.

How did the writing of TORSO influence your later crime comic work including SCARLET?

Torso was one of the biggest challenges of my career. Taking on the responsibility of a true story but abstracting it in graphic novel form is a very large mountain to climb. When Mark Andreyko  brought up the idea he was thinking of it only in movie terms, but I became obsessed with the idea of how to do the story is a graphic novel.

Once you delve into that level of reality and research on one project, it becomes the standard to which every other project, whether it is Scarlet or even Spiderman, must rise to. Continue reading “TORSO Revisited”

Exclusive Preview: Richard Castle’s Deadly Storm: A Derrick Storm Novel

Thanks to our friends at Marvel, we have an exclusive preview to share with you of the graphic novel Richard Castle’s Deadly Storm: A Derrick Storm Novel that hits bookstores and comic shops this month.

For the first time anywhere, Castle’s titular hero Derrick Storm comes to life in the pages of this all new graphic novel. This adaptation of Derrick Storm’s first novel adventure takes our hero from the gritty world of the private eye all the way to the globe-hopping intrigue of the CIA. Eisner Award-winning Marvel Architect Brian Bendis and red hot Osborn writer Kelly Sue DeConnick worked closely with Richard Castle to create the one thing millions of fans have been asking for: their first real Derrick Storm adventure. A wall-to-wall, gritty, witty, globe-hopping detective thrill ride for fans of Richard Castle as well as fans of damn good comic books!

A Conversation with Duane Swierczynski and Josh Bazell: Part II

In our ongoing celebration of the publication of Fun & Games we matched Duane Swierczynski up with Josh Bazell, author of the acclaimed novel Beat the Reaper. When we last saw our heroes (see Part I), Duane had asked Josh how far he had gotten with his plan to become a comic book artist.

JB: Not far. When I was about ten I realized I didn’t have the talent.  All I had was How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way, which in retrospect was useless.  But until them my goal in life was to go to the Joe Kubert School, because it ran advertisements in comic books. It may be the saddest story ever told that’s not about a Boston terrier. What was your first idea of yourself as a writer?

DS: As a kid, I was inspired by comic books. I’d try to draw comic strips, but I realized at a young age that I wasn’t good at drawing. So instead, I remember cutting up an old Iron Man comic and using the art to make my own story. New captions, new dialogue. I knew I couldn’t draw for shit, but I could use someone else’s art to make my own story. I guess I was that kind of kid, who grew that interest in writing. Since I couldn’t draw, I decided that maybe a short story would be fun. I’m very inspired by comics, but also by movies, I caught the storytelling bug early. I’m not even sure I was aware of it, but it’s what I was doing.

JB: Was this your first job?

DS: Well, my VERY first job was, I was a keyboard player in a bar band when I was ten. My dad’s bar band, a wedding band. So my first paying job was playing Doors cover songs in dive bars in Philadelphia.

JB: Can you play the keyboard intro to “Light my Fire?”

DS: I can still do that! It took hours to learn, but it was worth it. It impresses the chicks.

JB: That’s badass!

DS: My dad actually made me spend a whole afternoon learning the organ solo for “In-A-GaddaDa-Vida”. Playing it over and over again. So, actually, I’m a frustrated musician too. You talk about wanting to do one art and sliding back into something else. I wanted to be a famous musician or a rockstar and I don’t have a good singing voice and I’m not very good at playing. So, I knew I couldn’t do it professionally. So, I fell back on writing.

JB: Do you still do it for fun?

Continue reading “A Conversation with Duane Swierczynski and Josh Bazell: Part II”

King Pleasure

more super rainI work in midtown, an area of Manhattan that isn’t often accused of having an excess of personality. Good restaurants within a few blocks’ radius are hard to come by. Chains dominate in all endeavors. But whenever I need to pop out at lunch for a few minutes of sweet escape from the nonconventional bookshelves, I’m glad the office is within easy walking distance of at least one New York underground staple: Midtown Comics.

Like Jonathan Santlofer, Brad Meltzer, and Max Allan Collins—like a whole lot of other crime and suspense addicts out there, I suspect—I, too, initially cut my teeth on the monthlies. It somehow became a tradition in my family that, after my father took me into town to get a haircut, we’d drop by the local independently owned comic store and I’d get to pick out one issue to add to my small but growing collection.

For me, it was less Batman or horror rags—I was a Marvel kid to start, mainly thanks to The Amazing Spider-Man around the time the villains Venom and Carnage were created.venom vs carnage

Whether or not all of my selections were age-appropriate is up for debate—I was young enough to still enjoy being read aloud to on occasion. During the recitation of a particularly climactic issue of X-Men, in which Magneto uses his power to forcefully expel all of Wolverine’s adamantium from his body—essentially gutting him like a fish—my father was horrified enough to refuse to continue right in the middle of a text box.

From then on, I kept my reading mostly to myself.

Like any self-respecting comic store, Midtown Comics has a section devoted to back issues many times deeper than the new offerings. This was my destination—not for one of the Marvel giants that initially drew my eye, but for something a little more obscure: Malibu Comics’ Solitaire #1. An origin story that has stuck with me to this day, of special note because it’s more than just derring-do, babes and bad guys. It’s a crime story. Continue reading “King Pleasure”

Prose and Pictures

Not everyone was schooled on comic books. But I was. I had a roomful: Superman, Batman, The Green Hornet, Spiderman; Archie, Betty and Veronica, Riverdale High, Little Archie. I had Classic Comics too: The Three Musketeers, The Last of the Mohicans, Robinson Crusoe (all of which I considered books until I finally read a real one).

But my favorites were horror comics: Tales from the Crypt, The Vault of Horror, Chamber of Chills, Terror Tales. I had them all. Stacks of them. It was difficult to get in and out of my bedroom. My mother complained it was impossible to clean. I didn’t see her point. Friends would come over and we’d lock ourselves in and read all day. I’d read and reread my favorites, stories that became etched in my preadolescent brain.

There was one called “The Couple,” or maybe “The Strange Couple,” where the writer (yes, these guys were writers) used the clever device of telling the story from the reader’s point of view — in other words, putting you in the driver’s seat, literally in a car on a dark and deserted country road. The car breaks down (of course), and when you seek help, you end up at the home of a ghoul and a vampire…and you can imagine the rest.

In another, a surgeon loses his hand in a car accident, goes a little nuts, murders a drifter, removes the guy’s hand, and sews it onto his own wrist with disastrous results.

These stories haunted me — overtaken by ghouls, losing a limb — but like an addict I craved more: more blood, more horror. The illustrations were always gruesome and sometimes sexy — until some crackpot wrote a book about how these comics were corrupting young minds and creating juvenile delinquents. That’s when the Comics Code was created, and I turned to writers like Poe and Woolrich, Chandler and Hammett. It was about the same time I gave up William Castle’s cheesy horror flicks (The House on Haunted Hill, The Tingler) for the more sophisticated ones of Hitchcock (Pyscho, Vertigo) and, ultimately, the urban thrillers of Sidney Lumet (Prince of the City) and Martin Scorsese (Mean Streets, The Departed) , men who made movies the way I wanted to write books — big, dark, and real.

Some people argue in favor of silent films. “Who needs sound?” they say. But frankly, I like it when there are two things going on.

Continue reading “Prose and Pictures”