It’s a big week, so let’s get to the ten things I liked or didn’t like from the week of comics in Comics Disassembled, led by the deadly duo returning with their next big book.
1. Brubaker and Phillips, Doing Brubaker and Phillips Things!
The sentence that creates the easiest sale in comics is here: There’s a new Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips comic coming. Here’s an example of just how impactful a phrase that is. I realized that I didn’t even look at what their upcoming graphic novel, Where the Body Was, was even about when I received the email announcing it. Apparently it’s a “murder mystery” that “follows the ripples that echo through decades of love and loss and passion and violence after one fateful killing,” featuring a disparate collection of characters with multiple points of view dealing with all that.
That sounds great. To be honest, it doesn’t really matter what it sounds like, as long as it’s by Brubaker and Phillips, with this also including — as per usual — Sean’s son Jacob Phillips as the colorist. Which, you know, makes sense, because he’s an Eisner nominated colorist and one of the best in the game. But the point isn’t what it’s about, it’s that it’s a story this team has decided is worth telling. That’s all I need to know.
That’s all obvious stuff, though. Instead, what I want to briefly talk about is the evolution of Sean Phillips covers of late. When they first got into the graphic novel game, they felt like comic covers, albeit great ones like he did for Pulp and My Heroes Have Always Been Junkies. Reckless found him making an evolution, as they like half movie posters and half paperback covers. This? Where the Body Was? That just feels like a top notch book cover, as their lean into the book market as maybe their dominant focus feels complete. That isn’t me saying something I know they are doing. But it appears to be what they’re doing, and that’s a very smart move to me. It looks great, and it would look even better face out at a bookstore or comic shop.
Brubaker and Phillips! They’re pretty good at this!
2. Webtoons…They’re So Hot Right Now…Webtoons
While manga might be the hottest game in town, if there is a predator that makes that format look like prey, it’s webtoons, or the vertical scroll format that companies like Webtoon or Tapas use. Webtoons are encroaching on manga territory and everyone in that space knows it. So, what is Shueisha — maybe the biggest manga company in the world, and the owner (or co-owner) of famed entities like Shonen Jump and Viz — going to do about it?
Well, there’s the old adage “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em,” and apparently that’s the direction Shueisha is leaning in, as they’ll be launching their own webtoon platform called Jump Toon in 2024. What will that entail? No clue! It doesn’t seem as if the included comics have been announced, at least of yet, with the main focus being on the platform’s pending arrival and a contest Shueisha is doing called the “Jump Toon Award,” in which the winning creator will earn the yen equivalent of $7,000 and a place on Jump Toon with their work. It’s a new creator discovery tool, effectively, and the first step towards shaping what the comics on the platform will look like. This will assuredly be a major focus going forward, and likely for other publishers too, not just Shueisha. But this is a big move, as it’s a tacit acknowledgement by the biggest gun of them all that a shift is on, so you better get ahead of it. We’ll see where it goes from here.