By Todd Allen
In a wide-ranging interview over at The Comics Reporter, Ed Brubaker has confirmed he’s exiting Captain America — by his own choice — and will be moving more of his attention to creator-owned projects, along with film/TV opportunities. This interview hits a lot of the topics that have been getting bandied about on The Beat this week.
First off, this puts Captain America‘s creative team in play, along with the previously announced Fantastic Four and Avengers families of titles. Brubaker says he will be co-writing 4 issues with Cullen Bunn and then writing the last issue on his own. According to solicitations, Bunn comes on with issue #15, which would peg #19 as Brubaker’s farewell issue. #17 is solicited for September, so Brubaker would either be ending his run in October or November, depending on whether October is a double ship month for the title. It looks like Hickman will be ending his Fantastic Four run in October, so *maybe* there will be new creative teams on Fantastic Four and Captain America in November.
Brubaker is, however, staying on Winter Solider. And really, as much as any creator can actually own a book at Marvel, Winter Soldier is his baby and well worth continuing. Brubaker’s schedule has kinda/sorta been 3 titles/month. On creator-owned project with Sean Phillips (Criminal, Fatale, Incognito, etc) and a couple Marvel titles (lately, Captain America and Winter Soldier). Functionally, it sounds like Brubaker is just moving another book over to the creator-owned pool. It doesn’t sound like there’s been any big falling out with Marvel, either.
In Brubaker’s own words:
Partly, it’s the beginning a shift from work-for-hire to books I own, instead. I hit a point with the work-for-hire stuff where I was starting to feel burned out on it. Like my tank is nearing empty on superhero comics, basically. It’s been a great job, and I think I found ways to bring my voice to it, but I have a lot of other things I want to do as a writer, too, so I’m going to try that for a while instead.
He’s fine for Winter Soldier ideas, but I’d probably call Winter Soldier an espionage comic that happens to have some masks in it.
On the topic of the state of comics sales, Brubaker has some uncommonly frank comments:
When I was at DC… sales weren’t necessarily great, but they were fairly stable. There was a certain amount of stability. Both DC and Marvel had stability, it felt like. But two years ago there started to be what seemed like freefall for a lot of books. My personal theory — This happened to coincide [laughs] with the books suddenly costing $3.99 as opposed to $2.99. I think that was when you started to see some books really fall. On the other side, there’s the argument that the best-selling books for the past ten years have been the $3.99 books.
It’s hard to say who’s right or who’s wrong on some of this stuff. But sales on these books were going down below what DC and Marvel would have found acceptable even a few years ago. So that stability just feels like it’s missing all of a sudden.
Brubaker also clarifies what’s going on with his Hollywood adventures:
They definitely played a part, because the movie gig and some TV work really helped me worry less about the risks. But I’ve been going down to L.A. for about ten years, writing and pitching, having things almost happen. But about two years ago, I wrote a pilot for FOX, and that was kind of a turning point. Then things started happening, and eventually the movie deal forCoward went through, with me attached to write it. So all that, along with how well me and Sean are doing with Fatale, all of that played a part. But, you know, I have no desire whatsoever to leave comics. Like you said, I’m a comics guy. They’re one of the constants in my life, so I’ll always do comics.
Fatale looks to have been a breakthrough experience for Brubaker and probably helped nudge him in this direction. It’s a little hard to guess how well that title sold, given all the printing on… well, all the issues. Brubaker told me #1 had 40K+ copies when I spoke with him at the Image convention in Oakland a few month ago. If he can sell half that number at Image on a regular basis, he’ll be doing quite well for himself.
The entire interview, which covers how Cullen Bunn came to be co-writing an arc of Captain America, Marvel’s double-shipping policy and an extended discussion of Before Watchmen is time well spent. Here’s the link again.
Todd Allen wears a lot of hats. At various times he’s been (alphabetically), a bouncer, college professor, humor columnist, Internet producer and an NBA/WNBA Beat Writer, among other things. He’s the author of Economics of Digital Comics. You should probably read it.