The Ed Brubaker/Sean Philips creative team is about as steady as anything in comics, with around 20 years of collaboration on a body of work that shows remarkable consistency – Criminal, Sleeper, The Fade Out and many more, including 2018’s Eisner Award winning OGN My Heroes Have Always Been Junkies and 2019’s Bad Weekend. And just weeks ago they released Pulp, about a pulp writer in ’30s New York City.
With this move to a done-in-one format, Brubaker has been teasing a new original graphic novel series for a while, and THR has the news of Reckless, an original OGN series from the Brubaker/Phillips team, launching in December in a 144-page format reminiscent of how Europeans like their graphic albums. It’s set in 80s LA, and stars a private eye named Nathan Reckless. In his newsletter, Brubaker has recently been recommending the classic 80s TV show The Rockford Files, so do the math here.
A second volume is set for April 2021, with a third coming later in the same year. In the initial volume, a case for Reckless gets a little too close to home when someone from his days as a student radical comes calling.
“Reckless comes from my love of pulp heroes and private eyes,” Brubaker said in a statement. “When I’m craving escapism, I pick up a Jack Reacher book… or a Lew Archer, or a Claire DeWitt, or a Travis McGee, or an Easy Rawlings, or a Parker… and I get taken away by these characters and their worlds. I wanted to bring that feeling over to comics, with a series of graphic novels that each tell a complete story, a thriller or mystery… and also, for as long as Sean and I have been working together, we’ve almost never focused on a hero. So Reckless is a big left turn for us, but it’s still our version of a ‘hero’ — so sometimes more of an anti-hero, probably.”
Brubaker was hinting about this series in his newsletter.
I mentioned last time I would tell you what Sean and I are working on next in this newsletter… but because we’re not quite ready for the official announcement yet, instead I’m just going to tell you what I can.
1 – It’s a series, but it won’t be released in single issues. It’ll be a series of original graphic novels, each telling a complete story, and starring the same lead character.
2 – It’s something totally new that I came up with since the pandemic lockdown started, but not inspired by it at all, in fact the opposite.
3 – The few friends that have seen it in progress are more excited about this series than anything else we’ve ever done.
4 – Sean has just turned in page 67, and he’s still got about half the first book left to draw, so these are not going to be the novella format of JUNKIES or PULP, they’ll be longer.
Here’s a panel from another page:
5 – We’ll be putting out THREE of these books over the next year, which is something that I don’t think has ever been done in comics – three full-length OGNs in one year by the same team. So if you’re a longtime reader of ours, you’ll actually be getting more “content” than usual soon.
Notably, Brubaker and Phillips moving to the OGN format favored in Europe follows many other comics series that are being finished in collected format, mostly due to the ravages of COVID-19 on publishing schedules. Among them: Wilson and Ward’s much lauded Invisible Kingdom going to trade for Volume 3, Nocenti and Aja finishing The Seeds as a trade, and DC finishing many different series in trade format. As mentioned, every series has a different reason for the move, but it’s a notable trend for sure.
Also notable, yet more reliably enjoyable comics from Brubaker and Phillips. I guess they really are the Stephen J. Cannell of comics.
EDIT: An earlier version of this story referred to Reckless as a three-book series. In an addendum to his latest newsletter, Brubaker has clarified that this is not the case, and that he has outlines for at least five more volumes featuring the character of Nathan Reckless.