Home Culture Confirmed: Brubaker Leaving Captain America, Opting For More Creator-Owned Work

Confirmed: Brubaker Leaving Captain America, Opting For More Creator-Owned Work


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.

  1. And somewhere Robert Kirkman is re-watching his video manifesto and smiling grandly…

    Over the next few months (years?) this will be the next big indie migration (following what happened at Marvel with everyone leaving for IMAGE 20 years ago)…

    I think you will see just about everyone with any name recognition pull up stakes and head for Image, Dark Horse, etc.

    This is probably the best thing that can happen to comics…get some new blood in on the old Big 2 and get the best current writers and artists out on their own breaking new ground, creating new worlds and characters.

    I say who is next? Step up and do it…

  2. Brubaker’s an excellent writer, but I *really* hate that hipster hat, gotee, and thick glasses look. I know he’s been rocking it for a while, but dude needs to shave.

  3. Cpt America has been churning out average tales for awhile now. It really comes as no surprise that he’s leaving. The real story is not the creator owned angle – it’s Marvel’s price increase to $3.99 and their desire to double ship. THAT’S the story. It’s strangling their creative pool, over saturating the shelves and causing mayhem with their schedules. Funny from a company that a few years ago championed the notion that their artists never needed fill-ins. And yet that’s what they’ve done: created an entire output that constantly needs rotation creative teams. If you don’t think that’s a falling out with Marvel, you missed the real story.

  4. So glad to hear this. Winter Soldier is a really great read but Fatale is one of the best books I’ve ever read. Congratulations Ed and I wish you the best of luck!

  5. Out of all the Marvel “architects”, Ed Brubaker has been the one that has never been overhyped IMO. I didn’t care for his Deadly Genesis/-Men run but Captain America (my favorite character) has been a great book since he started it. I look forward to more creator owned stuff from him.

  6. It’s funny — 25-30 years ago indie comics functioned to some extent as “farm teams for the majors.” Now, it’s become the other way around. Put in a few years at Marvel/DC building your chops and getting name recognition, then strike out on your own.

    (Or do like Warren Ellis and now, apparently, Ed Brubaker — keep one foot in the majors to maintain that name recognition and bring it to your self-owned projects.)

    I like it.

  7. It’s great for Brubaker and great for creators in general if they’re able to do the work they want to do and still pay the bills. However, if this marks the start of a real trend, it will be hilarious to see Quesada and company bit in the ass from emphasizing creators over characters, just like Marvel was 20 years ago with Image.


  8. Not surprising if you compare Ed’s work on Cap with his work on creator owned titled or even Winter Solider. Good for him to finally feel that he’s in a position to do more of his own thing. One of the best writers in the biz. While the 90’s were more artist- driven and the 00’s were writer- driven, I feel Ed and Sean represent what the foreseeable future in comic (sales) will be heavily reliant upon – the creative team. Morrison as the high profile creator on a book will get some looks but Morrison and Quitely on book will probably move a good amount. At least more than the now common 40k.

  9. Great idea! Now that the Avengers movie has drawn in all these new readers, give them 2 or 3 months to acclimate before pulling the rug out from under them and changing all of the big creative teams. Master planning. Yay for the House of Ideas!

  10. I wonder if there’s any chance in hell of Brubaker drawing again…
    Wouldn’t mind seeing how he may have developed as a cartoonists over the last 20 years.

  11. “However, if this marks the start of a real trend, it will be hilarious to see Quesada and company bit in the ass from emphasizing creators over characters, just like Marvel was 20 years ago with Image.”

    Marvel hiring strong creators and building their line around them 12 years back is the only reason why they’re still in business as a major comics publisher, so it’s not like they did that out of charity.

    Besides, if Marvel and DC started behaving like real publishers, creators like Ed Brubaker or Paolo Rivera wouldn’t have to stop taking on projects from them in order to be able to actually own, control and benefit from their work.

  12. Almost 8 years sounds like a decent amount of time and I’m looking forward to what Brubaker does next.

    It’s interesting how things are happening at Marvel.. it seems like the end of the year will be critical for them as Brubaker leaves the ocompany (almost), Bendis leaves the Avengers, Hickman leaves the FF and Fraction leaves Iron Man (possibly). I guess will find out for sure at comic con, but some of those decisions were overdue.

  13. This sea change of creative teams on Marvel books is perfect for the company. Now let’s get those prices down.

    And Brubaker has been producing for the Big 2 for 13 years, so he’s put in more than just “a few years”. But he is a creator that I follow based on Sleeper alone. I highly, highly recommend that to everyone.

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