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I'm going to lead with the good news, because that seems like a rare commodity these days...

Since last summer, I've been secretly working on a new comic with Marcos Martin, for his Panel Syndicate digital platform and it's out today. Right now. Close readers will have noticed me mentioning a secret project with one of my favorite artists here and there, and this is it. Marcos has been agonizing over every detail of this book, and doing what I think is the best work of his career, and it's totally unlike anything he or I have done before... so I'm really pleased we're finally getting it out there.

Of course we didn't know we'd be releasing it during a global pandemic, but honestly every new movie or show that's getting released right now feels like a gift to me, since we're trapped at home (I even watched the new episode of Tiger King that's just interviews about how famous they all are now) so I hope our comic can give you some escape for a little while... Which is always my hope with a new comic, but you know, especially now.

The plan is to release the chapters digitally as we finish them, and then put out the whole graphic novel from IMAGE in a beautiful hardback edition (with lots of extras) for comic shops and bookstores.

Here's a preview from the first chapter of FRIDAY...

I describe FRIDAY as Post-YA, which is a genre that doesn't really exist. But it's about an 18 year old girl who grew up as a teen detective, fighting crime and exploring occult mysteries, the sort of Watson to her best friend's Holmes. It's an idea I've wanted to explore for a long time, to take that concept of the teen detective, but then let them grow up and have all same problems we all do, and encounter a much more dangerous world. So, kind of a horror story. I think one of the first things I said to Marcos was this book should feel like Lovecraft's New England is colliding with Edward Gorey's.

As you can see, Marcos and Muntsa have been doing an incredible job on the art, and here is Marcos talking about his process:

I had been wanting to experiment a bit with my drawing style and get away from my comfort zone for a while now, contemplating the possibility of cross-hatching, a technique I’ve never really looked into. So when Ed pitched me the idea for FRIDAY with its mixture of Edward Gorey and Lovecraft set in a New England-ish town in the late 60s/early 70s, I was surprised to find how perfect it was for what I was hoping to develop. It drove me to look into comic book artists and book illustrators I had always liked but never had found a way to incorporate. Artists like the aforementioned Gorey, who is probably not only the strongest influence in the character designs but also conceptually, in the overall visual mood and atmosphere of the book. And also Tove Jansson, Crepax, Matsumoto or Harry Clarke among others have been a constant reference in my struggle to find the right balance between the strong and simple black and white areas and the more intricate linework.

Marcos actually spent months sending me sketchbook pages like this, and character designs, trying to figure out what his style would be for the book. And what the town itself would look like.

Anyway, please go grab yourself a copy of FRIDAY at this link. And please pass that link around to anyone you think might like the comic.

Unlike other digital comics platforms, Panel Syndicate's model is pay-what-you-want, so if you can afford to a buck or two or whatever you think a digital comic is worth, we'd really appreciate it, but it's totally up to you. Also, we're releasing FRIDAY in two formats, one for computers in a widescreen view, and a single-page view for ipad and kindle readers.

And here's an article at the AV Club announcing the book and talking about it.

Things I've been doing on lockdown...
I'm lucky enough that for now my work is continuing, and my family and I are healthy, but even though I'm an indoorsman, it feels very strange to be stuck inside for over a month already. I've been reading a lot of books and comics, and watching a TON of movies and TV shows. Here's a few things I've been enjoying in my time inside:

LEGION - I finally made the time to watch the final season of Legion, and it really came together. This show is a constant mind-fuck, but it pays off and holds your attention like few things on television these days. You can't watch it while doing other stuff, it can't be background noise, you have to really watch it, and that's a blessing right now.

LAST LOOK - this Charles Burns book came out years ago, but I finally read it this week when I was moving some books around and realized I'd only read the first part of it before. Charles Burns is one of my all-time favorite cartoonists, and his BLACK HOLE is a masterpiece. This book is up there with it, though it's weirder and more self-contained. (Side note, somewhere in a file at DC is a Charles Burns Batman cover that I got him to draw for an anniversary issue almost 20 years ago, that the higher ups at DC freaked out over and refused to publish. I have never even seen it. It was Batman in the Batcave, drawn by Charles Burns).

JACK REACHER books - I was four books behind in the Reacher series, which is a longtime reading habit of mine. I read recently that Lee Child is going to stop writing these books and let his brother take over, but he made him change his last name so they both have Child as their pseudonym. These books are completely addictive and the good guy always wins, so, comforting as hell.

DEVS - This show is the oddest thing I've seen since the show I did with Refn. Everything about it feels deliberate and planned and odd, and it gets weirder as it goes on. Lots of frozen moments of people staring at each other, lots of talk of fate or the many worlds theories to existence. I really dig it, even when it's creeping me out.

BETTER CALL SAUL - This season is the best one so far. Of a show that's always been one of the best on television.

UPSTART CROW - I was a big fan of The Young Ones and Black Adder (both co-written by Ben Elton) and I love David Mitchell (we even watch Would I Lie to You) and Shakespeare (mostly) so this show is a joy. They have all the seasons on one of the Amazon Brit channels, and it's a sitcom I can apparently watch over and over again, because there's always more little moments to discover inside each episode.

LOCKE AND KEY - This was a lot of fun, and extra fun for me because my wife really dug it, too, and so I got to sit there next to her and go "they did it differently in the comic" a bunch, which she really loved, I'm sure.

KNIGHTRIDERS - No one ever talks about this movie. It's a classic of my youth, and Ed Harris's first starring role, not long before he made THE RIGHT STUFF. It's fucking insane, and Ed Harris is amazing in it. Knights on motorcycles in a traveling road show in the 70s. As hippy as it sounds, and totally worth the TWO AND A HALF HOURS. I do not know why this hasn't been remade into a TV show. George Romero's best movie other than the first Night of the Living Dead, in my opinion. This was a midnight movie when I was in high school, and it feels totally of its era, but I love it.

So... what else is going on...?
This is the not good news part of the newsletter... Just after my last email to you, the entire comics industry shut down. So our new book, PULP, is sitting in limbo now at the printer. And our oversized hardback of CRUEL SUMMER is in the same position. Also our distributor isn't paying publishers, which has cut off all income to most of the creative community - us included. Pretty much anyone in comics outside of Marvel or DC right now is affected by this, and even those companies are telling many writers and artists to stop working. Everyone I know is worried - about the market surviving, about the comic shops they love, about their publishers making it through, and about their own survival as creators. It's a dark time. I believe there'll be a comics and bookstore market on the other side of this, but I have no idea what that market is going to look like right now. I hope not too much smaller than the one we had before, but the facts are changing day-to-day.

I know thinking about comics seems small in the face of the kind of tragedy we're seeing now daily. But one of the universal things people are dealing with right now is panic about their jobs, and whether they will have one at the other end of this. This shutdown ripples out through the entire world. Restaurants, hotels... the gym... When will anyone ever go see their doctor again, or the dentist... Businesses that were booming a month ago are suddenly going broke, through no fault of their own.

So I want to say again, if you have a comic shop you love that's still doing mail-order or curbside pickup, then please buy some books from them if you can, same with bookstores or any favorite shop. Everyone is struggling right now and the parts of the world that you love need your support more than ever. Try to take care of yourself, too. Maybe read some books and try to feel the slowness and quiet of the world we're in right now, if you can allow yourself some peace during all this. And if you're on the front lines in a hospital, thank you and please be safe.

Okay, I know that was all a huge downer, so I want to leave you on an upbeat note, because we will make it out the other side of this, someday -- so here's one of the covers for the new CRIMINAL DELUXE EDITIONS, which are scheduled for the Fall. We've got new designs and covers for the first two books (out of print for nearly a decade now) and a new third volume to join them, finally.


Okay, that's all I've got this time out. I'll be back with more news soon, and hopefully some comics history or some crime headlines to make you laugh next time.

In the interim, please go check out FRIDAY at Panel Syndicate, and send any questions for a future newsletter to:
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