View this email in your browser

CRIMINAL #7 is out today!

This is one of my all-time favorite CRIMINAL covers, as well as being the third part in a story that is running to issue 12 (assuming I can fit it all in). 

I've been recovering from a month of conventions and signings and a lot of other travel, so I've mostly been lying around reading books, mulling some ideas, and writing the past few weeks. And suddenly the new issue of CRIMINAL is out again. 

This one is a lot different than the two chapters that came before it, focusing on the younger generation of criminals, some of who we saw in earlier stories as adults. Here's a preview of the first 6 pages: 

I mean, isn't that just gorgeous work from Sean and Jake? 

Anyway, the issue is out now and if you get to your store soon they might still have copies on the shelf for you. Please let them know you want it if you don't see it. Don't just walk out dejected like I always do. 
Yet again, Ed likes some comics
Jonathan Hickman is a good friend of mine, and I've always loved his work and thought he generally brought something substantial and epic to his work, even when he is doing superhero comics he doesn't own. But he defied my expectations on his new X-Men launch. It's a complicated thing, with two books playing off each other every week, and its smart and feels like a ground zero deck-clearing while actually using all of the X-Men history at the same time. 

From all signs, the entire thing is a huge hit so far... And what's even better, last time I was at the comic shop, I saw two guys coming in on their lunch break, just looking for the new issue. The weekly release is actually driving customers back into the shops. That's really nice to see. 
But enough about Hickman, let's talk about me... 
I got an email today from Richard J that made me smile: 

I just started working in a new part of Manhattan. I walk down to 2nd avenue at east 33rd street and see a comic book store. I figure, let me see if there are any Kill or Be Killed single comics. I see a whole Brubaker display with Criminal and Volumes of Kill or Be Killed. About two small shelves and the guys behind the counter were praising you.

Awesome day in NYC!

I don't know the NYC comic shops well enough to know what store this was, but if they're reading this, thanks. It's always great to hear stuff like this. 
The Comics of My Life - Part Four
Like a lot of my generation of comics fans and creators, my self-education in comics as an art form was wide and varied, but has a lot of empty spots, I’m well-aware, especially on the newspaper strip side. I grew up in the 70s and 80s, when there weren’t as many comics to be aware of, which probably helped, but from the first time I saw a comic book, I pretty much lived and breathed them, and so I explored outside superhero comics (which were my first comics love) early and often.
Now there are comics colleges and courses on the history of the medium taught all over the place, but I feel like the kind of lo-fi self-education my generation of fans were forced to resort to to feed their comics habit was a big part of what made me love comics and want to be part of it. The hunt, the learning, the discoveries, were all part of the joy. So I thought I’d chart as much of that course as I can remember, the good the bad the ugly, and what I learned from them, if I did. This will be bit of a memoir and a bit of comics education, told in small chapters in these newsletters (and probably not every time, honestly)… So I hope you enjoy history lessons.
This next one is probably the most significant superhero comic I read, and the reasons for that should be obvious from just the cover: 

This was the first comic I remember buying with my own allowance, by myself. We lived on the base in Gitmo at the time, still, and I got it at the PX, which was where we bought just about everything. The news stand section had a lot of comics, and I think a lot of them were old and out of date, and they just never sent them back or stripped the covers, probably. It was Cuba, we got last years TV shows on our one military base station, too, so it shouldn't surprise me. 

Anyway, this was the final issue in a four-part Captain America epic that was written by Steve Englehart and drawn by Sal Buscema, who had a long run on Cap, considered one of the best. This was the beginning of it, and when I was reading it at age five or six, it blew me away. The story is about the years that Cap was missing, and there being another Cap and Bucky in the 50s, who lost their minds because of a bad reaction to the super-soldier serum and became racists and fascists (all of this totally made sense in the comic, I swear).

This Cap and Bucky were put in suspended animation until a cure could be found, but in the early 70s, a rightwing government agent releases them because he's sick of what's happening in America, with all the hippies and Black Panthers and protests. And these two go out and attack Cap and the Falcon and Cap's best girlfriend Agent 13, Sharon Carter. 

Here's a very lecture-y panel of Cap explaining the modern world to his twisted reflection: 

For the end of my run on Captain America, when Steve Epting came back for one last issue, I did basically a tribute to this storyline, because for me it defined how I viewed that character, Steve Rogers, and what he stood for, by contrasting him with a twisted version of patriotism. 

This story had everything in it my little kid comic loving soul needed. Heroes, good guys gone bad, suspended animation, and two cool sidekicks kicking ass. It felt very of the "now" as I was reading it. 

Also, it had a real downer ending. 

I mean, talk about the weight of the world on your shoulders, right? I must have read this whole storyline (once I tracked down the previous three issues) a hundred times as a kid, at least. I used to trace panels out of it, to learn how to draw hands and faces, even. 

It was endlessly fascinating to me, because it blended the actual comics publishing history with the retconned backstory of modern Cap, and because it gave this extra weight to what it meant to be a hero, a Captain America. The idea that it was a legacy and a burden at the same time really stuck with me, and the runs of Cap that I read growing up that played to that side of his personality are always the ones that I liked the most. I always saw the book as a tragedy, and that's how I wrote it when I finally got that gig.
A quick preview of CRIMINAL 8 - just for you!
All right, Sean's been flooding my inbox the last few weeks with some amazing pages, and I wanted to share a few little bits and pieces with you before I wrap this one up. Here are some random panels, uncolored... 

and this sequence, from later in the issue... 

All right, that's it for this time. 

Send any questions you want me to answer in future newsletters to: and remember to pick up CRIMINAL 7 this week at your local comic shop. It's out now... I swear... 
Copyright © 2019 Basement Gang Inc., All rights reserved.

Want to change how you receive these emails?
You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list.