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Selected Ed Brubaker Bibliography
posted August 30, 2004
Nearly all of Ed Brubaker's early autobiographically tinged work is collected in A Complete Lowlife (1891830201, Top Shelf, $2.95, 1997). The stories are organized according to where they take place in the lead character's life rather than when the story was created, making Brubaker's artistic development difficult to track, but still obvious -- some stories look much better than others, with more assured inking. The work that appeared in Dark Horse Presents collected as At the Seams (Alternative Comics, $2.95, 1997) improves even more in terms of the art, and by the last book in this specific writer/artist mode, Detour (Alternative Comics, $2.95, 1997), Brubaker had become an interesting, expressive alt-comics cartoonist. Brubaker's work gets more formally and thematically complex as he continued in this vein, although you can detect some dissatisfaction with certain elements of disguised-fiction comics from the first page.
The crime work for which Brubaker is currently known was prefigured in a murder mystery set in Guantanomo Bay, An Accidental Death (Fantagraphics, $3.50, 1993). Because the setting is so interesting the particulars of Eric Shanower's art may draw most of your attention initially -- both Brubaker and Shanower spent time on the island as military service children, which adds even more credibility to Shanower's usual, exacting design work. Brubaker does an equally good job delineating the emotional lives of the story's characters in judicious shorthand. Accidental Death was originally serialized in issues of Dark Horse Presents. The Fall (Drawn and Quarterly, $3.95, 2001) collects another Dark Horse Presents story that can be seen as sort of a bookend project to the earlier Shanower-drawn piece. Both saw Brubaker working closely with a friend on a stand-alone crime project. Jason Lutes' somber drawing and passion for architectural detail works well within the confines of a detective story.
For many comic book fans, Brubaker came to their attention through Vertigo-style books rather than crime fiction. Prez: Smells Like Teen President drifts uncomfortably between send-up and seriousness, and never quite gets over that awful title. The art is certainly pretty, though, and there is a romantic quality to Brubaker's character work that might play well with young adult and teen readers. His Deadenders series yielded one trade paperback Deadenders: Stealing the Sun (1563897067, Vertigo, $9.95, 2000), and several individual issues, although it never quite lived up to its direct market-buzz billing as the next big book to be released by that DC Comics imprint. The Dead Boy Detectives #1-4 (Vertigo, $2.50 each, 2001) was one of the more amusing takes on side elements from Neil Gaiman's Sandman series, yet moved onto store shelves almost entirely under the radar. Scene of the Crime: A Little Piece of Goodnight (1563896702, Vertigo, $12.95, 2000) was the breakthrough for Brubaker, a mystery mini-series that featured a character and setting built for the long haul. Yet other than a cross-promotional pop-up in a Vertigo anthology, conflicting work schedules conspired to suspend the series after this single, very satisfying work.
Ed Brubaker has enjoyed a significant surge in his career for crime-related books set in both the Batman mythos from DC Comics and Jim Lee's Wildstorm superhero universe. His most interesting work for DC proper is Catwoman, a smart and sometimes emotionally jittery take on the amoral thief/hero that kept the character appropriately glamorous while shaking away many of the vestiges of her publication's role as comic book stroke material. Catwoman: Dark End of the Street (1563899086, DC Comics, $14.95, 2002), Catwoman: Crooked Little Town (1401200087, DC Comics, $14.95, 2002), and Catwoman: Relentless (1401202187, DC Comics, $12.95, 2004) all feature that post-Bruce Timm cartoon-related art style, put on the page by a series of talented creators including Darwyn Cooke, Javier Pulido, Cameron Stewart and Michael Oeming. Catwoman was born of a Brubaker stint on the Batman comics. The stand-alone book that help get him the Batman series gig was Batman: Gothic Noir (DC Comics, $6.95). Gotham Central: In the Line of Duty (1401201997, DC Comics, $9.95, 2004) is a book collection of the series Brubaker trades arcs off on with Greg Rucka, and features an appealing precinct house procedural type of atmosphere. Ed Brubaker's current propulsive undercover superhero saga for Wildstorm began in the formally elliptical Point Blank (10401201164, Wildstorm, $14.95, 2003), and continues in Sleeper: All False Moves (1401202888, DC Comics, $17.95, 2004) and Sleeper: Out in the Cold (1401201156, Wildstorm, $17.95, 2004). Sleeper features moody but effective artwork by Sean Phillips, with whom Brubaker also did an entertaining issue of Hawkman (Volume 4, #27) built around a set of literary references the writer swears, "Nobody got."
The Catwoman, Sleeper, and Gotham Central trade paperbacks are doubly recommended for readers at least generally familiar with the trappings and expectations of superhero comics; the Scene of the Crime book is not only Brubaker's most accessible work, it may be enjoyed by anyone with a passing interest or more in crime and detective fiction.
A second cycle of Sleeper comic books, called "Season Two," began in Summer 2004 and should be well underway in serial form by the time this interview is printed. At the time of the interview Brubaker was gearing up for two bigger and slightly more conventional superhero stories, runs on Marvel's Captain America and Wildstorm's The Authority. Work in other fields -- he has secured representation for his first attempt at a mystery novel -- may soon follow.