♦ The latest collaboration between Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips, original graphic novel My Heroes Have Always Been Junkies, is out now from Image Comics. Tripwire’s editor-in-chief Joel Meadows spoke to Phillips about the new book, returning to Criminal and more…
TRIPWIRE: You have collaborated for many years with Ed Brubaker. What is about working with him for you that makes him the perfect collaborator?
SEAN PHILLIPS: I like his stories and he likes my art! The first time I read a script from Ed I can see the drawings in my head straight away. I seem to always know exactly what he wants.
TW: Can you give us the one line elevator pitch for My Heroes Have Always Been Junkies?
SP: It’s a romance story. Well, as close as Ed could manage…
TW: As you have worked with Brubaker for many years, has the process for creating projects become more collaborative?
SP: Not really, although I did tell him I wanted to draw a romance comic. If we do any more OGNs I’d like to tackle a Western sometime too.
TW: Also, has the process for working between yourself and Brubaker evolved and changed over the years? And if it has, how has it?
SP: We leave each other to do our jobs, just like we always have. The only difference in the last five years is that we don’t have to pitch anything to Image, they’ll publish whatever we want. That means Ed and I just have to please each other without trying to second guess what our publisher might want. We’re about to sign up to another five years of working together exclusively for Image…
TW: You normally create projects as episodic series rather than a standalone graphic novel. What were the pros and cons of creating a single project?
SP:The biggest pro is it doesn’t take as long to get a story finished. Multiple monthly issues take a year or two to do and can sometimes feel relentless when I’m drawing them. This OGN only took me a couple of months, too quick for me to get bored. The biggest con is that we don’t have anything new out for a while. I’ve drawn a comic almost every month since 1990 and it feels weird not to always have something out there.
TW: You are known as quite a fast artist. How different was your working process for this compared with something like Kill or Be Killed?
SP: I purposefully wanted this book to look completely different to KOBK. That was a very dark, claustrophobic book, and I wanted to draw the opposite for a while. Also I wanted to draw on paper again after years of drawing The Fade Out and Kill Or Be Killed digitally. For this OGN I had a very particular look in mind, and wanted to colour it myself as it’s such a short project. I ran out of time to do that, so roped my son Jake in to boss around. I coloured the first page, and left him to get on with the rest. I wanted to go back to how I drew for Bunty and other UK girls comics back in the early 80s, using mostly pure line work with no black shadows.
TW: We are getting a new series of Criminal next year. How much can you tell us about this new run?
SP: We’re back to doing a monthly comic, but it’s not one story. The first issue is double-sized and self-contained. Issues 2 and 3 are a two-parter, and so on…
I’ve nearly finished drawing the first issue and it’s a story with Ricky and Teeg Lawless set in the 80s.
TW: Are you colouring the new Criminal yourself? And if you are, what are the advantages of colouring your own work?
SP: No advantages with colouring my own work on a monthly, I’m far too slow! Jake is colouring it and he’s doing a great job so far…
TW: Is there any news about the film adaptation of Kill or Be Killed?
SP: Last I heard Chad Stahelski is working on a second draft of the screenplay.
My Heroes Have Always Been Junkies is out now from Image Comics. Sean Phillips is appearing at this weekend’s Lakes International Comic Art Festival