"Hey, this newsletter is still a thing!" says surprised recipient. 
View this email in your browser


Welcome to our 5th newsletter. Since our last one our subscriber list has just about doubled, so if this is your first one, click the link in the corner above and you can go read all the previous issues, too. 

I was hoping to get one of these out a bit sooner, but I'm waiting for a bunch of secret shit to get announced, so I can talk about it all. Sadly, the wheels of secret shit don't move as fast as I'd like. But suffice to say, I've been buried in work the last month, and soon I will be able to tell you guys all about it. 
KILL OR BE KILLED #2 is out this week!
In case you didn't realize it, our second issue drops this week, and I really can't wait for you to see it. 

The response to the first issue was overwhelmingly positive, and orders for the second printing were through the roof.  So please keep your eyes peeled for issue 2 when you hit your store, and if you missed it last month, you can grab both issues now. 

The preview from Image should be out later today, so I'm going to go ahead and show it here. As usual, the rule on preview art is, feel free to share it wherever, but please say what it is and link back to this newsletter: 
I know, a tangent for a preview, shut up. The rest of the book is mostly normal comics pages, but I like how  I can get the words and the pictures telling two completely different stories with this new technique we're trying. 

Anyway, the new issue is out this week. 
Let's talk about VELVET 
Me and Steve Epting and Bettie Breitweiser's spy comic VELVET wrapped up its first big arc a few months back, and we've got our third trade coming out any day now. 

As many of you know, VELVET was something I came up with about ten years ago, and then after I told Steve about it while we were working on Captain America together, he said he wanted to draw it. So I waited for a long time for him to finish up his Marvel contract, and then Steve waited for script pages on and off for several years, as it turned out to be much harder to write than I expected (but that's another story).

But what most people don't know is that before the book was underway, before it was even officially announced, I almost sold it to television. 

The initial teaser that was released for VELVET was also part of a presentation to several networks in the fall of 2011, and for a day it looked like it was sold to NBC. But then the women in charge of development that season asked if she could be in her 20s instead, and if Agent X-14 could be alive instead of dead, and suddenly it didn't sound like we were talking about the same story. That happens a lot in Hollywood. Watch out for it. 

So, here's something that no one outside those meetings has ever seen, the mock-up that was made for the presentation (if I recall correctly, by my pal Chip Zdarsky): 
We were really gung ho about it all, until that season's TV reality check hit the brakes on me. I ended up doing a different pilot for NBC that year, that didn't get made, and retained the rights to VELVET, which was a smart move. (More about that later, hopefully soon. Heh).

Oh yeah, and here's the cover for the 3rd VELVET trade: 
That will be out very soon, so please buy a copy for your dad, who likes spy stories and doesn't understand why you read comics. Books 1 - 3 are one long novel, really, and while it's a complicated mystery with a lot of tangents, the answers are there for anyone looking, I promise. 
CRIMINAL vol. 7: WRONG TIME, WRONG PLACE is out this week!
Also out this week, for those who missed our two gigantic CRIMINAL one-shots, they are collected in this gorgeous new trade paperback. These two novellas play off each other, and reveal a lot of history of the LAWLESS family. So if you're a tradewaiter or just missed out, keep your eyes peeled. Or just open: 

But first, a quick announcement -- I suck. If I answered your questions in the last few newsletters, your prizes are still stacked by my desk, but they will go out this week, I promise. When you're buried in deadlines it's hard to leave the house, I'm afraid. 

And for those of us just joining us, the deal is, send in interesting questions to: -- ask me about anything you want. If I pick your question and answer it, you win a free signed book.  And I forgot to mention, this is US and UK only, because international shipping is very costly. 

So, let's get to our first question... 

I've noticed as of late that you've started to become attached as a writer for movies and TV shows. The one that excites me the most is Maniac Cop (which I believe is one of the most underrated slashers ever made) What led to you becoming attached to a remake of a fairly obscure slasher? 

-- Jeff

Thanks for the question, Jeff. I also loved the original MANIAC COP movies, the first two, at least. Larry Cohen and Bill Lustig made something very weird, almost a callback to classic monster movies, but with a really gritty feel, too. And of course, as a nerd, I'd watch anything with Bruce Campbell in it. 

How I got involved was very simple, I wanted to work with Nicolas Refn. We'd been talking about a few ideas and then out of the blue, he just offered me this job. I don't think I'd have set out to write a slasher/horror film, but to do one with Nic, I felt like I could try and bring something to it, make it like a hybrid of a crime and slasher movie, like the original was, but with a more modern edge. And of course, the week I started writing it, LA had a real Maniac Cop gunning down innocents and posting a rant online and the entire city was on high alert. So, yeah, the whole thing felt very relevant, and obviously still does. 

Not to imply this is anything but a horror film, but horror reflects society as much as sci-fi or noir does. I don't have an update on the film, though. I think it's supposed to shoot soon, but with film, you never count on it until you're actually on-set filming. The director is John Hyams, who is pretty brilliant at visceral scary action scenes, so I expect to be terrified, even though I wrote it. 


I was curious if you have any go-to authors or references for your works? Where do you turn for inspiration for your crime and spy stories? 

-- James

I read a lot of non-fiction, basically. And I read the news a lot, looking for stories about real people involved in crime. You can find fascinating stories about anything from a soccer mom framed by an enemy to a man pretending to be a teenager to abduct kids in the news, and there are lots of great books about criminals from the excited and cool to the horrifying and give you nightmares type.  Here's a pic of one of my reference shelves, in my office bookcase: 

But even with all that, most of my inspiration just comes from my own life or friends lives, or stories I've heard, or just something that hits you when you're out, watching the city do its thing. Crime writers look for crime everywhere, really. And for me, it's always about what do you want to write about, what is the story really about? Is it about the father and son road trip, or the crime? Usually it's really about the characters, and the crime is just icing. 

Do you have any regrets about leaving Marvel Comics?

-- James F. 

No. I miss working with some of the people I used to work with, and I miss hanging out with Hickman and Fraction and Bendis and other friends three or four times a year in NYC, but I left when I should have. I had a good time there, and got to play with Cap and DD, and me and Steve got to create the Winter Soldier and me and Aja and Fraction got to make Iron Fist popular for maybe the first time ever... But at the end of the day, I'm not one of those people who wants to write stories for other people's characters. That's not my passion.

It can be fun for a while, but writing to me is a kind of therapy, I think. Writing about Bucky helped me exorcise some demons and deal with my own military brat childhood. That's probably why the Marvel work I did, when I did it well, in my opinion, had an impact. Because you have to put yourself into everything you write. Writing isn't "I have a great idea for Spider-Man." Writing is "I have to write." 

I also feel, on a moral level, like work-for-hire writing is just hard on the creators. You earn a living, but you knowingly allow yourself to get exploited. So you have to be really careful knowing how far you're willing to take that. 

Okay, that's it for this time out. If your question got answered, please send your address in with the subject line: WINNER

And again, please tell every person you meet about KILL OR BE KILLED #2 and the new CRIMINAL trade this week, and send in questions for next issue to:
Copyright © 2016 Basement Gang Inc., All rights reserved.

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