Graphic Novellas Review: Crime!

Here are two crime graphic novellas worth reading, each about creators in tough spots at the end of their lives, both by longtime collaborators Brubaker and Phillips (with noteworthy colors by Jacob Phillips). Every page is a treat to look at, and I love how lean the books are — there’s no wasted space.

Pulp by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips, colors by Jacob Phillips. Image, 2020. 9781534316447. 78pp. Publisher’s Rating: M / Mature

Back in the late 1800s, Max was a wanted cowboy involved in real-life adventures like the ones he writes about. In New York City, 1939, he’s meeting with an editor about a story he wrote for Six Gun Western. Max wants to take his stories in new, subtler directions. The editor only wants shoot-em-ups, and the pay per word has just gone down. Pissed about getting swindled, Max gets into a fight and has a heart attack. He wakes up in a hospital and walks home where he doesn’t tell Rosa about the heart attack. He fears he’ll die soon and leave her with nothing.

Later, when he sees a guard carrying a bag of money outside a movie theater, he starts thinking about robbing an armored truck. Max is about to put his plan into action when a stranger intercedes. The man is one of the Pinkertons who hunted Max forty years earlier. And he wants Max’s help pulling a robbery.


Bad Weekend by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips, colors by Jacob Phillips. Image, 2019. 9781534314405. Originally published as Criminal #2-#3. 72pp. Publisher’s Rating: M / Mature

Comic creator Hal Crane is supposed to get a lifetime achievement award at a comic convention. He’s an arrogant, unpleasant prick, but an amazing artist. Jacob, his one-time assistant, agrees to help him through the con despite how things ended between them. Hal is not the ideal guest at the con — he’s being paid to help sell forged animation cells, he offers a cosplayer money for sex, and he’s continually pissed off. Then Hal pulls a gun on another comic creator. Someone stole pages of valuable, original art from Hal, and he’s willing to do whatever it takes to get them back.




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