Smash Pages Q&A: Gary Phillips

The crime writer discusses his latest comic, ‘The Be-Bop Barbarians,’ and more.

Gary Phillips is best known as one of the great crime writers of his generation. His Ivan Monk mystery novels stand out as one of the best series of the 1990s and he’s written many others including The Warlord of Willow Ridge, High Handand The Underbelly. He’s written many short stories and edited anthologies like the recent Culprits: The Heist Was Only the Beginning and The Obama Inheritance: Fifteen Stories of Conspiracy Noir.

He’s also been writing comics for years. From Shot Callerz and Midnight Mover at Oni to The Rinse and High Rollers at Boom to Angeltown and Cowboys at Vertigo he’s written some of the best crime comics in the 21st Century. He wrote a webcomic Bicycle Cop Dave, which was collected in Beat LA, with Christa Faust he wrote the debut series for the Hard Case Comics imprint, Peepland, and wrote the relaunched Vigilante at DC Comics. His new graphic novel, which is out now from Pegasus Books, is The Be-Bop Barbarians.

While his comics tend to be crime stories, The Be-Bop Barbarians is different, but readers of his novels will find it familiar. One of Phillips’ great strengths as a writer is the way he is able to use fiction to incorporate historical details and history as it is lived in a way that provides a fuller understanding of the present. The Be-Bop Barbarians is about three African-American cartoonists living in New York in the 1950s and though they’re vaguely based on real life figures, Phillips uses them to talk about the comics business, to discuss politics, and get an understanding of the historical moment and the progress that has been made.

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Titans Comics and Hard Case Crime pull the trigger on comics line

In the comic news frenzy leading up to Comic-Con International, Titan Comics and book publisher Hard Case Crime have announced a new line of “gritty, sexy, violent” crime comics.

For those not familiar, Hard Case Crime publishes pulp/noir crime fiction of the new and classic varieties. They’ve published books by Stephen King, Donald E. Westlake, Michael Crichton, Jason Starr, Max Allan Collins, Ed McBain and many others.

Coming out first is “Triggerman,” written by Walter Hill, director of the cult classic film “The Warriors,” as well as “The Long Riders,” “Streets of Fire,” “48 Hours” and the more recent “Bullet to the Head.” He’ll work with French comics creators and frequent collaborators Matz and Jef. Arriving in stores Oct. 5, “Triggerman” is a Prohibition-era mini-series set in Chiacgo, where a convict “is thrown headfirst into a life of bloodshed and bullets to save the girl he left behind.” Here are a few preview pages Titan provided:

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The following week Peepland arrives, a “semi-autobiographical neo-noir mini-series with a punk edge set in the seedy Times Square peep booths of 1980s New York City.” It’s written by crime novelist and former peep show employee Christa Faust and crime and comic writer Gary Phillips, with art by Andrea Camerini. Here’s a preview page:

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Finally, Titan and Hard Case Crime are also teaming up for a new “Quarry” comic series in 2017, based on the novels by Collins. There’s no art for that one yet, but Titan did provide all the varient covers for Triggerman and Peepland, by such folks as Fay Dalton, Mack Chater, Alex Ronald, Caitlin Yarsky, Camerini, Robert Hack, Dennis Calero and Francisco Paronzini. Admittedly I thought the covers looked pretty cool, they’re the main reason I did this post. Check’em out below:

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