“That was one of the problems of getting older. You hit an age where everyone either ignores you, or treats you like some hassle they’re being forced to deal with. But inside, you still feel like the same person you were thirty or forty years ago.”-Ed Brubaker
A few years ago, my brother introduced me to Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips’ brilliant crime comic book series Criminal. I quickly became a fan of the series and searched for other works by this creative team. That led me to Kill or Be Killed, a comic book series that explores the experiences of a young vigilante, and also contains a supernatural element. Another great read, I collected all twenty issues of the series. Now, when a new title by Brubaker and Phillips is released, I will usually buy it “sight unseen” because I know it will be of the highest quality.
“Max Winters, a pulp writer in 1930s New York, finds himself drawn into a story not unlike the tales he churns out at 5 cents a word – tales of a Wild West outlaw dispensing justice with a six-gun. But will Max be able to do the same, when pursued by bank robbers, Nazi spies, and enemies from his past?
One part thriller, one part meditation on a life of violence, Pulp is unlike anything the award-winning team of Brubaker and Phillips have ever done. A celebration of pulp fiction, set in a world on the brink. And another must-have hardback from one of comics most-acclaimed teams.”
The story opens in New York City, 1939. Max Winters is an aged pulp writer who pens Westerns for the booming pulp magazine market. His stories of the Red River Kid have brought in just enough money to keep Max going through the hard times of the Great Depression. As competition in the pulp market grows and money gets even tighter, Max looks to his troubled past for a way out.
Pulp is another fantastic story by Brubaker and Phillips and I highly recommend it. As well as its exploration of violence and the struggle to make ends meet, Pulp offers a poignant look at ageing and the limitations it brings to us. The narrative flips from Max’s present to his past, while also including scenes of the “Six Gun Western” tales he writes for the pulps.
Pulp was released in August 2020 as a 72-page hardback graphic novel. I don’t usually buy hardcovers, but this looked so good that I treated myself to a copy for Christmas. I’m very happy with the book. It’s a gorgeous-looking work of art. Brubaker’s prose and Sean Phillips’ gritty art is complimented by Phillips’ son Jacob’s moody colouring. An essential buy for those interested in the crime comic book genre, even if you don’t care for Westerns.
Thanks for reading!