HEAT VISION

Comic Writer Ed Brubaker Launches Surprise Title 'Friday'

The digital title from artist Marcos Martin mixes 'Encyclopedia Brown,' Lovecraft and noir fiction.
Marcos Martin/Panel Syndicate
The digital title from artist Marcos Martin mixes 'Encyclopedia Brown,' Lovecraft and noir fiction.

Audiences looking for something new to enjoy during self-quarantine got some unexpected good news today, with the surprise launch of Friday, a new digital detective series from writer Ed Brubaker and artists Marcos Martin and Muntsa Vicente. Readers can pay whatever price they deem fair for the comic via Panel Syndicate.

Described by Brubaker (Criminal, Captain America) as "a post-YA graphic novel, which is a genre that doesn't really exist," Friday follows a teenager who was once a promising young detective before real life and adolescence took over.

"It's an idea I've been circling for a long time, because it let me tap into my own nostalgia for my youth and the YA books I loved back in the '70s and '80s — stuff like the Great Brain, or John Bellairs books, or Harriet the Spy, or Encyclopedia Brown — to take that concept of the teen detective, but then let them grow up and have all same problems we all do, and encounter a much more dangerous world,” Brubaker explains in a statement.

The series came about in response to a direct request from artist Martin, it turns out.

"Marcos wrote to me last summer asking if I wanted to work with him on his next big thing for Panel Syndicate, and I think I wrote back within a minute to say yes," Brubaker says. 

If Friday was a new experience for Brubaker, it was similarly a learning experience for Martin — in terms of aesthetics. Taking Brubaker's suggestion that the series should feel like "Lovecraft’s New England […] colliding with Edward Gorey's," Martin worked to refine the look of his artwork.

"It drove me to look into comic book artists and book illustrators I had always liked but never had found a way to incorporate," Martin explains. "People like the aforementioned Gorey, who is probably not only the strongest influence in the character designs but also conceptually, in the overall visual mood and atmosphere of the book. And also Tove Jansson, Crepax, Matsumoto or Harry Clarke among others have been a constant reference in my struggle to find the right balance between the strong and simple black and white areas and the more intricate line work.”

Friday is the latest series from Panel Syndicate, which launched in March 2013 with the release of the first issue of The Private Eye, a title co-created by Martin and Brian K. Vaughan; upon the completion of that series, multiple titles have followed by various creators, including more Vaughan and Martin collaborations, as well as David López and Ken Niimura. Each of the series is available for immediate download as PDF, CBZ or CBR files, with a pay-as-you-want financial model.

"I've always felt that mainstream comics needed to find a bigger audience and lower the product price, which is the opposite of what's been happening for years now," explains Martin. "Basically, to recapture the original concept of comic books as a popular product of entertainment, but do it in a way in which the creators are the main figure of the business model. For the first time, technology allows us to do just that. And I was hopeful that, through digital distribution, we'd be able to bring in more readers to traditional, print comics, also."

"I also love the whole 'announce a project the same day it's released' part of Panel Syndicate," Brubaker adds. "Of course, we had no idea our surprise drop would come during a global pandemic, with a comic market that's completely shut down. But I know that my level of reading comics and books, and marathoning everything on Netflix has gone through the roof the last month, so hopefully Friday will be a nice surprise for comic readers today, and maybe a small escape from the real world right now."

The first installment in the series is available to read now at the Panel Syndicate site.

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