Ed Brubaker’s Criminal TV Show Has Almost Finished Writing Season 1: “Looking Really Positive Right Now”

Criminal Ed Brubaker Sean Phillips

Last night (December 5), writer Ed Brubaker appeared live on Comic Book Club to chat about his latest collaboration with artist Sean Phillips, the upcoming Image Comics graphic novel Where The Body Was. And while there, he also gave an update on the potential Amazon Prime Video adaptation of the duo’s Criminal.

“There should be some announcements coming out about progress on that in the next– hopefully this week, maybe next week?” Brubaker said. “It’s all looking really positive right now. So fingers crossed.”

First published in 2006 at Marvel’s short-lived Icon line, before moving over to Image Comics, Criminal is a loosely interconnected world of crime stories, all by Brubaker and Phillips. While each story is relatively self-contained and takes place at different points in time, characters will sometimes literally cross back and forth, generations will interact, and locations reoccur.

Earlier this year, it was announced that the comic series was in development at Amazon, though the studio declined to comment. So, here’s your comment: yes, Criminal is not only in development at Amazon… Brubaker and company are almost done writing the first season of the TV series.

As Brubaker explains it, he’s co-showrunner along with writer Jordan Harper, whose novel Everybody Knows was just named one of the New York Times Best Crime Novels of 2023. “When this show got set up,” Brubaker explained, “the first thing I said was, well, can I get Jordan Harper? … Because he was already talking to them about something else. And so [they] sort of took him off of another project and gave him to me.”

On the timeline, Brubaker clarified that they’ve been working on the scripts for the series since December of last year, January of 2023 — over a month before the news hit the trades. But even with “a few weeks left in the writer’s room for the first season,” Brubaker is still hedging his bets. Previous adaptations of his work have stalled before, including Kill or Be Killed and Velvet, both of which fizzled after initial announcements back in 2017.

On the former, Brubaker noted later in the conversation that the rights to Kill or Be Killed are now back with him, and he’s definitely interested in turning the comic into a TV show per his current deal with Amazon. On the latter, Brubaker added that “the rights got tied up for a long time. And now we’re just sort of trying to figure out what to do with it. But there’s been a lot of interest in it over the years.”

But as for Criminal? “This feels more real than than it’s ever felt before,” Brubaker said. “But you know, until I see announcements in the trades, and really, nowadays, until you see it actually airing [on] Amazon…”

You can pick up seven collected volumes of Criminal, or the entire series as three deluxe edition hardcovers, from Image Comics. Brubaker and Phillips’ newest non-Criminal book, Where the Body Was, hits comic book stores on December 13, 2023.

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