Teenage Ellie has always romanticized drug addicts, those tragic artistic souls drawn to needles and pills, ever since the death of her junkie mother ten years ago. But when Ellie lands in an upscale rehab clinic where nothing is as it appears to be, she’ll find another—more dangerous—romance, and discover how easily drugs and murder go hand-in-hand.MY HEROES HAVE ALWAYS BEEN JUNKIES is a seductive coming-of-age story, a pop and drug culture-fueled tale of a young girl seeking darkness… and what she finds there.

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My heroes have always been junkies cover


By Ed Brubaker, Sean Phillips, and Jacob Phillips 

  • Original Graphic Novel 
  • Publisher : Image
  • Release : 10/10/2018
  • Softcover : 72 pages
  • Dimensions : Standard TPB
  • Reading Age : 16+ years
  • MSRP : $12.99

Phillips and Brubaker's first Original Graphic Novel (OGN) hits hard and wins big.

Artist Sean Phillips and writer Ed Brubaker are one of the strongest and most enduring collaborations in comics. They started working together in 2006 and have amassed an impressive twenty (22) Eisner nominations. They signed an exclusive contract with Image Comics ten years ago. Their contract expires in the next year so it will be interesting to see their plans as a team. Speaking of team, Sean brought his son (Jacob) on board with My Heroes Have Always Been Junkies to color this project. Jacob has since worked on some of their other projects and garnered his own notoriety with a 2022 Eisner nomination for “Best Colorist”. Sean spoke about the art direction for the book back in a 2018 interview with Tripwire:

"It’s a romance story. Well, as close as Ed could manage….For this OGN I had a very particular look in mind, and wanted to colour it myself as it’s such a short project. I ran out of time to do that, so roped my son Jake in to boss around. I coloured the first page, and left him to get on with the rest. I wanted to go back to how I drew in the early 80s, using mostly pure line work with no black shadows." (2018 interview with Tripwire)

My Heroes Have Always Been Junkies is a tie-in to Phillips and Brubaker’s award-winning Criminal series. Criminal started way back in 2006 under Marvel’s Icon imprint and won the 2007 Eisner for “Best New Series”. The series jumped imprints to Image in 2014. Previous issues were republished under the Image brand. However, regardless of if you are familiar with their previous works, this is a wonderful stand-alone story that is a perfect place to jump on as Brubaker explained in a 2018 interview with CrimeReads: 

"Junkies sort of appeared to me all at once, and I knew it wouldn’t work if I had to add two other endings in the middle of the story, you know? And it was really freeing in some ways to know people would read it from start to finish in one sitting, most likely. I felt like it gave us more control, main goal with all the Criminal books has always been to make sure you could pick up any of them and read them out of order, and not feel like there was anything missing...So with this book, it was all about finding the voice of the main character, and making the pieces all fit together." (2018 interview with CrimeReads)

I thoroughly enjoyed this OGN. For the last seven years I had worked with people in long-term recovery. This book feels authentic, cinematic, and intimately tragic. I think I would have enjoyed it more if I was a music aficionado and could follow all of Ellie’s references and fascinations. They chose my favorite high-end format for the softcover which is printed with two-tone high gloss accents and front/rear cover flaps (similar to the Dar Horse -Berger Books). The book itself received the rare trifecta for being nominated for best in its category by the Eisners, Ringos, and Harveys (winning the first two but the Harveys do not recognize a “Best Original Graphic Novel” only “Book of the Year”). Sean Phillips was once again recognized for his fan-favorite artist for his photorealistic style with several nominations in 2019. I think it is pretty obvious that Jacob’s colors improved with each project.

"This book feels authentic, cinematic, and intimately tragic." 9/10
Jason Kelley
Comics Appreciation Project

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