SDCC Scribes Room Change

July 20th, 2016 by Nathan Collins

Quick update:

The San Diego ComicCon Scribes awards at 6pm Friday are now going to be held in Room 28DE.

Comic Con Sked, Quarry News, Movies & More

July 19th, 2016 by Max Allan Collins

Barb and I will be attending Comic Con in San Diego. I will be taking it easy, since I’m still in recovery, but it’s nice to be getting back to normal…not that Comic Con is in any way “normal.”

No signings are scheduled, but if you’re in the hall and spot me, and have something for me to sign, I’ll gladly do so. Usually Mysterious Galaxy’s booth has a decent supply of my most recent novels.

The only event I’m part of is the annual International Association of Media and Tie-in Writers “Scribes” awards. I will be moderating the awards panel (I have two nominations, both for Mike Hammer – the short story “Fallout” and the novel KILL ME, DARLING).

Here are the details:

Friday, July 22
[ROOM CHANGED, NOW AT:] Room: 28DE
6:00 – 7:00 PM

International Association of Media Tie-in Writers: Scribe Awards — Max Allan Collins(Mike Hammer), co-founder of the IAMTW, will host this year’s Scribe Awards for excellence in tie-in writing, including honoring this year’s Grandmaster Award “Faust” winner, Timothy Zahn (Star Wars) . Join panelists Michael A. Black (Executioner), Adam Christopher (Elementary), Matt Forbeck (HALO), Glenn Hauman (Star Trek), Nancy Holder (Crimson Peak), R.L. King (Shadowrun), Jonathan Maberry (Wolfman), Andy Mangels (X-Files), Cavan Scott (Pathfinder) and Marv Wolfman (Batman) for a freewheeling look at one of the most popular and yet under-appreciated branches of the writing trade. Room 23ABC

Since Nate won’t be along this year, and my activities will be limited, I won’t be posing daily reports from the Con. But there will be a convention wrap-up here next week.

* * *

The news that Hard Case Crime, through Titan, is doing a comics line – with me writing a Quarry mini-series for collection as a graphic novel – was all over the Net last week. No artist has been selected, and I probably won’t start writing for two or three months; the graphic novel will likely be called QUARRY’S WAR and will deal more directly with his Vietnam experiences than I’ve ever done in the novels.

I won’t provide the countless links, but this one should do.

Meanwhile, there’s a new Cinemax trailer for the QUARRY series.

* * *

Here are a few brief reviews of movies recently seen by Barb and me.

GHOSTBUSTERS – Despite the talent on display, and in part because of too much special effects work, this reboot is merely okay. At an hour and forty-five minutes, it seems much longer. Losing ten to fifteen minutes would make it funnier and also more suspenseful. The Bill Murray cameo is disappointing, and the other original cast cameos are mostly perfunctory. Why were the original cast members wasted? Why wasn’t there a passing of the torch, with the original actors/characters? The new cast is winning, though, with Kristen Wiig the standout, though Leslie Jones mostly stands around channeling Ernie Hudson.

LEGEND OF TARZAN – This is much better than it’s cracked up to be, and more faithful to Burroughs than any other Tarzan film with the possible exception of GREYSTOKE. This has more plot and action than the latter, and the two leads, Alexander Skarsgård and Margot Robbie, are charismatic and have nice chemistry. The landscapes are stunning and the CGI animals work fine, especially the apes. Christoph Waltz is starting to wear out his villain welcome, though.

CENTRAL INTELLIGENCE – Kevin Hart is amusing but upstaged by the Rock – okay, Dwayne Johnson – who is extremely, unexpectedly funny in the best spy spoof since, well, SPY. I was shocked by how entertaining this was.

DE PALMA – We caught this at Iowa City’s FilmScene, the theater smart enough (or anyway nice enough) to recently book MOMMY. Brian De Palma was, for many years, my favorite director, and PHANTOM OF THE PARADISE (which back in the day, Terry Beatty and I saw endlessly in theaters around the Midwest) remains in my top ten films…make that top five. But some later missteps of director’s like MISSION TO MARS and SNAKE EYES cooled my enthusiasm for everything but the earlier stuff like SISTERS and OBSESSION. The documentary is a long interview with De Palma made visually arresting by many clips from his own films and the films that influenced him. The result is at once a character study of a kid with a nurturing mother and a distant father whose idea of bonding was taking his son to bloody surgical operations, and a master class in direction in terms of a talented young indie director’s rise to Hollywood fame (and his periodic return to his trademark thrillers, to revitalize himself and his career). Virtually every film of De Palma’s is discussed, and excerpted, and the missteps are explained and put in context. His stories of dealing with Hollywood stars and studio executives are funny and revealing (of both himself and a terrible system), though I strongly disagree with his apparently low opinion of Cliff Robertson’s work in OBSESSION. If De Palma has a flaw as a director – and I’m not referring to misogyny – it’s a tendency to value hammy performances over understated ones. But performances and for that matter characterization are secondary to De Palma, whose visual sense and storytelling via camera is second to none…except maybe Hitchcock, who he unapologetically admits is his model and idol. The film concludes in a bittersweet, even moving manner, with De Palma saying that a director is finished when he can no longer walk, which is juxtaposed with the only non-interview footage of the now-overweight De Palma as he walks unsteadily down a New York street. He also, as the film wraps up, states his opinion that directors do their best work in their thirties, forties and fifties. De Palma is 75.

M.A.C.

Wise Words from Elwood P. Dowd and Others

July 12th, 2016 by admin

I don’t pay much attention to Facebook, generally, other than posts on my author’s page, where I write responses and sporadically provide links to these updates. But because some photos and videos of the recent 4th of July Crusin’ gig began appearing, I started seeing other stuff. A lot of it was harmless, often fun fluff. But some of it was truly hateful. A lot of it exposed an undercurrent of anger in average people.

This is no doubt in part because I tuned in during the fallout on the Dallas police shootings. My longtime collaborator Terry Beatty – these days doing a bang-up job writing and drawing the classic REX MORGAN strip – wrote a Facebook post that I thought was worth sharing.

I’m supposed to be working, but the state of the world has me heartsick. So there’s this running through my head.

Here’s a message for the all the murderers, thieves, rapists and racists — the abusers, molesters, warmongers, zealots, terrorists, dictators, bullies, stalkers, cyberstalkers and snarkers — misogynists, homophobes (hell, anyone living their life afraid of “the other” ) — the willfully ignorant, the well-armed disturbed loners (and their “militia” pals), bent cops, dirty politicians, scammers and hucksters — polluters, career criminals, war criminals and weapons dealers making fortunes from others’ misery — those waving the flag, rattling their swords, using their religion as an excuse, paranoid about sharing bathrooms, gaslighting their partner, abusing their children, destroying historical artifacts, bombing innocents, and generally waving their dicks around: The rest of us are entirely fed up and done with your bullshit.

Most of us, it seems, want to live our lives in peace — raising our kids — doing our work — contributing something. Any forward-thinking person is perfectly fine sharing the planet with people of different cultures, colors and faiths — and reaching out a hand to those who need help. It’s a great big world, and there is still enough room for all of us — but a lot to fix — so, if you’re not willing to try being kind and tolerant, how about all you folks on that list up there go crawl into a hole somewhere and maybe let the people who want to coexist and work on fixing all the shit you broke take over for a while — maybe let those who have no interest in shooting each other run the show?

Please, take your hatred, your intolerance and your ignorance and slink back into the distant past where you belong — the rest of us have a lot to do, and you’re in the way.

Stop destroying. Create.

Now that’s an expression of anger worth sharing.

Here’s something else worth sharing, Elwood P. Dowd’s little speech from the James Stewart film of HARVEY, written by the great Mary Chase. Harvey, for those who don’t know, is a big invisible rabbit, a pooka. As mental-hospital attendant Wilson (played by Jesse White) learns, looking it up in an encyclopedia:

“Pooka – from old Celtic mythology, a fairy spirit in animal form, always very large. The pooka appears here and there, now and then, to this one and that one, a benign but mischievous creature, very fond of rumpots, crackpots, and how are you, Mr. Wilson?…How are you, Mr. Wilson? Who in the encyclopedia wants to know?”

Anyway, here’s Elwood P Dowd on his pooka pal:

Harvey and I sit in the bars…have a drink or two… play the juke box. And soon the faces of all the other people, they turn toward mine and they smile. And they’re saying, “We don’t know your name, mister, but you’re a very nice fella.” Harvey and I warm ourselves in all these golden moments. We’ve entered as strangers – soon we have friends. And they come over…and they sit with us…and they drink with us…and they talk to us. They tell about the big terrible things they’ve done and the big wonderful things they’ll do. Their hopes, and their regrets, and their loves, and their hates. All very large, because nobody ever brings anything small into a bar. And then I introduce them to Harvey…and he’s bigger and grander than anything they offer me. And when they leave, they leave impressed. The same people seldom come back; but that’s envy, my dear. There’s a little bit of envy in the best of us.

And this from the same source:

Years ago my mother used to say to me, she’d say, “In this world, Elwood, you must be” – she always called me Elwood – “In this world, Elwood, you must be oh so smart or oh so pleasant.” Well, for years I was smart. I recommend pleasant. You may quote me.

So, anyway, what this is leading up to is that I wrote a Facebook post myself. Here’s what I had to say:

I see a lot of postings here from friends and also from some of the readers of my books and comics. What strikes me is two things. First, there are many, many posts of daily life — cats, dogs, food, kids, grandkids — the stuff of living that we all share. Along these lines are photos and video clips of concerts, dances and other public events that again tap into so much of what we all share in our blessedly mundane lives. Among my age group we have delightful reminiscences about growing up in the fifties and sixties.

But from some of these same people I see, on occasion, outright hate. Political candidates who are ridiculed by the use of grotesquely unflattering photos. Racist comments about our president and black protesters. Also, positive comments about supporting our police and military, with which I wholeheartedly agree. But so much anger. So many refried talking points from Fox and MSNBC. So many ugly photos with uglier captions.

My request? More cats and dogs and food and kids and music.

I had many positive responses from this, and perhaps more pictures of cats than I could handle. I didn’t know how to break it to them that I was a dog person.

No pooka pics so far.

* * *

Here’s what a Publisher’s Weekly reviewer had to say about the forthcoming Mike Hammer short story collection from Mysterious Press, A LONG TIME DEAD.

Collins (Murder Never Knocks) brings his considerable experience with iconic PI Mike Hammer to these eight formulaic stories adapted from manuscripts that Spillane left incomplete at his death, though the collection is definitely a mixed bag. At his best, Collins captures the feel of a New York City fraught with danger at every turn; at his worst, the prose is purple (an electrocuted man’s eyes are described as “sightless black sockets crying scarlet tears as he cooked in the gravy of his own gore”). The plots are also uneven, including one that enters schlock horror terrain. But others are more down-to-earth and encapsulate Hammer’s somehow-charismatic callousness, such as “A Dangerous Cat,” which has a delightfully wicked ending. Spillane fans will enjoy Collins’s faithful re-creations of Hammer and the violence-prone gumshoe’s supporting cast, including his knockout partner and love interest, Velda, and his one friend on the NYPD, honest cop Pat Chambers. (Sept.)

All in all, this is a pretty decent review – certainly quotable. But I’m irritated anyway. That the reviewer considers these stories “formulaic,” when no two resemble each other structurally, shows a knee-jerk laziness. That the climactic description of death is to the reviewer “purple” – when it is typically Spillane in its purposefully over-the-top way, and intentionally blackly humorous – reveals an annoying smugness on his or her part. And the “schlock horror terrain” of “Grave Matter” is explained in the introduction, where it’s revealed that the story was originally written as a “Mike Danger” yarn, for the publishers of the Danger s-f comic book, and revised further for its horror aspects for inclusion in a Mystery Writers of America horror-themed anthology. That the “schlock horror” aspect is intentional is again revealed in dark humor and, oh yes, the inclusion of a butler at a spooky mansion being clearly Tor Johnson.

Otherwise I liked it fine.

M.A.C.

Catching up with Me

July 5th, 2016 by Max Allan Collins

Crusin’ at Muscatine’s Brew July 4

My pal Ed Gorman – one of the best writers around, and at least as good a friend – did an interview with me that I’d like to share with you. Here goes.

* * *

1. Tell us about your current novel.

There are a couple of things that will become available soon. One is the complete version of the ROAD TO PERDITION novel. It was written in 2002 to accompany the release of the film, but DreamWorks licensing made me do a drastic cutting/rewrite, eliminating 30,000 words and any dialogue or action that wasn’t included in the book. I am very grateful to Brash Books for negotiating with DreamWorks for the real, complete novel to finally be published.

About the same time, Hard Case Crime will be bringing out QUARRY IN THE BLACK, obviously a new Quarry novel with what I think or hope is an interesting setting — George McGovern’s presidential campaign and a black leader in St. Louis who is supporting that ticket with public appearances. If you ever wanted to see how Quarry would behave at a Ku Klux Klan meeting, now is your chance.

And Otto Penzler is bringing out A LONG TIME DEAD, collecting eight Mike Hammer short stories that I developed from Spillane fragments. That’s exciting in part because there’s never been a Hammer short story collection before.

2. Can you give a sense of what you’re working on now?

I just finished a Mike Hammer novel, THE WILL TO KILL, working from a few chapters in Mickey Spillane’s files. It’s very unusual for a Hammer, because the mystery is right out of Agatha Christie, with greedy children fighting over the proceeds of a murdered patriarch’s estate.

Not too long before that, I did my pass on the new Barbara Allan mystery, ANTIQUES FRAME, co-written with my wife Barb. That was my first project after open-heart surgery and a minor stroke, and it was very gratifying to be able to get back up on the horse and ride so quickly. just weeks after the surgery.

Next up is EXECUTIVE ORDER, the third Reeder and Rogers political thriller, in collaboration with Matt Clemens.

3. What is the greatest pleasure of a writing career?

The greatest pleasure of a writing career is having one. The notion that I could ever hold down a normal job is highly suspect.

4. What is the greatest DISpleasure?

I don’t know if there’s a dis-pleasure for me. I really love this life. The things that frustrate me are minor in the bigger picture. For example, I despise having copy editors rewrite me, and have spent way too much time in my life putting various Humpty Dumptys back together. It’s always disappointing when a novel is critically ignored or particularly when the public ignores it. When a publisher drops a series, it can be crushing—I had to wait ten years before I felt I could re-launch Nathan Heller, and a lot of time was lost there.

5. If you have one piece of advice for the publishing world, what is it?

For the publishing world itself? Don’t judge an author by how well his or her last book sold. Judge each book on its own merits, and that includes proposed novels from authors whose professionalism isn’t in question.

6. Are there two or three forgotten mystery writers you’d like to see in print again?

So many of my favorites are back in print again in the POD and e-book fashion. But it would be nice to see Horace McCoy, Mike Roscoe and Roy Huggins out there in a more major way. I was pleased to see Ennis Willie finally get some attention, but unfortunately it’s faded somewhat.

7. Tell us about selling your first novel. Most writers never forget that moment.

Mine is easy to remember. I got the letter (my agent at the time never called me) on Dec. 24, 1971—BAIT MONEY, the first Nolan novel, had sold on Christmas Eve! When I told Donald E. Westlake about it—he’d been a mentor to me—he said, “Sometimes God behaves like O. Henry, and there’s nothing you can do about it.”

* * *

Here are a few things on the Net you may enjoy.

First, this is a rare (and detailed) review of MICKEY SPILLANE ON SCREEN by Jim Traylor and me. The author gives me all the credit, which is wrong, but otherwise it’s an interesting read on what is apparently a very right-wing web site.

Take a gander at this early review of the Mike Hammer collection, A LONG TIME DEAD.

Finally, one of America’s greatest mystery book stores, Mysterious Bookshop, has signed copies (available by mail) of BETTER DEAD.

M.A.C.

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