My San Diego Comic-Con Schedule

July 16th, 2019 by Max Allan Collins
THURSDAY 18th JULY
PANEL: The Hardboiled Return of Ms. Tree!
Time: 5:30pm – 6:30pm
Room: 26AB
Guests: Max Allan Collins, Andrew Sumner (host)

Titan Entertainment’s Andrew Sumner sits down with author/screenwriter/director/comic-book writer Max Allan Collins (Road to Perdition, Dick Tracy) to discuss his and artist Terry Beatty’s iconic, ahead-of-her-time hardboiled comics detective Ms. Michael Tree. Originally debuting in Eclipse Comics’ Eclipse Magazine in 1981, Titan’s Hard Case Crime imprint is now collecting five pulse-pounding Collins & Beatty continuities in Ms Tree: One Mean Mother and Max is here to spill the beans about his two-fisted heroine!

FRIDAY 19th JULY
11AM-12PM – Hard Case Crime with Max Allan Collins
Special Hard Case Crime comic event! Max Allan Collins will be signing an SDCC exclusive art card, featuring Ms. Tree, the upcoming graphic novel collection which launches this Fall. Plus Max will be signing copies of Mike Hammer, the tough-talking, brawling, skirt-chasing private detective who returned to comics in this thrilling noir graphic novel, The Night I Died, based on an original plot by Mickey Spillane, as well as his graphic novel Quarry’s War.

PANEL: The International Association of Media Tie-In Writers: Scribe Awards
TIME: 2:00p.m. – 3:00p.m
Room: 32AB
Jonathan Maberry (X-Files) will host this year’s Scribe Awards for excellence in tie-in writing, including honoring this year’s Grandmaster Award “Faust” winner, Nancy Holder (who will also join the panel). Other panelists include Matt Forbeck (The Marvel Encyclopedia, Halo: Bad Blood), Michael Kogge (The Last Jedi: A Junior Novel), Chris Ryall (comic book writer, Publisher at IDW), Max Allan Collins (Road to Perdition, Mike Hammer); David Boop (Predator, Veronica Mars).


Paperback:
ComiXology Digital Comic:

Those are the facts, but here a few more. I am nominated for a Scribe for best general original novel (meaning not a novelization and not science-fiction) for Killing Town, though I do not expect to win. This marks the first Scribe awards panel since I stepped down as president and handed the reins over to Jonathan Maberry, who is a dynamo. As you may know, Lee Goldberg and I co-founded the Tie-in Writers association a long time ago and we are both still members, but no longer running things (no coup – we were just tired).

For those interested in such things, I’ll have a few originals from Ms. Tree and Mike Danger for sale reasonably. Hey, it’s an expensive trip.

I was not planning to attend the con this year – actually, never really planned to attend again, as it has gotten bigger and I am, what’s the word, older. But when the opportunity came along to have a panel starring me about Ms. Tree finally getting collected in book form, I had to say yes. The entire run (except for a few odds and ends) will be collected in five fat volumes.

This is a little weird for me, as I had said goodbye to the con last year, and here I am getting drawn back in, like Michael Corleone in Godfather 3. It will require pacing myself, including naps. Sad, but true.

* * *

This incredible review of Last Stage to Hell Junction, by the fine western writer James Reasoner, is so good, it makes me want to read the damn book!

Girl Most Likely is $1.99 on Kindle right now ($7.98 for an actual book). And it’s #8 on Amazon’s Mystery Bestsellers list, #12 on their Women Sleuths Bestseller List (both Kindle and real book), and #17 on their Police Procedural Bestsellers Kindle list.

Ms. Tree: One Mean Mother is one of the best graphic novels of July, according to Barnes and Noble. (Scroll down.)

M.A.C.

Confessions of a Laserdisc Fiend Pt. 3

July 9th, 2019 by Max Allan Collins

I know what you’ve been waiting for.

An update on my laserdisc adventure!

Here it is, anyway. The laserdisc player I ordered was a dud. I did receive a refund for it, but that meant trying again, which I did with trepidation. But the new (I should say “new”) player arrived and works great. I am amazed by how good the discs look and think their analogue nature may explain that. They sound wonderful.

Laserdisc collecting was an obsession I truly enjoyed pursuing throughout the 1990s. While I’ve continued on with DVDs and Blu-rays, the thrill of those 12″ silver discs has never been equaled. It’s very similar to the difference between collecting CDs and 12″ vinyl albums. Now, I have not gotten back on board with collecting vinyl – I prefer CDs, having grown up frustrated by pops and clicks and scratches.

But those big album covers, often folding out, and with extensive liner notes and pictures…what a trip that was! How I loved record albums as a kid, and even into adulthood. I still have all my Bobby Darin LPs (in both stereo and mono) (and a second set of sealed copies) (what a shock) and Kim Wilde and Blondie and…quite a few others, still. Bobby Rydell. Selected soundtracks and Broadway musical albums.

Laserdisc collecting, a hobby I have now renewed (after selling hundreds of them cheap over the last ten years), provides a similar buzz with their LP-like covers. But Blu-rays, and most DVDs, blow the lasers out of the water. Only two reasons (three, counting insanity) justify this nostalgic trip.

First, a good number of discs are of material that has not reached DVD (and may never). Oddball movies – B material and below, TV movies and so on – are what a collector like me is after, with ‘80s schlock often in video limbo. That kind of thing and – in particular – music. The discs I had held on to, when dumping anything I’d upgraded to DVD or Blu-ray, are about one third music – concerts and early video collections (“Eat to the Beat!”), everything from Sinatra to the Beatles, with lots of ‘60s and New Wave in the mix. Japan, where laserdisc was big (and even still is, to a degree) issued a lot of American musical material. Scads of British Invasion acts are represented, including the Animals, Them and the Yardbirds; and with New Wave there’s Kate Bush and Bangles and Kim Wilde and Blondie and Elvis Costello and the Cardigans and a bunch more.

(Porn and R-rated Playboy smut might be of interest to some. I, of course, am more refined, as readers of Quarry’s Climax are aware.)

Some of the stuff I’ve been picking up on e-bay, but I already owned a good deal of it, languishing for wont of a hooked-up laserdisc player and a vintage tube TV. (For those who came in late, laserdiscs look awful on flat-screen TVs.)

My son Nathan, home for the July 4th holiday with his bride Abby and kids Sam and Lucy, has enough hipster in him to be mildly impressed by my retro shenanigans. He has helped me select a better stand for my 21″ inch TV with laserdisc player beneath (hasn’t arrived yet – and I will have to talk Barb into assembling it for me) (I am not a man’s man, even if I do write Mike Hammer).

And so, for now, my laserdisc adventure concludes, and yet it continues. Seems so right somehow.

* * *

Even as I spend my late evenings watching laserdiscs featuring acts like the Dave Clark Five, Ike and Tina Turner (what a happy couple!), Dusty Springfield, the Hollies and the Kinks, my own rock ‘n’ roll adventure continues to wind down.

On the 4th of July, Crusin’ played at the Missippi Brew in their beer garden to a nice, and appreciative, crowd. (My buddy Stu Rosebrook, editor of True West magazine, dropped by with his family for the fireworks.) The weather was much better than our recent gig at the Muscatine Art Center, but it was indeed hot and we played around three-and-a-half hours…a long, long time at my age.

The following day I was so wiped out I feared I was back in a-fib. I hadn’t felt so lousy since I was recovering from my hospital stay, and I was worried, as was Barb. But in a day or so, I was back to normal (so to speak), so it becomes ever more clear that my rocking days are winding down. We have three gigs left, I believe, this season. I still intend to make one more original material CD and then do a farewell appearance next summer.

* * *

No politics, but as a true patriot I cannot help but recall the words of Paul Revere via Longfellow: “One if by land, two if by sea, three if by air!”

* * *

Here’s the first (great) Killing Quarry review from longtime Quarry booster, Ron Fortier.

This review of Murder, My Love is pretty good, too.

Finally, out of the blue, came this review of the Ms. Tree prose novel, Deadly Beloved.

M.A.C.

Yesterday

July 2nd, 2019 by Max Allan Collins

Yesterday, as I write this, Barb and I signed at the Davenport, Iowa, Barnes & Noble. The turnout was light (an air show was in progress), but those who came were great to talk with and they all bought books. In addition, the staff was warm and friendly and helpful. We were asked to sign all of the (considerable number of) books in stock, as a previous lightly attended signing was followed by us signing a ton of books, which went on an end-cap and sold out fairly quickly.

I knew that the B & N events person had ordered Girl Most Likely (and of course that chain does not regularly carry Thomas & Mercer books, because of the Amazon connection) and was disappointed when none were included on the huge display of M.A.C. and Barbara Allan books. I delicately inquired and learned they had indeed got in a good supply – but it sold out before the signing!

That was nice to hear.


M.A.C. with fan Clay Huffstutler

* * *

After the event, Barb and I took in a movie.

As you know, if you follow these updates, we almost always go to a movie every week. Lately what we’ve seen includes the unfortunate Men in Black: International, which wasted good leads Chris Hemsworth and Tess Thompson and demonstrated how an overage of CGI aliens could bore a jaded audience now (particularly when the aliens are poorly designed). Very good, however, was the Child’s Play reboot, which was funny and scary and everything you want a Chucky movie to be, assuming you want a Chucky movie at all (which both Barb and I do). Mark Hammil as the voice of Chucky is worth the price of admission.

Yesterday we saw Yesterday.

Again, regular readers of this weekly blog know that I am a movie buff. Over the sixty-some years of my moviegoing, I have amassed a considerable number of favorite films. Among these are Harvey, How to Succeed in Business, Anatomy of a Murder, Vertigo, Kiss Me Deadly, Gun Crazy, Chinatown and Groundhog Day, plus probably another dozen. It’s a fairly long list, but one I haven’t added anything to in some time. Maybe a couple of decades.

I added one yesterday – Yesterday.

You may be familiar with the premise, since this film has been talked about a lot, but actually you aren’t familiar with it, because it’s been inaccurately reported.

Everybody says it’s about a smalltime musician who gets hit by a bus and wakes up to find out everybody in the world has forgotten the Beatles. No. The lead is thrown by some world-wide electrical event into an alternate universe where the Beatles didn’t happen. Neither did Coke (the drink, not the drug) or cigarettes or Harry Potter, and, oh yes, the weekend comedy show Thursday Night Live is big. Everything else seems to be the same.

I’m not going to say much about this, except the filmmakers – writer Richard Curtis (co-creator of Blackadder and Mr. Bean) and director Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire) – are world-class. Take the ride they offer. Now, I have no idea how well this film will work on you if you were not born between, say, 1945 and 1960. But if you were, you probably have an affection for the Beatles, and an understanding of what they mean for our culture (not just popular culture), and this movie will likely work on you.

Of course not everyone in the Baby Boomer age group likes the Beatles. I remember my pal Ed Gorman, the great mystery writer, hated the Beatles and much, much preferred the Rolling Stones. That misses the point (although is typical Ed). In addition to writing an insanely diverse range of wonderful popular music, John, Paul, George and Ringo changed the world. Everybody from the Rolling Stones to Herman’s Hermits, from the Zombies to the Who, rode in on the wave they made.

If you are male and have ever worn long hair, the Beatles – not your barber or lack of one – did it.

There are lovely surprises in this film, and one took me so close to the edge of tears by the shock of it that I can remember no moment in any movie that hit me harder – not even in Vertigo or Chinatown. I will not spoil that moment for you by telling you what it is.

Also, Yesterday captures a lot of things about being a smalltime (or for that matter bigtime) musician that I’ve never seen in any other film – how the clueless parents are nailed is just dead on, for example, as is the experience of playing for small audiences who couldn’t care less.

So I’m not going to say much more, other than it’s also a lovely love story as well as having a ton of funny moments (the character Rocky rivals Ernest T. Bass in the comic relief department). Much hinges on the performance of Himesh Patel, who inhabits his character completely, taking his lucky predicament seriously, and sings and plays very well – when he brings out John Lennon’s original intentions for the song “Help!” as an anguished plea while still really rocking it is a fairly mindboggling ashievement.

Also, Lily James is supernaturally appealing here, even more so than in Baby Driver and The Darkest Hour. And in any other movie, Kathryn McKinnon’s screamingly funny performance as a venal show biz manager would have stolen the show. That she merely commands the scenes she’s in seems enough in this case.

Also you need to see the Criterion edition of I Wanna Hold Your Hand (another on my favorites list).

* * *

Crusin’ played at the Ice Cream Social for the Muscatine Art Center today (Sunday June 30) and the people were great but the weather was brutal. Barb pitched in and helped me with set up and tear down, but I now know that I’m very close to the end of this long and winding road of performing rock ‘n’ roll.

This year will be it – if we make an album, the current plan, we’ll do a farewell show next summer.

* * *

Here’s a very nice Girl Most Likely review.

And scroll down for a great Last Stage to Hell Junction review.

M.A.C.

Barbara Allan Signing

June 27th, 2019 by Max Allan Collins

Barb and I made a “Barbara Allan” appearance, promoting the new Trash ‘n’ Treasures mystery Antiques Ravin’, on Paula Sands Live on KWQC-TV this past Monday.

We will be signing copies of the new book (and others, including Girl Most Likely, from 1 p.m. till 3 p.m. (or so) at Northpark Mall’s Barnes & Noble in Davenport, Iowa this Saturday, June 29.

M.A.C.

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