Please, Sir, More Sex & Violence

September 21st, 2010 by Max Allan Collins

I did a guest essay for the new Mulholland Books web site. It’s called “Sex and Violence, Please” and I think you’ll enjoy it.

Here’s a short, smart QUARRY IN THE MIDDLE review.

And here’s a tepid BIG BANG write-up, an example of the kind of review that always has me scratching my head – someone who begins by saying he doesn’t like Spillane/Hammer, then reviews the book in that context. Would you send a restaurant critic who hates Chinese food to the Ming Gardens Buffet? Just asking.

If you want to read a really lousy review of BONES: BURIED DEEP, it’s here. I post it as an example of a review by somebody who doesn’t understand the process of writing a tie-in. This novel, written before the show hit the air with only a rough cut of the pilot episode to guide us (Matt Clemens and me), gets beaten up because we are not faithful to the way the characters developed over the many years of the series. BURIED DEEP may not be a great novel, but it’s a better conceived novel than this is a review. And I plead guilty to not being psychic.

On the other hand, at least that site is reviewing tie-ins – mostly they get ignored. I am always surprised by how many “big fans” of mine do not read my tie-ins.

Oddly, some obits of the great actor Kevin McCarthy (who my buddy Ed Gorman knew very well) credit him with appearing in my indie movie MOMMY. I wish I’d had him in any film of mine.

Last week, Matt Clemens and I spent most of the week on the new J.C. Harrow proposal. We like it. And we shipped it. We’ll see.

Barb and I took a quick day-trip getaway to Des Moines on Friday, and on the way talked plotting for both Antiques Disposal (she’s doing her draft right now) and for the Nate Heller JFK novel, which I continue to research. Feels like I’m zeroing in on the plot, the shape, of what George Hagenauer calls “a monster.”


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

2 Responses to “Please, Sir, More Sex & Violence”

  1. dan luft says:

    I must admit that I’ve never read any of your tie-in novels but that I pounced on the Batman issues you wrote back in the 80s (not a big difference I guess). Then there are other authors that I’ve pigeonholed like Alan Dean Foster — I’ve never read anything by him except tie-ins.

    The very concept of a tie-in conjures up a time in my reading life. In the late 70s and early 80s my bookshelves were littered with Conan books and Mike Shayne short stories from the magazines. I knew they were pastiches but I “needed a fix.” I also thought the first 12 issues of the Micronauts comic were better written and drawn than anything else that Marvel put out that year.

    When I got to college I think I got hung up on “literature” and “artists” and stopped thinking of books as simply being good or bad. Also, when I was in college (late 80s), someone unlocked the box and and tie-ins got pushed like widgets. Suddenly there were a hundred Star Wars an Star Trek Novels and TSR was publishing books based on role-playing games. Disney was pushing cheap sequels to great movies in their direct-to-video lines. And yes, the Conan novels were legion. There came a point where I just thought “Give me the source material, I don’t want the franchise.”

  2. mike doran says:

    I started buying books for myself as an adolescent in the early ’60s – starting with those Whitman adaptations of TV shows, then graduating to 25-35c paperbacks off the spinner racks at Walgreen’s and Kresge’s. The tie-in was just starting to flourish at that time, and by the time I was out of high school I had a fair-sized shelf-ful of my favorite shows in prose form.
    Alas and alack, they’ve all been lost to the passage of time (not to mention pesky parents who insisted on clearing space in my room; to this day my least favorite four words are “Get rid of that.”).
    Years later I bought a reference book listing many of the TVTie-Ins published over the years.
    I get depressed just looking at all the listed books that I actually had so long ago.
    I do get a kick out of seeing how many well-known writers toiled in the field while writing “mainstream lit” at the same time.
    Believe it or not, I actually developed a kind of standard for judging these books, which was based on how closely the writer stuck to the show’s format. Because I was a rotten kid at the time, I looked askance at books where it seemed that the writer hadn’t even seen the show in question before writng his story. I didn’t know the rules, i.e. how far in advance writers had to work to get the book in the stores (before the series had shaken down). This meant that I thought less of the earliest MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E. books because they didn’t use Illya Kuryakin as much.
    On the other hand, I loved Robert Fish’s take on TRIALS OF O’BRIEN (Peter Falk’s first series), because it was evident that he had seen the series, and got its balance of mystery and humor. (I know you don’t care for Fish, but trust me, this one was really good – and O’BRIEN is a series I’d love to have on DVD.)

    I’m rambling here, I know, but it’s been so long since I dropped a line here, I thought I’d take the shot.
    It’s a relief from the heavy stuff I’ve been forced to write at Roger Ebert’s (if anybody here cares about that).

    One other thing:
    I remember seeing and getting to talk to Kevin McCarthy at one of the Courts’s autograph shows here i Chicago a few years back. He was already past 90 at the time, but could have passed for mid-60s. This was one guy I was hoping would still be appearing in movies and TV at 100. Well, if that’s not going to happen, at least we’ve got loads of stuff for retrospctives.

    I’m wondering about the guy who thought Mr.McCarthy was in MOMMY. Recalling how smooth-looking he was at the Courts’ show, I didn’t think he looked like the craggy Jason Miller at all.
    Then I remembered that in MOMMY 2, Miller’s role was played by Arlen Dean Snyder, who I think did resemble McCarthy a little.
    Hey, the guy mixed up the actors, maybe he mixed up the movies as well.

    Okay, I’ve blathered enough. Here’s hoping that ASK NOT (that’s still your title, right?) gets you the breakthrough you’ve deserved all these years. And next time you’re at C&S I promise to have a wagonload of stuff for you to sign by sundown :D

    Just remembered; there’s another Courts autograph show this weekend. I don’t have the flyer at hand, but if anybody interesting shows up, I’ll let you know.