Chicago Comic Expo Starring Me

April 3rd, 2018 by Max Allan Collins

Well, maybe not starring…

But I will be appearing at C2E2 on this coming Saturday and Sunday. I’ll be doing one panel each day (details below) and a signing will follow each. I am told copies of the hardcover Killing Town will be available, almost two weeks ahead of the official on sale date.

The Comic & Entertainment Expo is a 3-day exhibition and conference of comic and pop culture with exhibits, talks and cosplay competitions.
Dates: Apr 6, 2018 – Apr 8, 2018
Location: McCormick Place – South Building, Chicago, IL

Here are the panels:

Horror in Fiction and Non-Fiction
April 07, 2018, 12:30 PM – 1:30 PM
Room S403
Whether it’s a haunting, a monster, or a mobster, horror is just one of those genres that crosses borders, from fiction to non-fiction. What does it take to make a story “horrific,” and why do we love it so much? Join authors Max Allan Collins (Scarface and the Untouchable), and James S. Murray (Awakened) as they discuss their love of things that go bump in the night and real-life scary stories.

Windy City Crime: Stories About The Chicago Gangland
April 08, 2018, 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM
Room S405a
The Chicago gangland of the 1920’s and 30’s remains legendary to this day, romanticized in films, tv shows, and popular songs. The true original gangsters are larger than life figures, icons of both history and popular culture. Join Max Allan Collins (Scarface and the Untouchable), David Carlson and Landis Blair (The Hunting Accident: A True Story of Crime and Poetry) for a discussion of one of some of Chicago’s most notorious gangsters.

There will be a later Chicago signing, for Scarface and the Untouchable, with both (A.) Brad Schwartz and (The) Max Allan Collins Sunday August 19 2 PM at Centuries and Sleuths. Okay, Mike Doran?

* * *

This will be a somewhat short update because I am up to my eyeballs (see photo) with the galley proofs of Scarface and the Untouchable. All 700-some pages of it. I have never had to spend this much time on a read-through, tweak-session before.

But because you are loyal enough (or bored enough or foolish enough) to read these updates every week, I will speak about some TV shows and a movie that Barb and I liked – no negative, walk-out stuff today.

The Death of Stalin is a very funny, very dark sort of satire with an amazing cast including Steve Buscemi (as Nikita Khrushchev!) and Jeffrey Tambor (thankfully not recast and digitally replaced or something). Everybody else is a top-flight British actor, and one of the delights is that nobody does a Russian accent – it’s all very unabashed bloody British, which makes it both funnier and, oddly, more real.

Though its history is compressed, the film is fairly faithful to the events, which had they been portrayed without an overtly Monty Python-esque quality (Michael Palin has a key role, wonderful) and even a Mel Brooks-ian feel, might have been too harrowing and grim to be tolerated.

The Death of Stalin is proof that worthwhile movies are still out there; but TV seems a more reliable place to find something, well, good.

Barb and I recently binged on the first two seasons of Stranger Things – what an excellent series. Millie Bobbie Brown’s amazing performance as Eleven, a psychic child who breaks free from the lab of her CIA-type captors, is one of those immediately iconic performances/characters that rank with Mr. Spock and the Mulder/Scully combo. This is in a cast that includes many standouts, notably Winona Ryder and David Harbour, as well as the quartet of friends into Dungeon and Dragons and video games, circa 1983-1984: Finn Wolfhard, Gaten Matarazzo, Caleb McLaughlin, and Noah Schnapp. The Duffer Brothers are the creators and main writers as well as occasional directors. Shawn Levy also directs episodes, and very well.

There’s a lot of talk about the ‘80s references in Stranger Things, almost too much. I have an affection for those years, despite (not because of) Ronald Reagan, and mostly for New Wave music. But I don’t have a nostalgia for the ‘80s because I hadn’t been growing up then, as I had been in the ‘50s, ‘60s and early ‘70s. To me John Carpenter, Steven Spielberg and Stephen King are just contemporary talents, not touchstones of my youth.

The good news is that Stranger Things is not just a wallow in references. The most overt reference is an interesting one – Stephen King’s It. Why? Because the Duffer Brothers (think the Coens if they had been Monster Kids) went after the job of scripting the 2017 It film and got turned down. Stranger Things (which co-stars one of It’s young players, Finn Wolfhard) is essentially their variation on the job they were denied.

It’s also decidedly better than It.

If you haven’t checked the series out, you should. Stranger Things is on our list with Fargo as top-tier current (or anytime) TV.

Also on the list is season five of Endeavour, the Morse prequel which has been good from the start but really shines in this latest go-round. It hasn’t aired on American PBS yet, but presumably it will. (We watched it on PAL DVD from the UK.) Each ninety-minute episode of this fine mystery series is better than most theatrical movies.

* * *

Finally an objective view of me – turns out I’m a legend! Check this out.

And here’s a short but sweet piece on Mickey.


Tags: , , , , ,

9 Responses to “Chicago Comic Expo Starring Me”

  1. JohnJ says:

    After I spotted Millie Bobbie Brown in the NCIS episode “Parental Guidance Suggested” I checked her IMDB page. Led me to her earlier series “Intruders”, starring Mira Sorvino, John Simm, and James Frain. Let’s just say there is a natural progression in the characters Millie has played in these three projects. Like “Quarry” somebody pulled the plug on this series way too early.

  2. Thomas Zappe says:

    Those are some pretty serious satchels hanging off your eyeballs there.

  3. Joseph F. Laredo says:

    Let’s hope that research triumphs over agenda this time.
    A few years ago at San Diego Comic-Con you were plugging the film of your Eliot Ness one man show. I thought it was just pathetic that you had Ness parroting long-debunked rumors about J. Edgar Hoover’s private life.
    When I asked if your research had turned up concrete evidence to the contrary, you furrowed your brow and replied “Uh…there was something.”
    Uh…no there is not.
    Why don’t you start with this link from The Washington Post (not exactly a right wing rag) and take it from there.

  4. Mike Doran says:


    There is, of course, no way that you could have known any of what I’m about to tell you beforehand.

    For reasons unknown and unknowable, C2E2 and the Windy City Pulp & Paper Convention are being held on the same Oedipusrexing weekend!

    I always sign up early for WCP&P, which always has some wonderful stuff for my various Walls at home.
    In this case, I put up for a three-day ride.
    WCP&P is held each year at the Westin Lombard Yorktown Center, which is devilishly hard to get to on public transit, which is why I paid for all three days, in case I missed one for whatever reason.

    Then, a few weeks afterwards, I learned that C2E2 was booked into McCormick Place for the same three days.
    You have already seen my reaction above.

    My initial plan was to go to C2E2 on Friday, because McCormick Place is always easier to get to on a weekday.
    The Yorktown sortie was going to be either Saturday or Sunday (both, if I could manage it).

    Thanks to you, that has to be changed.

    As of now, I have to go to Yorktown on Friday and Saturday, which means I have to work around different bus schedules.
    C2E2 gets me on Sunday, and I’ll have to get up earlier that day because of McCPlace’s absurdly labyrinthine layout.
    (It has to be Sunday because that’s the day you’re doing the gangsters; I’m not all that interested in horror.)
    I just hope that you realize what your older customers have to go through with things like this – especially since a lot of the WCP&P folks are part of your constituency.

    Side note:
    The older I get, the more depressing an experience C2E2 becomes for me.
    I mean, there I am, walking around amidst all these people in elaborate costumes, body decoration, simulated (I hope) weaponry –
    and they’re all looking at me strangely because I’m wearing a tie …

    My abject apologies for the testiness herein.
    I hope to be in a somewhat better humor come Sunday.
    And of course in August at C&E …

    To better days!

  5. I have no memory of the exchange at San Diego about J. Edgar. Why are people surprised that I can’t immediately pull from my memory a source I used? As for ELIOT NESS: AN UNTOUCHABLE LIFE, it’s an entertainment based on fact but not a documentary. I can assure one and all that everything in SCARFACE AND THE UNTOUCHABLE is from hard research, with no references to cross-dressing on J. Edgar’s part, but plenty of his prejudice against Eliot Ness, initially fueled by Hoover’s top (for a while) G-man, Melvin Purvis, who wanted to keep Ness from getting his job. I don’t give a rat’s ass if Hoover was gay, if he was. His behavior in any case is questionable, where the mob is concerned and stockpiling blackmail.

    Mike, your tale of woe moves me (a little), but you can always wait for Centuries & Sleuths unless you just want an excuse to go to C2E2. My appearance there is not my idea — I’ve never been to this particular con, but the publicity folks at Morrow (publisher of SCARFACE AND THE UNTOUCHABLE) asked me to do it, and arranged it.

    As for the satchels under my eyes, well of course I’ve packed my bags — I’m going to C2E2!

  6. Mike Doran says:

    Basically, C2E2 is the old Chicago ComiCon on steroids – expanded to fit McCormick Place on several levels.
    Later on this year, WizardWorld (the “true” successor to the old ComiCon) will hold forth in its usual venue, the Rosemont Convention Center – for whatever that’s worth.

    Anyway, MAC, you can expect me on Sunday at the Big Mc (as nobody here calls it), because it’s been over a year since I last saw you in propria persona – and frankly, I’ve missed you (Barb too – I assume she’s going as well).

    Enough of my old-man grousing – see you Sunday!

  7. Jacob Dzik says:

    I loved season 1 of stranger things but season 2 didn’t work for me at all.

  8. Sean Kelly says:

    Well, I have never been in the same city as you when you have an event/signing (e.g. being in my hometown of Tampa this year, but I am currently working in Japan) I will have to implore my mom to come out for the C&S signing. She’s met you a few times for me. I live vicariously through her.

  9. Season 2 worked fine for us — I thought it widened the scope of the story nicely.

    I was in Clearwater not that long ago for the Mike Hammer play. We will probably do the second play in January/February next year. Maybe I’ll arrange a signing while I’m in the area.