Posts Tagged ‘Batman’

Joy in St. Louis

Tuesday, September 18th, 2012

This week I am turning over the update to Nathan, who (at my proud parental request) is going to share some photos of his and Abby’s wedding on Sunday November 9 in St. Louis. Generally, I cheerfully despite weddings, but this was a fun, fantastic event. Even Quarry would have grinned and maybe shed a tear (right before he murdered somebody).

Before I hand Nate the reins, here are a few links that may interest you, starting with a nice review of LADY, GO DIE!

Here, unless it’s an ironic practical joke, is a rave review of one of my BATMAN issues, which has otherwise been despised by the Batcave-dwelling nerds of the fan world.

And from the delightfully titled blog “Gil T.’s Pleasures” comes a review of volume one of the collected FANGORIA’S DREADTIME STORIES on Audio CD. There are five stories of which I wrote three. Carl Amari produced and directed these with the same top Chicago talent that performed on the Audie-nominated NEW ADVENTURES OF MIKE HAMMER audios. A second volume, with three more of my stories (and two by other writers), is due soon. These are available on-line from Amazon and many others. These are the full-length, unedited, uncensored versions, that the ones that were briefly downloadable at the Fangoria site (interrupted by commercials).

Finally, a short but I think pretty good interview with me appears in issue eleven the first-rate fanzine, CRIME FACTORY. This link gives you various options to obtain it free of charge.

Nate, take it away….

Nate here! I’ve got some early proofs from our photographer, Derek Sigler. We should have the whole set in a day or two, so I might sneak a couple more into this update later, but for now…

We were lucky to have one of the first nice weekends of the season and took advantage of it by taking photos around St. Louis’s Forest Park before the wedding. I was joined my friends Brad (who flew from LA!) and Robert; with Abby were friends Sarah and Kendra and sisters Elise and Molly. Here’s another:

The wedding and reception were held in The Wild Flower, a beautiful restaurant in the Central West End. There were a lot of great things about the Wild Flower, including the gorgeous exposed brick walls and tasteful decor as seen below, but in truth we chose the location for the creme brulee french toast.

That’s all for now, but if you’re not thoroughly disgusted by our happiness yet, check back in a few days for more!

O’Collins Obects

Tuesday, August 14th, 2012

An Irish crime writer, whose work I’m not familiar with, has been hired to write a new Phillip Marlowe novel. It got tons of play, particularly on the Net, and my name was mentioned (with Robert B. Parker’s) in a short list of mystery writers who have previously written Marlowe material. Parker, of course, finished POODLE SPRINGS and later wrote a sequel to THE BIG SLEEP. I didn’t care for either of Parker’s efforts – they surprisingly seem half-hearted, from such an avowed Chandler fan – although a fun TV movie was made out of SPRINGS. My contribution was in the Phillip Marlowe centennial collection (a story that subsequently was rewritten as a Heller and can be found in CHICAGO LIGHTNING as “Perfect Crime”).

As the guy who is continuing the Mike Hammer books, I am probably hypocritical and way out of line in suggesting that this new Marlowe novel seems like a terrible idea. I will defend myself by pointing out that my situation is different, even unique – I was asked by Mickey himself to complete unfinished works in his files. And the truth is, I would have taken the Marlowe gig if offered to me, because Chandler is on my really, really short list (the one that includes Spillane, Hammett and Cain). What rankles – and I am aware of Chandler’s British upbringing – is that the choice wasn’t of an American writer. I’m not the only American typewriter-pounder who would have done this job well – I can think of a dozen off the top of my head, from Bob Crais and Loren Estleman to John Lutz and Ed Gorman. Bob Randisi wrote a hell of a good Marlowe story in the centennial collection. Maybe one of the big boys like Michael Connelly or Dennis Lahane or Jeff Deaver…anyway, there are plenty of better choices than somebody from the UK. I say it’s spinach and I say the hell with it.

Some years ago (probably at least twenty), I was approached to continue the Lew Archer books. I turned the job down (pshaw, to those of you who think I never say no to a gig) because (a) I have never been a Ross Macdonald fan, and (b) it was a suicide mission. Now I would have taken on any number of other suicide missions (I would still do a Sam Spade novel if anybody offered it), but I felt somebody more attuned to Archer ought to do it. As it turns out, nobody did.

By the way, I am not a Macdonald detractor. I read him when I was a teenager, devouring private eye novels. I liked his books. I just didn’t love them. He seemed to keep writing the same book over and over, and his writing seemed forced and, well, arch. He reached for the similes and metaphors, where they mostly flowed right out of Chandler. But he was serious about what he did and the books were readable, the people more real than most in the genre, and he provided a more overtly literary alternative to Mickey Spillane and Hammer that invited a whole other crowd of writers into the game. So props to him. I just didn’t want to step into his shoes.

I haven’t decided whether I’ll try to read the Irish guy’s book. Probably not. Somebody from South America or Spain or someplace wrote one that I couldn’t get past page one on. But it’s interesting how much attention it’s attracted.

* * *

Ron Fortier has given a good, lively review to TRIPLE PLAY. Check it out.

Unexpectedly, Craig Clarke – long a Heller supporter – has written a fine, insightful review of STOLEN AWAY, perhaps sparked by the new Amazon Encore edition.

And my BATMAN stuff keeps attracting attention, often from people who still want to tar-and-feather me (who was it that said, “Get a life?”), but now and then something surprisingly positive shows up, like this piece.

There seems to be an audio book collecting the Fangoria Dreadtime Stories, many of which are written by me. Here’s a mostly good review here that scolds me for including gratuitous sex. Who, me?

A British web site published a mostly negative but interesting review of Mickey’s early non-Mike Hammer novel, THE LONG WAIT. I waded in disagreeing, and a very interesting, lively bunch of comments followed. Worth looking at.

M.A.C.

Friday Night Lights

Tuesday, July 31st, 2012

FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS

I have lately late at night been binge-watching the series FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS, which I had heard for years was excellent but just hadn’t got around to. I picked up the boxed set of all five seasons at a Half-Price Books and got caught up in what is superficially a teenage soap opera with a football background but is actually as good a dramatic series as I’ve ever seen on television. As much as I like THE SOPRANOS and MAD MEN, the good heart and skillful storytelling displayed in this sentiment-filled (but not sentimental) series reminds me how easy it is in writing to fall back on cheap-shot cynicism, snarky irony and the dark side. The naturalistic acting and the character-driven plotting show how empty and soulless are the likes of BOARDWALK EMPIRE and HOUSE OF LIES. There’s a lot of talent on display in front of and in back of the lights, with eavesdropping hand-held cameras and an evocative guitar-dominated score by W.G. “Snuffy” Walden (of the similarly excellent WEST WING).

Because the producers and writers knew that the fifth season was their last, they brought back characters from previous seasons (it’s a high school story, so characters graduate and move on) and wrapped up the entire story in a longer-than-usual episode that is my candidate for the best and most satisfying final show in a serial. Kyle Chandler and Connie Britton as the coach and his wife are responsible (along with the writers, of course) for what is the most realistic and believable marriage ever depicted on television.

One of the reasons I finally watched the show was Taylor Kitsch’s role in it – I was impressed with Kitsch in both JOHN CARTER and the surprisingly good BATTLESHIP (directed by Peter Berg, the director/writer of the film FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS and creator of the TV version). Kitsch’s Tim Riggins is a memorable creation, breathing life into the cliche of the seemingly doomed working-class high school sports hero whose glory days will soon be behind him. This is a charismatic and talented actor, who would make a fine Nate Heller. He’s in Oliver Stone’s SAVAGES (from the Don Winslow novel) right now, which I haven’t seen yet. Somehow I imagine it’s not going to be as heartwarming as FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS.

Speaking of stories that aren’t heartwarming, the Spillane/Collins novella “Skin,” available only as an e-book, continues to wrack up nice reviews, like this one.

And MICKEY SPILLANE ON SCREEN was given a nice review in Crimespree (not available on line) and a small but appreciated write up here. The Crimespree review advises potential readers that the high price of the book makes finding a library copy to read a priority. But both Barnes & Noble and Amazon are carrying it at a decent, if shifting, discount. At any given time, one of them usually has it for around thirty bucks – still stiff, but anyone interested in my work or Mickey’s will want it.

Here’s a surprise: a glowing write-up about one of my BATMAN comic book stories.

Speaking of Batman, count me among the minority who found THE DARK KNIGHT RISES the latest candidate for “Emperor’s New Clothes” status. The pretentiousness and the self-importance on display are almost as unbearable as the length of the thing, which contains more absurdities than a Dr. Seuss book (but is far less fun). What I come away with most are the unintelligible dialogue exchanges between pro-wrestler-like Bane, whose mouth is covered by a pointlessly grotesque mask, and Bale’s Batman, who talks in his now trademark low, lispy spooky Batman voice – not that any of it is worth hearing. Their muffled back-and-forth is the stuff that Riff Trax are made of. And if you like kettle drums, you’ll just love the score. Perfect for an endless Samoan war dance.

On the plus side, Anne Hathaway makes a perfectly fine Catwoman who actually injects some humor into the mix (a rarity in these dour films). And while I like Ms. Hathaway’s rear view just fine, was it really necessary to design a bat-cycle that has her riding it prone with her butt in their air? Just wondering.

M.A.C.

Complex Issues

Tuesday, June 26th, 2012

This will be a somewhat brief Update, as I am immersed in working on the new Mike Hammer, COMPLEX 90. It’s a particularly tricky book because it includes a sequence about Hammer in Russia (referred to and essentially outlined in Mickey’s unfinished manuscript) that I am trying to bring on stage. The book takes place in 1964 and is, in part, a sequel to THE GIRL HUNTERS.

I am pleased to report that MICKEY SPILLANE ON SCREEN by Jim Traylor and has received a glowing review from Rod Lott at the web’s premiere review site, Bookgasm. Check this one out.

I’ve been astonished at how much coverage Hard Case Crime’s announcement of the new Jack and Maggie Starr mystery, SEDUCTION OF THE INNOCENT, has been stirring up. It indicates the PR genius of editor/publisher Charles Ardai. The book doesn’t even come out till next February, and my JFK Heller novel comes out this Fall, and it hasn’t had a whisper of fuss…even if all it does is solve the JFK assassination. But I’m delighted by all this advance coverage of SEDUCTION. I won’t provide links to all of the nice write-ups the announcement has received – I’m getting great reviews for the idea of this book! – but here’s a typical one from that pro Mel Odom.

We continue to get terrific LADY, GO DIE! reviews, and this one is one of my favorites. The review is from a slightly feminist POV, and I love the way the reviewer – and a number of other women who have given this book good reviews – struggle with the females in the novel, grasping that Spillane wrote very strong women and yet having to deal with those women tending to follow Hammer’s lead…plus Hammer calling them “doll,” “kitten” and so on. A while back a reviewer said nobody uses such terms any more. Well, those books take place in the past. On the other hand, I call my astonishingly beautiful blonde wife – in her sixties and looking about thirty-five – “doll” and “babe” all the time. Sue me. Anyway, read this smart, fun review.

We’ll close with a rarity – a fan reviewer who loves one of my Batman stories. It’s called “Robber’s Roost,” is about the Penguin, and is a prose short story. Also, full disclosure: I don’t remember a thing about it.

M.A.C.