Posts Tagged ‘Ms. Tree’

Collins’ Spillane on Criterion

Tuesday, March 29th, 2011

As a home video fanatic – the demented owner of thousands of DVDs, Blu-rays and laser discs – I am in particular a fan of the Criterion Collection, who consistently live up to their promise of putting out the highest quality DVDs and now Blu-rays of “classic and important contemporary films.” I have scores of Criterions in my collection, on all three formats, and as an indie filmmaker, having one of my films available from Criterion would be the equivalent of finding the Holy Grail or maybe that atomic box from KISS ME DEADLY.

Well, I have found the atomic box if not the Holy Grail (Monty Python or otherwise). In June, Criterion is bringing out (on both DVD and Blu-ray) what looks to be the definitive release of Robert Aldrich’s great film noir, KISS ME DEADLY…actually, the official title is MICKEY SPILLANE’S KISS ME DEADLY. I was approached about a month ago by representatives of Criterion wondering if they could use my documentary MIKE HAMMER’S MICKEY SPILLANE as a special feature on this disc. At first they wanted to just use excerpts, but ultimately they asked if I could do a re-edit on the piece to bring it down from around 48 minutes to half an hour.

Kiss Me Deadly

For those of you unfamiliar with MIKE HAMMER’S MICKEY SPILLANE, it’s a documentary I did in 1998 with the full participation of Mickey, utilizing all sorts of wonderful interview footage with the likes of Stacy Keach, Shirley Eaton, Lee Meredith, producer Jay Bernstein, Leonard Maltin and a galaxy of mystery writers and experts (Donald E. Westlake, Sara Paretsky, Walter Mosley, Otto Penzler, Marty Greenberg, Paul Biship, Joe Gores, Stephen Marlowe, Parnell Hall, Loren Estleman and on and on). It was produced for a company that went out of business and it never saw the light of broadcast day, although it won awards at festivals here and abroad, with a particularly memorable screening at the National Film Theater of London as part of a Spillane film festival (Mickey and I were both guests of the British Film Institute). The doc appeared as the major element of my anthology film SHADES OF NOIR a few years ago – which is only available in the boxed set BLACK BOX from Troma (it’s out of print, I believe, but can be found).

Anyway, I agreed to come up with a new edit expressly for Criterion – they wanted an emphasis on Mickey, Mike Hammer and (not surprisingly) KISS ME DEADLY. This was tricky because I did not have the original elements – I had to edit a new version from the existing version. Anyone who knows anything about film or video editing knows what a nightmare that is – this was a fully scored piece, meaning edits involved music at every point (the score was by my Seduction of the Innocent pal, Chris Christensen). Those who follow this update will not be surprised that I turned to my longtime collaborator, Phil Dingeldein, at dphilms in Rock Island. With his help – and that of editor Ryan Orr – we came up with a 39 minute cut that we have delivered to Criterion. A little longer than they had asked for, but in the ballpark.

In many respects, I like this new cut better. We lost a few really nice moments, but because the documentary was segmented, I was able to cut whole sections, including material on the MIKE DANGER comic book and Mickey’s appearances in my MOMMY movies (both were timely when I did the original doc). Some personal stuff about Mickey’s home life and family went, as well – material that played better when, frankly, Mickey was alive and well and among us. This shorter version acknowledges Mickey’s passing and works better, I think, as a career piece at this shorter length. I’m proud of it, and trust Criterion will indeed use the entire new edit (and not just excerpt it). The presence on their KISS ME DEADLY disc of this documentary – and, frankly, of me – is very important, because film critics have a smug tendency to dismiss and even dis Mickey’s source material in regard to Aldrich’s film. I have not heard the commentary tracks or read the Criterion background booklet, but I can guarantee you that there will be nasty things said about Spillane. And now I will be there to counterattack…er, I mean counterbalance.

Some nice web stuff this week.

The great review column Bookgasm did a fanastic write-up on the Quarry reprints from Perfect Crime.

My first Mallory novel (second published, first written), NO CURE FOR DEATH, got a very nice write-up. There’s a lot about the plot, and I remember almost none of it. In my defense, it was written around 1970.

You can pre-order RETURN TO PERDITION here and/or get a sneak look at the cover art.

And here’s a fun story showing how Mickey Spillane’s feisty widow Jane is keeping her local government honest (they promised to re-name a highway after Mickey, then didn’t follow through – bad idea!).

Finally, here is a mostly B.S. list of the supposed top 111 hardboiled heroes. Nate Heller, Mike Hammer and Dick Tracy make the list, but Quarry doesn’t. Irritating Quarry is almost as dangerous as irritating Jane Spillane.

M.A.C.

Rock ‘N’ Roll Happened

Tuesday, November 30th, 2010

This coming weekend – Dec. 3 and 4 – Crusin’ will be at Jumer’s casino from 8 to midnight off I-280 near Rock Island. Getting to play casinos is a big deal for us, because it’s “real” show biz. We have an excellent version of our long-running band right now, so we hope those of you in this part of the world will stop by for some genuine garage-band rock.

Rock 'N' Roll Happened

Speaking of which, our new live CD, “Rock ‘n’ Roll Happened,” is now available. It feature half a dozen originals (including “Psychedelic Siren,” two Bruce Peters originals and one by Rob Gal, as well as our signature arrangement of “Summertime” and a rousing “Pussy Whipped”) plus classic covers, all recorded live at two outdoor festivals in August. The liner notes include a detailed history of the band and rare vintage photos. If you’ve ever heard (and enjoyed) us or the years, or just have a lingering morbid curiosity about the rock ‘n’ roll side of my creative life, you will not want to miss this.

Since “Rock ‘n’ Roll Happened” is a promo item, designed for bookers at venues who might consider hiring us, we can’t sell it…but I am setting aside thirty copies for this website. To get a CD, you order one of the following M.A.C. rarities and get a free copy. Here are your options:

Edit: All options sold out! We’re going to recheck stock and post again with what’s left!

Kisses of Death

A., “Kisses of Death,” a 90-minute cassette of me reading a Nate Heller novella with Barbara Collins as Marilyn Monroe. These rare cassettes were distributed as a promo item at the ABA in 1996. Includes FREE Crusin’ “Rock ‘n’ Roll Happened” CD, $15 postpaid USA/Canada ($20 foreign).

Mike Myst

B. “Mike Mist Minute Mist-eries,” 1981 Eclipse black-and-white comic book collecting “Mist” strips from the Collins/Beatty self-syndicated “Comics Page.” Includes FREE Crusin’ “Rock ‘n’ Roll Happened” CD, $15 postpaid USA/Canada ($20 foreign).

Ms. Tree Summer Music Special

C. “Ms. Tree Rock ‘n’ Roll Summer Special,” 1986, includes “Music to Murder By” Ms. Tree/Mike Mist crossover, plus my “Bobby Darin” comic bio/memoir, and in-depth article “The Daybreakers” with many rare photos. Includes FREE Crusin’ “Rock ‘n’ Roll Happened” CD, $15 postpaid USA/Canada ($20 foreign).

Golden Age

D. Rare “The Golden Age” by Seduction of the Innocent (cassette); rare 1990 album featuring “The Truth Hurts.” Includes FREE Crusin’ “Rock ‘n’ Roll Happened” CD, $15 postpaid USA/Canada ($20 foreign).

Crusin'

E. “Bullets” by Crusin’ (cassette); rare 1991 album featuring “Theme from Ms. Tree.” Includes FREE Crusin’ “Rock ‘n’ Roll Happened” CD, $15 postpaid USA/Canada ($20 foreign).

SOTI Live'

F. “Seduction of the Innocent” Live CD signed by Collins, Christensen, Mumy and Leialoha. Includes FREE Crusin’ “Rock ‘n’ Roll Happened” CD, $20 postpaid USA/Canada ($25 foreign).

G. The Complete Collection (THREE SETS AVAILABLE): “The Golden Age” by Seduction of the Innocent, CD; “Bullets” by Crusin’, CD; “Daybreakers aka Crusin’,” including “Psychedelic Siren,” rare demos and songs from Mommy and Mommy’s Day, signed by original Daybreakers, CD; signed “Seduction of the Innocent” Live CD. Includes FREE Crusin’ “Rock ‘n’ Roll Happened” CD, $60 postpaid USA/Canada ($75 foreign).

As indicated, these are available in very limited quantities. An unsigned copy of the Seduction of the Innocent CD may be substituted for the free “Rock ‘n’ Roll Happened” CD, if you buy a second of the above options.

Edit: All options sold out! We’re going to recheck stock and post again with what’s left!

* * *

Here’s an interesting write-up from the University of Chicago Magazine website about my Batman/Eliot Ness graphic novel, SCAR OF THE BAT. Always fun when something from past years pops up for some praise.

This is a nice write-up about BLACK HATS. The posting has been edited after I commented about the original version, which off-handedly said I had a “boatload” of pennames. Which of course I don’t.

The terrific crime writer Tom Piccirilli is kind enough to mention the new Quarry reprints on his blog.

There’s an interview with me at the website of the Top Suspense Group. Lee Goldberg has joined our merry little band of e-book writers, which is very good news. Lee is co-founder (with me) of the International Association of Tie-in Writers. Interviews with him and Ed Gorman and our other talented members can be found at the same site.

And there’s a nice write-up about collaborations at Book Notes, which includes Barbara Allan.

Nate is back from Japan, and I have welcomed him home with this long and complicated update!

M.A.C.

Quarry’s Ex X-ed

Tuesday, August 10th, 2010

Many of you already know that Dorchester – where Hard Case has been publishing its books – has shut down its mass market publishing, and that QUARRY’S EX is a casualty. If you have one of the arcs of that novel, you have a collectible.

I’ll let Hard Case honcho Charles Ardai explain. Check it out here (at Bill Crider’s great site).

Bottom line is: I don’t know when QUARRY’S EX will see print. I am confident it will, and will keep you posted.

Ironically, we have had several raves for QUARRY’S EX of late. Booklist said: “Collins remains the quintessential modern-day pulp writer.” Publisher’s Weekly called the book a “perfect piece of sardonic pulp noir.”

Rooney

Recently I did several phone interviews about the ROAD TO PERDITION blu-ray. Several of those interviews touched on the long-gestating ROAD TO PURGATORY film project. I revealed that I will probably not be directing, but that we seem to be on the verge of making a deal. That in fact we are looking at paper work right now. The primary interview you can read here.

But you’ll have to do your own google search for the other web mentions my info received – I believe this is the first time I’ve gone viral. The news of a PERDITION sequel is all over the web. Some people seem delighted, others think PERDITION shouldn’t have a sequel (a little late, since the PURGATORY and PARADISE novels have already done that). Some people are nice about it and say positive things about me, others say nasty things, and that’s the web for you. I love the idea that there are people who long for a PERDITION film but want to make sure somebody but me writes the script – the creator of the story needs to be kept out of it! Wow. Gotta love democracy – makes for some inspired lunacy.

The Premiere web site also interviewed me about the PERDITION blu-ray. Turns out I’m happy.

For reasons beyond me, my 2007 Ms. Tree novel DEADLY BELOVED has been reviewed, and while I wouldn’t call it viral, the review is available quite a few places on the web. It’s patronizing and certainly not a rave, but you can read if you like.

The Sunday (Aug. 8) Crusin’ gig at Riverside Casino went very well – I had a touch of flu and was worried that it might cause me trouble, but it didn’t. We did a solid three-hour show and the audience danced and applauded from the very start. Lots of great comments. I hope we get asked back, because it was like real show biz – lights and sound and a nice stage set-up (drums and several amps were provided). For eastern Iowa fans, we have another big show coming up at the Wilton Founder’s Day celebration, the evening of Aug. 27. More later!

M.A.C.

Misteaks From The Blue-Eyed Boy

Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010

G.I. JOE: THE RISE OF COBRA has been nominated for the International Association of Media & Tie-in Writers “Best Adapted” Novel award. The Scribes Awards are held at San Diego Comic Con.

Barb, Matt and I had a nice turn-out at the Borders in Davenport on Saturday. We’re not really doing a book tour for either ANTIQUES BIZARRE or YOU CAN’T STOP ME because the sequels to both are in process right now, and the time just isn’t there.

In fact, ANTIQUES KNOCK-OFF was completed this weekend. By the time you read this, it will be in the hands of Kensington editor Michaela Hamilton. ANTIQUES BIZARRE in particular and the “Trash ‘n’ Treasures” mystery series in general are doing very well – BIZARRE landed on the Barnes & Noble hardcover mystery bestseller list. And there looks to be a strong possibility a new contract for more Brandy & Mother books is coming…stay tuned….

Meanwhile, YOU CAN’T STOP ME has been on the Kindle bestseller list, sparked by a several-day giveaway but lasting well beyond the freebie stage.

Over the years, David Burke at the Quad City Times has given me lots of coverage. This Sunday he did a very nice write-up about YOU CAN’T STOP ME, ANTIQUES BIZARRE and the collaborative process as it pertains to Barb, Matt and Mickey.

A fun blog from comics writer Valerie D’Orazio called Occasional Superheroine has a list of five female comics characters that deserve revival, and MS. TREE is one of ‘em.

And here’s a blog whose list of the best movies of the past decade includes ROAD TO PERDITION as one of the best five adapted from comics. Cool.

Sean Leary, an excellent writer and all-around talented human, used to be the entertainment writer at the Rock Island Argus and Dispatch. Now he has an entertainment-oriented Quad Cities web site, Get Your Good News. He did individual interviews about the new books and the collaborative process with Matt Clemens, Barb and me. These are good – check ‘em out.

I want to talk briefly about reviews, but I want to talk about a very specific aspect of them. After all, everybody has a right to their opinions. And I strive not to bask in the good reviews because that means I would have to take the bad reviews seriously, too. No, I want to talk about reviews (and this particularly happens on the non-pro reviews at Amazon and other internet sites) that revel in finding mistakes in the text.

A number of Amazon reviewers – not just talking about my stuff, but reviews I encounter all the time when shopping for books – will give a book a low-star rating and a terrible review if that book is (in their view) poorly copy-edited or if it has mistakes that the author or the copy editor should have caught (again, in their view).

A review of YOU CAN’T STOP ME (one of only two less than stellar ones out of a whole flock of positive ones at Amazon) dismisses the book largely because the lead character, J.C. Harrow, is initially described as having brown eyes and later as having blue eyes. The book is over 100,000 words long and I promise you it gets a lot of things right, including the descriptions of its large cast of characters.

Here’s what happened, or anyway how it happened. If you’re at this site, you know that YOU CAN’T STOP ME is a collaboration. My co-author Matt Clemens likes to “cast” a story – he puts actors and sometimes other celebrities in the roles, and even sends me photos of the cast. Which, frankly, I ignore, because I don’t work that way. Matt likes to start with the reality of a real human to describe and an actor’s voice to hear in his brain – it helps him, and it’s not a bad technique. But it’s not mine. As it happens, he “cast” Pierce Brosnan as Harrow. I said I thought Harrow was more like Dennis Farina in CRIME STORY, but only vaguely so – a craggy guy in his forties, not James frickin’ Bond. This started a cheerful disagreement between us, which actually became a running gag. I would say, “It’s possible our lead character is under-characterized, if one of us thinks he’s Pierce Brosnan and the other thinks he’s Dennis Farina.”

We were shocked and distressed when we went over the copy-edited manuscript and discovered that Harrow’s eyes were described as having two colors (we had settled on Farina brown, but the initial Brosnan blue crept in). As it happens, we had a copy editor who had taken a fairly heavy hand to the work – my pet peeve – and I put a lot of it back the way it had been, and in fairness to the production folks at Kensington, they got a fairly messy copy-edited manuscript back. Still, we had caught the blue/brown thing – yet it crept through into the galley proof stage, too. We caught it and corrected it again…

…and yet it still got through wrong. How? Who knows? Mistakes and typos happen, particularly with a book the size of YOU CAN’T STOP ME. With typos, sometimes a new typo happens when a change or correction is made that requires new, last-minute typesetting. It’s easy for tiny screw-ups in a book this size.

At the final read-through stage (like the one Barb and I just did with ANTIQUES KNOCK-OFF), we discover all sorts of stuff – little things like a very minor character’s name shifting, or fairly big things, like plot points that somehow (over the many months of writing) got confused.

A review of one of the ANTIQUES books has an Amazon review that makes a very big deal out of a reference to Aunt Bea from the “Andy Griffin Show.” This ruined the book for the reviewer and earned us a very low star rating. Talk about mysteries – both Barb and I are longtime fans of Andy Griffith. I was a fan of his well before his famous TV show – I remember as a little kid seeing the live TV play of NO TIME FOR SERGEANTS before it went to Broadway! I saw NO TIME FOR SERGEANTS the film in the theater. I bought all of Griffith’s comedy records (“What It Was Was Football”). Barb also is a fan. I can’t believe either of us – and remember, we read the book after we turn it into the publisher in copy-edited form, and then at least once more in galley proof form (usually twice in the latter stage). The only thing we can think of is we spaced out, thinking of SCTV’s parody THE MERV GRIFFITH SHOW, on which Merv Griffin is transformed into Andy Taylor. We are stumped. Did a copy editor or someone in production catch “Griffith” and think it was a goof and change it to “Griffin”? It’s a mystery. Who the hell knows?

I do know it’s unfair to dismiss the rest of the hard work that went into the big writing project that is a novel by seizing upon such occasional goofs, whoever made them.

But I know from long experience, with Nathan Heller, that reviewers and readers love to find historical inaccuracies. Such mistakes would appear to be the prize in the Cracker Jacks for a lot of readers. I can’t tell you how many fan letters I’ve received that tell me how much they love a Heller book or maybe one of the disaster novels, and then without referring to one specific thing that they liked, tell me about the error they spotted. Sometimes these are real errors, and sometimes not (as when someone in Louisiana insisted a road in BLOOD AND THUNDER hadn’t been built yet when I had a vintage research book that said it had).

A very supportive reviewer (whose name I won’t mention) has consistently mentioned a mistake or two found in the Heller and other historical novels despite his very brief per-book review space. This is a reviewer who apparently really loves my work, but rather than comment on the voluminous research I’ve done and the thousands of things I get write (I mean, “right”) in one of the massive Heller novels, insists on grabbing that Cracker Jacks prize and displaying it in public.

Do I sound frustrated? I am. I hate knowing that every copy of YOU CAN’T STOP ME has Harrow with brown eyes and blue eyes. But it can’t be helped. It’s human error. Anyway, Matt and I will reveal in the second Harrow novel that those bastard executives in the first novel had made the TV host wear blue contact lenses on his reality show, CRIME SEEN! He will now have thrown them away….

M.A.C.