Posts Tagged ‘Ms. Tree’

Crusin’ Update

Tuesday, January 19th, 2010

Crusin' at Warehouse Four
Crusin’ at Warehouse Four, 1970’s
L to R: Ric Steed, M.A.C., Bruce Peters, Paul Thomas

This will be a brief update, because this week Nate and I have put our time into getting a long overdue revised update on my band Crusin’. Anyone interested in me and my work should find this of interest — lots of photos and a detailed history of the group’s 35 year history (41 year history, counting the Daybreakers, the band Crusin’ evolved into).

A very interesting write-up on Johnny Craig’s early EC crime work touches upon my introductions to the collected EC CRIME SUSPENSTORIES and even discusses ROAD TO PERDITION in that context. Any article that extols Ralph Meeker’s Mike Hammer is jake by me.

And my old pal Christopher Mills has posted a great LAST LULLABY review at his DVD Late Show site.

Chris has also re-posted a terrific ELIOT NESS: AN UNTOUCHABLE LIFE review from a while back.

Brian Drake, who is a lively writer with great taste (i.e., he likes my stuff), wonders if I’m one person or not. I get this all the time — “When do you sleep?” and so on.

I have said any number of times that I am very lazy by nature, but that no one sends money to my house if I don’t work. Being called prolific gets you credit for hard work but is the most left-handed of writing compliments. Some years (like 2009) I have very little out — the only original novel was QUARRY IN THE MIDDLE. This year is heavier, with ANTIQUES BIZARRE, YOU CAN’T STOP ME and THE BIG BANG just around the corner. But do note that in the case of those three projects that I am working with talented collaborators (Barbara Collins, Matthew Clemens, and, well, Mickey Spillane) and I am not carrying the entire workload.

Speaking of collaborators, never forget Terry Beatty — and also hitting the net this week is a very nice overview of our MS. TREE feature.

A blog called UNSQUARE DANCE gives a nice write-up to the Hard Case Crime joint reprint of BAIT MONEY and BLOOD MONEY (as TWO FOR THE MONEY).

See you next Tuesday.

M.A.C.

Comic-Con 2009

Tuesday, July 28th, 2009

This update is being written from San Diego, where the comic con is over, and Barb, Nate and I are about to head back to Iowa.

Before I get into a blog-ish report, let me repeat announcements regarding M.A.C. that made some news at the con: Vertigo Crime Line will be doing RETURN TO PERDITION, a graphic novel sequel to ROAD TO PARADISE and the last story, chronologically anyway, in the PERDITION saga. Terry Beatty was announced as artist, which means the MS. TREE team is back. The Vertigo Crime Line books are lovely little hardcovers of about 200 pages.

Although the ink hasn’t dried (actually, hasn’t been applied), informally it was announced that MS. TREE would be reprinted in uniform volumes with a new graphic novel. This will (if all goes well, and it will) be a Comics Mix/IDW affair. Lots of great comments from people about this, all around the con. Also wonderful comments about Quarry and especially the currently in hiatus Jack Starr “comics” mysteries illustrated by Terry.

The con, for once, has not grown. They capped it last year and it has been at capacity ever since. The aisles are packed by ten a.m., and even the preview night is like laundry day along the Ganges. Because I was a special guest this year — as part of the con’s in-house rock band, Seduction of the Innocent — I was able to score Exhibitor badges for both Nate and me. This was even somewhat legit because on Wednesday night we had to schlep in 200 copies of the new Seduction CD (a terrific recording of our most recent performance at the con…in 1999!).

Anyway, that meant Nate and I could get in every day for an hour ahead of the rabble, I mean, other attendees, and that was a joy. A dream-like sensation, walking down wide nearly empty aisles bathed in air-conditioning, surrounded by pop culture imagery absurd and sublime.

I did not abuse the guest privilege, but asked for three things: helping get Nate into a panel on which one of his heroes appeared, Hayao Miyazaki; getting Barb, Nate and me into the jam-packed, a thousand-turned-away Riff Trax performance (front row!), and — this was very tough — getting to privately meet with probably my favorite actor on the planet, Canadian star Paul Gross of SLINGS & ARROWS and DUE SOUTH fame. Paul was as gracious and friendly and warm as he was charistmatic — for example, I used my all-access pass to get into the green room (Nate, also a fan, could not get in). Paul had no problem leaving the safety of the green room to go out into the hallway and talk to Nate for fifteen minutes. Incredible guy, and the experience I will treasure from this con — he would make a great Nate Heller, by the way. (He has a new show, in America, coming up, and that’s what he was promoting: Eastwick.) What did I have him sign? The Blu-Ray of PASSCHENDAELE, the Sirk-like Canadian war epic he wrote, directed and starred in, which inexplicably has not received distribution in the USA.

Seduction of the Innocent: Live @ Comic-Con 1999

This was easily my most hectic con. I’ll start with the Seduction of the Innocent stuff. First, Miguel Ferrer had a filming conflict, but I was there with Bill Mumy, Chris Christensen and Steve Leialoha, debuting our LIVE AT THE SAN DIEGO ComicCon 1999 OFFICIAL BOOTLEG CD. Though we did not play (we weren’t asked), we sold around 100 of the limited 200 edition, meaning you’ll soon be able to snag a copy here (we will have around 10 signed copies available). We spent much of the con together at various events and signings, and I was reminded by how much fun it is to be with Bill, Chris and Steve. Bill also debuted the first new Barnes & Barnes album in 18 years — he is talented, funny guy, sweet and witty but be careful not to get sent to the cornfield…it CAN happen. Chris knows music better than anybody I know, and I get a warmth being around him that reminds me of my late buddy Paul Thomas. Steve Leialoha, whose FABLES racked up several Eisner awards, is as slyly funny as his smile is sunny.

Seduction presented a couple of Eisners at the awards and were well received. We do not really understand why they would invite us, a rock band, and not have us play, and frankly all of us spent much of the convention being asked, and not being able to answer, the question, “Why aren’t you guys playing?” There were in fact several opportunities — a reception, the after-event at the Eisners. There does seem to be a possibility we will do so next year, and we were informally approached by another con, as well.

I did panels on noir comics, on mystery fiction, as well as the Vertigo panel and — trumpets here — the Scribes awards. Link over, courtesy of Nate, and see the winners (I was not one of them, though had two nice nominations).

I also recorded an interview for a major Blu-Ray release (all I can say at the moment) and the family ate well, saw Demetri Martin in concert, and Barb and Nate got to go to Coronado island (and experience the SOME LIKE IT HOT/SOMEWHERE IN TIME hotel and beach) while I met at the con with Marvel on a top secret project (you didn’t hear it here). I also met with several editors — gave away and signed maybe 300 copies of G.I. JOE: ABOVE AND BEYOND at the Del Rey booth — including discussing the Heller-in-progress with TOR editor Jim Frenkel. Nate entered a Find Waldo (a guy dressed up like Waldo that is) at the Capcom booth, and was the big winner of a thousand bucks worth of stash, including a 360 and a Blackberry.

Next to meeting Paul Gross, the biggest thrill for me was having the three Riff Trax guys (Mike Nelson, Bill Corbett and Kevin Murphy) seek me out at the autographing area, standing there with big smiles on their midwestern mugs like an absurd mirage. I love these guys (CINEMATIC TITANTIC, too) and we made each other laugh for maybe ten minutes…and then I suggested a project that we might do together that I guarantee would interest anybody who has read this far.

More later. Time to leave the land of make believe and go back to Iowa.

M.A.C.

Message from M.A.C. – July 7, 2007

Saturday, July 7th, 2007

Antiques Maul

First off, the paperback of ANTIQUES ROADKILL has just hit the stands as I write this. The hardcover did very well — sales and reviews — and “Barbara Allan” (that’s Barb and me) hope the paperback will boost the series further. The second novel in the Trash ‘n’ Treasures series, ANTIQUES MAUL, will be out in September in hardcover. Barb is working on the rough draft of the third, ANTIQUES FLEE MARKET, right now, and I’ll be getting to my draft in the fall.

We have just signed with VCI home video for ELIOT NESS: AN UNTOUCHABLE LIFE to come out very soon on DVD — September 25, to be exact. Phil Dingeldein and I are putting together bonus features right now, including a new short noir film that emerged from another workshop (a la “Three Women” which became part of the SHADES OF NOIR DVD). When we have artwork, we’ll post it here. The film (recording for posterity Michael Cornelison’s definitive Ness) was entered into two regional festivals and won BEST FEATURE at both, as well as BEST DIRECTOR and BEST EDITING at one.

The mini-book tour for BLACK HATS and A KILLING IN COMICS was quite successful, with particularly good turnouts at the Muskego Public Library (where Ted Hertel and Gary Neibuhr expertly grilled research associate George Hagenauer and me) and at Centuries and Sleuths in Forest Park. Barb and I have been discussing cutting way back on such personal appearances, but these well-attended events were encouraging. We also did very well at the new Mystery Cat bookstore in Cedar Rapids, a used/collectible shop that is a real delight, and worth a trip for midwesterners.

The brevity of the tour had to do with my heavy schedule this year, even heavier than usual. Already this year I’ve written three novels, a nonfiction book and a screenplay.

The nonfiction book is a return to the pin-up world, a biography of my late friend Earl Mac Pherson; Collector’s Press (who did just a wonderful job on HISTORY OF MYSTERY) had a coffee-table book essentially ready to go and asked me to contribute a full 10,000 word bio on Earl. I contributed more art and photos from my own collection, as well — don’t know exactly when this will be out.

The screenplay is my own adaptation of ROAD TO PURGATORY, which we are in the early stages of attempting to mount right here in the midwest with me directing. I’m partnered with some very good people, including longtime crony Phil D., and it’s an exciting venture — if we can pull off the fund-raising, it will be the most ambitious project I’ve ever attempted in any medium. The script was submitted to the Iowa Motion Picture Awards and won the Award of Excellence for Unproduced Screenplay.

AMERICAN GANGSTER, my movie tie-in for the Ridley Scott film starring Denzel Washington and Russell Crowe, will be out in November along with the film. It’s a fact-based early ’70s druglord tale and the screenplay was first-rate; this is my first novelization (dreaded word) since THE PINK PANTHER and I’m proud of it. TOR is publishing.

I have also completed a long-contemplated novel based on my late father Max A. Collins Sr.’s experiences in the Navy during World War II, when he was one of a handful of very young white officers in charge of a large body of black sailors loading ammo in the Pacific. The book is essentially my CAINE MUTINY (albeit with a murder mystery at its heart) and I believe it came off very well. My title is USS POWDERKEG, and I hope it will remain such, but you never know — my editor at Morrow may have another idea. Matthew Clemens got involved in this one, doing extensive research and helping develop the plot. This may be published as the second “Patrick Culhane” bylined novel, but that’s up in the air – the jury’s still out on whether the Culhane byline was a good idea or not. Should be out in the fall of 2008.

Criminal Minds: Jump Cut

As you may know, I am no longer doing CSI novels. Instead, my researcher Matt Clemens and I are doing at least three novels based on the hit show, CRIMINAL MINDS. We have completed the first book, JUMP CUT, and it came off very well — working with profilers rather than crime scene investigators was liberating, because a lot of Holmes/Wolfe-style speculation can come into play. The novel will be out in November.

Next up for me is the second Jack & Maggie Starr mystery for Berkley Prime Crime, probably called STRIP FOR MURDER. It’s based on the Al Capp LIL ABNER/Ham Fisher JOE PALOOKA feud. Terry Beatty will again be providing comics panels for chapter headings as well as a “challenge to the reader” comics chapter toward the end of the novel. The response to the first novel, A KILLING IN COMICS, has been very gratifying — after a limp review from Publisher’s Weekly (complaining that the book was not a Nate Heller), online reviews have been overwhelmingly favorable, even glowing. Readers seem to “get” the retro fun of a Rex Stout-ish mystery in the context of the world of post-war comics.

The biggest news I’m saving for last: I have signed with Otto Penzler’s Harcourt line to complete three Mike Hammer novels begun by Mickey Spillane. I am working from substantial partial manuscripts — at least half of each book already written by Mickey. That I will be collaborating with Mickey on at least three Hammer novels is thrilling to me beyond words. This is highly unusual, because I am working not only with his wife Jane’s blessing, but Mickey’s own: he asked me to complete these novels. First up: THE GOLIATH BONE, the final Hammer chronologically. (Other novels will be given time frames according to when they were begun by Mickey.)

Mickey’s file of unpublished material was extensive — another trio of Hammers can follow, if these three do well. This is a very big deal – there are only 13 Mike Hammer novels, and adding another three (or six) to the canon is unheard of for so famous a mystery series.

Dead Street

I have already completed Mickey’s last crime novel, DEAD STREET, for Charles Ardai at Hard Case Crime; it will be out in December – I edited the existing eight chapters and completed the last three from Mickey’s notes. I am not taking a byline on DEAD STREET, however, though will be sharing byline with Mickey on the Hammer novels. (My afterword explains the process.)

Also from Hard Case is DEADLY BELOVED — the first ever Ms. Tree prose novel. This came about as an offshoot of the current MS. TREE TV option (with Oxygen Network), though no film has yet been made. MS. TREE co-creator Terry Beatty has done a lovely cover – among the best Hard Case has done, and that’s saying something — and I spent a lot of time revising and polishing, trying to make DEADLY BELOVED a novel that would work equally well for longtime fans of the graphic novel series and readers unfamiliar with the character/series. Look for it in December.

Barb and I may go out on another mini-tour late in the year to promote ANTIQUES MAUL, the ELIOT NESS DVD, AMERICAN GANGSTER, CRIMINAL MINDS: JUMP CUT, and DEADLY BELOVED. But if we don’t have time, I bet you’ll understand….

M.A.C.

Message from M.A.C. – November 6, 2005

Sunday, November 6th, 2005

Road to Paradise

A lot to report on, and I hope the infrequency of these updates will be explained if not excused when you see what all I’ve been up to. ROAD TO PARADISE, which received a great advance rave review from Publisher’s Weekly, will be out in the last week of November. This means that once again I have somehow earned the worst imaginable time of year to go out and promote a book — I have a very narrow window to do signings and readings and so on, so check this website for the list of dates. Most of them will be in the midwest, though I may go to the West Coast in January.

The novel is the last of the ROAD trilogy, and more info about it appears elsewhere on this site. Is this really the end of the story? As usual with me, that depends on you. I have a notion for at least two prequels and one after-quel or whatever-the-hell you might call it. What would they be? Well, there’s been some movie interest in my developing a prequel that explores the beginnings of the Michael O’Sullivan/John Looney relationship. And when you read PARADISE, you’ll see for yourself the major loose end I purposely left myself.

The next book will not be a PERDITION spin-off, however, nor a new Nate Heller. I have a novel about Wyatt Earp in the works which will be delivered to Morrow in 2006, with a commitment for another book after that (which could or could not be one of the PERDITION novels mentioned above).

Eliot Ness

Also, I’ve just finished the initial post-production (locking the visual side) of the feature-length version of ELIOT NESS: AN UNTOUCHABLE LIFE. Elsewhere a press release on this site will fill you in in detail on that project; but I will say that Mike Cornelison, actor, and Phil Dingeldein, shooter/editor, have knocked it out of the park. So did everyone else involved, including Lighting Designer John Houghton and Audio wizard Mark Johnson (who is working on the music and finished audio right now). We shot in Hi-Def, and anyone expecting a straightforward record of a play will be surprised…pleasantly.

Quarry fans will be excited to learn that I’ve written my first novel about our favorite hitman in a couple of decades — THE LAST QUARRY will be published by Hard Case Crime sometime next year, probably last summer. It is indeed the last story chronologically in Quarry’s career, though I reserve the right to fill in the blanks of the “missing years” (though “blanks” rarely enter in where Quarry is concerned). The novel expands upon the short story and short film “A Matter of Principal.” Director Jeffrey Goodman is still working on getting my screenplay version of the longer take on this tale in front of the cameras.

Those who haven’t had a chance to see that short film (written/produced by me, directed by Jeffrey) will soon be able to — the new DVD label Neo-Noir (distributed by Troma) will issue my anthology feature SHADES OF NOIR next year. At some point it will be an individual release, but in late January it will be available exclusively in my boxed set THE BLACK BOX, which includes new lavish 10th anniversary editions of MOMMY and MOMMY 2: MOMMY’S DAY as well as REAL TIME: SIEGE AT LUCAS STREET MARKET.

SHADES OF NOIR includes “A Matter of Principal” and two other short noir films, the original “demo” film of “Eliot Ness: An Untouchable Life” and “Three Women” (from my wife Barbara’s short story, “World’s Greatest Mother”). The DVD is rounded out by the long-asked-for documentary “Mike Hammer’s Mickey Spillane.” Bonus features include the “lost” Blake Edwards “Mike Hammer” pilot from 1954 starring Brian Keith, as well as a “making of” feature on “A Matter of Principal” and several rare Spillane trailers.

CAVEMAN: V.T. HAMLIN AND ALLEY OOP, my new documentary, has been doing well on the midwestern film festival circuit. I won “Best Director” at the Iowa Motion Picture Awards (and Mike Cornelson picked up “Best Narrator”); won the Silver Eddy at the Cedar Rapids indie fest; were an official selection at SMMASH in the Twin Cities; and won two awards of distinction at the Wild Rose fest in Des Moines. We are in discussion with Iowa PBS about a possible broadcast home, and I’m starting to show the doc to DVD distributors, as well.

Also coming next year is the first book by “Barbara Allan” — the collaborative penname for Barbara Collins and her husband (me). It’s a light mystery somewhat in the Mallory manner called ANTIQUES ROADKILL, and will be a hardcover from Kensington, also in late summer. We have signed to do two more. These are funny and somewhat “chick lit” in nature, but have a nice edge, nonetheless. Barb does the mystery plotting, and I write the fashion tips, of course….

CSI: Killing Game

The latest CSI was just published — KILLING GAME (my title was IMPERFECT CRIMES, for the record) — and another has been delivered: BOOT HILL. It’s not due in print till late next year. The CSI schedule has slowed down, possibly because the original books are being reprinted and issued at lower prices. We have sold well over a million copies in the USA alone. My collaborator Matt Clemens and I are in CSI novel hiatus at the moment (though we just finished doing four new CSI jigsaw puzzles, and I just finished up the fouth CSI video game script) and are at work on a TOP SECRET TV tie-in that will be of interest to anybody who took the time to read this deep into this update.

Fans of the old KOLCHAK: THE NIGHT STALKER show with one of my favorite Mike Hammers, Darren McGavin, should check out Moonstone’s anthology of classic Kolchak-style tales: KOLCHAK: THE NIGHT STALKER CHRONICLES. I’ve been honored with the final slot in the book: “Open House.”

Recently published, THE WAR OF THE WORLDS MURDER is attracting nice sales and attention (a wonderful review in one of my fave mags, FILMFAX!), but the disaster series is probably over. On the other hand, I’m about to begin a new novel for the same publisher, Berkely Prime Crime, in a new series about the history of comics in post-WW 2 America. The first novel will be called A KILLING IN COMIC BOOKS, and each chapter will have…I am delighted to say…an illustration by my longtime MS. TREE collaborator, Terry Beatty.

Speaking of MS. TREE, once again there is serious TV talk, and I may soon be writing a 2-hour pilot for the show. I would also do a number of scripts, if we go to series. This would be a dream come true — no property of mine has generated more interest in TV and movies than MS. TREE. Plans for an elaborate reprinting of the entire run are on hold until we see if this time the dream really does come true. And Terry and I are champing at the bit to do a new graphic novel about our favorite female vigilante.

No other comic book stuff is happening right now, though my CSI: NY mini-series at IDW is being published currently. No, I am not writing the CSI: NY novels (Stu Kaminsky is) but I did deal with those characters in two CSI: NY puzzles and the aforementioned mini-series, which I presume will be collected as a graphic novel.

Nate Heller Fans of the World — do not despair. For various commercial reasons, Nate has to sit on the bench for a little while longer. You can catch up with in an anthology of race track mysteries that Otto Penzler is doing — a new Heller short story, “That Kind of a Nag,” will appear there. And a great new audio book, unabridged, of THE MILLION-DOLLAR WOUND is out right now.

Thank you for your interest and support, and I hope to see many of you soon at signings and other personal appearances. Your support of ROAD TO PARADISE will keep things moving forward, and a purchase of the Neo-Noir BLACK BOX will further our indie adventures.

M.A.C.