Posts Tagged ‘Return to Perdition’

San Diego Comic-Con: Day Five

Monday, July 25th, 2011

A surprisingly crowded Sunday session found me doing an interview about the Harrison Ford BLACK HATS news, but largely just roaming the crowded room looking for bargains (found a few). Sunday always is a little sad — fewer costumes, a sense of urgency tinged with despair, and security staff getting a last burst of pointless officiousness out of their system — but I did get to talk to a few folks, including the legendary Jim Steranko, who chatted with me about our mutual love for Mickey Spillane and Mike Hammer. A similar conversation took place with Nick Cuti, co-creator of Mike Mauser (Joe Station being the other half), and I also talked to a publisher about bringing out a new, single-volume collection of the MIKE HAMMER comic strip, with the Sunday pages in color.

We had a lovely evening out with Ken and Mary Levin, at the ridiculously assaultive Brazilian steak house Rei Do Gabo.

And now, thanks to Nate, here’s an array of pics from the con.


Comic Con 2011
M.A.C. with Titan honcho Nick Landau (excellent and still top-secret Mike Hammer covers not shown)

Comic Con 2011
M.A.C. with the RiffTrax crew: Kevin Murphy, Bill Corbett, and Michael J. Nelson

Comic Con 2011
First Comics panel

Comic Con 2011
Vertigo panel (including the reveal of the cover of RETURN TO PERDITION)

Comic Con 2011
2011 Scribes winners Nathan Long and Nancy Holder, and the Scribe Faust Award winner Peter David

Comic Con 2011
Nathan and M.A.C. at SOUTH PARK’s Year of the Fan

Target Spillane

Tuesday, July 12th, 2011

The current issue of MYSTERY SCENE has a splashy Lawrence Block piece on Mickey Spillane. At the magazine’s editor’s request, I offered a few corrections to a reading list to accompany what I assumed would be a career overview of Mickey. Unfortunately it’s a patronizing, smugly casual dismissal of one fine writer’s work by another. This despite Block admitting he’s never much cared for (or read much of) Mickey’s work, ultimately dismissing it as unreadable “crap,” which makes me wonder why exactly a reading list was provided at all. There’s a particularly unfair discussion of Mickey’s famous line, “I’m a writer, not an author,” with Block pretending to be confused about what Mickey meant – that line (one of Mickey’s most frequently quoted) was almost always followed up by an explanation wherein Mickey cited the likes of one-book wonders like Margaret Mitchell or memoir-writing political figures like Churchill as “authors.” Writers, Mickey said, made a career of it. Block interprets the quote as meaning Mickey didn’t reach for the high literary standards of an “author” (Block might easily – and unfairly – be similarly dismissed due to his softcore porn roots and a career far more prolific than Spillane’s). He accepts the conventional wisdom that only the seven early novels are even worth mention, showing no signs he has read any of the later books (including THE TWISTED THING, which was actually the second Hammer novel written, though not published till 1966). He demeans Mickey’s selection as a Grand Master by the Mystery Writers of America by giving his version of backroom discussions between two groups: one that thought Mickey was lousy and a disgrace to the genre, and another that thought Mickey was lousy but had been too commercially important to ignore (Block places himself in the latter camp). Members of both groups were anxious enough to pose for smiling photographs with celebrity Mickey at the Edgars banquet, like the one Block uses to illustrate his piece (though Mickey’s lovely wife Jane goes unidentified in the photo). Block closes out with a postscript saying that Mickey was “a nice guy,” sort of the “you don’t sweat much for a big old fat girl” moment.

I can’t imagine MYSTERY SCENE publishing a piece about any other major writer in the field that takes the approach of this one. “Agatha Christie wrote tripe, but she was a fun old gal at parties.” Who was it that said, “Pfui?”

Sixty-four years later, and the attacks on Mickey just never end, this one published in a magazine I admire and respect, from a writer I have long admired and respected. In the same issue, an article by Tom Nolan discusses current continuations of famous series characters, and my recent fairly high-profile Mike Hammer efforts are not mentioned though the Sam Spade book by Joe Gores (from several years back by a writer who has since passed away) is discussed alongside Jeff Deaver’s new 007 book. A mention in that piece – or perhaps a review of KISS HER GOODBYE, which has elsewhere received a lot of praise and attention – might have balanced things out a bit. Block mentions me at the top of his article, suggesting with false modesty that I would be more qualified to write the piece he’s about to undertake. Of course, I wasn’t asked by MYSTERY SCENE to write such a piece – Block was – and my role (minor) was merely to clairfy some publication data. Ironically, ads by publishers (and authors, including myself) involved in the current Spillane revival, are scattered throughout what is not my favorite issue of MYSTERY SCENE. (It should be noted that advertisers not having an impact on editorial content in a magazine is a positive, not a negative. An odd footnote is that Lawrence Block shares a publisher — Hard Case Crime — with Mickey and me.)

A much better new piece on Mickey – which also discusses the “I’m a writer, not an author” quote – can be found here.

I’m delighted to guide you to an excellent review of my son Nathan’s book SUMMER, FIREWORKS AND MY CORPSE from that very tough-minded critic, David Rachels. This is Nate’s translation for Viz of Otsuichi’s horror/noir tales.

And I’m also delighted to report that the long-postponed QUARRY’S EX got a very nice review from PUBLISHER’S WEEKLY:

Set in 1980, Collins’s lean, sardonic 10th noir featuring the killer-for-hire who uses the pseudonym Quarry (after Quarry in the Middle) finds Quarry in Boot Hill, Nev., earning his keep in an unusual way. Drawing on his knowledge of the hit-man world derived from his years of working for a murder middleman known as the Broker, Quarry identifies intended targets of hits, then charges a hefty fee to eliminate the hired guns out to kill them. When he learns of a plot against B-movie director Arthur Stockwell, Quarry discovers that Stockwell’s wife is all too familiar–his ex-wife, Joni, whose betrayal led the Vietnam vet to use his murderous talents in civilian life. Leary of coincidence, Quarry works to understand how he can fulfill his professional obligation to Stockwell without Joni getting caught in the middle, even as he wonders whether she’s behind the contract. Collins amply leavens the violence with wit. (Sept.)

Quarry's Ex

Ron Fortier, a writer of comics and prose his own talented self, wrote a lovely review of the upcoming Nate Heller, BYE BYE, BABY. It’s always a thrill when a reader (and in this case a reviewer) really “gets it.” Ron, I’ve been saying that this is the first Heller in a decade, but it’s really only nine years.

An interview I gave a few years ago about ROAD TO PERDITION 2: ON THE ROAD has popped up. This probably is getting space because in addition to the upcoming RETURN TO PERDITION, new editions of ROAD TO PERDITION and RTP: ON THE ROAD will be published soon.

Sean Leary, a talented writer from the Quad Cities, has written a nice piece on the thriller collaborations by Matt Clemens and me, specifically NO ONE WILL HEAR YOU.

And this overview of upcoming Hard Case Crime publications goes out of its way to give my stuff plenty of space.

The KISS ME DEADLY Criterion DVD/Blu-ray reviews just keep a’comin’…with nice things about my new cut of MIKE HAMMER’S MICKEY SPILLANE. Check this one out, and this one, too.

Finally, here’s a strong review of KISS HER GOODBYE at the always fascinating Noir Journal.

Oh, in case you haven’t seen the news elsewhere online, Matt and I did not win the Thriller award for Best Paperback (YOU CAN’T STOP ME), nor did I win for my Spillane short story (“A Long Time Dead”). But I was the only writer to lose twice!


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.


You Only Blog Twice

Tuesday, November 2nd, 2010

This week’s Quarry cover is QUARRY’S DEAL. Another great Terry Beatty cover. Ordering info here.

Quarry's DealNate has been in Japan for several days now, and he’s doing a blog (daily, so far). He is posting beautiful pictures and great, often very funny commentary. He is a very talented young man and his father (me) is proud of him. So you get two blog entries this week; this one from me, and this one from Nate.

Because Nate is in Japan, I’m working a few days early on this update, to give him plenty of room to get it put together and posted. So it’s October 30 in Muscatine, Iowa, a beautiful fall day with lots of color in the trees and chill in the breeze. Tonight is the “official” local Halloween night, and I’ve carved the pumpkin (I’m damn good at it – ask Nate) [Nate:It’s true!] and Barb is putting a bunch of scary stuff on the porch…ours is one of the houses the neighbor kids flock to, although some of our goodies are getting long in the tooth (we had to throw away a talking skeleton head after years of noble service).

We’ve been watching horror movies, and Barb – who for decades didn’t like them – is now a fan and catching up. We watched the very funny RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD from the late, great Dan O’Bannon. Our favorite Halloween movie, though, is TRICK ‘R’ TREAT, and if you haven’t seen that wonderfully dark, funny anthology movie, put it on Netflix for next Halloween season. It looks great on Blu-Ray. (So does RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD, which features my old pal Linnea Quigley, with whom I almost did a comic book project some years back).

This weekend I am zeroing in on the conclusion of RETURN TO PERDITION, and next week (now, as you read this) I’ll be writing the next DICK TRACY introduction. Nice to have a connection to TRACY again. Next up is THE CONSUMMATA, the DELTA FACTOR sequel by Mickey Spillane that I am completing for Hard Case Crime.

Next year is going to be a big M.A.C. year. Barb and I have ANTIQUES KNOCK-OFF (by “Barbara Allan”) coming out in March, and that same month from the same publisher (Kensington), Matt Clemens and I have NO ONE WILL HEAR YOU out. In May the third of the Mike Hammers appears – KISS HER GOODBYE (do not miss this one) – and in August BYE BYE, BABY, the first Nate Heller novel in ten years. Some time next year, QUARRY’S EX will come out, as well. And from DC/Vertigo, RETURN TO PERDITION.

This will no doubt initiate a bunch of “when do you sleep” questions (and putdowns), but the fact is BYE BYE, BABY has been done for well over a year, and three of the titles are collaborations. RETURN TO PERDITION is something I’ve been working on for a year and a half. QUARRY’S EX, of course, was supposed to come out this year and was postponed. What I fear is that some or maybe all of these titles will get lost in the shuffle because there are so many of them. And that drives me crazy, because each of these books is really strong. I get beaten up and sometimes ignored because I am seen as “prolific.”

But I have no intention of slowing down. At 62, I am not fooling around – I have stories to tell. I even have band jobs to play. Next year will mark the 40th anniversary of my first professional sale of a novel – BAIT MONEY to Curtis Books. The following two years will mark the 40th anniversary of me as a published professional (BAIT MONEY came out in December 1972 but was a January 1973 book).

So if any of you connected to writer’s organizations (the MWA has had enough yearly dues out of me to afford to make a statue of me for their lobby, if they had a lobby) or mystery conventions or mystery magazines (attention: Kate Stine) are interested, 2011 is a perfectly good time to start the career tributes and to book me as a guest and to just generally make a fuss. I’m available. I’ll even bring my rock band along.

For a price.

Here’s a fun fan review of my Batman graphic novel SCAR OF THE BAT. Nice to see something from a few years back get noticed now.