>A brief introduction - My name is Neddal, I'm from
St. John's, NL, and I
>write and make noise.
So these two Newfies walk into a bar...
Welcome, Neddal... any suggestions for good crime novels set
in Newfoundland? It has such potential...
And Duane "The Dead Men Ain't No Secret No More" Swierczynski
>NIGHT OF THE TOADS, by Michael Collins: I've never
read any Dan Fortune,
>and this was a superb introduction. I felt like I was dropped right in
>the middle of New York City in the early '70s. I'm surprised this series
>isn't praised more.
Well, gimme a few hours...
Yes, he seems almost forgotten now, possibly because in these
times of dumbed down political commentary, where morons are
praised for being "down to earth," he's defiantly intelligent
and political, and a liberal -- in the truest sense of the
word -- to boot. Like John Shannon, a more contemporary
leftie charting the same murky waters of social commentary,
Collins fleshes out ideas with real people, whose ideas are
as real and contradictory and human and often as gloriously
fucked up as they are.
I don't always agree with his characters, but I sure
> I can't really say, since I won't read anything
> him (Max Collins) on the basis of some
> terrible comic books he has written. In particular
> the Ms. Tree series, of
> which I've read about half, having bought them based
> on comments here.
> What was terrible about the comics was Collin's
> totally unimaginative use
> of the panels themselves to elevate the stories.
Unimaginative? Or gimmick free? I prefer artist Terry
Beatty's clean, meat-and-potatoes art, very intentionally
reminiscent of classic fifties comic work, to the overblown
"Look, Look, LOOK at ME!" fanboy pretensions of prima donnas
like Frank Miller in SIN CITY any day. Gallons of black ink
are no substitute for actual story.
> His comics were
> short stories turned into comics in the most
> workaday manner possible.
I prefer to think he and Beatty were interested in telling a
story in a just-the-facts Dragnet style rather than showing
off. And I found many of the stories, particularly the longer
story arcs, to be pretty classic P.I. fare, full of runaway
teenagers, mobsters, slimy pornographers, revenge and the
like. But Collins didn't stop there. He took those standard
ingredients and cooked up a whole new thing, putting Ms. Tree
through the wringer emotionally and physically
(incarceration in jail AND a booby bin, pregnancy, breast-feeding, widowhood on her honeymoon, personal vendettas, etc., ) and dealing with many "women's" issues (abortion, pornography, child raising) that female P.I. writers would receive ridiculously high praise for just a few years later.
> stories weren't that good to begin with, either. To
> me that shows a
> disrespect for the genre, and more importantly, for
> the reader.
Disrespect? You're rubberhosing the wrong suspect.
I think Collins (Max Allan, this time) actually pushed the
envelope in a medium that generally plays it safe with the
P.I. genre. Or worse -- comics often reveal a slavish
devotion to the P.I. genre's lamest cliches (A fedora! A
trenchcoat! A bottle of rot gut! ). But MS. TREE offered far
more than recycled props and revealed Collins' profound and
obvious respect for the genre. Just the sheer number of
in-jokes and winks at the audience suggest that not only is
Collins very familiar with the genre, but that he was hoping
and expecting his readers were too. Certainly Jim (who was
definitely Jim even way back then, in MS. Tree's letters
pages) and I got it.
And that's another thing I loved about MS TREE. The letters
page. In the pre-internet days, they were a godsend for HB
fans, a a direct percursor of Rara Avis. Maybe we should nag
Max to join us as a guest one month. The man knows his
Mind you, he's so damn productive, he'd probably urn his
guest spot into a comic book, a screenplay and a novelization
of the movie based on the comic book within six months. And
then do a sequel...
-- Kevin Burton Smith The Thrilling Detective Web Site http://www.thrillingdetective.com -- # Plain ASCII text only, please. Anything else won't show up. # To unsubscribe from the regular list, say "unsubscribe rara-avis" to # email@example.com. This will not work for the digest version. # The web pages for the list are at http://www.miskatonic.org/rara-avis/ .
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