Re: RARA-AVIS: Re: mystery writers to comics

Date: 11 Jun 2008


Re you comment below:

"Then there's Spillane - . . . "

Interestingly, Spillane might be an example of someone who DID start out in comics and then went to prose.

Whether Spillane started out in prose or in comics, it's certain that Mike Hammer started out as a comic book character called MIKE DANGER. When, after being mustered out of the Army Air Corps, Spillane was unable to put together a deal for a comic book with Mike Danger as the cover feature, he reimagined the character as the hero of a novel, and wrote I THE JURY. Eventually, Hammer, returning to his roots, became the hero of a syndicated strip called FROM THE FILES OF MIKE HAMMER, with Spillane contributing some of the scripts.

Curiously, Al Collins's first comics work (though it didn't sell), was creating (with artist Ray Gotto) a proposed syndicated newspaper strip called HEAVEN AND HELLER, about a Depression-era Chicago PI named Nate Heller. When the strip didn't sell, he reimagined the character as the hero of a prose novel and eventually wrote TRUE DETECTIVE. When I pointed out this parallel between his career and Spillane's, Collins, the consummate Spillane fan, claimed that this had never occurred to him.

Though HEAVEN AND HELLER didn't sell, syndicate editors were sufficiently impressed that, when Chester Gould retired, Al Collins was invited to try out for the TRACY gig.

Other famous mystery writers who've plied their trade in the comics medium include Dashiell Hammett, who created the cops-&-robbers syndicated strip SECRET AGENT X-9 for Hearst's King Features Syndicate as a response to the Tribune/News Syndicate's DICK TRACY; Leslie Charteris, one of several writers who continued the X-9 strip after Hammett's departure, and who also wrote many of the scripts used for THE SAINT newspaper strip; Erle Stanley Gardner, who, apparently, personally wrote the scripts for a short-lived PERRY MASON syndicated strip; and Robert Leslie Bellem, who wrote comic book scripts featuring Dan Turner which appeared alongside the prose stories in the pulp magazine DAN TURNER - HOLLYWOOD DETECTIVE.



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