You Have Killed Me.

You Have Killed Me Cover

Cold and windy under nonstop pouring rain, last Saturday would’ve been a good day to stay indoors. But I ventured out to pick up a current events book reserved at the library (there being a current event or two to keep tabs on these days). The local public library’s a bit lean on actual books, but is well appointed with comfy reading nooks, plush seating and even a fireplace. Almost ready to check out, Jamie S. Rich and Joelle Jones’ You Have Killed Me caught my eye on the graphic novel section’s endcap. I have it, of course, being an ardent Jones fan. Still, I paused to flip through the 2018 trade pb edition of this 2009 graphic novel anyway. Before I knew it, I’d dropped into one of those fireside chairs to reread this yummy bit of retro noir fun from cover to cover before dashing back out into the rain.

You Have Killed Me Art

Some will holler cliché. Me? I see nothing but classic noir and hard-boiled genre tropes lovingly celebrated in Rich’s story, a smooth flowing piece of work that reads like a period-perfect screenplay for a 1940’s-50’s noir. As for Joelle Jones art? Fans might be surprised to see some softer lines and curvier faces here and there, but it’s still Joelle Jones’ brilliant, stylized draftsmanship throughout, and an excellent chance to see where she was ten years ago. The pair make an excellent team (as seen since on Lady Killer, for example) in this tale of hard luck P.I. Antonio Mercer, hired by wealthy and beautiful Jessica Roman to locate her sister Julie, who’s gone missing on the eve of her society wedding…the missing Julie also Mercer’s one-time lover. But family dramas and messy love affairs are the least of Mercer’s problems once he begins to tangle with gamblers, gangsters and hard-assed cops in jazz clubs, racetracks and roadhouses. Any savvy noir fan will smell a rat – or at least an untrustworthy femme fatale – early on, but even the savviest may not be ready for what really happened to the missing sister. Trust me: This one’s a treat.

Sure, I got soaked on my way back to my car. But I did get the political rant hardcover I’d reserved a week earlier (just to drive myself nuts) and had a good time savoring Jamie Rich’s wordsmithing and ogling Joelle Jones art, both every bit as tasty today as ten years ago when the book came out.

 

Crime Does Not Pay: The First issues

Crime Does Not Pay Volume 1

A while back I mentioned Blackjacked And Pistol-Whipped: A Crime Does Not Pay Primer,  a handsome 2011 Dark Horse Books trade pb with a sampling of stories from that notorious early 1950’s pre-comics code authority era title, which also included a detailed, multi-page history by Denis Kitchen.

Crime Does Not Pay: Volume One is a 2012 hardcover reproducing complete intact issues, ads and all. Much of Crime Does Not Pay’s legendary status – and why it attracted the attention of censors and the newly appointed Comics Code Authority — is due to its gruesome covers more than the actual stories and art, some of which can be surprisingly tame. But oh, those covers…yikes! The Charles Biro art shown here is pretty indicative of some. Crime Does Not Pay was packaged by Charles Brio and Bob Wood, the latter coming to a nasty end a few years after Crime Does Not Pay’s demise, doing time for manslaughter (which by all accounts should have been a second-degree murder charge), his girlfriend the victim. Out after only three years, Wood hit the skids, and died in 1961…run over by a truck when drunk, or as the rumor mill tells it, taken for a one-way ride by some former prison acquaintances. Either way, Wood’s story is a Crime Does Not Pay tale in itself, and worthy of its own post later.

This 279-page book is a visual treat, with crisp and vibrant colors throughout that really make the sometimes-stilted vintage artwork pop. Volumes Two and Three were right beside this book when I bought it a week ago. I have a feeling they’ll be going home with me on my next trip to that particular comix shop.

Mario’s Mara & Bruce

mara corday by mario chavez

Actress, showgirl and model Mara Corday above (who I believe is still with us at age 89, and who I got to see being both fetching and wicked in an old 1959 Peter Gunn episode rerun Saturday night ) and below, Bruce Wayne by artist and illustrator Mario Chavez. Sorry, but the rather prominent ‘gams’ Wayne’s ogling aren’t actually identified by the artist.

bruce wayne by mario chavez

I Guess I Know Where I’ll Be On Sunday Evenings For A While…

Batwoman 2

Buying comics since grade school, I doubt if I acquired more than five or six Superman comics in all that time. Super-anything, actually: Superman, Superboy, Supergirl, World’s Finest, whatever. Aside from DC’s current Lois Lane mini-series, I just never got into the whole Krypton/Smallville/Metropolis scene, instead being a dedicated denizen of Gotham City pretty much right from the cradle, always drawn to the dark side and the notion of a regular person fighting crime partly for justice and partly for vengeance. So, a loyal Bat-fan I‘ve always been (and later Batgirl – well, make that the various Bat-Girlz – and Catwoman, Harley Quinn, Huntress, the Bird Of Prey…).

Super powers? Indestructible? Flying, space travel, alternate dimensions? Not for me.

Yet I clicked on CBS a few years back for the premiere of Supergirl, shocked to discover that Melissa Benoist’s Kara Danvers/Supergirl character, the show’s premise and the entire cast all left me completely smitten. I’ve been a rabid fan since, worried at first when the series switched to the CW, concerned on occasion that the growing cast of characters made for some unwieldly storylines, frustrated to see some characters depart but learning to love the newcomers, and always pleased with the show’s none-too-subtle bits of politicking.

Supergirl 1

Season Five premiered this past Sunday and didn’t disappoint, doing the obligatory setup for some impending changes, new personal dramas, secondary villains and the season’s ‘big bad’. A lot of advance chatter dwelt with Benoist’s ever-so-slightly different look (bangs) and more notably, a redesign for her Supergirl uniform. “Pants!” she exclaimed once it appeared, and who couldn’t share her relief. I’ll still ponder precisely where Kara Danvers (like her cousin, Clark Kent/Superman) hid her costume. Super-speed aside, Kara’s sleek Catco Media office attire – a sleeveless dress, bare-legged with designer heels — doesn’t provide any convenient places to stow a superhero’s gear. Bottom line: Where did she hide those enormous red boots? So now she has fake hi-tech specs engineered by Brainiac to trigger an all-new morph-on-the-fly Supergirl suit. Sans skirt.

Batwoman 1

But instead of pondering where superheroes hide their super-gear, I’ll focus on what will make the two-hour 7:00 – 9:00 PM CST Sunday slot a real pre-workweek delight: Supergirl preceded by the CW’s new Batwoman, a show that’s gotten a lot of buzz. If Supergirl proudly provided us with a prominent lesbian character (Kara’s adopted earth sister Alex) and a trans actor (Nicole Maines), Batwoman keeps the faith with the DC comic source and Ruby Rose’s Kate Kane. Readers of this site should guess by now that “The Stiletto Gumshoe” is coming from Chicago, so it was nice to see so many Batwoman exteriors shot here (sets and interiors done in Vancouver along with the other Arrow-verse shows), providing a nice visual link to the first two Christopher Nolan/Christian Bale Batman movies: LaSalle Street and the Board Of Trade Building as Wayne Tower (that darn street’s in so many movies), the Field Museum (that’s the dinosaur and mummy museum, not the one with whole airliners hanging inside or the WWII Nazi sub outside). And while I may be wrong, did they locate the questionable mercenary Crow organization’s HQ in Chicago’s Trump Tower? Looked that way to me. If so – cute choice.

“Cigarette Girls”: Smoke And Guns

Smoke And Guns

Her bio says that Oakland librarian Kirsten Baldock actually worked as a cigarette girl during her first year in San Francisco. I didn’t realize that even was a job during our lifetimes. But let’s assume her cigarette girl gig was slightly less dangerous than the one she imagined for her urban noir graphic novel Smoke And Guns (AIT/Planet Lar, 2005 trade pb). Drawn by Brazilian artist Fabio Moon, Smoke And Guns imagines a Sin City style urban nightmare divvied up into districts serviced by licensed gangs of cigarette girls like The Chinatown Dolls and The Grand Avenue Belles. They may look, act and sound like ‘working girls’, (very well-armed working girls, that is) but they sell cigarettes, not sex, and when Scarlett breaks the fragile peace by selling smokes on another gang’s turf, all hell breaks loose.

Smoke And Guns Page -

Baldock’s idea’s an imaginative one, and her dialog is a treat, while Moon’s straightforward black and white brushwork-style draftsmanship is a good example of comic art pages being ready-to-shoot storyboards for a film. This may be an oldie, but it’s a goodie that I still see on some comic shops’ graphic novel shelves. If you spot it, check it out.

Smoe And Guns Page

Her Time Is Now.

batwoman

Ruby Rose may have had a close call with back surgery urgently needed following stunt work gone bad (or whatever it was), but we’ll assume she recovered enough to don the Bat-Suit and that all is on schedule for the premier this weekend of CW’s new Batwoman. All teasers seen so far promise something mighty good, so as with ABC’s Stumptown premier last week, fingers are crossed here, and you know I’ll be planted in front of the TV Sunday evening.

One Mean Mother

Ms Tree Front

Finally got my Ms. Tree trade paperback after a long wait. I’ve been pining for this book since March. This first trade pb, Ms. Tree: One Mean Mother re-introduces us to writer Max Allan Collins and artist Terry Beatty’s groundbreaking character, Ms. Michael Tree, widow of murdered cop Mr. Michael Tree (they shared first names), and an even more formidable detective than her beloved husband ever was as she goes to war with the criminal syndicate responsible for his death.

Bottom line: Ms. Tree (get it: Miss-tree…Mys-ter-y) appeared in 1981 like a breath of fresh (albeit hard-boiled and noir-ish) air on comic shop racks overloaded with the capes-n-tights crowd, delivering a woman detective who could mix it up with the bad guys but was still a three-dimensional person and not just a cartoon…and certainly not another spandex clad beauty pageant refugee. That she really is ‘one mean mother’ can be taken quite literally…how many bad-ass detectives pound the pavement when they’re pregnant? (In the comics, I mean.)

Both Collins and Beatty have worked on syndicated comic strips, and that’s evident in the artist’s work with its clean, simple narrative storytelling style, traditionally executed back in a pre-Adobe era. Intentional or not, the look is reminiscent of 1950’s era crime comics, and it really works.

Ms Tree Back

One Mean Mother is a nice ‘n fat beautifully printed book from Titan Comics’ Hard Case Crime line, with cover art by Denys Cowan, an introduction from writer Collins, an afterword titled “Ms. Tree (Almost On Film)” about the character’s screwed up path from comics to television (which never worked out) and a bonus 1994 Ms. Tree short story, “Inconvenience Store”. Looks like Titan’s Hard Case Crime line isn’t done with MWA Grand Master Max Allan Collins and Terry Beatty’s Ms. Tree yet, with Book 2: Skeleton In The Closet due in 2020 and what looks like more releases still to follow. I sure hope they come through.

skeleton in the closet

Dial back to my March 2019 post about Max Allan Collins, Terry Beatty and their pioneering character, Ms. Tree:

https://thestilettogumshoe.com/2019/03/14/ms-tree-2/

 

Spicy Detective, Back in ’41

Spicy Detective September 1941

The September 1941 issue of Spicy Detective magazine (an Adventure House facsimile edition 128-page reprint shown here) may not have been that magazine’s best issue, but it’s certainly representative of that title and the era’s material, complete with the usual cast of hotel house dicks, low-level mugs, scheming femmes fatales and even a phony haunted house. Having read a few Spicy Detectives now via these Adventure House reprints, my tally concludes that this particular issue might just have more florid descriptions of women’s scanty apparel than any other from that period, and considering how the writers could go on and on with that stuff, that’s really saying something.

This time it’s a fellow instead of a ‘frill’ who gets trussed up on the cover, which isn’t as unusual in 1930’s – 1940’s crime pulps as you might assume.  But the illustration still includes the obligatory damsel in distress, her frock obligingly aflutter while she struggles with a menacing thug. Actually, that cover art could apply to several stories inside, since more than one gumshoe finds himself jumped, socked or sapped and ends up hogtied by the bad guys. Fear not: This is an equal opportunity issue of Spicy Detective…the women end up much the same way in most of the stories.

Untitled3

There are seven tales here, with magazine regular Robert Leslie Bellem’s Dan Turner – Hollywood Detective in “Barmecide Bride” as well as stories by William B. Rainey, C.A.M. Deane, Randolph Barr, Walton Grey, Bob Leeson and Stan Warner. Plus, Adolphe Barreaux’ Sally The Sleuth makes an appearance in the four-page strip “She Keeps Her Head”, which deals with an axe murderer, and thus, the title. All in all, a lot of reading for two bits, even when a quarter was worth something.

Untitled2

It’s too bad the pulps rarely credited the artists. Pulp and golden age illustration aficionados have ID’d so many cover paintings from 20thcentury magazines and paperback originals, but the pulps’ interior illustrations are mostly doomed to anonymity. A few from this issue are shown here, ripe with all the ‘spice’ that gave the magazine its name.

Untitled

More of Daniel’s ‘Dolls’

Daniel Cooney 1

A couple sketches from writer-artist Daniel Cooney, creator of The Tommy Gun Dolls graphic novels (see the preceding post). I don’t know if these were random studies or character sketches for his Tommy Gun Girls, but do go to his site (link below) to see more work from his Valentine series, other projects and artwork.

Daniel Cooney 2

https://www.dancooneyart.com

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑