IF YOU CAN’T DO THE READING TIME, THEN DON’T COMMIT THE COMIC BOOK CRIME!!

17 Mar

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I’ve been delving of late into the subject of reading a brand new line of American crime noir comic books being printed today by Titan Distribution from the wonderful wacky country of the United Kingdom usually known the world-wide over for their monotonous multitude of Doctor Who and Assassin’s Creed comic books.

Sounds sketchy I know, but hear me out your honor.

Crime comic books kick ass. They’ve always been kicking ass since their inception from way back when Gangbusters was born on radio and made the transition to DC Comics back in the 1940’s.

NOT everything I read concerns spandex. I’ve had my various other genre kicks over the years. I was first  on board when DC Comics launched their own more mature content under the imprint umbrella called Vertigo Comics (seeing as how Piranha Press failed to make the cut in when it failed to ensnare readers with the heart wrenching Beautiful Stories for Ugly Children) that originally coined the phrase “mixology’ when it came to blending some of the more abstract DC heroes such as Animal Man, Shade the Changing Man, Sandman, & the Doom Patrol into their own stand alone warped universe adventures smattered with a few original creator owned books such as Enigma and Sebastian O in a vast world nearly unpopulated by the term ‘mature readers only’.

Back in the 1990’s, Frank Miller was making the scene again with his independent fare of his grimy black & white world with a splash of red, yellow, or blue here and there called Sin City as a regular feature in Dark Horse Presents that basically tore the world loose as other popular artists and writers let off with a barrage of the ultra violent nitty-gritty that made Negan back in the day come off in short pants and swinging a mean wiffle bat.

When I was a manager of a comic book store in North Hollywood, I experimented for a time of bringing sole creator made comics into the spotlight that used to make me a champion for the underdog with a passion for the independent creator that was a subject in my many essays and letters to Comics Buyer’s Guide that eventually led me to a position for Comic Con International to serve as their small press coordinator in 1997.

One of those books from that period that I carried a good ten copies or so for my store was very memorable in practically creating a cottage industry in itself called Stray Bullets by rising talent David Lapham, who had become jaded with working with Jim Shooter on a  book at a new publishing venture Defiant Comics that failed to launch called Warriors of Plasm. It went for fifty issues or more before it took a much needed hiatus.

But as time and fist pummeling to the face marched on, the genre softened a bit, making it less prominent in the majors. Darywn Cooke was somewhat keeping the wheel turning with his series of I Parker adaptations for IDW. Lapham is still now doing Stray Bullets for Image. Also I’d be remiss if I didn’t make mention of Ed Brubaker collaboration with artist Sean Phillips for their platform of crime based mini-series they’ve been doing for Image Comics that started off with Fatale back in 2012, but by blog posting time, I didn’t have time to cobble together a mini-series or two for observation.

So here is one of the waves of Hard Case Crime Comics published in junction with Titan Books that I happened to hang ten on. Hard Case Crime also serves as an imprint of a series of paperback novels from some nifty knucklebuster film noirishing writers such as Stephen King, Harlan Ellison, Max Allan Collins, Lawrence Block, Erie Stanley Gardner, Donald E. Westlake, and a host of many others. Six of the novels in the series have been nominated for Edgar Awards. Movies and tv shows such as King’s The Colorado Kid was turned into Haven that aired for a time on the Syfy Channel. 2016’s The Nice Guys was first published as a novel in this series and more media related projects are on the way.

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Peepland is a five issue mini-series (the final issue hasn’t been released as of blog posting time) that uses the much publicized 1989 Central Park rapes as a back drop concerning the possession of a video tape of these widely reported rapes that’s captured by a sex worker and friends that could possibly incriminate certain people of power. It’s a mini-series ride rifled with scumbags that even cockroaches wouldn’t scatter from.

I’m not too familiar with Christa Faust’s hard-boiled mystery writing, but with some of he events that happen in this book, she does succeed in making one squeamish and I’d supposed some of her roughshod style carries on in the novels she pens for Hard Case such as Money Shot. Christa has said in interviews that Peepland was a dream project come true for her as it literally five years to get off the ground and that’s it’s a love letter to the era of New York City that she grew up in. With artists Gary Phillips (The Rinse, Captain Action, Vigilante: Southland) and inker Andrea Camerini, that dream has now become a hard-core reality.

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Walter Hill, director, writer, and producer of many cinematic and television late seventies masterpieces such as Alien, 48 Hours,  Tales From the Crypt, and The Warriors is responsible for scripting the remaining two out of the three latest wave of The Hard Case Crime Comics line. Triggerman  is a operatic Prohibition era mini-series about a convict risking life and limb to save the girl he loves, co-written by Walter Hill and French writer Matz, illustrated by Jef. is based on one of many unproduced screenplays left lying in a desk drawer whereas…

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the third offering is a three issued double-sized adaptation to the just recent released “The Assignment” movie starring Sigourney Weaver and directed by Hill is also done by the same creative team of Triggerman. Great premise, by the way – Hitman Frank Kitchen  (Michelle Rodriguez…..huh?) is hired to do a job but gets interrupted, or rather KNOCKED UNCONSCIOUS along the way only to wake up to a very unwanted and a very unexpected SEX CHANGE operation (oh, ok, I get now)performed by a certain unhinged doctor (played by Weaver) as part of a plan of revenge for Frank killing somebody close to her. The comic book is probably getting wider exposure, since this low distributed movie is barely in any theaters that I know of. Where I work in the Hollywood biz, the director of operations at my office is even finding it tough to book this film our employee theater. So this may serve as the next best thing.

For the next wave of upcoming books recently announced.

The Cinemax show, “Quarry” will be a mini-series to be published by Titan and it’s based on the series of books by Max Allan Collins (Road to Perdition, Ms. Tree). I knew I had good instincts when picking up the recently released blu-ray set since I was in the mood to pick up the void that the four season Banshee left in my purest darkest heart. The blurb written on the back of the package sold me. I hear it’s based on the latest book series by Collins who is the co-creator of Ms. Tree, a FAVORITE independent comic book of mine back in the 1980’s only reinforced my natural gravitation to exquisite taste. Quarry just happens to be your normal average everyday traumatized Viet Nam sniper, who comes home from war only to snapped up by the local Mississippi mob to do their dirty work.

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As for these two beauts – well, Vertigo had already done an adaptation of Stieg Larsson’s The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, so I don’t know what the purpose is behind for another publisher to tackle the same type of material, but its’ announcement couldn’t have been of coincidence since Sony just announced a sequel to the American film version called “The Girl in the Spider’s Web“, which to me is an entire bastardization of the original Swedish material (I sat through all 3 original Swedish versions of the Larsson’s novels and they’re vastly superior to the Americanized David Fincher adaptation , which was impossible for me to stay awake through, as it offered nothing new for me to explore.

Normandy Gold by author Megan Abbott details the events of when a female Washington DC sheriff goes ballistic when she finds her sister murdered and the trail to find the culprits responsible goes through a labyrinth of prostitution and drug rings leading all its’ way up to the White House. Almost sounds like something true to life since we recently got an orangutan elected commander-in-chief.

So those I hear are coming out this June.

Also, a couple of other companies making crime waves with their assembly line of comics:

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Homegrown in my own hometown of Sherman Oaks, California is American Monster from Aftershock Comics (currently occupying a high-rise building near the renown Sherman Oaks Galleria where I used to count box office receipts for Paramount Pictures) by fabled Batman: The Dark Knight III and 100 Bullets wordsmith Brian Azzarello and artist Juan Doe (Juan Doe? Seriously?)  According to the book description found on the publisher’s website; “In a small Midwestern town, a large man with a horribly scarred face gets off a bus, and takes a room. He spooks the locals–nobody knows him–or do they? It’s impossible to say be-cause he seemingly has no face. The man’s intentions remain unknown, until he takes on a corrupt sheriff and the rural crew of racist arms dealers. The town’s impression of the man changes, and he’s seen as a hero…until his real intentions bubble to the surface. The man isn’t there to end the gang, but to take it over. And he’s just getting started.”

Maybe both American Monster and Quarry could compare notes on how to avoid stepping into even more shit after leaving Vietnam. I love the look of the product as much as I’ve seen of the entire Aftershock line with its’ great quality and generous portion of previews of upcoming projects which also made me pick up the alternative history action adventure Rough Riders, but AM’s infrequent shipping schedule has made me lose the gist of the story. Sometimes its three to four months before you even see an issue pop up in your subscription box. At the time of this blog posting, I don’t think even the sixth as even shipped and it’s been three months since issue five has shipped.

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I never thought I’d see the day when I’m willing to admit that possibly one of the best written comic books in the world today would be published by ARCHIE COMICS. Black Hood is currently the most bone crunching cringing in pain comic book that can realistically kicks you hard in the stomach with a very sharp object, having your entrails spill sloppily onto the concrete and still you’re willing to turn the page as your life fades to black. Each issue is the most fifteen minute dark ride you will take before calling it quits into the night THAT IS, if you ever wake up again.

The character goes way back to the nineteen forties was an average day super-hero when he had his own comics and a radio show who was probably blah, blah, blah – caught in the super underwear glut, but after many unsuccessful attempts to resuscitate his reboots through the decades, it wasn’t until the last few years or so when novelist Duane Swierczynski took a hard-core urban approach and made him a pill popping beat cop by day and vengeful black masked motorcycle riding skull cracking thuggish vigilante by night all over the city of Philadelphia that gave him his true panache. The series is fucking brilliant and really messes with your head after you finishing reading. It’s not only the great scripted pages and various artist to have graced its’ three mini-series, but also the crazy research into true crime stories to have occurred throughout the city of Philadelphia provided by actual crime historians that serve as back up filler.

The series is currently on it’s *ahem* second season. I recently read the last three issues a few nights ago. As much as I love this series, but please a word to all comic book publishers – ESPECIALLY those who publish books published on Joss Whedon properties: FUCKING STOP IT ALREADY with the fucking referring to your comic books as television seasons!! It’s novelty has pretty much worn off.

Next time it’s more cartoon showtime. Look for it in two weeks.

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