An Anniversary and a Passing

June 4th, 2019 by Max Allan Collins

I celebrated 51 years of marriage to Barbara Jane (Mull) Collins this weekend. The weather was lovely and we had a wonderful time together, which included delicious meals, walks in the sun, the new Godzilla movie, and a successful search for a summer wardrobe for yrs truly. Other details are too intimate to share, but let me say…if I could marry this woman a second time, I would.

I am burying the lede (I hate spelling it that way!), but Barb and I, in our Barbara Allan mode, will be appearing for Antiques Ravin’ at Centuries and Sleuths in Forest Park, Illinois, at 2 pm on Sunday June 9. That’s at 7419 Madison St, Forest Park, IL 60130. The phone there is 708-771-7243. Centuries and Sleuths specializes in history and mystery, so perhaps it’s no surprise that we love it.

* * *

The great portrait artist, Everett Raymond Kinstler, had died at 92 – a long life well-lived. To me, and many others in the world of comics, his portraiture is overshadowed by his early work for the pulps, paperback covers and comic books.

Some of what follows is drawn from my introduction to the Hermes Press collection of pre-Disney Zorro comics.

Several decades ago, when I was just beginning to write the Dick Tracy comic strip, I wrote Everett Raymond Kinstler a fan letter about his Zorro comics. He wrote back, astonished that anyone was still interested in such ancient work, and invited me to join him in his studio at the fabled Player’s Club on my next visit to New York.

I did. He was gracious and friendly, the studio exactly what you’d expect, a high-ceilinged, sunlight-streaming space. He was working on a John Wayne portrait, and I was just becoming aware of what a very big deal this artist was, painter of movie stars and presidents. But what pleased me most was how fond he was – how enthusiastic he remained – about his brief tenure on Zorro. He clearly felt it was his best work in comics.

He was warm and lively and not at all patronizing. He gave me a lovely original that still hangs in my office – the inside front cover of a ‘50s crime comic book (he also gave me a signed copy of his book on painting portraits with a drawing on the flyleaf). I also have a Classics Illustrated page that I bought from Heritage for a relative song a few years ago (pictured here).

As the years have passed, this much-respected artist never shied away from or downplayed his formative years in the pulps and in comics, and that in itself makes him a remarkable man.

I spoke with him maybe ten years ago at a San Diego Comic Con and we caught up. I’ve received lovely Christmas cards from him over the years, and he was very happy that I had managed to get his Zorro art collected in book form by Hermes Press.

Look, this guy encountered – and painted – many of the great figures of the Twentieth Century. And yet he had not a particle of snobbery in his make-up. He loved having worked in the comics.

The book to get about this great man and great artist is Everett Raymond Kinstler: The Artist’s Journey Through Popular Culture – 1942-1962. It’s a hundred bucks at Amazon but Bud’s Art Books has it at bargain prices ($30 for the hardcover, $15 for the trade paperback!). Order it here, but move quickly.

But you should also track down Zorro: The Complete Dell Pre-Code Comics from Hermes Press, which I introduced and edited. It’s out of print and somewhat pricey, but ebay has a couple of copies for around fifty bucks.

Read about Ray Kinstler and see some examples of his work here.

Read one of his great Zorro stories here.

I’ve lost another hero, but if I could live that long, and continue to work at my peak as Ray did, I would be content.

* * *

Here’s an interesting, insightful review of my 1976 novel, Quarry (actually written around 1972).

And, finally, Ron Fortier has reviewed the splendid trade paperback from Brash Books of Black Hats.


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12 Responses to “An Anniversary and a Passing”

  1. Mike Doran says:

    First things first: Happy 51st to you and yours.

    Seriously, though:

    If you hate spelling lede that way – then DON’T spell it that way!

    Lead was good enough for you and me for years; it fits, it makes sense.

    Who made the change, anyway?

    All my life, I understood that the short way of saying microphone was mike.

    When I started reading mic, my mind saw (and heard) it as mick.

    In the words of the Prophet: WHAAA?!!

    We’re all grown-ups here (theoretically, anyway); I say we’ve earned the right – the privilege, really – to do all this as we see fit.

    On a happier topic:
    This will be two Sundays in a row for me at Centuries & Sleuths; Bob Goldsborough was there this past Sunday, with his security force (grandkids) in tow (the youngest grandson, named Rex, stole the show).
    Anyhoo, I will once again take the Trail Of Tears (public transit on Sundays) to get to Forest Park for the occasion – the Good Lord willin’, and That Man In The White House doesn’t get us into war with the UK …

    Hell with politics.
    See you guys on Sunday!

  2. suzanne johnson says:

    Congrats on this wonderful occasion. So happy you both are living the dream of “happily ever after”!

  3. Congratulations to you and Barb!

  4. Bryan K McMillan says:

    Happy Anniversary!

    Those panels are great – well-chosen. Ray Kinstler rules.

  5. Thomas Zappe says:

    I should think it is easy to be married that long to such a wonderful, tolerant and talented woman. I’m sure she does most the work, but only because you have convinced her you are marvelous yourself.

    Will we ever hear from her in these weekly missives?

  6. CORRECTION: Bud’s Art Books has the signed limited slipcased hardcover for $30, and the hardcover minus bells and whistles for a mere $15!

  7. Gary Bush says:

    My Best Wishes and congratulations to a great couple. Stacey and I are celebrating our 40th this month.

  8. Glen Davis says:


  9. One slight correction, Max. While Ray Kinstler was a longtime member of the Player’s Club, his art studio was a couple doors down at the National Arts Club.

  10. Jason Stokes says:

    Congrats on the Anniversary!

    Also saw Godzilla this weekend. It was very worth the show price even if the writing was…..well you know how it was.

    Thanks for the heads up on this amazing talent, I will have to check him out.

  11. Hal Horn says:

    Happy Anniversary Max!

  12. Bob Millikin says:

    I also loved Kinstler’s work. I regret that Dark Horse wasn’t interested in Kinstler’s eight Silvertip comics drawn from Max Brand’s Silvertip series(he wrote thirteen) or his four Western Marshal books, based on Ernest Haycox’s Trail Town. The major obits glossed over his comic work. RJM