Crusin’: One More Time, and Ms. Tree: One Mean Mother

September 10th, 2019 by Max Allan Collins

My band’s “season” is winding down – we have only one gig left, in a couple of weeks. Crusin’ has been playing outdoor gigs at scenic Ardon Creek Winery in recent years – I believe this was our fourth (maybe fifth) appearance. We had 365 people for the fresh-air event, which made us the second biggest draw in the venue’s history (“That’s the second biggest draw I’ve ever seen!” – Maxwell Smart.)

The weather was beautiful, the audience responsive, and the only drawback was I forgot how dark it could get by the time the third set rolled around (we began at sunny six p.m. and closed out at stygian nine). You will note the improvised lighting on the picture of us playing.

We already have lined up two of the three jobs we’ve decided to do next summer. The other one will likely be at the Brew for the Fourth of July. That doesn’t mean we won’t respond to phone calls seeking to book us, but we won’t be actively seeking any.

For me, seriously considering rock ‘n’ roll retirement comes down to the setting up and tearing down – I’m dealing with two keyboards, an amp, and fairly elaborate pedals and so on to hook up. It can require a lot of bending, kneeling, standing, repetitiously. While I am in generally good physical condition, I have side effects – dizziness, balance issues – from the handful of meds I take each morning. Barb has been helping me set up, which has been a real boon, but she was down with a cold and couldn’t make Ardon Creek. After three hours of playing, the tear-down and loading (and returning home to load back out) is a drag, as Paul McCartney said asked for his response to the news of John Lennon’s murder.

What is keeping me going is the desire to do one more original material CD. The plan, as I’ve mentioned here, is to do the CD over the winter and sell it at the three bookings and offer it here (and on CD Baby). It will (if it happens) include 9 new songs and three songs from “Real Time: Siege at Lucas Street Market” that have never been on a CD; these mark the last recordings with my longtime musical collaborator, Paul Thomas, who also produced the tunes.

Photos of the Ardon Creek gig are by our guitarist Bill Anson’s son, Scott Anson, who also ran sound for us at Ardon Creek. He plays bass with his dad and his dad’s brother Dave (a gifted guitarist) in the Anson Brothers Band.

* * *

There seems to be some nice buzz about the first of the five Titan Ms. Tree collections, Ms. Tree: One Mean Mother. I will provide some links to some of the coverage, and it feels good to see fans saying how pleased they are that these books are happening.

Let me address the one complaint, though I believe I’ve already talked about it here, so forgive my redundancy. I made the determination to lead with the DC material, the ten graphic novellas we did for Ms. Tree Quarterly – the last published Ms. Tree comics to date. This was in part because we had already collected the earliest stuff in trade paperbacks back in the day. But also I felt this was strong material, perhaps our strongest, and wanted to lead out of strength.

Additionally, five of the ten DC novellas form (somewhat loosely I admit) a single graphic novel, while the other five are stand-alone stories, not tied to ongoing continuity (at the time). So the DC novellas have been rearranged into the graphic novel and a “casebook.” Anal retentive fans who want to have the material in published order will only have to put up with my desire for shuffling those ten stories in that fashion. Volumes three through five will print everything in order, with one continuity leading into another and bringing the ramifications along for the ride. (A few oddball standalone stories, like the one in the 3-D comic book, will be dropped in here and there, and the Johnny Dynamite crossover will appear in the Johnny Dynamite collection that Terry Beatty and I are editing for Craig Yoe. I wrote the intro for that last week.)

My understanding is that the early volumes of collected comics are invariably the bigger sellers, which is another reason to (a) put our best foot forward, and (b) collect material previously ungathered.

So my advice to any of you lovely, wonderful if anal retentive fans – when you put the books on the shelf, start with volumes 3, 4 and 5, and then add on 1 and 2. (But buy them as they come out!) Since they aren’t numbered on the spines (or anywhere else), you will only have to suffer minor distress.

* * *

Here’s a nice example of the coverage the Ms. Tree: One Mean Mother trade pb from Titan is getting.

The delightfully titled site Comics for Sinners covered us this way.

Here’s another.

But wait, there’s more!


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7 Responses to “Crusin’: One More Time, and Ms. Tree: One Mean Mother”

  1. stephen borer says:

    From one old guy collector’s POV: any and I mean ANY reprints of this classic comic are invaluable. The DC series, the Renag’e series, the whole run [sans Mike Mauser], the point is that the stores will be again available. Folks, who read the first Carl Barks story when it was published? Who loved the first Jerry Ordway or Curt Swan Superman comic when those hit the stands ? Most of us come into the great comics “in the middle”.

  2. Thomas Zappe says:

    Rather than carry 3 saxes, a clarinet, a flute and various pieces of sound equipment around to saloons anymore I pretty much stick with playing the flute [acoustically] in church with my wife. I still play the came sort of theme & variations and vocal backup I did in bars and bar mitzvahs for all those years, but the set-up and tear down only takes a few minutes with only one trip to and from the car.

  3. Joe Menta says:

    Can’t find a teen or two who will help with set up and breakdown for a few bucks?

  4. JohnJ says:

    I think I know the answer to this already but might as well ask to verify. Does DC outright own Wild Dog and is there any chance all the stories could be collected, including the Action Comics Weekly stories? Just asking since it is a shame this hasn’t already been done.

  5. Sean Kelly says:

    When my comic collection got ruined by a flood, I was able to replace most of my Ms. Tree books except the DC ones. At that time those back issues were harder to come by. I’ve been looking forward to this collection since it was announced.

    And last weekend as I unpacked more books, I found my early Ms. Tree reprints and the Johnny Dynamite trade. (And the Asamiya Batman) I’m almost ready to begin reassembling my MAC shelves.

    On a down note, my copy of Stripped for Murder had its spine broken by poor packing.

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  7. Sreve Atwell says:

    I used to have a copy of the Bullets! Cd, but lost it somewhere along the way. Any chance I can pick up another? Also – will the new album be available for sale here, through the website? And, finally – have you written any more theme songs for your characters? Like Quarry or Heller? I really enjoyed the Ms. Tree tune.