M.A.C. Makes a “Wolf” Pact, and It’s Dynamite!

July 7th, 2020 by Max Allan Collins
An Eliot Ness Mystery Omnibus
E-Book: Amazon Purchase Link

I am happy to announce that I have signed with Wolfpack Publishing to bring out some old titles – and, soon, brand-new ones. First up is the Eliot Ness Mystery Omnibus, which includes all four Eliot Ness in Cleveland novels, and is priced at $2.99.

This is an e-book, available only on Kindle (i.e., at Amazon). There’s a good possibility the novels will be available individually as “real” books, but the omnibus is strictly an e-book collection.

Having the four Ness novels, covering his time as Cleveland’s young, hardhitting Safety Director, is particularly satisfying, with the non-fiction account, Eliot Ness and the Mad Butcher coming in August from Morrow – the follow-up by A. Brad Schwartz and myself to Scarface and the Untouchable.

Together those two non-fiction titles essentially comprise a full-length biography of Eliot Ness. That massive project began with the research for the four novels collected in the Eliot Ness Mystery Omnibus, which were the first time the Cleveland years had been looked at in depth, and the first time crime/mystery novels about actual cases of America’s most famous real-life detective had ever been written. Butcher’s Dozen was the first book-length treatment of the Mad Butcher of Kingsbury Run serial killer case, and has been much imitated and plundered by novelists, graphic novelists and even non-fiction accounts.

The research George Hagenauer and I did for those four novels was – I say with no modesty at all – groundbreaking, and formed the basis of the eventual in depth research for the non-fiction Butcher book, with Brad Schwartz building mightily on that initial research. (My play and video feature, Eliot Ness: An Untouchable Life, also pathed the way for these two non-fiction opuses.)

Wolfpack Publishing is one of the fastest-growing and most successful new publishers, as detailed in a glowing Publisher’s Weekly piece that you should check out.

My longtime friend Paul Bishop, a terrific writer (and terrific guy), has encouraged my bringing my work to Wolfpack, where he is acquisitions editor, with the visionary Mike Bray the publisher. Wolfpack is a “hybrid” house, which means – unlike traditional publishers – they place primary importance on e-books and secondary importance on real books, which are Print-on-Demand.

It should be said that Amazon’s Thomas & Mercer, where the Heller and other titles of my backlist have been very successful (as have been half a dozen original novels, including the current Girl Can’t Help It) are similarly a hybrid publisher. So I’ve had a positive experience with this publishing paradigm before.

The Corona Virus pandemic has seen a real jump in sales of e-books while at the same time traditional publishers are at least somewhat frozen in place. Several of my current publishers are either not buying anything or are curtailing the amount of what they contract to publish. For me, already prolific, I found myself facing sheltering in place with a dwindling number of projects to keep me busy.

As it happens, two opportunities came along in the e-book world, one of them Wolfpack, that I quickly embraced. (The other one I will discuss at a later time, but it’s also exciting.)

In addition to the four Ness novels, I have licensed the two Mommy novels to Wolfpack, and Shoot the Moon (the novel in the now out-of-print collection, Early Crimes) as well. Even more exciting, at least to me, are half a dozen short story collections we will be doing for Wolfpack. These include Barb’s Too Many Tomcats, our joint collection Murder – His and Hers, and my Blue Christmas collection of holiday-themed mystery and crime stories.

Also, three new collections are included in the Wolfpack pack: Suspense – His and Hers from Barbara and Max Allan Collins; Murderlized, an enormous gathering of almost every short story Matt Clemens and I have done together; and Reincarnal, bringing together virtually all of my horror short stories (and two radio scripts from Dreadtime Stories).

I will also be doing some original novels for Wolfpack (I hinted at this in recent Updates). Matt Clemens and I have a new series, the first entry in which I have just completed. Matt and I may also be doing a fourth Reeder and Rogers political thriller, and I intend to do a third Krista Larson mystery.

For now I will withhold the nature of the new series, and will only say I’m excited about it – that it quenches a thirst for a specific kind of thriller that I have always wanted to write but never got around to. You will not have to wait long to read it. Wolfpack turns books around much more quickly than traditional publishers – you will see the first novel in the new series before the end of the year…perhaps well before the end of the year.

If this relationship works, I will be in a position to do projects in a vein not possible with any traditional publisher. Those publishers only want new series or standalones from an author like me. Nothing from a “busted” series. (An exception is Hard Case Crime, where innovative editor Charles Ardai encouraged me to start Quarry up again, and my hitman has of course had a more healthy life the second time around than the first.)

But at Wolfpack, I can do a Jack and Maggie Starr or a Mallory or a “disaster” or a Perdition prequel or a Black Hats sequel or even – should the current publishers stop doing them – new Spillane titles. Wolfpack is interested in whatever I might want to do. This feels incredibly liberating.

Of course, we have to see how I do for them, and how they do for me. And you have to be willing to settle for trade paperbacks in series (like Nate Heller, should he wind up there) where a collector would prefer a hardcover.

All of the books I mention above, the new novel, the old novels, and the short story collections (new and old) will be available as trade paperbacks – the kind of thing Luddites like us like to see lined up on a book shelf.

I am not unaware of the irony that the virus that has required Barb and me to be hermits has led to this e-book surge, giving me an opportunity to try something new in the world of publishing. When I signed much of my backlist over to Amazon some years ago, I was warned not to do so…and yet it proved to be a move that has kept me and my world of fiction alive and flourishing.

And let me applaud another hybrid publisher, Brash Books, who have brought out the three Perdition prose novels, and the revised, properly bylined Black Hats and USS Powderkeg (aka Red Sky at Morning). The Brash boys made a major dream of mine come true by working hard to get the rights to publish my complete, full-length prose version of Road to Perdition.

Bridling against conventional wisdom has always worked out well for me. Let’s see if I’m right again.

* * *
Johnny Dynamite: Explosive Pre-Code Crime Comics—The Complete Adventures of Pete Morisi’s Wild Man of Chicagos
Hardcover: Indiebound Purchase Link Bookshop Purchase Link Amazon Purchase Link Books-A-Million Purchase Link Barnes & Noble Purchase Link
E-Book: Amazon Purchase Link Google Play Purchase Link Nook Purchase Link

Diehard fans of my comics work may recall that when artist Terry Beatty and I created Wild Dog for editor Mike Gold at DC in 1987, we continued with the monthly Ms. Tree, meaning we had to limit the number of pages for that latter title, to be able to meet double deadlines. Out of the blue we had the opportunity to buy the rights to the 1950s Johnny Dynamite character and all the existing stories that had been done about him. We were approached because both Terry and I had been vocal about our love for the feature, and in particular for its Mike Hammer pastiche nature and the great Pete Morisi’s artwork.

So we began reprinting, in black-and-white, the Morisi stories in the back of the Ms. Tree comic book, so that Terry and I would have fewer pages of that character to produce concurrently with Wild Dog.

Now, thanks to the redoubtable Craig Yoe, we’ve had the opportunity to collect the complete Morisi Johnny Dynamite stories in a beautiful full-color volume. Both Terry and I have provided introductions. Mine is very long and detailed, explaining to modern comics readers just how important Mickey Spillane and Mike Hammer were (as well as Mickey’s background in comics), as Johnny Dynamite is a direct imitation – and among the best of countless imitators in novels, television, movies and comics.

I can’t say enough about how physically beautiful this book is. Yoe and his team have outdone themselves. It’s a hardcover worthy of any book shelf of either hardboiled fiction and/or comic book reprints.

It’s getting great write-ups, though one reviewer complained about my intro being “excessively long.” I plead guilty, but will say that I only wrote the word length requested of me by Craig Yoe himself. And I doubt anyone who follows my work will have a similar complaint.

You can read about the new Johnny Dynamite collection here,

and here,

and here,

as well as here.


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9 Responses to “M.A.C. Makes a “Wolf” Pact, and It’s Dynamite!”

  1. Brian Drake says:

    Great news on Wolfpack, Max, and congratulations. They are a great company and have given me a career I didn’t think was going to be possible. They’ll do a great job marketing your work, and you won’t want to send projects to anybody else. When the Ness collection comes out I’ll be sure to mention it on my site and spread the word.

  2. Joe Menta says:

    Wow, more comments to follow about all your news, but for now I’ll just say this: if you finally do another “Mallory”, I think you should pick up where you left off: set the next couple of stories (if we’re lucky enough to get more than one) in the late 80’s or early 90’s, and move forward from there. Let us enjoy a few more of the younger Mallory’s adventures in crime and romance and mystery convention attending before we get to the senior citizen version!

  3. Sean Kelly says:

    Now if we could only get a Wild Dog collection.

  4. Michael Maiorano says:

    All the above mentioned possible new books sound great
    Especially a sequel to Black Hats

  5. Louis Burklow says:

    I just bought the Ness quartet from Amazon (I was able to afford to renew my Prime membership recently so I’ll review them there when I get them read). I’d only seen Butcher’s Dozen before so I’m glad to finally have access to all four. Good luck on the new series.

  6. John Hocking says:

    Picked up Johnny Dynamite right away.
    In fact, I bought two of them. It is a gorgeous book.

  7. Andreas Bengtsson says:

    I immediately bought the Ness collection. Like Idont have enough books to read. Like a dozen Heller novels on Kindle and Audible But since I am currdntly reading Scarface and the Untouchable it could not havd come at a better time.

  8. Thanks for these great comments.

    Joe, never say never, but Mallory is a long shot. If I did one, it might be present day to bring him full circle.

  9. stephen borer says:

    The Wolfpack news is, as Tony the Tiger says, “GGRREEAATT !”