Posts Tagged ‘Fancy Anders Goes to War’

Collaboration and the Greatest Songs

Tuesday, October 19th, 2021

A great collection of Jack Kamen-drawn EC crime stories, Three for the Money, has just been published by Fantagraphics, and I wrote the intro for it. You will like this. Buy it here.

This week the major event of this update is a link to the second-to-the-last (for now) installment of my literary memoir, A Life In Crime, which this time talks about collaboration with an emphasis on the story behind my ongoing partnership with Matthew V. Clemens.

For reasons I don’t understand, the print version of The Many Lives of Jimmy Leighton by Dave Thomas and me is already on sale at Amazon although the Kindle version won’t be available till Oct. 26. So all of you Baby Boomer and other physical media types can order it right now.

I think Dave and I will likely be doing some podcasts and dual interviews on blogs as such – and Dave has already done Entertainment Tonight Canada, so other bigtime appearances may be in the works…sometimes with Dave alone, since I never appeared on SCTV or teamed with Rick Moranis. Anyway, heads up, and I’ll do my best to let you know about such things and stuff right here.

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Channeling Bob and Doug, the topic this week is Rolling Stone, eh, and why I feel out of step.

It’s not just a feeling – I am out of step. I have continued to subscribe to Rolling Stone and Entertainment Weekly in a sad old-man attempt to know what’s going on in popular culture. But I suspect those magazines are out of touch themselves, perhaps with reality.

Let’s look at the October 2021 issue of Rolling Stone, shall we?

The cover is of Dave Grohl, and I know who he is and I like his music. But buried in the upper lefthand corner is a small: CHARLIE WATTS 1941 – 2021. Now when the death of the drummer in the second-most-important rock band of all time, in a magazine in part named after that band, gets pushed into the corner for a musician alive and available for a subsequent cover, I have to question somebody’s sanity and, for once, not my own.

Never mind.

An article on James Bond includes the following phrase: “The movies barely had time to get going before they inspired brilliant parodies like James Coburn’s Our Man Flint and Dean Martin’s The Silencers.” That must be “brilliant” in the British sense, like how was your Macdonald’s lunch? “Brilliant!”

Let’s move on to the topic of the issue: THE GREATEST SONGS OF ALL TIME.

Now first let me express an opinion that I don’t consider at all controversial – there is a difference between a song and a recording. This list appears to be about the “greatest” recorded songs “of all time.” So we’re off to a rocky start. By the way, there’s nothing by Cole Porter or Frank Loesser or Rodgers & Hammerstein or Rodgers & Hart or Stephen Sondheim on this list…but never mind.

Number 1 is “Respect” by Aretha Franklin. Okay, great record. But few of us have ever hummed “Respect,” which makes it less than the greatest song of all time. Still, not a crazy, absurd choice.

But Number 2 is “Fight the Power” by Public Enemy. A real toe tapper; just can’t get that melody out of my head, can you? Now what I’m about to say probably is controversial: no rap or hip hop recording is a “song.” It is a performance and it can be art. It can be valid and it can achieve excellence. But can it be a song? No. Yet predictably there are plenty of these on this list. A list that has “Be My Baby” at 22 and “God Only Knows” at 11.

There are wonderful songs here – like (at 72) “Yesterday.” Before you call me racist because of what I say about “Fight the Power,” let me point out that “What’d I Say” by Ray Charles is (drum roll please) number 80, and “Let’s Stay Together” by Al Green is at 84. “In My Life” is at 98. A really great Aretha Franklin song is at 90 – “You Make Me feel Like a Natural Woman” (written by Carole King and Gerry Goffin – actual songwriters).

And while Charlie Watts didn’t get the cover, Rolling Stone is self-indulgent enough to rate “Like a Rolling Stone” at 4, which is at least a goddamn song.

Tons of good stuff on the list, though. Sam Cooke’s “A Change Is Gonna Come” is number 3. But “Get Your Freak On” is 8. “Imagine” is 19 and “Satisfaction” has to wait till 31. Oh, good – Del Shannon’s “Runaway” is at 25…

…no, it’s not Del Shannon, it’s something by Kanye West.

If Public Enemy is number 2, then how is “Walk on By” by Dionne Warrick number 51? Hold it, there’s “One” by Three Dog Night! Great! Oh…it’s the “One” by U2.

Okay. I guess.

I need to chill out. I need to be feeling those “Good Vibrations.” At 53. 42 “greatest songs” below “Hey Ya!” by Outkast.

Look, I know these “greatest” and “best of” lists are all bullshit. But this is insulting, revisionist bullshit, from people whose sense of history is maybe last Tuesday, proving all such lists that don’t include a single song by the Zombies are invalid. Ditto for Weezer. Bobby Darin. The Association. Blondie. Elvis Costello.

Over to you.

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Finally, here’s another Fancy Anders Goes to War (and more) interview by the very cool Comic Book Couples Counseling.

M.A.C.

Fancy This – A “Life in Crime” Link and Farewell to Non-Fiction

Tuesday, October 5th, 2021

Fancy Anders Goes to War comes out today.

I haven’t seen the print version yet and will report my reaction when I have, but I encourage you to take a risk — the paperback is a modestly priced $6.99 at Amazon and it’s only $2.99 on Kindle. NeoText has been great on this and the forthcoming Dave Thomas project, The Many Lives of Jimmy Leighton, so I hope you’ll support what is frankly an experiment with your hard-earned dollars.

This week the meat of the update is again an installment of my ongoing literary memoir A Life in Crime, which focuses on Fancy Anders and how it/she came to be written. Additionally the essay/article discusses female detectives of fiction who impacted Fancy’s creation as well as ones I’ve created, including the Borne “girls” of the Antiques series I do with my wife Barb.

There’s also a stunning gallery of Fay Dalton’s artwork, including but not limited to her illos for Fancy Anders.

Illustration from Fancy Anders Goes to War
E-Book: Amazon Purchase Link
Paperback: Amazon Purchase Link
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All the copies of Bombshell by Barb and me have gone out in the latest book giveaway. If you’ve never read it, this new Wolfpack edition is a very attractive way to do so.

I am currently working on the Mickey Spillane biography with my collaborator James Traylor for Otto Penzler’s Mysterious Press. My office looks like a hurricane hit, a result of my gathering all of my Spillane material – articles in magazines and newspapers, personal correspondence, print-outs of web stuff – in one place. This is an accumulation that began, literally, about 1962 when I was too young to be reading Mickey Spillane.

And because I move fast – this is common with the Heller books, too – material is tossed here and there, hither and yon, and my office becomes a mess that requires a day of cleaning at the end of every project. Yesterday I finished a chapter and decided, though I was at the midpoint not the end of the bio, I would clean my office and get things re-ordered and file away material I wouldn’t need at this point.

In doing so, I ran across a stack of clippings I’d overlooked that gave me information that, if I could motivate myself, could be used to improve the chapter I’d just finished. Make that “finished,” because I bit the bullet and rewrote the chapter.

I have decided I will never write non-fiction again. I haven’t done much, but projects like The History of Mystery, the Elvgren and other pin-up books, the men’s adventure magazine book with George Hagenauer, two previous Spillane non-fiction works with Jim Traylor, and the two Eliot Ness biographies with Brad Schwartz, were just too punishing for me to consider doing non-fiction again at this stage and age. The Spillane bio is going to be something very good, I think, and will make an excellent capper to this niche of my career.

This does not count historical fiction, by the way. Much more of that to come.

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I’ve done several interviews – both print and podcast – in support of Fancy Anders Goes to War, mostly in the comics realm because of the great Fay Dalton artwork. Hoping this doesn’t sound patronizing or ass-kissy, I want to say how pleased I was by the experience – these comics fans are smart and articulate and had done their homework. I was impressed.

In the crime fiction area, however, Crime Reads gives you a sample chapter (the first) and a look at many of those illustrations.

Here’s what strikes me a strong interview from ComicXF.

This Geek Vibes Nation is a good one, too.

Finally, though I was totally incompetent in my Luddite way before we got things figured out, this is a video podcast I really enjoyed doing.

M.A.C.

Quarry in Feb, Fancy Anders Coming, and Billy Bob Thornton

Tuesday, September 28th, 2021

News flashes hot off the wires….

If you have pre-ordered Quarry’s Blood, be advised that due to printing, shipping and customs delays, the new Quarry novel from Hard Case Crime won’t be arriving in stores until February 2022.

The publication of Fancy Anders Goes to War is imminent, and both the Kindle e-book and the physical book can be pre-ordered now. I will probably not see the latter until right around publication date, but I am very pleased (obviously) with Fay Dalton’s great cover and the general layout of the book.

Again, the e-book of Fancy will have full color illos (a few are mostly black-and-white with dabs of color) while the “real” book will have the illos in black-and-white. The hope is that after the other two Fancy novellas appear (Fancy Anders For the Boys and Fancy Anders Goes Hollywood, which also feature Fay Dalton covers and illustrations), all three will be gathered in a single book with the illos in color and likely in a larger format.

You can order Fancy Anders Goes to War right here. (E-Book: Amazon Purchase Link, Paperback: Amazon Purchase Link) You can only find it on line, not in brick-and-mortar stores.

Also, over the weekend Dave Thomas, publisher John Schoenfelder and I decided that there would be two covers for NeoText’s also fairly imminent The Many Lives of Jimmy Leighton. Fay Dalton has already completed her stunner, and another is being put together from roughs by Dave (with my input) for an alternate cover. You will be able to choose which cover will adorn your copy of the book. (Jimmy is not yet available for pre-order on Amazon, but its publication is soon – October 25).

All ten copies of the Wolfpack edition of Bombshell by Barb and me are now spoken for, so the book giveaway for that title is over. Books will go out within the week. Barb and I will sign them all.

Again, the meat of the sandwich this week is the next installment my ongoing memoir, A Life in Crime, at the great NeoText web site. This week it’s the story of how Road to Perdition came to be and is again lavishly illustrated. I’d like to acknowledge Al Guthrie of NeoText who has been putting these together beautifully.

Next week will be part seven and focus on Fancy Anders on the very week of Fancy Anders Goes to War being published. Coincidence or evil plan? You tell me.

Initially, this was to end this run of A Life in Crime for now, with appropriate installments to be written and appearing in support of future books. But I decided to keep going with this essays right up to the publication of The Many Lives of Jimmy Leighton, so three more installments are (as they delicately say) in the can.

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Billy Bob Thornton in Goliath

Billy Bob Thornton is one of my favorite actors – one of my favorite creative people, period.

Sling Blade (1996) is a masterpiece of indie filmmaking and proof that story and performance are more important than cinematic flash. Thornton’s limited budget made it necessary to shoot his film almost entirely in master shots (wide shots). Despite its lack of moody lighting effects and camera angles, it’s a solid example of film noir.

And I can never find Thornton in that performance. He has disappeared into Karl so thoroughly, the character seems to exist apart from the actor.

Like Orson Welles and John Cassavetes, Thornton has alternated parts in more commercial films with artier fare and the ability to record and perform with his rock band, Boxmasters. Along the way he has starred in some films I like very much – the two Bad Santa movies and the Coen Brothers’ James M. Cain pastiche, The Man Who Wasn’t There – and he knocked the ball out of the park in the first season of the FX miniseries Fargo as Lorne Malvo, a hitman who might be a physical manifestation of the devil.

I mention my like of Thornton primarily to recommend his series Goliath on Amazon Prime. Barb and I are half-way through the fourth and announced final season of this series about a once very successful attorney now an alcoholic shambles of his former self who nonetheless is able to pull himself together to play David against various corporate Goliaths. I’m not sure you need to watch the previous seasons to enjoy this final one. Each season has its own flavor and the second season, although I liked it, soured some viewers.

But overall it’s a great series, in a streaming world where we are hit with so many choices it’s easy to miss some of the really good things. And this fourth season, as far as I’ve seen at least, is outstanding. Thornton directs the first episode with the kind of noir-ish flare that is missing from Sling Blade (although frankly it might have ruined the effect of that low-key classic).

Much of the fourth season takes place in San Francisco’s Chinatown, as if to dare you not to make the connections between it and the great film of that name. It also consciously invokes Vertigo, which takes guts. By which I mean balls.

And yet so far, they’re pulling it off.

And it has Bruce Dern in it. If that doesn’t make you smile, we have nothing in common.

Billy Bob has been married six or seven times, has phobias about antique furniture and silverware, is a huge fan of My Little Pony, and much other weirdness. And I don’t care. He’s a national treasure.

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Fancy Anders Goes to War, while not a graphic novel, is attracting a lot of attention in the comics world, thanks largely to artist Fay Dalton’s contribution and maybe a little bit because of my comics connections.

IGN has nice coverage here.

John Siuntres’ Word Balloon podcast has an interview with me, and he’s knowledgeable, which made it a pleasure.

This is an especially lively video podcast with Al Mega and C.V.R. the Bard. I had a great time with this one.

And J. Kingston Pierce at the definitive mystery/crime fiction blog, The Rap Sheet, has taken notice of what we’ve been up to here recently.

M.A.C.

Not Another Book Giveaway! Plus Covering Ms. Tree

Tuesday, September 21st, 2021
Bombshell, Wolfpack edition cover
Paperback: Indiebound Purchase Link Bookshop Purchase Link Amazon Purchase Link Books-A-Million Purchase Link Barnes & Noble Purchase Link
E-Book: Amazon Purchase Link

We have ten copies to give away of the lovely new Wolfpack edition of Bombshell by Barbara Collins and me.

[All copies have been claimed! Thank you for participating, and check back soon for more giveaways. –Nate]

Bombshell is the historical espionage thriller in which Marilyn Monroe meets Nikita Khrushchev on his visit to America in 1959. It has been published previously with Barb receiving top billing, and again under our joint “Barbara Allan” pen name. I’ve been given top billing here to bring it in line with my other Wolfpack titles, but frankly Barb deserves more credit than I do – the novel springs from a short story of hers and reflects her long interest in (and expertise about) Marilyn Monroe.

Again, the main event this week is another chapter in my ongoing memoir, A Life in Crime, which I’ve done for NeoText to help promote Fancy Anders Goes to War, which comes out on October 5, with The Many Lives of Jimmy Leighton (by Dave Thomas and me) coming out October 25.

This week is the story of how Ms. Tree came to be, and includes a fantastic array of Terry Beatty’s cover art (and the covers by guest artists of the DC issues and the current Titan archival collections). It’s right here.

Ms. Tree: The Cold Dish cover
Paperback: Bookshop Purchase Link Target Purchase Link
E-Book:
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Norm Macdonald made me laugh harder than anyone I can think of. His deadpan talk-show delivery of corny groaner punchlines after torturous build-ups seemed at odds with his razor-sharp surprising stand-up sardonic observations that shattered the boundaries of political correctness. With quietly self-amused fearlessness he tested what an audience would tolerate, flirting with the ugliness of dark humor yet consumed by a sunny Canadian decency and integrity. The nasty side of his humor was funny in part because he seemed to have an innate sweetness as well as a sense of his own absurdity.

He was at his peak of popularity when he held the news desk at SNL, with two movies on the way, positioning him to be the next Bill Murray or Michael Keaton. But his gambler’s streak kept him from playing it safe, instinctively knowing that what he had to offer was his willingness to go where he shouldn’t like the class clown who faces expulsion but has one last crack to make about the teacher.

So when the boss at NBC, Don Ohlmeyer, ordered Norm to lay off the O.J. Simpson jokes, and the Michael Jackson digs too, Norm simply smiled that small sly smile and upped the ante. My favorite Norm moments were shared by the victim of those moments, prop comic Carrot Top, who showed real class here by sharing with an audience his own skewering.

Norm only topbilled two movies – Dirty Work and Screwed. Neither was loved by critics at the time, but both capture Norm at his best, in particular the dizzingly bad-taste exercise that is Dirty Work (“Note to self: making love to blow-up doll is not as good as advertised”). And Screwed teams Norm with Dave Chappelle, with Elaine Stritch and Danny DeVito offering delightfully unhinged support.

In this humorless, uptight era, the death of Norm Macdonald is the death of comedy.

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This podcast interview with me becomes available today.

M.A.C.