Murder in the comics in new Max Allan Collins novel

Novelist Max Allan Collins is no stranger to the comics, with his ROAD TO PERDITION graphic novel being turned into an actual prestige movie, and his long running Ms. Tree comic. His new novel is a bit of a four-color roman à clef with a comics section by long-time collaborator Terry Beatty.

According to the news release, the book is a hardboiled detective novel inspired by the 1950s witch-hunt against crime and horror comic books. The book is written by Max Allan Collins (“Road to Perdition”) and will feature 16 pages of interior illustrations by artist Terry Beatty (“Batman”). In the book, comic book industry troubleshooter Jack Starr investigates the death of a man crusading against violent comic books.   The book was inspired in part by Dr. Fredric Wertham. In 1954, Wertham published a non-fiction book, “Seduction of the Innocent,” that accused comic books of  causing juvenile delinquency. “Max has chosen a fascinating corner of history to write about and spun an irresistible whodunit against that backdrop,” said Hard Case Crime editor Charles Ardai in a news release. “No fan of comic books or of detective stories will want to miss it.” The book will be released in Feb. 2013 in paperback and e-book formats, with a cover painting by Glen Orbik.

“Seduction of the Innocent” is not only the name of Wertham’s classic comics takedown, but the name of a pick-up band that played cons throughout the ’80s with Collins on keyboards.

The book is being published by Hard Case Crime, a small mystery publisher that specializes in retro pulpish books and covers like that Glen Orbik doozy. You can see a lot more of them by poking around here.


  1. says

    I *love* Hard Case Crime books!

    I’ll definitely be picking this one up, since Collins is a favorite of mine, too. (As is Beatty!)

    And for anyone poking around on the site, I highly recommend the two Richard Aleas books, Little Girl Lost and Songs of Innocence. Both are fantastic.. (Innocence is the sequel; it’s best to read them in order.)

  2. george says

    I’ve been reading Hard Case Crime books for years. Most of them are quick, terrific reads — and those cover paintings make you feel like you’ve discovered some lost treasure from the “lurid” years of paperbacks.

  3. Torsten Adair says

    They teamed up before:

    A Killing in Comics (Jack and Maggie Starr Series #1)
    by Max Allan Collins, Terry Beatty (Illustrator)

    “Manhattan, 1948. America’s most famous exstriptease artist, glamorous Maggie Starr, now runs her late husband’s newspaper syndicate, distributing the Wonder Guy comic strip. Wonder Guy, soaring superhero, represents all that is good about postwar America. But when the cartoon character’s publisher winds up dead, Maggie finds herself working with her stepson Jack Starr (also her V.P. and chief troubleshooter) to find a killer among cartoonists, wives, mistresses and minions of a different sort of “syndicate”-suspects with motives that are anything but superheroic.”

    Followed by:
    Strip for Murder (Jack and Maggie Starr Series #2)

    “Manhattan, 1953. Hal Rapp’s Tall Paul, one of America’s most popular comic strips, is now a Broadway musical, infuriating Rapp’s long-time rival Sam Fizer, creator of the once beloved boxing strip Mug O’Malley. Adding insult to injury is the casting of Misty Winters, Fizer’s wife, as one of Rapp’s hillbilly gals. Then Fizer is found murdered??with all evidence pointing to Rapp.

    Starr Syndicate has distribution deals with both cartoonists, but V.P. Jack Starr and his stepmother (and company president) Maggie believe Rapp’s been framed. Between loan sharks, jealous husbands, bitter artists, and Fizer’s widow, there are more colorful characters with murderous motives than in a month of Sunday funnies.”

    Those are the only two books in this series.

  4. says

    The cover is a great case of taking artistic license: in real life, the woman’s hair would be blowing in the opposite direction. Her hair would only look like this if she were hanging upside down, once she was falling, her hair would be flowing in the same direction as her dress.

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