Grab-bag post and open thread, Memorial Day edition

33 - Songs of Innocence by Richard Aleas

Has it really been two months since I posted here? Jeez, folks, I’m sorry. I have had a few things going on, like taking a break from crime fiction and breaking a collarbone, but still.

I’ll make up for it a little bit with this jumble of odds and ends, and I hope to get back to posting at least once a week sooner rather than later.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

I think Americans too often take our freedom for granted, since we’ve grown up in it. But it is not the natural state of human affairs. It took tremendous sacrifice to achieve it, and tremendous sacrifice to maintain it. I am always humbled when thinking of that, most especially today.

Getting to the crime stuff, I’ll start with the sad news that artist Glen Orbik has died of cancer too young at 52. Glen is best known to VWOP readers as the artist of many great covers for Hard Case Crime.

Charles Ardai, editor-in-chief of that amazing line, writes, “Glen was a shooting star, a miracle. Losing him is like losing Jim Henson, like losing Robin Williams. Such talent. Such a cruel fate.” Please read the post in full, and see some gorgeous artwork, at Killer Covers.

More artwork here.

Rest in peace.

Maltese Falcon poster

Starting on June 1, Turner Classic Movies is offering a free online course on film noir.

Summer is cooler in the shadows.

We invite movie fans from around the world to join us for a flexible, multimedia investigation and celebration of film noir.

In this nine-week course, we’ll go back in film history to investigate the “The Case of Film Noir”—the means, motives, and opportunities that led Hollywood studios to make these hard-boiled crime dramas, arguably their greatest contribution to American culture.

This course will run concurrently with the Turner Classic Movies “Summer of Darkness” programming event, airing 24 hours of films noir every Friday in June and July 2015. This is the deepest catalog of film noir ever presented by the network (and perhaps any network), and provides an unprecedented opportunity for those interested in learning more to watch over 100 classic movies as they investigate “The Case of Film Noir.”

Both the course and the associated films will enrich your understanding of the film noir phenomenon—from the earliest noir precursors to recent experiments in neo-noir. You will be able to share thoughts online and test your movie knowledge with a worldwide community of film noir students and fans.

Mrs. VWOP, a film major, has agreed to take the course with me. (Things like this are why she became Mrs. VWOP.) If there are a few of you out there who would also like to take the course, let me know either in the comments or via e-mail. Maybe I’ll do a weekly discussion thread if there are enough folks to warrant it. If nothing else, it could get me posting regularly again.

You can learn more and sign up here.

Oh, and a friend of mine somehow misread this to mean that you had to watch 100 movies. Just in case you did as well, that’s not the case.


The missus and I have been watching the new Netflix Daredevil series. We have a few episodes left to go, so I won’t go into it too much as I may write a full review when we complete the season. Suffice it to say that it is very good and somewhat surprisingly very noir. I used to read the comic book on occasion in my misspent youth, and don’t recall the tone being anything like that, but it suits the character quite well. The acting, writing, and direction are for the most part superb. Anyone fan enough of crime fiction to be reading this post will likely enjoy it immensely.

Darwyn Cooke says he won’t be returning to Parker comics until 2016, but by the sound of it, I suspect it will be a longer wait than that. I get the sense that he feels he needs to recharge the batteries a bit before returning to the character. But if you like his work on Parker, you will almost certainly like his newly announced project.

Cooke’s upcoming Image Comics series “Revengeance” is a story he originally pitched to artist Tim Sale, but after five years of waiting for Sale to be available, “I told Tim, sorry, I’m taking this one for myself.”

On “Revengeance,” Cooke said, “I think the title indicates that I’m not taking it entirely seriously.” He compared it to the Mickey Spillane novel “I, the Jury,” with a “young, liberal, nonviolent sort of party guy” as the protagonist. “It’s incredibly dark. The ending of it is horribly dark. But on the way, I’d like to think there’s going to be a lot of hilarious stuff.”

The series is set in 1986 Toronto, where Cooke himself lived in his 20s. “There’s a lot of me in it,” he said. “I just kind of subtracted everything decent about me, and made everything bad about me twice as bad.”

No release date announced yet.

So that’s the latest! Again, apologies for the scant posting lately, but you regulars know that happens from time to time.

Let me know if you want to take that film noir course! It could be a lot of fun.