IDW Publishing announces Richard Stark’s Parker: The Martini Edition: Last Call

I’m very excited about this. IDW Publishing has just announced Richard Stark’s Parker: The Martini Edition: Last Call.

For those of you not familiar with the first Martini Edition, it was released in 2011 and was a massive, and I mean massive slipcased volume containing the first two of Darwyn Cooke’s already-classic comic book adaptations of The Hunter and The Outfit. But there was more. So, so much more. For a look at it, see my review.

Pug for scale

With both Darwyn’s tragic death and the passing of years, I had given up on a second volume, but it is coming in September 2020. Announced contents include (per the IDW site):

  • The Score
  • Slayground
  • More than 100 pieces of never-before-seen Parker art by Darwyn Cooke
  • A roundtable talk with Ed Brubaker, Sean Phillips, Bruce Timm, and Scott Dunbier on Parker and Darwyn Cooke
  • A brand-new 17-page story by Multiple Eisner Award-winning creators Ed Brubaker & Sean Phillips

I know without having to ask that this is a labor of love for Scott Dunbier of IDW, and I know it’s going to be amazing.

List price is $99.99, but…

<turns into guy hawking commemorative plates on TV>:

You will treasure it for a lifetime!

 

But wait!

There’s more!

 

The first volume is coming back into print as well!

 

So if you missed out in 2011, coming soon is your chance, and it may be your last chance, to acquire that handsome volume as well!

</TV guy>

If ever books were worth $100 a pop, these are them. Start saving your pennies.

Here’s (The Violent World of) Parker!

Greetings dear readers! After a long hiatus, I’m back.

A very brief version of the past couple of years…

The violentworldofparker.com URL expired because I wasn’t on top of things. I went to purchase it, assuming it would be available. Who would snatch up a URL like that with no monetary value?

Well, someone did, and judging by the page that came up when you went to the site, it was someone in Japan. Frustrated and angry, I still tried to offer the owner some blood money, but I never got a reply, likely because whoever grabbed it didn’t speak English.

Following that, I purchased violentworldofparker.us, and through much trial and tribulation got the site working again. I briefly did pretty well with it, but then two things happened.

First, I found out that I had somehow lost all of my files other than what was posted on the site. I had loads of stuff not yet posted. This was deeply depressing, and, in conjunction with my other difficulties with the site, dampened my enthusiasm for the project.

Second, I went through a series of health issues, one right after another. I’m a pretty healthy guy overall, but I had three separate health crises in 2019.

So not much happened with the site.

But I did check in on the .com URL every now and again, and one day, it was available again! I quickly snatched it up.

And, miracle of miracles, I recovered nearly all of those files. I had a dead hard drive I had been using for backup that I’d retired long ago but hadn’t gotten around to destroying yet. I decided to roll the dice and paid a lot of money, and voila!, most of the files were there. (Before anyone tells me to be better about backing things up, I was doing it. Something, I’m not sure what, just went horribly wrong somewhere along the way.)

Also, I got past all of the health issues. I’m not only fine, I’m healthier than I have been in ages–the New and Improved Trent is here! (Well, my back is still a little iffy…)

So the site is back, and I’m excited to be working on it again. It felt like something important was missing from my life for the past couple of years, so I’m champing at the bit to get galloping again.

I am indebted to Isaac at Austin Web and Design for his excellent assistance with getting the site back to the .com URL and helping me upgrade the back end–it turns out a lot has changed with the web since I moved the site to WordPress a decade ago. (Please rest assured that despite the company’s name, the flawed site design is all mine.) I highly recommend them for your website design needs, and please let them know that I sent you.

Thanks for sticking with me, thanks for reading, and please spread the word that I’m back. And do check back tomorrow for an exciting bit of news…

 

 

New (old) Donald Westlake coming from Hard Case Crime

Some exciting news from our friends at Hard Case Crime. Two short novels have been repackaged as Double Feature. The title is appropriate, as both were adapted into films, and both involve film.

I haven’t read either, nor seen the film adaptations, so I’m looking forward to this.

First in the volume is Ordo, which was adapted into a French film of the same name starring Roschdy Zem and Marie-Josée Croze (The Diving Bell and the Butterfly) and written and directed by Laurence Ferreira Barbosa.

After the intermission is A Travesty, which was adapted into a TV movie, A Slight Case of Murder directed by Steven Schachter, with a script by Schachter and William H. Macy. Macy also stars, along with Adam Arkin, Felicity Huffman, and James Cromwell. The title is swiped from the 1938 film, but I don’t believe there’s any relation beyond that.

Here is the HCC blurb:

THE MOVIE STAR AND THE MOVIE CRITIC—
HOW FAR WOULD THEY GO
TO KEEP THEIR SECRETS BURIED?

Mystery Writers of America Grand Master Donald E. Westlake was also an Academy Award Nominee—for the screenplay of The Grifters—and a lifelong fan of the movies. So it’s no surprise that some of his most brilliant writing intersected with Hollywood in unexpected and unforgettable ways.

“One of the great writers of the 20th Century.”
Newsweek

In New York City, a movie critic has just murdered his girlfriend—well, one of his girlfriends (not to be confused with his wife). Will the unlikely crime-solving partnership he forms with the investigating police detective keep him from the film noir ending he deserves?

On the opposite coast, movie star Dawn Devayne—the hottest It Girl in Hollywood—gets a visit from a Navy sailor who says he knew her when she was just ordinary Estelle Anlic of San Diego. Now she’s a big star who’s put her past behind her. But secrets have a way of not staying buried…

These two short novels, one hilarious and one heartbreaking, are two of the best works Westlake ever wrote. And fittingly, both became movies—one starring Jack Ryan’s Marie-Josee Croze, and one starring Fargo’s William H. Macy and Desperate Housewives’ Felicity Huffman.

    • First appearance in bookstores in 40 years!
    • Donald E. Westlake won every major award in the mystery genre and gained fame both under his own name and writing as “Richard Stark”

I’m looking forward to checking out both, and maybe the movies as well. Coming February 2020.

In memoriam: Brian Garfield

A lousy photo of some of my collection.

I believe the first time I corresponded with Brian Garfield was when I was seeking a copy of, and permission to scan and post, his unfilmed screenplay for Butcher’s Moon.

He gave me permission, but couldn’t find the manuscript. It was written before hard drives and cloud storage and all of that stuff, so the paper manuscript was all there was. He thought it might be in the vaults of some studio (Paramount, I think), but good luck with that one. But he looked for his copy, with full intention of getting it to me. I believe he concluded that it was lost in a flooding incident.

So me reprinting the Butcher’s Moon script never happened. But what I got out of our interactions was that he was a really nice guy, and he really appreciated his fans. Maybe he didn’t need to appreciate his fans–I imagine the movie rights and residuals for Death Wish and sequels made him some good bucks, with no future need to interact. But he did appreciate them, very much. His e-mail address was always on his personal page, and if you wrote to it, he would reply back, often at (always interesting) length.

My main interaction with him after my failed attempt to acquire a copy of that screenplay wasn’t really an interaction at all. I put Levi Stahl (The Getaway Car) in touch with him. Levi was working on the Parker reprints for University of Chicago Press at the time. Levi really didn’t need my help–as I wrote above, Brian was always accessible–but maybe I greased the skids a little bit. One of the results was this must-read interview about Brian Garfield’s friendship with Donald Westlake. If you haven’t read it, read it. If you have, read it again.

Brian Garfield was a hell of a writer and, from every indication I had in our limited relationship, a hell of a human being. Lost to Parkinson’s Disease at 79 (I hate that disease almost as much as I hate Alzheimer’s).

Rest in peace, and God bless Brian’s family and friends in their time of loss.

Bonus:

I had no idea until I read it in an obituary, but apparently Brian Garfield was a man of many talents. He was a member of the Palisades, who had a top-40 hit with “I Can’t Quit.” This song, like his fiction, is right up my alley.

Memory, and a link roundup

A personal note, before we begin.

My mother-in-law, Betty, is suffering from Alzheimer’s. It came on quick, where the mama I knew for many years was suddenly not the same person. She remembers Becky the Rodeo Rider visiting her, not entirely clear that that was a dream, but thinks I’ve been avoiding her even though I brought her a new set of clothes, a dresser, and a television just a week prior.

Memory is a precious thing. Watching Mama’s sad decline made me recall one of my favorite Donald Westlake novels, the posthumously published Memory, where the protagonist doesn’t have any memory. If I had read it when it was written, I would have thought Memento ripped it off. But there was no way for me, the screenwriter, or the director, to have read it. They do make a neat pair of compare and contrast.

I thought I had written a proper review of it, but my memory failed. Looking at the archives, I never wrote that piece. I did do a podcast about it with Jesse Willis of SFFaudio and the sadly late Gregg Margarite. I’ve never listened to it, but I don’t think I embarrassed myself.

Memory is a hell of a book. Losing your memory is a hell of a thing. Betty doesn’t remember me coming to see her, but she remembers Becky the Rodeo Rider, who doesn’t exist. It’s heartbreaking.

This is my long-winded (as usual) way of letting you know that I’m participating in the Walk to End Alzheimer’s a couple of weeks from now. First time I’ve done something like this, but it’s personal. I’d love to raise a few bucks. Links below, all more fun than this subject.

Here.

Link roundup.

Killy – first edition (book club) (1963)

Just to let y’all know I’m still around, here is my latest score. It’s in beautiful shape and appears to be unread. This one is unread by me so far as well, so I’m looking forward to it.

Prayers for a friend and honorary founder

Image result for Mark Finn blood and thunder

 

Hey, folks (whatever folks are left), I know it’s been awhile since I’ve been here. I started a new job and have been travelling a lot, so regular blogging has been tough.

I do want to say a few words, now, though, on a sad topic.

Mark Finn introduced me to Parker. He was working at a comic shop, and I was shopping there, and we got to talking. He recommended the books and I started picking them up. I initially started this site as The Parker Page on Geocities. It was pretty much just a list of the books in order, because at the time, that was difficult information to find! (I had to go to the university library here in Austin.)

Anyway, the site progressed and Mark moved on to bigger and better things, including authoring Blood & Thunder: The Life and Art of Robert E. Howard, an acclaimed biography of the man. But we’ve been friends ever since that fateful day at the comic shop, even though I don’t see him very often.

In a touching post, Mark has announced that his wife has stage three cancer.

I consider Mark an honorary founder of this site, and, more importantly, a friend. So, Mark, buddy, your wife and you are in my prayers.

And I know a lot of REH fans read this site–how about picking up Mark’s book?

News for week ending 2018-03-17 (open thread)

Hey, all! Mickey Spillane’s 100th birthday just passed, so I’ve linked the best pieces I found on that subject. Some other good stuff as well. Have a great week!

  • Dan Marlowe’s The Name of the Game is Death reviewed at Paperback Warrior: https://t.co/UuKZ2yymYy ->
  • Friday’s forgotten books – 3/9/18: https://t.co/khk7cZDUTm ->
  • RT @wallacestroby: On what would have been Mickey Spillane’s 100th birthday, here’s the obituary I wrote for the July 18, 2006:
  • RT @jpwrites1: Today marks the 100th anniversary of hard-boiled fictionist Mickey Spillane’s birth. By way of celebrating, The Rap Sheet has posted a definitive interview with his friend and now-frequent collaborator, Max Allan Collins.
  • Bradley Cooper supposed to star as Matt Helm. We’ll see if this makes it further than his Mack Bolan, Executioner project https://t.co/qZXNhTa4t4 ->
  • “Older readers of Cinema Retro may remember the Miller Lite TV commercials in which Spillane spoofed himself.” I’m an older reader! <Sigh>. Anyway, Raymond Benson pens a review of Mickey Spillane on Film, by Max Allan Collins and James L. Traylor.
  • Andrew Nette at Pulp Curry: The heist always goes wrong, part 4: 10 more heist films you’ve never seen: https://t.co/0XfinEsbEX ->

 

Book and movie review: Invasion U.S.A.


In 1985, Cannon Films, the legendary studio behind a load of mostly bad but often fun low-budget films, released the Chuck Norris vehicle
Invasion U.S.A. The film was reviled by critics–Roger Ebert gave it a whopping 1.5 stars, while Leonard Maltin gave it the notorious BOMB rating and called it “Repellant in the extreme.”  In the shoot-’em-up ‘80s, though, who cares what critics thought? The film was a hit, doing especially well in the emerging home video market, and would have had a sequel had Chuck Norris been interested. (The script for the sequel eventually became Avenging Force, with Michael Dudikoff in what would have been the Chuck Norris role.)

The Book

I had never seen Invasion U.S.A., but remember when it came out and was aware of its reputation. So imagine my surprise when I came across a couple of articles that said, essentially, “The novelization of Invasion U.S.A. is actually pretty great.

That intrigued me, so I tracked down a copy and read it. And, yes, it’s actually pretty great.

The plot is rather ingenious. This isn’t a classic military invasion a la Red Dawn. Instead, the Soviets, in collaboration with a host of terrorists from America-hating countries and organizations, have launched a nationwide series of terrorist attacks to both destabilize the economy and turn Americans into tribes warring against each other. Terrorists dressed as Nazis shoot up a synagogue. A black terrorist dressed in the pimping-est clothes possible shoots up a country & western bar. Terrorists dressed as cops shoot up a dance of mostly Cuban teenagers. Other targets are churches, shopping malls, and schools.

Leading this effort is Mikhail Rostov, terrorist extraordinaire and evil genius. He has a key weakness, though–he is obsessed with killing Matt Hunter, a former Special Forces op who once humiliated Rostov and would have killed him had he not been under orders to keep him alive.

Hunter is now retired and living in the Miami area, catching alligators to provide to a local tourist trap for ‘gator wrestling shows. When the terror begins, his old boss attempts to recruit Hunter to fight his old nemesis. Hunter is not interested, but Rostov’s obsession causes him to seek Hunter out, and, in the process, kill Hunter’s best friend. Oops.

It is appropriate that Invasion U.S.A. was published by Pinnacle, because it is a stellar example of the men’s adventure genre. It’s got the usual tropes that men’s adventure readers expect and love–the violence (obviously), the feisty love-interest cum sidekick in newspaper reporter Dahlia McGuire, and some great twists along the way.

But what really makes it work is that author Jason Frost gives us characters. They are fleshed-out human beings, not just heroes, villains, and cannon fodder. The Cubans making a run for the promised land of America have stories, as do the teenage girls at the shopping mall, the kids at the dance, the guys at the bar. This is the best sort of men’s adventure novel, doing what makes my beloved Destroyer series so special when it is firing on all cylinders. It’s also the best kind of novelization–one that takes advantage of the printed word to add depth in a way that can’t be done on the screen, especially with this sort of material.

The ending hints at a possible sequel and series, and I wish Jason Frost (real name Raymond Obstfeld, who also wrote the Warlord series under the Frost moniker) would have found a way to spin off a series of Matt Hunter adventure novels, as was done with Dirty Harry and The Man With No Name. It could have been tremendous fun. Highly recommended to fans of the genre.


The Movie

…Aaand, then there’s the movie. Who says you can’t polish a turd? Jason Frost sure did.

Novelizations are typically based on earlier drafts of the script, as they need to be written before the film is complete in order to be released around the same time as the movie. Reading the book and comparing it to the movie suggests the following possibilities:

  • They wanted to make something a bit epic, like a smaller-scale Red Dawn, but lacked the budget and so didn’t film a lot of stuff that was originally planned.
  • They did film a lot more, but chopped it all out because the movie obviously stunk and they needed to reduce its already painful 1:47 running time.
  • Some combination of the above.

If any characterization or exposition was planned and/or filmed, it’s all gone from the released film, which is essentially just a nearly-incomprehensible bunch of strung-together action scenes and explosions. This renders the character of Dahlia McGuire, who served a real purpose in the book, entirely superfluous (perhaps a blessing, because Melissa Prophet is terrible in the few scenes she has). Why is she always there when the terrorists are striking her home turf? The book explains; in the movie, she’s just there. How does Hunter know where the terrorists are going to strike next? Sometimes they show him interrogating someone brutally to find out, other times he just shows up.

Really bad stuff. But don’t let that turn you off of a rollicking good read.

Related:

News for week ending 2018-02-24 (open thread)

Due to a home renovation project that is way over schedule, I haven’t much time in the past three weeks or so to read, much less write. Here are some items of interest from my downtime.

  • Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer comes to comics, courtesy of Hard Case Crime. https://t.co/u8I7WQwNcE ->
  • I recently learned that crime novelist Bill Crider passed away. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and many friends. ->
  • Brian Greene at Criminal Element reviews Help I Am Being Held Prisoner: https://t.co/8c5CAtyy9f ->
  • Darwyn Cooke’s comic book adaptation of Slayground will be released in paperback on 2/27/18: https://t.co/5Enwtuat2d ->
  • Tom Simon at Paperback Warrior–Searching for the D.C. Man: https://t.co/BJZ4TJaNfn ->
  • James Reasoner reviews The Black Ice Score at his Rough Edges blog. https://t.co/Id2VBKTa3i ->

I hope to be back soon!