- Paperback: 272 pages
- Publisher: Dover Publications Inc.; First Edition, First ed. edition (October 21, 2015)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0486798704
- ISBN-13: 978-0486798707
- Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 0.5 x 8.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 358 g
- Customer reviews: Be the first to review this item
A Killing in Comics Paperback – 23 September 2015
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About the Author
Author Max Allan Collins, hailed by Publishers Weekly as "the master of true-crime fiction," is the creator of the bestselling graphic novel Road to Perdition.
Artist Terry Beatty is the co-creator with Max Allan Collins of the long-running private-eye series, Ms. Tree. Their other collaborations include Mike Mist, Mickey Spillane's Mike Danger, and Johnny Dynamite.
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Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
The murder has that comic book edge — Donny Morrison, co-head of Americana Comics dies at his own birthday party, dressed as his lead comic character, Wonder Guy. Morrison falls on the knife he’s just about to cut his birthday cake with. But, as it turns out, it wasn’t the knife that killed him. He was poisoned.
The characters in the story, led by private detective Jack Starr, are likewise comic bookish. Starr is the son of Maggie Starr, one time striptease artist and now head of Starr Syndicate, a comic strip publisher (publishing a comic strip version of Wonder Guy in partnership with Morrison’s Americana publications). Other characters — the police detective Chandler, Wonder Guy’s creative team (Moe Shulman and Harry Spiegel), Morrison’s mistress named Honey Daily — are versions of comic book stereotypes brought to fictional life by Collins’ storytelling.
I think it works. It’s not great literature, but it’s entertaining. It’s light, it’s noirish, and it will keep you going from page to page to figure out who killed Donny Morrison and why.
The story is a purposely thinly veiled fictionalization of the story of DC Comics and Superman. Many of the characters, including Spiegel and Shulman, have obvious real world parallels — Collins acknowledges Gerard Jones’ Men of Tomorrow as “the true story behind my imaginary tale.” Kind of makes me want to read that book as well.
I searched Amazon for this book after reading "Seduction of the Innocent," the third book in the trilogy, which I enjoyed immensely. I also purchased "Strip for Murder," the second Jack Starr mystery, but I haven't read it yet.
In "A Killing in Comics," Jack looks into the murder of comic book publisher Donny Harrison, motivated by the fact that two of Americana Comics' biggest sellers, Wonder Guy and Batwing, are syndicated in newspaper strip form by Starr. The suspects include the two young men from the Midwest who created Wonder Guy, and then sold the rights to Americana for a pittance, and the artist-creator of Batwing, whose lawyer father made sure he got a better deal. And then there's Donny's mistress, Honey Dailey, in whom Jack develops a more then professional interest, Donny's wife, and the unsung co-creator of Batwing, a writer who was left out of the artist's sweet deal.
Anyone interested in the history of comic books will recognize the boys from the Midwest as Jerry Siegel and Joe Schuster, creators of Superman, and the Batwing creators as artist Bob Kane and writer Bill Finger. The names have been changed to put them into a murder mystery scenario that closely parallels Siegel and Schuster's long fight with DC Comics for creator rights, and the Kane-Finger saga.
The period details in "A Killing in Comics" are as precise as the comics history. The characters are well-drawn, with spare, smart dialogue and descriptions. The action flows fast, but never gets confusing. The mystery element plays fair with the reader. The sexual elements are handled tastefully. The whole package is framed with chapter heading illustrations by Collins' partner on the "Ms. Tree" comic book series, Terry Beatty. All in all, it's a fun ride that should appeal to both mystery and comics fans.