Comic-Con@Home: Investigate the Newest Titles from Hard Case Crime

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Max Allan Collins–Three Hard Cases: Ms Tree, Mike Hammer & Nolan! In this special discussion, Forbidden Planet TV’s Andrew Sumner sits down with SDCC Inkpot Award-winning comics writer/novelist/movie director Max Allan Collins (Quarry’s War, Road To Perdition) to discuss his various ongoing crime comics & crime novels for Titan: Mickey Spillane’s Mike Hammer, career criminal Nolan and unstoppable female private eye Ms. Tree, all of whom are returning with all-new uncensored adventures in 2021!

One of the things that draws me to Titan Comics is how they reinvent genres. Their noir imprint, Hard Case Crime, takes the classic mystery genre and brings in a modern sensibility, all while retaining that unique retro feel. Forbidden Planet’s Andrew Sumner sat down with Hard Case Crime writer Max Allan Collins to discuss several of these titles.

While Collins is known for prose novels, he’s also worked in comics. Most notably, he’s the creator of the Ms. Tree series from the 1980s, which Titan has already re-published in two volumes.  The third volume, Ms. Tree: Cold Blood will drop this September. And while it is the third volume, it’s actually a collection of the first Ms. Tree strips from the 1980s in Eclipse magazine.  Ms. Tree in Eclipse was a new style of comic in a relatively unpopular genre, so it was a risk for the magazine to take.  And it paid off, leading to Ms. Tree stories throughout the 1980s and 1990s. If it wasn’t for Ms. Tree, we probably would not have the crime comics that we have today.

A woman holding a gun against a black background
Ms. Tree: One Mean Mother by Max Allan Collins and Terry Beatty.

The majority of the panel focused on Collins’s prose novels, previewing several new titles from existing series. In his Quarry series, Quarry’s Blood (out in November 2021) sets up the final story for professional hitman Quarry. It calls back to all the previous Quarry stories as the title character finds himself in the crosshairs of someone who knows a lot of his secrets. But the big news comes from the world of Mike Hammer, which will celebrate 75 years in 2022. In addition to a new biography of original Mike Hammer creator Mickey Spillane, Hard Case will publish another new Mike Hammer volume, featuring an adapted screenplay and several new short stories.

The heavy focus on prose work disappointed me. I would have liked to hear more about comics in development, or Collins’s history in the medium. What most surprised me was that comics are not part of the plans for Mike Hammer’s 75th anniversary.  There’s no shortage of material either for Mike Hammer comics. Many know the Titan/Hard Case series from 2018, but there were also Mike Hammer comics in the 1950s and 1960s.  And there’s a treasure trove of unfinished Mike Hammer stories from Spillane that could come to life in comic form. In short, plenty of opportunities to use comics to celebrate this occasion.  Hopefully, there will be further announcements as plans develop.

Still, this panel has much for lovers of good noir fiction to enjoy, and Collins’s knowledge and respect for the genre shine through brightly in this conversation.

Kate Kosturski

Kate Kosturski

Librarian by day, comics nerd by day and by night. Also published at Geeks OUT and Multiversity Comics (where she is also the social media manager for the site). Originally from New Jersey, now of Connecticut and New York City. Raging feminist your mother probably warned you about. Body positivity and LGBTQ+ advocate. Lover of good whiskey, Jensen Ackles, Doctor Who, Funko Pops, knitting, Hamilton, and the New York Mets. Will defend the Oxford Comma to her deathbed. Find her on twitter at @librarian_kate