DECORATIONS NOT INCLUDED by Anthony Kane Evans @AnthonyKaneEva1

Punk Noir Magazine

 

I was getting nowhere fast with my article on the film soundtracks of Frank Skinner, so I thought I’d pop over to Colin’s, grab a beer with him and talk some football. When I got there, I found him reading an ad in his favourite paper, seems like they were giving away free Christmas trees. He seemed to be mulling it over. It was part of the Laura Ashley Winter Collection.

“Is it a costume?” I asked.

“No, it’s a genuine tree,” Colin replied. “Norwegian spruce.”

Carol came in from the kitchen, she was baking something out there, it smelt damn good, some kind of chicken tart, I pecked her on the cheek. She’s a Catholic, Carol, and rumour has it that her birth had been a tricky one. They thought they would lose her. They’d had to baptize her inside the womb but the priest who was called in hadn’t accepted the Resolution of the Doctors of Sorbonne (1733), which states that you can simply inject some holy water up inside the womb in case of possible miscarriage, so Carol’s mum’s midwife had had to fish around up there until she had caught hold of a limb. It was Carol’s left hand that was grabbed and subesequently baptized, and that’s maybe why she’s so good in the kichen.

“It says here,” Colin continued, “that the trees will be dispatched between December the sixth and the fifteenth.”

“Does that mean cut down or sent off?” I queried.

“That’s what I’m wondering,” Colin said. “It says they will arrive at your home neatly packaged in a sturdy box by December the nineteenth.”

“Well, that sounds alright.”

“Yeah, but there’s a footnote: After that date please call the delivery line during office hours with any queries relating to the delivery of your free tree.”

“But how can you do that if you’ve already got it?”

“It’s that bit that’s got me worried.”

“Hang on a minute,” I said. “How can it be a free tree if you have to pay for it?”

I’d just noticed those old runic symbols you’re supposed to fill out with your Visa/Access card number. It’s nice to know the Celts were good for something.

“It’s just the postage you have to pay for,” Carol put in.

So, it was her scheme, this Laura Ashley free tree. I’d bought Colin a DVD, The Osterman Weekend, for Christmas and I’d be damned if I was going to put that early Rutger Hauer classic under some Laura Ashley number.

“How much?” I asked.

“Four quid,” Colin replied.

“Three ninety-nine,” Carol put in.

“And what’s this then,” I had taken over the paper by this time, the printer’s ink besmirching my nice clean hands. “Token number fourteen?”

“Yeah, well you have to collect twelve tokens as well,” Colin said.

“Don’t tell me you’re buying this rag every day? I thought you just got it on the weekends?”

“It’s a good offer!” Carol exclaimed.

“Jesus!” I said. “This misbegotten excuse for a newspaper costs thirty-five p!”

Then I started to calculate: twelve tokens at thirty-five pence each made, hang on a sec, four pounds twenty plus four pounds for postage.

“That’s eight pounds and twenty pence you’re forking out for that free tree,” I said.

“Eight pounds and nineteen pence,” Carol corrected. “And besides our Col can keep up with the football results, can’t you Col.”

Colin nodded.

“And all that clipping out,” I said, my hand mimicking a pair of scissors. “Why you can get a good tree on the corner for twelve quid, and he’d probably throw in some ferns for nothing.”

“What about United losing to Sunderland in the Worthington Cup,” Colin said, shaking his head as though he had the football blues, as though he really cared about that second-rate competition; talk of desperately trying to change the subject.

“I’m not putting my Christmas present under no Laura Ashley tree,” I said, “and that’s final!”

“I’m in the kitchen if you want me, our Col,” Carol said, slamming the door hard behind her. It creaked back open again, they’d never got the hinges fixed since she’d thrown her last fit.

“Now look what you’ve gone and done,” Colin said. “If I end up having to eat burnt pie because of you …”

“Supposing that tree doesn’t arrive,” I said, getting back to the subject in hand. “You’re going to look a right unmanned berk when Carol’s parents come over on Christmas Eve, aren’t you? You should buy a tree on the corner, that’s what you should do, I’ll help you carry it.”

He ummed and arrhed a bit but there was no moving the bugger. He could be as stubborn as a mule when he was under Carol’s yoke.

​Two days later Colin rang my bell. My flats up on the second floor. I buzzed him in. It took him a surprisingly long time to get up those stairs. He had a black eye and was trailing an eight-foot tree.

“Jesus!” I said. “Whatever happened to you?”

“A combination of three things,” he began. “One, your lame-brained advice; two, my own inconceivable stupidy for following it; and, three, a boxing glove Carol brought for our Darren.”

Darren was Colin’s nephew. I saw, once again, in my mind’s eye, Carol’s premature, baby-sized left hand being baptized. The priest must have done a damn good job.

“Well, don’t just stand there! You better come in.”

I went into the kitchen and got us a couple of Sol beers from the fridge.

“I’ve only got the Mexicans left.” I said, “Merry Christmas!”

Colin sat down heavily on the sofa, I eased myself into an armchair. The tree lay between us, it had nice brown markings on the trunk. The genuine article. Colin looked up at me slowly.

“Decorations not included,” he said.

 

END

Spaceships Over Glasgow by Stuart Braithwaite — A Punk Noir Book Review by Scott Cumming @tummidge

Punk Noir Magazine

Until recently, Stuart Barithwaite probably sat at number one on the list of rock stars I love and have seen in the wild, but not had the temerity to speak to. I saw him in Forbidden Planet in Glasgow at the till as I purchased another volume of Scott Pilgrim for my train journey home.

His autobiography has confirmed for me that I had nothing to fear as he is still someone who views the music world through the eyes of a fan when it comes to his own heroes and appears never afraid to introduce himself. The supposed seriousness of their music probably put the fear in me too, but another myth dispelled in the book is how serious musicians and bands are probably the hardest partiers and so it would seem with Mogwai.

The book tracks an ordinary life lived in rock and roll as Braithwaite indulges in youthful antics with his love of music sitting at the forefront of his life and education written off. The ascent of Mogwai happens quickly with the members of the band simultaneously enjoying it, even too much at times and being too in the moment to enjoy it properly.

Following on from there, we have the inevitable crossroads of growing up and as the book comes to its conclusion, life overtakes things more and more as Braithwaite deals with despair and tragedy.

Few rock autobiographies I’ve read have had me living in the agony and ecstasy of a life with the latter part of the book bringing forth genuine emotion. There’s a down to earthness about this book in which the author isn’t afraid to point out his flaws and regrets throughout the years and isn’t just a mere celebration of the fame he’s found at the end of a guitar.

I have puttered away at a couple of guitars down the years and marvel at how musicians can make the noise that they do and in some ways even though he’s been able to make amazing music himself Braithwaite marvels at the bands who made him who he is even as he finds himself sharing the same stages as them.

There’s great stories featuring venues I’ve been to in Scotland, which perhaps made it easier to envision his life watching bands and then finding himself playing the same venues. Plus I found myself playing Mogwai songs in my head as I was reading.

All in all, this is everything you could want from a rock bio with Braithwaite taking us through the magical teenage period of discovery beautifully before it quickly segues into being in his own band and the highs and lows that come with becoming a proper full time band and the temptations and chaos that arise from such a life.

Sound of Silence by Stephen McGowan

Punk Noir Magazine

“Hi Rita, how’s your father?”

Rita was moving through the market, lost in thought. She turned to the speaker – a small balding man behind a stall of old books.

“Hi Colin.” she said.

“Dad’s his usual self. We’re keeping him home, but he’s taken a couple of swings at the nurse with his cane. We’ve got a meeting tomorrow about going into care.”

Colin’s eyes slipped past her, over her shoulder. He frowned.

“But…isn’t he there?” he said.

Rita turned and saw her father hobbling through the crowded market, past the fish stalls, the knock off clothing stalls, and the cheap toy stalls. He didn’t react when Rita caught his arm. Didn’t answer when she called his name. He stared past the stalls, past the crowds, past the docks and the sea beyond. He squinted and held a hand up to his eyes.

“Dad?” Rita said.

“Dad we’ve got to get you home.”

Her father didn’t look at her. He pointed to the sea with his cane, swaying slightly.

“There.” he said.

“What are you looking at Dad?” asked Rita.

He jabbed the cane.

“There.” he said fiercely.

“What do…” Rita’s words failed.

So did everybody else’s. The bustling marketplace had become silent. People grasped their throats, opened their mouths wide but nothing at all came out. Like a wave, they realised that words were not the only things that had lost their sound. The seagulls weren’t squawking at forgotten food. The dogs weren’t barking at their owners. The sea wasn’t lapping at the shore. Rita took the cane from his unresisting hands and hit it against the metal poles of a stall. Nothing.

People ran, they flapped their hands as they did so, screaming silence from useless lips. Rita turned to grab her father’s arm again. This time the old man looked at her. He mouthed something to her with urgency in his wild eyes. He shook his arms out of her grasp and knelt, clasping his hands over his ears tightly. He lowered his head to ground. Rita stood there unsure and scared. She bent to pull him up and then it hit.

A wall of sound that bowled her over. It was almost tangible, like a hurricane that swept through the market. It rattled the stalls and shattered car windows, and suddenly Rita could hear. Every sound that was missing had come back all at once and it was too much. It grew in intensity and Rita saw that others were kneeling too and rocking back and forth. Blood was leaking from their ears, and nose, and lips. She looked at her father. He wasn’t moving but rivulets of scarlet flowed from him. Rita looked out to sea. She could feel her bones rattle and her tongue tasted of copper. She raised a hand to her lips. There was blood there.

The second wave hit. But no-one was left to hear it.


Stephen McGowan is an emerging poet and author from the North East UK. He is currently studying creative writing as a mature student at Northumbria University. He is yet to be published for his fiction. His poetry has been published by the university’s OnEdge Magazine. 

A Writer Prepares – Lawrence Block – by Scott Cumming

Punk Noir Magazine

Without Lawrence Block, I wouldn’t be sitting here writing this review for you all. It was upon reading the Scudder series that I devoted myself to a life of crime (fiction), which brought me down the wormhole of the indie crime scene and I haven’t looked back since. Thus, a memoir of his early years in writing was an irresistible proposition and it does not disappoint.

 

I was under the impression for much too long that you needed to be academically versed before you could consider writing, but Block is quick to shrug this notion aside for readers before bringing us to his discovery of wanting to be a writer and the struggle he found between his ambition and becoming academically qualified to do so. In amongst this, Block takes on work for a literary agency going through their submissions and summarily rejecting them unless the odd nugget of gold was found. (Don’t pay for people to read your work, folks!)

 

Block’s voice is amiable and breezy throughout, but it is worth noting the book was written in several phases with the majority of the book written feverishly, by Block’s account, in 1994 before the project is picked up again at various points throughout 2020. It’s the 1994 block (no pun intended) that’s the most riveting with Block building his career and writing skills by writing erotica and basically whatever anybody is looking for from him including sex life advice books and articles about Nazis and famous catastrophes. It’s a far cry from how somebody would look to build up their writing now and shows a side to publishing, which I don’t think exists anymore with the advent of the internet among many things that’ll have put paid to it.

 

When it comes to the 2020 section, we see Block trying find the right place to end and chapters that act more as addendums rather than a continuation of the narrative from 1994. There is certainly a different pace to proceedings even when the thread is picked up again. The Jill Emerson chapter is fascinating and funny as to how she came to be following Block being dropped by his agent and scrambling to make up the commissions he received from work he had routinely ticketed himself to do.

 

This is a great memoir that lives up to expectations and displays a lost time in the writing and publishing landscape. Those hoping for golden words of wisdom about preparing for a career in writing might be disappointed to find the answer is to write. The way Block speaks of writing a novel every month is terrifying for a writer whose novella looks more like a novelette with the speed he’s racing through the story. There is no apprenticeship like the one Block and his contemporaries had to prepare you these days, I’m afraid. It’s about putting in the work and putting it out there among a million other voices and hoping someone cares enough to read it.

VIKING [The Jungle Turned Black] by John Bowie @RedDogTweets < an unofficial author’s note:

Punk Noir Magazine

A lifetime ago it seems now, I honeymooned with my wife on the small Malaysian island resort of Pangkor Laut. A beautiful serene place with wooden rooms on stilts reaching out into the sea, jungles and beaches ruled by giant lizards, troops of monkeys and strange exotic birds and bats.

It was a far departure away from our normal lives and we knew it would be a one-off. Never to be repeated or forgotten.

Normally restless explorers, this time we found ourselves on loungers, books in hands and listening to the island. I was reading one of Robert Lewis’ (Welsh Noir Writer/The Last Llanelli Train) books at the time. The dust jacket said ‘…mixing purest noir with some very, very black comedy.’

When I finished the book and handed it to my wife, she was only a few pages into it, leant over, smiled and then quite seriously said: ‘did you write this?’

I walked up the beach to a beach hut bar with a leaf canopy roof to refill our drinks, avoiding giant monitor lizards. A giant hornbill bird propped up the bar counter as it scrounged for nuts. I was instantly intrigued why the bar had such a Brit-sounding name: ‘Chapman’s Bar’.

I read in a sun-bleached flyer stapled to the bar countertop that (Comando, Freddy Spencer) Chapman, whom the bar took its name from, was quite an extreme explorer, a WWII veteran, mountaineer, survivalist, behind enemy lines gorilla and somewhat of an unsung hero. He’d been captured and escaped several times in harsh environments and conditions as he made the jungle and people he encountered his ally. Surviving, existing and thriving in unbelievable conditions and circumstances. 

Apparently, a field marshall wrote: ‘…but for sheer courage and endurance, physical and mental, he stands an example of what toughness the body will find if the spirit within is tough.’

As fascinated as I was, I didn’t get much further into my Chapman research and its soon marriage to my own past and future, co-joined with some of the noir and dirty-realism of Lewis’ books, when…

those hell-bent pirates landed 😉

The Black Viking Thriller books have been a roller coaster ride to write, read and edit. Emotionally, and on an existential: what if? what was? and could have been?

I was shoehorned onto a crime fiction shelf early on in my writing career and so was keen to both celebrate and explode that here (in Viking). To re-explore my roots in dirty realism and Lynchian style neo-noir and its importance to me within the overall Black Viking Thrillerworld and the books’ story arcs for the reader.

The Norse symbol (Matrix of Fate) on the cover of Viking is to suggest an interconnectedness between all the books, characters and places—that all the stories are trapped in evolving cyclic events, starting over again and reborn in this book—in thoughts, events and ideas, re-written and re-read. Made real by the author in writing it and starting over (in me and the protagonist). And also, made real by the reader, reading it.

Viking confirms a Mobius strip of events, characters and interactions between author and reader by which the reader can go back to the preceding books and reread over again with a new outlook, peel layers back and discover another way of looking at the books.

Intended a grit-lit novella and tropical neo-noir ‘Lost Highway’ homage—it’ll soon be released and the distorted mirror it once held up to me will be shattered. 

It’ll be free to be whatever the readers see; of themselves in a story that’s as real as they choose it to be.

‘The Viking Web of Wyrd/Matrix of Fate’ is a symbol in Norse mythology that represents the interconnectedness of past, present and future


‘A neo-noir honeymoon from hell.’

He thought he’d given both up to start over. The drinking…and the killing.

Ghosts haunt John and Cherry’s honeymoon escape in the jungles of Malaysia and Borneo as the release of nihilist criminals linked to John’s past triggers death and destruction back home. 

When their luxury island resort is raided by savage pirates, it’s clear everything is connected and they can’t hide from destiny. To love, hate—kill or be killed. And most of all, the ghosts that haunt them are as real as they are.

Past, present and future. Forever trapped in a matrix of fate.

‘Love, hate, kill…repeat.’

VIKING [ The Jungle Turned Black ]

Out October 3rd 2022

with Red Dog Press

VIKING [The Jungle Turned Black] by John Bowie @RedDogTweetsAn unofficial author’s note:

Punk Noir Magazine

A lifetime ago it seems now, I honeymooned with my wife on the small Malaysian island resort of Pangkor Laut. A beautiful serene place with wooden rooms on stilts reaching out into the sea, jungles and beaches ruled by giant lizards, troops of monkeys and strange exotic birds and bats.

It was a far departure away from our normal lives and we knew it would be a one-off. Never to be repeated or forgotten.

Normally restless explorers, this time we found ourselves on loungers, books in hands and listening to the island. I was reading one of Robert Lewis’ (Welsh Noir Writer/The Last Llanelli Train) books at the time. The dust jacket said ‘…mixing purest noir with some very, very black comedy.’

When I finished the book and handed it to my wife, she was only a few pages into it, leant over, smiled and then quite seriously said: ‘did you write this?’

I walked up the beach to a beach hut bar with a leaf canopy roof to refill our drinks, avoiding giant monitor lizards. A giant hornbill bird propped up the bar counter as it scrounged for nuts. I was instantly intrigued why the bar had such a Brit-sounding name: ‘Chapman’s Bar’.

I read in a sun-bleached flyer stapled to the bar countertop that (Comando, Freddy Spencer) Chapman, whom the bar took its name from, was quite an extreme explorer, a WWII veteran, mountaineer, survivalist, behind enemy lines gorilla and somewhat of an unsung hero. He’d been captured and escaped several times in harsh environments and conditions as he made the jungle and people he encountered his ally. Surviving, existing and thriving in unbelievable conditions and circumstances. 

Apparently, a field marshall wrote: ‘…but for sheer courage and endurance, physical and mental, he stands an example of what toughness the body will find if the spirit within is tough.’

As fascinated as I was, I didn’t get much further into my Chapman research and its soon marriage to my own past and future, co-joined with some of the noir and dirty-realism of Lewis’ books, when…

those hell-bent pirates landed 😉

The Black Viking Thriller books have been a roller coaster ride to write, read and edit. Emotionally, and on an existential: what if? what was? and could have been?

I was shoehorned onto a crime fiction shelf early on in my writing career and so was keen to both celebrate and explode that here (in Viking). To re-explore my roots in dirty realism and Lynchian style neo-noir and its importance to me within the overall Black Viking Thrillerworld and the books’ story arcs for the reader.

The Norse symbol (Matrix of Fate) on the cover of Viking is to suggest an interconnectedness between all the books, characters and places—that all the stories are trapped in evolving cyclic events, starting over again and reborn in this book—in thoughts, events and ideas, re-written and re-read. Made real by the author in writing it and starting over (in me and the protagonist). And also, made real by the reader, reading it.

Viking confirms a Mobius strip of events, characters and interactions between author and reader by which the reader can go back to the preceding books and reread over again with a new outlook, peel layers back and discover another way of looking at the books.

Intended a grit-lit novella and tropical neo-noir ‘Lost Highway’ homage—it’ll soon be released and the distorted mirror it once held up to me will be shattered. 

It’ll be free to be whatever the readers see; of themselves in a story that’s as real as they choose it to be.

‘The Viking Web of Wyrd/Matrix of Fate’ is a symbol in Norse mythology that represents the interconnectedness of past, present and future


‘A neo-noir honeymoon from hell.’

He thought he’d given both up to start over. The drinking…and the killing.

Ghosts haunt John and Cherry’s honeymoon escape in the jungles of Malaysia and Borneo as the release of nihilist criminals linked to John’s past triggers death and destruction back home. 

When their luxury island resort is raided by savage pirates, it’s clear everything is connected and they can’t hide from destiny. To love, hate—kill or be killed. And most of all, the ghosts that haunt them are as real as they are.

Past, present and future. Forever trapped in a matrix of fate.

‘Love, hate, kill…repeat.’

VIKING [ The Jungle Turned Black ] Out October 3rd 2022 

with Red Dog Press

VIKING [The Jungle Turned Black] by John Bowie @RedDogTweets < an unofficial author’s note:

Punk Noir Magazine

A lifetime ago it seems now, I honeymooned with my wife on the small Malaysian island resort of Pangkor Laut. A beautiful serene place with wooden rooms on stilts reaching out into the sea, jungles and beaches ruled by giant lizards, troops of monkeys and strange exotic birds and bats.

It was a far departure away from our normal lives and we knew it would be a one-off. Never to be repeated or forgotten.

Normally restless explorers, this time we found ourselves on loungers, books in hands and listening to the island. I was reading one of Robert Lewis’ (Welsh Noir Writer/The Last Llanelli Train) books at the time. The dust jacket said ‘…mixing purest noir with some very, very black comedy.’

When I finished the book and handed it to my wife, she was only a few pages into it, leant over, smiled and then quite seriously said: ‘did you write this?’

I walked up the beach to a beach hut bar with a leaf canopy roof to refill our drinks, avoiding giant monitor lizards. A giant hornbill bird propped up the bar counter as it scrounged for nuts. I was instantly intrigued why the bar had such a Brit-sounding name: ‘Chapman’s Bar’.

I read in a sun-bleached flyer stapled to the bar countertop that (Comando, Freddy Spencer) Chapman, whom the bar took its name from, was quite an extreme explorer, a WWII veteran, mountaineer, survivalist, behind enemy lines gorilla and somewhat of an unsung hero. He’d been captured and escaped several times in harsh environments and conditions as he made the jungle and people he encountered his ally. Surviving, existing and thriving in unbelievable conditions and circumstances. 

Apparently, a field marshall wrote: ‘…but for sheer courage and endurance, physical and mental, he stands an example of what toughness the body will find if the spirit within is tough.’

As fascinated as I was, I didn’t get much further into my Chapman research and its soon marriage to my own past and future, co-joined with some of the noir and dirty-realism of Lewis’ books, when…

those hell-bent pirates landed 😉

The Black Viking Thriller books have been a roller coaster ride to write, read and edit. Emotionally, and on an existential: what if? what was? and could have been?

I was shoehorned onto a crime fiction shelf early on in my writing career and so was keen to both celebrate and explode that here (in Viking). To re-explore my roots in dirty realism and Lynchian style neo-noir and its importance to me within the overall Black Viking Thrillerworld and the books’ story arcs for the reader.

The Norse symbol (Matrix of Fate) on the cover of Viking is to suggest an interconnectedness between all the books, characters and places—that all the stories are trapped in evolving cyclic events, starting over again and reborn in this book—in thoughts, events and ideas, re-written and re-read. Made real by the author in writing it and starting over (in me and the protagonist). And also, made real by the reader, reading it.

Viking confirms a Mobius strip of events, characters and interactions between author and reader by which the reader can go back to the preceding books and reread over again with a new outlook, peel layers back and discover another way of looking at the books.

Intended a grit-lit novella and tropical neo-noir ‘Lost Highway’ homage—it’ll soon be released and the distorted mirror it once held up to me will be shattered. 

It’ll be free to be whatever the readers see; of themselves in a story that’s as real as they choose it to be.

‘The Viking Web of Wyrd/Matrix of Fate’ is a symbol in Norse mythology that represents the interconnectedness of past, present and future


‘A neo-noir honeymoon from hell.’

He thought he’d given both up to start over. The drinking…and the killing.

Ghosts haunt John and Cherry’s honeymoon escape in the jungles of Malaysia and Borneo as the release of nihilist criminals linked to John’s past triggers death and destruction back home. 

When their luxury island resort is raided by savage pirates, it’s clear everything is connected and they can’t hide from destiny. To love, hate—kill or be killed. And most of all, the ghosts that haunt them are as real as they are.

Past, present and future. Forever trapped in a matrix of fate.

‘Love, hate, kill…repeat.’

VIKING [ The Jungle Turned Black ]

Out October 3rd 2022

with Red Dog Press

4 Poems by Max Thrax

Punk Noir Magazine

PECHENEGS

Pechenegs

Bark-colored horse

Pechenegs

On the sea’s lip

Pechenegs

Sip from gilded skulls

Pechenegs

Dnieper’s course

Through arrow-slit passes

They surge

Straight to the necks

Of settled princes

Pechenegs

Drink the lake

Pechenegs

Spill black blood

Pechenegs

Old and simple ways

Pechenegs

Pechenegs

None interred

Their ribs

The vault of the Caucasus

How many more have died

Than live today

Who remembers

Pechenegs

BIO: Max Thrax is fiction editor of Apocalypse Confidential. His novel God Is A Killer (2022) is available from Close to the Bone.

A Man Named Doll by Jonathan Ames — a Punk Noir Book Review by Scott Cumming

Punk Noir Magazine

Jonathan Ames is no stranger to crime and noir with the likes of Bored to Death and You’re Not Really Here behind him, but now he begins his foray into a P.I. series starring ex-Navy and LAPD officer Happy “Hank” Doll. Hank gets high, walks his dog, George and occasionally takes on a case or two.

 

In “A Man Named Doll”, Hank’s buddy, Lou, wants to buy his kidney with his single remaining one crapping out on him. Between a tussle at his massage parlour security gig and Lou turning up near dead on his doorstep, Doll finds himself dragged into a situation he can’t wisecrack his way out of.

 

The influences are stamped front and centre with Chandler, Pynchon and Chinatown in full view. There’s almost nothing new here, but for the tone. Noir is typically about dark men with dark outlooks on the world, but Doll is refreshing in that he’s taken therapy and has a clear enough outlook on the world around him. He’s not cut off by cynicism instead inhabiting a colourful existence that wouldn’t look out of place in a noir directed by Wes Anderson with the comical interjections and casting opportunities to match the aesthetic.

 

The second entry, “The Wheel of Doll”, forthcoming in September, builds upon and shows new depths to Doll as he goes on the hunt for a lost love at the behest of her daughter. The voice shines in this entry, perhaps even more upbeat than before in the early going as Doll has turned to Buddhism to help him through the ailments of the first novel.

 

Happy is the rare P.I. who sits on the other side of his problems. His tussles with weird and desperate villains, who appear as almost caricatures, are taking years off his life. The bizarre nature of his enemies does not tarnish the stories and instead heightens things to match the memorable nature of our protagonist.

 

I have never received so many comments as I did when I rated the first book, which shows the immediate popularity of the character and I hope we continue to see him for many years to come given he is one of the most refreshing characters to come along in years. Maybe this isn’t the socially aware crime fiction that some would like, but there are plenty others out there fulfilling that need. These novels are a much needed escape from the doom mongering and negativity that have become our stock in trade.

10 (Plus) Great Crime Comics By Anthony Perconti

Punk Noir Magazine

Stephen J. Golds knocked out a great and varied list of 20 graphic novels (“20 Graphic Novels You Must Read Now”). The man’s got good taste in comics, no doubt. Along those lines, check out these 10 (plus) comics that focus on all manner of criminal activities and intentions. 

 

10. Richard Stark’s Parker by Darwyn Cooke

What’s there to say that hasn’t been said before concerning Cooke’s rendition of Richard Stark’s hypercompetent and machinelike career criminal? The gold standard of comic book crime novel adaptations. 

9. Pulp by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips

Sure, Pulp could have used an extra 20 pages to flesh out the story a bit more. And granted, it is less ambitious than the team’s Reckless or Criminal books. However, there is somethingfundamentally satisfying in an old outlaw/ pulp Western writer giving American Nazis their just desserts in 1939 Manhattan. 

 

I would also heartily recommend Hawkman #27. This is an oftforgotten, early collaboration from this team that is an inventive play on Dashiell Hammett’s The Maltese Falcon by way of the DC Universe. 

 

8. Vigilante: City Lights, Prairie Justice by James Robinson and Tony Salmons

Writer James Robinson goes all in on the James Ellory secret history genre. This miniseries concerns the Golden Age singing cowboy, Greg Saunders’ very personal (and bloody) vendettawith Ben “Bugsy” Siegel, set against the sleazy backdrop of oldHollywood and a nascent Las Vegas. 

 

7. 100 Bullets by Brian Azzarello and Eduardo Risso

A highly complex and compelling tale that focuses on the mysterious Agent Graves and his gift of an untraceable pistol, with 100 rounds to various wronged parties. What starts out as a series of (seemingly) self-contained revenge tales, blossoms into a full-blown secret history, dating back to the founding of New World. 

 

6. The crime comics of Brian Michael Bendis

The pitter-patter dialog and labyrinthine plots that were a mainstay on his historic run on Daredevil were forged in the 1990’s with such comics as Fire (technically, an espionage tale), 

AKA Goldfish, the Goldfish prequel, Jinx and the Elliot Ness centered Torso. 

 

5. The crime comics of Gary Phillips

Los Angeles native and crime fiction writer extraordinaire, Gary Phillips has penned several crime titles over the years. You can’t go wrong with such varied titles as Shot Callerz, The Rinse, Angeltown, Cowboys and Vigilante: Southland.  

 

4. Ms. Tree by Max Allan Collins and Terry Beatty

Max Allan Collins’ take on the Mike Hammer school of PI fiction, well before he landed the gig as Mickey Spillane’sposthumous collaborator. Ms. Tree has been solving cases and doling out rough justice in comics (and in paperback novels through Hard Case Crime) since 1982. 

 

3. Codeflesh by Joe Casey and Charlie Adlard

The down and dirty tale of Cameron Daltrey , L.A. bail bondsman who specializes in bringing in criminals of the superpowered variety. Think Jackie Brown/ Rum Punch with bloody knuckles, spandex and capes. 

 

2. The crime comics of Don McGregor

Don McGregor crafted some great crime comics back in the 1980’s. Detectives Inc. and Nathaniel Dusk (miniseries 1 and 2) were action packed and simultaneously self-reflective and thought-provoking. These two books sported some fantastic artwork from frequent McGregor collaborators, Gene Colan and Marshall Rogers. 

 

 

 

1. The Blacksad series Juan Diaz Canales and Juanjo Guarnido

Yes, the private investigator John Blacksad is a feline. But don’t let that fact put you off. These anthropomorphic noir comicsexplore the dark side of the American Dream during the McCarthy fueled paranoia of the 1950’s. Oh and JuanjoGuarnido’s illustrations are absolutely breathtaking. 

One for Good Luck-

Sandman Mystery Theatre

Set during the Great Depression, Mystery Theatre focused on the adventures and investigations of the Golden Age Sandman, Wesley Dodds. The gasmask wearing vigilante is compelled through dreams to creep about at night and bring grotesque murderers and killers to justice. Matt Wagner and Steven T. Seagle penned 70 perfect issues, plus an annual and a crossover with that other Sandman. The complex relationship betweenWesley Dodds and socialite Dian Belmont was the heart and soul of this book.