Category: Books

Criminal Macabre: The Big Bleed Out / Z-View

Criminal Macabre: The Big Bleed Out is a four-issue mini-series and paperback published by Dark Horse Comics. .

Writer: Steve Niles
Artist: Gyula Nemeth
Colorist: Gyula Nemeth
Letters by: Nate Piekos of Blambot
Cover Artist: Gyula Nemeth 

*** Beware – spoilers may be found below ***

I first became aware of Steve Niles nearly two decades ago.  Niles was the author of two novels (Savage Membrane and Guns, Drugs & Monsters) featuring Cal McDonald that I highly recommend.

McDonald is a tough as nails detective who deals with things that go bump in the night. After the two novels, McDonald appeared in a number of comic book mini-series written by Niles teaming with different artists.  And that brings us to Criminal Macabre: The Big Bleed Out

Supernatural detective Cal McDonald, found wandering the streets as a disheveled vagrant, is ripped from his self-imposed retirement to resume his monster-killing career.

But Cal is reluctant to return to the fray. What has the hard-bitten investigator so shaken? It’s a long story that begins with a beautiful woman who happens to be a vampire . . . and ends with a bang.

It’s great to have Cal McDonald back.  Who doesn’t love a cynical tough guy who sees the real monsters that walk among us?

The Big Bleed Out follows McDonald as he meets and begins to fall for a mysterious woman who happens to be a vampire.  The romance doesn’t seem to have much of a chance since McDonald is normally a vampire killer.  Meanwhile, Mo’Lock, McDonald’s quasi partner, has gone into the sewers of LA to see if he can discover who/what is down there killing people.

Being a Cal McDonald fan I was excited to see his return.  This was my first time seeing Nemeth’s art and I liked quite a bit of what he brought to the table.  It was interesting to see McDonald falling under the spell of a vampiress and unintentionally venturing into a nest of them.  The romance and its eventual outcome moved at a pretty quick pace with a few surprises along the way.  And let’s not forget that Mo’Lock has his hands full with a sewer monster!  Overall, this was a fun read.

Criminal Macabre: The Big Bleed Out is a nice addition to the Cal McDonald universe.


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Dick Tracy Forever / Z-View

Dick Tracy Forever is a four-issue mini-series and paperback published by IDW. .

Writer: Michael Avon Oeming
Artist: Michael Avon Oeming
Colorist: Taki Soma
Letterer: Shawn Lee
Cover Artist: Michael Avon Oeming 

*** Beware – spoilers may be found below ***

I was never a huge fan of Dick Tracy.  I’d read some of the comic strips and had seen the Warren Beatty movie.  I knew that Dick Tracy was a straightlaced cop who had an interesting gallery of weird-looking villains. Oh, and he had this really cool video watch!  That was about the extent of it.

When I saw the preview cover of Dick Tracy Forever by Michael Oeming, I knew I had to give the series a go.  I’m a fan of Oeming’s art and thought his take on Tracy would be interesting.  Thankfully, I wasn’t wrong.

Oeming created interconnected stories featuring Dick Tracy through the years taking Tracy from the 1930’s to the future.  The tales are fun and show Tracy as being more than just a straight-laced cop (although at the core, he is a law and order guy).  I liked that his girlfriend/wife was more than just a damsel in distress.  Oeming introduces a couple of new characters that deserve to stick around. Oh, and let’s not forget that cool video watch!  I was already a fan of Oeming’s art, now we can add his writing as well.

Taki Soma’s coloring perfectly supports the story.  Dick Tracy newspaper strips and comics were known for the coloring limitations of their time. Soma gives Dick Tracy Forever the feel of the old stories but adds shading and subtlety when needed (at times leaving the art black and white in support of the story).

I really liked Dick Tracy Forever but wondered if true Dick Tracy fans felt the same way.  They do!  Amazon and Comixology reviewers gave it nothing less than 4 of 5 stars.  So if you don’t take my word, you can take theirs.  🙂


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“Jaws” Trivia!

Dan Grant, at Top 10 Films, in honor of the 45th anniversary of the release of the first summer blockbuster presents: 45 Things About “Jaws” You Might Not Know.  Before you click over, here are three of my favorite Jaws facts as well as my thoughts on each…

4. Richard Dreyfuss’ casting – Richard Dreyfuss originally turned down the role of Hooper because he thought making the movie would be a pain in the ass. After he saw himself on big screen in the Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz he thought he was so awful that his career would be over and he immediately called Steven Spielberg to ask if he could have the role.

(Funny the difference a day or perceived poor performance can make. – Craig)

9. Percy Rodriguez’s iconic trailer voice-over – Percy Rodriguez did the voice-over in the trailer for Jaws. When the producers first came to him, they wanted an upbeat, happy-sounding and almost adventurous voice-over for the trailer. It was Percy’s idea to have a darker and brooding and ominous sounding tone. It worked a treat.

He eventually got his way and many people credit lines in the trailer like “there is a creature that is alive today which has survived millions of years of evolution” and “it was as if God created the devil and gave him (dramatic pause) Jaws”, as major reasons why people flocked to the theatre to see it.

(Watching the “Jaws” trailer attached to this fact at Grant’s post it reminded me of how, in the pre-internet days, important a trailer was to the success of a film.  The “Jaws” trailer made you want to see the film.  Much credit needs to go to Percy Rodriguez.  He was right to push for a darker, more ominous tone! – Craig)

14. Dreyfuss’ surprise – Richard Dreyfuss was so disillusioned with the movie that after his time on set was done, he proceeded to trash it on several different talk shows in the United States. But when he saw the film opening day, after he left the theatre, he jumped into Roy Scheider’s arms and exclaimed “He did it! He did it!” Roy asked him who he meant and he said “Spielberg, Spielberg actually did it!”

(Sounds like Dreyfuss was going through a period of seeing the glass half-full.  He only agreed to star in “Jaws” because he thought he was so terrible in his previous film that he wouldn’t be offered more roles.  Then filming wraps on “Jaws” and Dreyfess downplays how good it is… until he sees it with an audience. – Craig)

Walter Mosley’s Easy Rawlins Returns in BLOOD GROVE!

What’s that you say? Walter Mosley has a new Easy Rawlins novel coming out in February!

Please, tell me more.  Well, it’s called Blood Grove.  And..

Ezekiel “Easy” Porterhouse Rawlins is an unlicensed private investigator turned hard-boiled detective always willing to do what it takes to get things done in the racially charged, dark underbelly of Los Angeles.

But when Easy is approached by a shell-shocked Vietnam War veteran- a young white man who claims to have gotten into a fight protecting a white woman from a black man – he knows he shouldn’t take the case.

Though he sees nothing but trouble in the brooding ex-soldier’s eyes, Easy, a vet himself, feels a kinship form between them. Easy embarks on an investigation that takes him from mountaintops to the desert, through South Central and into sex clubs and the homes of the fabulously wealthy, facing hippies, the mob, and old friends perhaps more dangerous than anyone else.

Set against the social and political upheaval of the late 1960s, BLOOD GROVE is ultimately a story about survival, not only of the body but also the soul.

Widely hailed as “incomparable” (Chicago Tribune) and “dazzling” (Tampa Bay Times), Walter Mosley proves that he’s at the top of his game in this bold return to the endlessly entertaining series that has kept fans on their toes for years.

Ok, I’m in for the hardcover. (Some folks prefer the Kindle.)  Either way, Walter Mosley’s Easy Rawlins novels never disappoint.

Rambo Franchise Trivia!

Sam Hutchinson at ScreenRant posted Rambo: 10 Things Fans Never Knew About The Franchise.  My guess is most readers here will know most of these facts.  Here are my three favorites with my thoughts.

The Only Rambo To Receive An Oscar Nomination.
(Rambo: First Blood Part II was nominated for Best Effects, Sound Effects Editing.  That’s right, Rambo is an Oscar-nominated film franchise.  – Craig)

Rambo Was Banned In Myanmar.
(Rambo was set in Burma / Myanmar and due to the spotlight the movie brought to the treatment of many in the country, the film was banned. Hopefully some reforms came about due in at least a small part to Rambo. – Craig)

Broken Nose.
(Sly accidentally broke Alf Humphrey’s nose during First Blood filming, which is why his character is seen wearing a bandaid after Rambo’s jailhouse escape. – Craig)

To get all the facts and details click over to Rambo: 10 Things Fans Never Knew About The Franchise.

Rod Serling’s Night Gallery: The Art of Darkness Book is Coming!

Fans of Rod Serling’s Night Gallery television series are going to be happy to hear about Rod Serling’s Night GalleryThe Art of Darkness by Scott Skelton and Jim Benson.  Every week Rod Serling would introduce each Night Gallery story by talking about a painting representing the tale to be presented.  The book will be a treasure trove for fans…

The nearly 300-page book is brimming with hundreds of rare, behind-the-scenes photos and artwork. It documents each of the paintings, and traces the complicated (and often twisted) tale of how these iconic masterpieces slowly disappeared from view — only to find their way back, lovingly displayed in two gallery exhibits for appreciative connoisseurs 50 years later.

For more details please check out Night Gallery Paintings Will Soon Be Showcased in a Special “Art Gallery” Book at the Shadows & Substance website.

“The Last Days of American Crime” Trailer is Here! (Plus the 17 Year Journey to Make It)

Below we have the trailer to The Last Days of American Crime.  If the title sounds familiar it could be because I’ve been talking about The Last Days of American Crime for almost 17 years.  Yep, 17 years.  I’ll explain after the trailer.

As a final response to terrorism and crime, the U.S. government plans to broadcast a signal making it impossible for anyone to knowingly commit unlawful acts. Graham Bricke (Édgar Ramírez), a career criminal who was never able to hit the big score, teams up with famous gangster progeny Kevin Cash (Michael Pitt), and black market hacker Shelby Dupree (Anna Brewster), to commit the heist of the century and the last crime in American history before the signal goes off. Based on the Radical Publishing graphic novel created by Rick Remender and Greg Tocchini, The Last Days of American Crime is directed by Olivier Megaton, written by Karl Gajdusek, produced by Jesse Berger, p.g.a., Jason Michael Berman, p.g.a., and Barry Levine, with Sharlto Copley also co-starring.

Watch The Last Days of American Crime on Netflix June 5

Okay.  Let me tell you about those 17 years…

Way back in November of 2003, I posted Meet Rick Remender.  Rick was a comic writer and artist I met through my buddy, John Beatty.  John was inking Rick’s pencils on the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  Rick also had an idea for a comic mini-series he called The Last Days of American Crime.  I loved the art, title and idea for the story.

In 2007, I met Rick at HeroesCon.  Not only did I get hang with him for a bit, Rick also did a Stallone sketch for my collection.  Rick said that The Last Days of American Crime was still in the works. Rick had so many projects going (Fear Agent, Sea of Red, and Strange Girl just to name three) that I had started to think that he’d never get to it.


In March of 2009, I posted the art above and the news that  “The Last Days of American Crime” would premiere later that year in a three issue [48 pages each] mini-series with art by Greg Tocchini.  Yea!  The wait was nearly over.  And how about Greg Tocchini’s art!

In April 2009, we got a look at Tocchini’s The Last Days of American Crime preview cover made for Comic-Con.

In August 2009, CBR.com ran a 17 page preview of The Last Days of American Crime.

In September 2009, CBR.com gave us another preview.  The anticipation was building…

In November 2009, the news was Sam Worthington had signed on to produce and star in a big screen adaptation of Rick Remender’s The Last Days of American Crime.  Wow!  We’d probably see The Last Days of American Crime movie in a year or so, right?

In December 2009, we got another preview of The Last Days of American Crime mini-series.

In September 2010, I posted The Not So Last Days of American Crime. Rick had announced that he had ideas for more tales set in the same The Last Days of American Crime universe!

And now nearly 17 years after that first post and almost ten years after my final post about The Last Days of American Crime we have a trailer for the movie.  How long until someone starts calling Rick Remender and Greg Tocchini overnight sensations?

“First Blood” Prequel, Anyone? (Updated)

Paolo Cubadda created the very cool art above.  I saw it at Sylvester Stallone’s Official Sly Stallone Shop on Instagram.  Here’s what they said about the art…

Amazing fan art of what a FIRST BLOOD prequel look like called Baker Team. Who would love to see the origins of John Rambo?

I think a First Blood prequel could work under the right conditions.  It would be easier as a novel but I would want to see David Morrell return to his creation.  A movie would be tougher since Sly Stallone is so associated with the character.  One thing I’ve learned over the years though is never say never.

Thanks to SZoner, Bruno Leon for providing Bruno’s name!

Howard Chaykin and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s “A Study in Scarlet”!

The art above is a plate from Howard Chaykin’s 1976 portfolio illustrating Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes in A Study in Scarlet.   You can see a bigger version of the art above and the other illustrations from the portfolio if you click over to The Bristol Board.

Wow!  What great memories this brings back. Artist portfolios were really popular back in the 70’s and into the 80’s.  It was always a thrill when a new one was announced.  And truth be told, I was thrilled to see The Bristol Board posting Chaykin’s Sherlock Holmes portfolio.

Z-View: “Into the Night”

Into the Night (2020)

Director: Inti Calfat andDirk Verheye

Screenplay: Jason George (based on the book by Jacek Dukaj)

Stars:  Pauline Etienne, Laurent Capelluto, Stefano Cassetti  and Mehmet Kurtulus.

The Pitch: “Let’s turn Jacek Dukaj’s  novel into a movie!”

No Tagline:  The Darkest Hour is Just Before the Dawn

The Overview:  Beware of Spoilers…

In the early morning hours just before dawn, passengers have just started to board an airplane when a wild-eyed, armed man fights his way into the cockpit.  He forces the pilot to take off and then shares his story with the few passengers. The sun’s rays have somehow changed and are causing death.  Of course no one believes him until they begin to hear reports from around the globe of the mass extinction that comes with the new day.

Their only hope for survival is to fly into the night… but then what?  Fuel will only take them so far.  Getting into shade won’t save them.  The different personalities and ideas for survival make Into the Night a fun ride.  Like all good apocalyptic movies, a group of strangers are thrust into a situation where in order to survive they must work together and make the right choices.

Into the Night has an interesting cast of characters and because there are no big name stars, any of them are likely to not survive.  There are plenty of twists as each of the six first season episodes takes us further into the mystery and hope for survival.  My wife and I binged the six forty minute episodes in one sitting.  I look forward to season 2.

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Kelsey Shannon’s “Expendables Go to Hell” Cover is Here!

Check this out!  It is Kelsey Shannon’s cover for The Expendables Go to Hell graphic novel.  We told you about the project here and shared Dave Dorman’s cover painting here.

I’ve been fortunate to get sketches from both Kelsey and Dave for my Stallone sketch collection.  And of course I pre-ordered the EGtH graphic novel (Kelsey cover).

Speaking of the Kelsey Shannon cover, you can see a larger version by clicking on the art above.

Ink by Jonathan Maberry is Coming!

Jonathan Maberry has a new one coming out.  As you can see from the cover above it’s called Ink.

Tattoo-artist Patty Cakes has her dead daughter’s face tattooed on the back of her hand. Day by day it begins to fade, taking with it all of Patty’s memories of her daughter. All she’s left with the certain knowledge she has forgotten her lost child. The awareness of that loss is tearing her apart.

Monk Addison is a private investigator whose skin is covered with the tattooed faces of murder victims. He is a predator who hunts for killers, and the ghosts of all of those dead people haunt his life. Some of those faces have begun to fade, too, destroying the very souls of the dead.

All through the town of Pine Deep people are having their most precious memories stolen. The monster seems to target the lonely, the disenfranchised, the people who need memories to anchor them to this world.

Something is out there. Something cruel and evil is feeding on the memories, erasing them from the hearts and minds of people like Patty and Monk and others.

Ink is the story of a few lonely, damaged people hunting for a memory thief. When all you have are memories, there is no greater horror than forgetting.

Ink drops November 17, 2020 but is available for pre-order now!