For a while, I was into the adventures of the private detective, Mike Shayne. I stumbled across him in via the old radio show The New Adventures of Michael Shayne (the version starring Jeff Chandler). It was hardboiled detective fiction without any apologies.
This show sparked my interest, so I read a bunch of the prose mysteries by Brett Holiday. Some of the paperbacks had wonderful covers, many by legendary painter Robert McGuiness. And the titles themselves were always fantastic. How could you NOT pick up story with a title like “Never Kill a Client”, “Bodies are Where You Find Them”, “So Lush, So Deadly”, “Violence is Golden” or “Lady Be Bad”?
Michael Shayne is one of those characters that was a big deal for a long while. His literary adventures started in 1939, and continued through the glory days of paperbacks. After that, Shayne’s adventures appeared every month as one of the last pulp anthologies. The detective was featured in movies, two different radio shows and a 1960 TV show. And when the television program debuted (with many episodes written by William Link and Richard Levinson, creators of Columbo, Mannix, Murder She Wrote, etc.) Dell comics decided it was finally time to create some comics.
This was a Dell’s standard operating procedure, they would often (always?) create comics that back drafted the popularity of TV programs. Surprisingly, Dell didn’t adapt TV adventures in this comic, they indeed went back to the source material and adapted the early detective thrillers.
Pulp 2.0 Press recently reprinted the three issues of Mike Shayne, Private Eye. It’s a compelling package including a text piece and image gallery that provide an insider’s view of the character and his history.
Despite having been originally printed in the early sixties, these yarns have an edge to them. Plot elements include drugs, adultery and beautiful women who turn up…dead! As a casual fan, I had no idea that Shayne was married in the early stories, and they killed her off. In fact, one of the stories reprinted in this volume is about the hero dealing with the sad fact that his wife has died in childbirth. Pretty heavy stuff.
Lately, I’ve gotten fussy about how publishers chose to reprint old comics. The color, the paper, etc. There’s a way to finesse it all – so every reprint can be as gloriously true to their original pulp, and low brow, intentions. I always enjoy the reprints that Craig Yoe or IDW puts out. The extra care they put into coloring and it shows.
But you know what? For these tough-as-nails adventures, if I were to discuss it out loud, I feel like Mike Shayne himself would grab me by the shirt collar and tell me, “That kind of whining is for sissies.” Maybe he’d be right.
All in all, this collection is a real treat. Snag a copy, pour yourself two fingers of scotch in a dirty glass, sit back and enjoy.
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I wrote about another of Pulp 2.0’s projects a few years ago here-their efforts to publish a comic that felt like a lost Charles Bronson movie. As a follow-up, it’s published now and you can get it from Amazon.