Personal blog - and temporary home page until new website is finished - of writer, editor and graphic artist Christopher Mills

Monday, November 01, 2010

What I'm Reading, Have Recently Read and Will Soon Read

A couple months ago, I got a new pair of glasses (well, lenses - I kept my old frames, even though they're no longer stylish). Bifocals, in fact. It had been many years since I had updated my prescription, and the fact that I had begun to find it a hassle to read finally prompted me to spend the money for new lenses.

Since then, I've been trying to catch up on my reading mixing new acquisitions with old favorites. Among the re-reads have been all of Max Collins' "Quarry" novels and some Alan Dean Foster Star Trek novelizations from my childhood. Among the "new" stuff was Roger Zelazny's Damnation Alley and a couple of Star Wars "Han Solo" novels by A. C. Crispin. The weekend before last, my wife and I went out of town for a few days. As my sleep schedule still had me up all night, but without access to this internet diversion nor my vast video library, I had plenty of time to read.

I finally got around to reading Charlie Higson's fifth and final "Young James Bond" novel, By Royal Command. I really enjoyed it, and I hope that the Ian Fleming Estate commissions a second "cycle" of books from him. I continue to be impressed by Higson's fidelity to Fleming's sketch of Bond's history, and his ability to expand upon it in a respectful, logical, and enthralling manner. Great stuff.

Shortly before our long weekend, I received in the mail the last two "Joe Hannibal" private eye novels from their author, Wayne D. Dundee. I've been a fan of Dundee's writing since I picked up the first Hannibal novel back in the 80s, based on the blurbs from Max Collins, Ed Gorman, Bill Pronzini, Bob Randisi and Andrew Vachss - five guys who pretty much defined the genre for me at the time. I read The Fight In The Dog and The Day After Yesterday back-to-back, and found it a very enjoyable experience. I can't recommend Wayne's books more highly.

Since I got home, I've dug out my older Dundee novels, along with a bunch of other hardboiled favorites from the 80s & 90s, and intend to re-read them over the winter in between new books. This stack of paperbacks includes books by Stuart Kaminsky & William DeAndrea (both of whom are no longer with us, sadly), C.J. Henderson, and Jack Lynch.

As my tastes seem to be alternating between hardboiled crime fiction and space opera, I've recently ordered a few of the latter, among them the first two (of six) "Flash Gordon" novels by David Hagberg, Massacre in the 22nd Century (1980) and War of the Citadels (1980). I also ordered the "Buck Rogers" novel, That Man on Beta, a tie-in with the 1980 TV series, based on an unfilmed teleplay. I used to see ads for it in the back of old Warren mags, and finally decided to try and get my hands on it.

Over the last month or so, I also picked up some cheap graphic novels and read them. Aside from the titles mentioned in that previous post, I also got the first 1001 Arabian Nights: The Adventures of Sinbad trade paperback collection, The Eyes of Fire, from Zenescope Publishing and writer Dan Wickline. While I thought he had some very interesting ideas and a perfectly valid interpretation of the Persian mariner, I had pretty much the same complaints with his scripts as I do with most modern comics writing. Characters not properly introduced (there were several members of Sinbad's crew that featured prominently but who were not named for several issues). Clumsy exposition (Sinbad is wanted for a crime in Bagdhad. It is his sole motivation for all that happens in the series. But we don't find out about it until the first story arc is nearly done.). Padded "decompressed" storytelling. Wickline also chose to handle Sinbad and his crew as a super hero team, and while that's a legitimate approach, it really didn't work for me. For one thing, the characters' names and "powers" are revealed randomly over the course of several issues, treated as if the readers should already know this stuff. You can kinda get away with that sort of shorthand in X-Men (though you shouldn't) because the damned book's run for years. But this one is just getting started....

Anyway.... I have one more graphic novel on the way, and I already know I'm going to like it. Back in September, I picked up the Marvel Comics Essential Killraven, which collected all the appearances of that sci-fi hero except one: the 2002 six-issue Killraven miniseries by Alan Davis & Mark Farmer, which I bought at the time and loved. I recently discovered that that series had been collected in hardcover, and I hunted around online until I found a new copy for under $5 (+$5 shipping). I'm looking forward to having this exciting sci-fi adventure story in a nice bookshelf edition.

Anyway, after a couple years of considerably less recreational reading than I used to do, it's good to be able to read for fun again without eyestrain and frustration. Now all I need to do is track down an affordable copy of the last Spillane/Collins collaboration...


Charles Gramlich said...


Craig Zablo said...

I second you recommendation for Dundee. I've read two of his novels -- the first two and enjoyed both a bunch!