Sometimes, things just fall into your lap.
April 1st marks the official twenty-second anniversary of The Thrilling Detective Web Site, and just by coincidence, the number “two” keeps popping up.
- Twenty-two is twenty (two times ten) plus two.
- Twenty-two is two digits, both of which are two.
- Two is my favourite number.
- I recently stumbled across a P.I. book by Frank Gruber called Twenty Plus Two.
- I then discovered a P.I. film, based on the same book and with a screenplay by Gruber, starring David Janssen, who’s my second favourite TV eye.
- Out of the blue, an old friend of this site, Ron Miller, contacted me, and offered me not one but two new comic stories featuring his chorus-girl turned stripper, Velda Bellinghausen.
- This site now has two Official Dogs, Marlowe and Spenser. More about that as soon as I can get them to sit still for the official portrait.
- I haven’t listed to Cat Stevens’ album, Numbers, in twenty-two years. At least.
As for how things are going, if you’ve ever darkened our cyber doorstep in the last year or so, well, you already know the drill. If not, here we go:
“If trouble is your business, murder is your meat or gumshoes are your glory, you picked a good time to drop in. This site is now twenty-two years old, which means it can now drink legally in every state of the union. Please browse reponsibly.”
As you’ve probably noticed, if you haven’t dropped by in a while, things are looking a tad different around here. That’s because I’m (still) in the middle of moving the site from our old server and turning it into a WordPress site.
There are going to be a lot of growing pains, as I slowly revamp and transfer a cranky, temperamental twenty-one year old web site over here, but ultimately we’ll have a site that’s an even better and more useful resource for fans of fictional “private eyes and other tough guys and gals who make trouble their business — and not their hobby.”
I wasn’t kidding about it being a long, hard slog — I’m only about halfway — but as I’m slogging my way through, I’m becoming more and more intrigued by some of the possibilities of WordPress, and I’ve been encouraged by some of your comments and feedback. Some of you have even sent me some beer money to keep me going… always appreciated. Keep it coming–BevMo now delivers, and I ain’t going anywhere.
Which means I’ve been working on The Big Move quite a bit lately. Right now, there’s no real rhyme or reason as to what gets moved here, and when — it’s all pretty much impulse and stream-of-consciousness, as I try to figure it all out. But don’t panic–we’ll get there. Likewise, don’t get your panties all twisted about us losing anything. We’re going to save it all. We’re simply tweaking and simplifying and updating it, moving things from one site to another. Yes, it’s taking a while, but it’s also sorta fun, as entries that haven’t been touched for years suddenly get tasered back to life, and decades-old typos and run-on sentences get slapped into submission (replaced, of course, by brand new typos and new run-on sentences).
And don’t worry, all you fiction lovers. All those great stories and excerpts will eventually wind up here. In fact, the Thrilling Detective Fiction Masterlist has already moved.
One of the more exciting new features to the site is the comments section–I’m hoping to hear from all of you. Each post/page has a comments section, and I hope you’ll take advantage of it, letting me know how I’m doing, what I’m doing right, what I’m doing wrong, and what you would like to see here.
ABOUT THIS OTHER COVER
This issue’s primary “cover” pretty much created itself–I just stripped out the original text from a movie tie-in paperback of Frank Gruber’s novel, Twenty Plus Two, did a little retouching, and slapped some new stuff in
But I say “primary,” because I plan to do a few alternate covers in the next little while.
In fact, here’s another one…
Yeah, over there. That’s an original cover done by Mark Wheatley, a hotshot American comic book illustrator, writer, editor, and publisher. At one point, he and Velda creator Ron Miller were discussing doing a proper Velda graphic novel.
“The comics I’ve done have been just in fun,” Ron confesses, “and goodness knows I am no comic book artist. In fact, the comics started off as nothing more than a 4-page story for the original Velda website, way back when. It was fun to do! So I did a whole comic book…which led to half a dozen more… But what I’d really love to see one of these days is the original novel as a graphic novel drawn by someone who actually knows what they are doing! Mark Wheatley and I talked about this for months once upon a time, but then he got overwhelmed with commissions and projects, so it went nowhere. But at least I got a swell illustration of Velda by Mark!.”
And it’s that cover that we’ve got for you right here, presented with both Ron and Mark’s blessing, cleaned up and “specially re-created just for TD!”
Alternate covers seem like overkill, but what else am I going to do with my time? It’s not like any of us are going anywhere.
ABOUT THIS OTHER OTHER COVER
I forget how I even came across this alternate alternate cover (An errant retweet? A Facebook post?), but this sassy, twitchy illustration by award-winning artist Tim Williams of actor Victor Mature (1913-99), captured in all his noirish glory just rang my bells. It captures something unsettling and off-kilter, something essential about the genre, and possibly the man.
Once upon a time, I’d sort of dismissed Mature as nothing more than a sort of preening, greasy slice of sword-and-sandals beefcake, but as I became more and more interested in crime fiction and film, I saw him in Kiss of Death, Violent Saturday, I Wake Up Screaming and a bunch of other now-highly-regarded noirs and B-films, and I realized how wrong I’d been. I haven’t caught him in anything as a private eye (yet), but he appeared in several where they were present: fellow bottom feeders looking for something they’d never get. Tim’s masterful illo captures something of the man’s onscreen persona; a kind of oily, athletic arrogance (or was it merely supreme confidence?) that suggested he could probably kick your ass, but he was so much smarter and better (and better looking) than you that he didn’t have to bother–you weren’t worth it. It also, I’d like to think, captures him at the exact moment when he realizes he’s as fucked as the next sucker.
Was he anything like that in real life? Don’t know, don’t care.
You should check out Tim’s site, crammed with samples of the work he’s done since he started freelancing. “I have had two main goals since I started my business,” Tim admits. “My first was and continues to be to provide the very highest quality illustration that I can to my clients. My second goal was and remains to make that creative process as smooth, client-friendly and productive as possible. So far he’s won seven Addy Awards for his illustration work and another National Award for Magazine Cover illustration design.
For God’s sake, stay healthy. Be smart, be kind and stay indoors if you can. Listen to real news, listen to real doctors. Wash your hands. And think kindly upon those who are out there on the frontlines: cops, doctors, nurses (like my daughter), delivery people, clerks, EMts, first responders and the like. They’re putting their lives on the line for you and me. They’re the real heroes in all this–not some pathetic, cowering, lying scumbag of an egomaniac who thinks TV ratings are the true measure of a man. Or his useless son-in-law.
Kevin Burton Smith