It's Manhattan, 1948, and tough, good-looking hard-boiled JACK STARR, man-about-town and troubleshooter for the Starr Newspaper Syndicate (his step-mom owns it), is dispatched to look into the murder of a comic book publisher in Collins' 2007 affectionate satire on the early days of the comics industry, A Killing in Comics.
Fortunately, Jack seems up to the task. He's a big lug of a guy, "a six-footer with chiseled features," a background in the war as an MP, for which he won the Silver Star. And as "private eye ticket," just in case...
Which might just come in handy. Seems Donny Harrison, the legend behind Americana Comics and not exactly a man of the people, was impaled on a giant cake knife (Yowch!) at his 50th birthday party and that the list of suspects is rather lengthy. This allows Collins to have some fun playing fast and loose with the legends of the men who created some of our greatest -- if thinly disguised --comic book heroes.
I mean, Batwing? Wonder Guy? Gee, I wonder who they're supposed to be?
And the nudge-nudge wink-wink continues in the sequel, 2008's Strip for Murder, when famous comic strip characters L'il Abner and Joe Palooka become "Tall Paul" and "Mug O'Malley."
Adding to this zippy series's charm are the bold and defiantly retro illustrations by Collins' sometime-partner in crime, cartoonist Terry Beatty. Beatty and Collins, of course, created Thrilling Detective Web Site long-time fave Ms. Tree, a pretty good comic book hero herself.
Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.
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