Wednesday, 15 December 2010


In case you've been following the series 'La Ronde', a well-rounded tale set up by Patti Abbot, you might like to go and see the final piece of the jigsaw. is the link that has connections to the whole lot and Dan Fleming does a spledid job of the ending

Many thanks to Patti and to all the others involved for serving up a treat.

And now, here's today's main course.

CA: Yeah! And this is why I'm also really interested in and why I've got great, great hope, and I just praaaaaay that Frank Bill's books do really well...

JC: Aw, I don't see how they couldn't...

CA: And when you talk about people pushing forward – He is pushing forward...

JC: Oh, absolutely. It's almost like, and this is not to say that Frankie doesn't work his ass off because I'm sure he does...

CA: Yeah, nah, he does.

JC: Even that phrase, “pushing forward,” I don't think that guy has anything to work against, I think that guy's a fucking natural and that it's not like I'm not happy about it, but I'm certainly not's inevitable. It's inevitable. Like, even in Tosches' stuff, he's pissing and moaning about the publishing industry, but here is, still...there, still doing it. Sure it's a struggle, but – and I was saying this to you or to Matt Funk – I don't have much faith in anything, and that the closest thing I have to a belief in a Higher Power is in, in this Literature that I love so dearly, that speaks to me and I go, yeah I can do this. So, you I've been saying to you all week, it's inevitable.

CA: Yeah, look, this is – okay, we should probably clarify this a little bit – I am actually a little bit surprised, certainly not disappointed, but I am a little bit surprised at your kind of...relentless positivity....

JC: As am I!


CA: We and I are very similar in a lot of ways and we like a lot of the same shit, and...

JC: We're pretty much the same dude.

CA: We're pretty much the same dude. But where we are quite different, to use a horrible analogy, is that you're the half-full glass and I'm the half-empty. That's just the way it is. And I wonder how much our different backgrounds have to do with that...

JC: As far as like...?

CA: Me being on one side of the planet and you on the other. It's an interesting thing. Like I was saying to you the other day. Australians, generally, unless it's on a sports field, we don't generally talk things up very much.

JC: Culture Cringe? Is that what you called it?

CA: We have Cultural Cringe...

JC: I love that phrase...

CA: We're not...really cool with a lot of our product a lot of the time. It is getting a lot better, I have to say...but you, you're just like, fucken bring it, it's going to happen.

JC: I'm as surprised as you are that I have this attitude, and that's just further proof that I'm right. I've been a horrible pessimist my whole life...I'm getting better...but I really was just like Everything Sucks and I'm Going To Be Killed Tomorrow and all this constant cry-baby bullshit but I don't think I was wrong. I hadn't really found literature. I hadn't really found it yet. I've been writing since I was in high school, or you can even go back to third grade and the writing I did there if you want to count that...

CA: Yeah, I would.

JC: But it wasn't really until the last few years where it really started clicking and all the work and all the horrible shit I'd written as a teenager and into my twenties, it was starting to pay off and watching this neo-noir, electric zine scene build up around me and being a part of that – well, fuckin' A! I believe in it because it's the most important thing to me and I feel lucky that I found something like that. I feel pity for people who just kind of go through the motions...

CA: I agree.

JC: Graduated high school, off to college and job and blah blah. And nobody ever really sticks to the cliché that closely, but guys my age start to get a little despondent because they're not married and...look, I work in a fucking warehouse and I live at my mom's and to objectively look from the outside, it's like “What's this guy's fucking problem?” But I really feel that it's all a part of and all feeds into my work and that it's all an investment. It may be a long-term investment...the Long Money is pretty much....

CA: Pretty much Jimmy's phrase since I met him.


JC: The Long Money. I was in this writing class and the woman who ran it was like, “well, why don't we go around and introduce ourselves and tell each other a bit about why you want to write.” And she came to this one woman, middle-aged mother of three, nice lady, but she goes, “Well, I want to make money. I want to write a best-seller and I want to be set for life.” and I just wanted to throw my desk over and go, “NO! Go buy a fucking lottery ticket if you want to hit it rich. We're trying to do something here!”

CA: Yeah, yeah. Exactly.

JC: Not to be know, money's great...I can't get enough of it. Or any of it.


JC: But that's not valid. You want to make a living and, goal-wise, we all want to make a living of off this. But to me, that's a secondary goal.

CA: Right.

JC: Cause I live at my mom's house. I don't need to support myself!


JC: The main goal, the primary goal is to be a good writer, to work to your utmost, cause if it's not, if you don't, nothing really matters. You could be a fucking millionaire writing bestsellers, but if you hate your books, then you'll be miserable. How many drunken best-seller authors are there out there? Quite a few, I'd wager.

CA: We've been extremely drunk all week though...


JC: You're right. But to wind that up, that optimism, as much as a surprise to me as anyone, it doesn't surprise me because it just make sense to me. I look at it logically: you do the work. You do it to your best and everything else will fall into place. Because nothing else really matters anyway. Not to me, anyways. And that's kind of optimism via complete scepticism. The fucking world could blow up tomorrow, so what difference does it make? But if my comic collection blew up tomorrow, that would be another story.

CA: That would. That'd be terrible.

JC: So, we should talk about comics a bit, eh? Do you think we're boring people with this yet?

CA: Probably, yes. But they will hopefully blame it on Nigel for running it un-edited. Anyway, forty minutes in my brain's finally working, so fuck it.

JC: I really want a cigarette. Do you think if I roll the window down a bit the recorder--?

CA: Nah, do it.

JC: So, it seems that comics and crime go hand in hand these days.


JC: What do you think that's about?

CA: I think....well, obviously, there's a very, very, long tradition of crime comics and there's a very long history of crime novels and what we've got here is just cross-pollination of pulp. The idea that there is no kind of lesser medium anymore.

JC: Yeah.

CA: Everybody wants to try everything because everything is really fucken cool and everybody is realising this finally. Comics are no ghetto-medium-step-child anymore. And even if they were still regarded as that, I think that everybody would still want to do them, because that's where everybody's at now. It's such a vital, beautiful medium. And we talked to Megan and Allison (Gaylin) and Duane (Swierczynski), you know, and there's a lot of editorial freedom. Those guys have never had so much editorial freedom on anything they've ever written. And the speed at which you can actually get stuff done. Obviously Megan and Allison's is a little bit different, we're talking long-form graphic novel that comes out in one big chunk, but in terms of serialised stuff, man.....

JC: Yeah, think of Swierczynski and (Ed) Brubaker. I know Duane writes more superhero stuff as far as his comics go, but he's an excellent crime writer.

CA: Yes, he is.

JC: One of my personal faves. I was telling him this, and maybe he thought I was just blowing smoke up his ass, but The Wheelman is, for me, what The Friends of Eddie Coyle was for all those guys back in the '70s.

CA: Right.

JC: And I was really like, “Holy shit! Look what you can do with this!” and I think Duane's brought that to his comics work and Brubaker certainly has and (Greg) Rucka as well and, yeah, I think you're right. There's this cross-breeding where someone goes, “Hey, what are you guys up to over here?” “We're doing the same shit you're doing.” “Why are we on separate sides of the room?” It's like being at a junior high dance and nobody wants to get up and start dancing, but once “Jump” comes on or something, then everyone's having a good time. And I also think it's that editorial freedom and I think that goes back to what we were saying – nobody's paying attention. Comics have been, for years, just for kids. So guys have been getting away with fuckin' murder in comics, going back to Robert Crumb and those guys with their underground stuff...

CA: Yeah.

JC: ...and Marvel was doing all kinds of stuff, all kinds of crazy shit with Steve Gerber and everything...

CA: Yeah, yeah...a big influence on Charlie Huston. I also think that, if I was an editor....crime books are predominantly action-driven, comic books are predominantly action-driven, at least the mainstream ones, and why wouldn't you want Charlie Huston who writes probably the best action sequences in the world, pretty much, to write your comics. It just seems like a no-brainer.

JC: Right.

CA: It just makes sense. And plus the fact that Huston and Duane and Rucka and all these people, they grew up reading and loving it. So, for them, it's just natural to do it. But then you have...I'm a bit worried about Megan and Alison's book....and I'm not worried because I don’t think it's going to be any good, because it sounds fucking incredible, what I'm worried about is that it's going to be treated as a know, who are these people coming in to do comics? Because there is kind of that snobbish mentality in the comics community...

JC: There really is, yeah.

CA: But, having talked to them...sure, man, they're getting their feet wet, but they LOVE IT.

JC: Absolutely.

CA: They're approaching it with as much passion and open-mindedness and willingness to to pace things differently and how to break things down and where to put a splash page and all that kind of stuff...they worked their arses off. They're passionate about that stuff, you know, and I can't wait for that comic.

JC: Yeah, it's great. And I just think it's a matter of time before comics in America...the birthplace of the modern comic-book...

CA: Oh, there's no doubt about that.

JC: ...and to be the last country on the planet that takes them in France and Europe and Japan, they're considered as important an artform to their culture as any other.

CA: Oh, yeah. I think...argh, I'm going to get this wrong, but I think at the moment, the top four of the top ten best-selling books in France, books, are comics. Blacksad volume 4 is currently the best-selling book in France, of any book, any genre, any medium, any whatever, Blacksad volume 4 is sitting at the top.

JC: Yeah, and I think this generation of comics writers, that we're kind of coming in at the tail-end of, are the most aware of that.

CA: Yep.

JC: You had your Golden Age guys and your Silver Age guys doing what was then your standard super-hero stuff, and then in the '70's you had Gerber and those guys and they were toeing the line, so to speak, but they were also branching off. Roy Thomas catches a lot of flack you know, from your more high-minded comics aficionados, and maybe rightfully so in some cases....

CA: Yeah, but he also did some great stuff.

JC: Yeah, I was reading some of his Conan stuff a while back...

CA: It's incredible.

JC: There's times where he starts to...shuck the unnecessary exposition and all this stuff that was commonplace at the time and it's fucking beautiful. And Thomas was growing up on all that really early Marvel stuff and it showed in his work, but I think this generation of writers, guys like Bendis and Brian K Vaughan, even though he's in TV now, and Daniel Way who I love, and Jason Aaron, who we could not do without.

CA: No, we could not.

JC: Scalped is...the crime novel of the last six, seven years.

CA: It is hugely important.

JC: But these guys, like us, they're not just big into comics, they're big into literature.

CA: Yeah.

JC: So the guys coming in Roy Thomas' generation were clearly more influenced by Stan Lee than anybody else...not there's anything wrong with that, but I think that this generation is really branching out and bringing more of that in. So when I read comics by Brian Michael Bendis, as an obvious example, there's this undeniable glee in his working with these characters that he grew up with and that he loves...

CA: I worry it's going to destroy him, personally.


CA: We'll edit that out.


JC: And Brubaker, you get the sense he's having the fucking time of his life. Bringing back all these characters from the '80s that nobody gave a shit about in the '90s. Brubaker's doing Captain America and he brought back Batroc the Leaper, who is one of the....queerest villains of all time...


CA: Master of – what is it? Savate!

JC: Right! The Leaper. He leaps. So there's this real lovely mix of junior high, pure escapist enjoyment of these characters, but tempered with this literary-minded style with the way they go about it. Comics have never been better than they are right now.

CA: No, I agree with that.

JC: So, yeah, I think it's only a matter of time before comics get their due in the culture that spawned them. And it's the crime writers who'll be leading that pack.

CA: It is quite ridiculous that Victor Gischler is writing the X-Men.

JC: It is!

CA: If you'd told me that two years ago, I would've gone, fuuuuck off. There's noooo chance. And I'd love to talk to him about that, because he probably says the same thing. He probably sits down in front of his computer every day and goes, No, I'm not doing this! Are you serious? It's crazy.

JC: Yeah! And I certainly, this weekened we've spent at Bouchercon, I've walked around going, What the hell is going on around here?

CA: Yeah, oh, yeah, it's been amazing.

JC: Duane Swierczynski's following me on Twitter. That's not the world that I live in! I follow him on Twitter. But it's just amazing that there's this camaraderie.

CA: Oh, it's just brilliant. And he's the nicest man in the world.

JC: Absolutely. Couldn't be nicer. And I think that feeling, I'm sure Gischler has it when he sits down to write X-Men, we all have that, that deep and abiding passion that comes from the enjoyment of the work, that “Why would we ever do anything else?” and why do we have to do anything else? Why do I have to back to my fucking day job tomorrow? Cause I got to eat.

CA: So why do we write? And why is everybody so...nice about it?

JC: Errr. Hmm. Question for the ages, isn't it? I think, I know when I first started writing, it was to be part of something. And I don't know that leaving a legacy is really that important to me now, but that can't be ignored, that there is that drive to leave your mark. I think the film version of American Splendor nailed that really well. That was (Harvey) Pekar's mission. To not just be a clerk in a hospital his whole life. As it turned out, he was a clerk in a hospital his whole life. But that became his art. And that was what he worked from. That comes from that be somebody. I don't know, maybe it's how we're hard-wired. There's something in this meet your everyday Joe in the street or some guy who hasn't read a book since graduating high school and then the Chargers come to town to play the Raiders or whatever and they go fucking apeshit and I go, yeah, you know, I like to watch the Chargers as well...but it's not my life. I totally get it though, that specific passion may not make any sense to me, but the passion behind it completely does.

CA: I think, with me, it goes beyond that. It took me a long time to realise that I just had to write. If I didn't write for like two weeks or something, which to me now just seems like a ridiculous amount of time, but a few years ago that wasn't the case...

JC: No, no.

CA: ...but I would just get shitty. Really shitty. I could never put my finger on what it was that was wrong with me. It was like I had some weird physiological reaction to not-writing. The act of not-writing actually fucked me up, so it just became this process. That for my own sanity, it must be done.

JC: Yeah, you hear that a lot, that it's this therapeutic thing. And that's true. I work out a lot of my own personal stuff through it. But I don't know that it's what drives it, that's just the material I have at hand...

CA: Right.

JC: But you're right, there is definitely something physiological about it. Same exact thing, couple years ago, I could go a couple of months without writing a word and I would feel pissed off.

CA: Yeah, it's weird, it's weird.

JC: It really has gotten to the point where I really can't do anything else if I haven't written something. I won't be able to enjoy anything else...

CA: Yeah, that's actually very true.

JC: I know it's the thing I'm most passionate about, because it's the first thing on my to-do list every day. And if it doesn't get done, then nothing else will get done. Talking to Greg Bardsley last night, the guy coached his son's soccer game yesterday morning then he came up to Bouchercon to get drunk with all of us. And I don't know how he does it. And he loves his wife and his kids and he's a family man and it's great, but he goes, yeah, it's hard to balance it all out. You simply do it. It has to be done.

CA: That's right. Well, (Joe R.) Lansdale wrote entire books with a baby on his lap.

JC: Right! Oh, that's such a great story. Once you accept that it's like something that just has to be done, then it's just like any other...daily function you have to got through. Sometimes you'd rather stay up and watch The Honeymooners, or you know, everything becomes secondary, but you still do it. Nothing to it but to do it, as they rhyming fashion.

Nigel: Quite amazing, guys. I've love this piece and ended up feeling like I was in the room with you. Boucheron sounds amazing and you two seem like twins separated at birth. What a great combo.

A quick reminder to you all that they'll be appearing together as joint authors in
Plots With Guns in the New Year and that they'll be sorting out Drugland Paradise (Hamsterdam?) pretty soon.

Thanks for sharing.

Nothing to it do but do it, our new mantra.


  1. Astute comments on why and how we write and why we should from a couple of guys who know. Proud to call both my friends.

  2. Billy Bob: I think I can speak for Ashley when I say that goes double for us.