Writer Don McGregor (Sabre, Nathaniel Dusk) has a lot to crow about now that Detectives, Inc. is being reprinted in a deluxe hardcover edition. I first discovered the series when it was reprinted by Eclipse Comics back in the late 80’s and my little mind was blown. I knew from reading Frank Miller’s Daredevil that comics could be gritty, but this was right out of a movie, complete with bloody alley way fights and racy subject matter.
The comic is composed of two individual stories, later collected as A Remembrance of Threatening Green and
Detectives Inc: A Terror for Dying Dreams. McGregor had planned a third story but alas it never came to be. He did, however, debut an independent movie based on the comic at the 2001 San Diego Comic Con (article here).
“I’d created DETECTIVES INC. in 1969, and it was drawn by my compadre Alex Simmons, who is now the Creator/Writer of BLACKJACK COMICS, published by his own company, DARK ANGEL PRODUCTIONS.
“It wouldn’t be until 1978 before I’d begin writing another DETECTIVES INC. comic, and that book would take TWO YEARS to completion. DETECTIVES INC.: A REMEMBRANCE OF THREATENING GREEN would become printed reality in MAY 1980! It was two years fraught with economic horrors, not the first time I’d had to contend with the realities of what it cost to be a writer, and writing stories I WANTED TO WRITE! My son, Rob, was two years old, at the time, and I knew every decision I made as a writer affected him, and my wife, Marsha. She had to live through the creation of DETECTIVES, INC.: A REMEMBRANCE OF THREATENING GREEN, and that’s just one of the reasons the book is DEDICATED to her.
“People have come up to me over the years at comic conventions, and many of them have fond memories of this private eye two-some. It’s a pleasure to be back with them after being apart so long.
“For my first foray into the ALTERNATIVE MARKETPLACE (which many professionals in the business claimed matter of factly and disdainfully did not exist), I felt I could not start with DETECTIVES INC. or RAGAMUFFINS, as a series, though I was passionately excited by both. I had to figure the best way to give such unusual strips a chance to survive!
“I was beginning to learn, it wasn’t just about telling the stories I wanted to tell. Oh, that was still the bottom line, facing that blank sheet of paper, and keeping important what I ultimately put down there, but if I wanted those books to even have a minimal odds for survival, I had to consider how to realistically give them a fighting chance in the publishing arena. And that arena is covered in blood-stains! Splattered psyches stain the mats!
“There were a lot of things to prove in the beginning. I had to establish that the comic fans COULD support a book, COULD make it a success! I had a firm belief in comics and the readers, but I wanted to give myself, and the foundling company, Eclipse, a real shot at staying alive, at capturing the attention of the distributors and store owners, so that the readers would actually get a chance to decide for themselves whether they wanted the books or not.
“Once SABRE went into a SECOND PRINTING, it was a positive sign.
“There might have been people who still thought we were “…’round the bend,” but there were others who saw opportunity, and were quickly setting into cement what graphic albums were, in size and format. I’d never intended that.
“Dean Mullaney, the publisher of Eclipse Comics, gave the green light for a second series, and I turned back to two characters I’d wanted to do for years: DENNING & RAINIER!”
“The writing and illustrations owe far more to the techniques of the motion picture than to comic books, with cross cutting and other film innovations used most effectively to tell the story of a murder with roots in a lesbian love affair.”
— ELLERY QUEEN MYSTERY MAGAZINE
“DETECTIVES INC. is a dramatic book: It is tense and powerful and draws one into its action…it is easy to be attracted to a Captain America or a Superman, because he is a dream, an ideal. It is less easy to become attracted to a human being, and this is one of the things that Don McGregor and Marshall Rogers do here: they assert (and show) that two detectives, the divorced wife, two lovers separated by death from their common object of passion and others, can be just as exciting, as powerful, as dramatic an ensemble as the Avengers or the Justice League of America.”
— Peter Gillis, COMICS FEATURE
“DETECTIVES INC. is a tour de force for writer/creator Don McGregor and illustrator Marshall Rogers.
It is one of the new breed of mature underground productions that places people and relationships ahead of superheroism and bizarre, horrific plots.
McGregor’s Culp and Cosby type detective team of Ted Denning and Bob Rainier live in a Philip Marlowe existence on the seamy side of 1980 New York. Although the plot is fairly simple, their lives are refreshingly complex and the two stories are well blended with the help of Rogers’ excellent black and white illustrations.”
— Howard Zimmerman
The new hardcover edition of Detectives, Inc. compiles not only the Marshall Rogers (Batman) material but also the Gene Colan (Daredevil) work and the Paul Gulacy (Shang Chi Master of King Fu) story as well! It’s like a Criterion Edition DVD for comics and it’s available for under $20.