ALL THAT IS LEFT IS ANGER
From my first comics series on a regular basis, in the early 1970s,
for Marvel to my first graphic novels, SABRE (written in 1976-77)
and DETECTIVES INC. (1969, in a rare, seldom seen edition and 1981, from
I wanted to give the audiences stories that meant something to me,
with characters they hopefully would come to care passionately about.
The bright Pepto Bismo pink cover was drawn by Alex Simmons.
I was still living in Rhode Island at the time, and originally came
up with the idea for Rainier and Denning for Alex and I to play on
film. We were shooting Super 8 films, and normally had us at odds
with each other so we could do stunts together. I trusted Alex enough
to even let him swing an ax at my head. Hey! I didn't know anything about
fake props. We used the real thing.
Anyhow, that glare-in-your-eyes pink over was collated at a
Rhode Island print shop, after Alex travelled from New York
and finished drawing the first
story, "All That Is Left Is Anger." My first comic and we were
already in deadline trouble to make the New York Comic Con.
Those first editions of SABRE and DETECTIVES INC would,
in television terminology these days,
be considered as pilot episodes for proposed series.
Oh, I never thought of the books in those terms,
although I certainly saw both in my head as a continued series.
I had at least ten plot lines for DETECTIVES INC
before I’d completely written the first one in 1969.
Conceptually I had seen the series not just rooted only in the mystery genre,
although I loved private eyes,
but as stories that could encompass any genre I wanted.
I had at least one that was a straight out fantasy horror motif,
THE HIGHWAY MENTALITY.
ROUNDTABLE GLADIATORS took place during a night of card playing,
the visuals swirling about the various players,
as the night and the stakes raise,
with early morn revelations.
Another was completely mainstream,
with no murders, no crimes to solve, per se,
with Denning and Rainier only making a walk on appearance,
somewhat, say, the way Will Eisner did many times with the Spirit.
This approach wasn’t inspired by the Spirit.
I hadn’t read enough of the Spirit at that time
for Will Eisner to be an influence.
I hadn’t completed one finished DETECTIVES INC,
and I was already envisioning what I thought series could be,
and hopefully keeping myself open to new possibilities
if I actually got the chance to do new stories with Denning and Rainier.
I knew major events that would shape and change their lives
from the first time the reader met them; and yet there were also smaller,
unexpected, defining incidents that would reveal who they were
that came at the very moment I was writing a scene with them,
something that, for all the thought beforehand,
came quickly and ferociously and seemed real
and undeniable true to them.
Right after the New York Convention, and all that transpired
there, from my first meetings with Billy Graham and Jim Warren,
I wrote a second DETECTIVES INC.: THE NIGHT THEY DIED,
with Rainier's ex-wife hiring him to body-guard her new lover,
and Vietnam vet, who has someone stalking him.
That story would have some pages drawn.
Rich Buckler even did a few pages at the time I was
working on staff at Marvel Comics.
But that story would never be completed.
And when I finally got the chance to write DETECTIVES INC.
again, the two original stories, ALL THAT IS LEFT IS ANGER
and THE NIGHT THEY DIED would merge. College campuses
would be out. And Rainier's wife would hire him for a completely
different case, but the restaurant sequence, with its Flashbacks,
would remain virtually intact.
- Don McGregor, July 2010
Alex Simmons would ultimately portray Ted Denning, pictured here in a shot from Detectives Inc. - The Movie.