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I, The Illustrator: Happy Birthday, Mickey Spillane

March 16, 2015

It’s been awhile since I did a birthday tribute. I decided to do one for Mickey Spillane, best remembered for his hardboiled detective novels featuring private eye Mike Hammer.
I managed to post the illustration to my Facebook page on his birthday, but am late posting it here.

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Birthday tribute caricature of author Mickey Spillane famous for his hardboiled detective novels featuring private eye Mike Hammer with rebus of book titles I The Jury and Kiss Me Deadly

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Tough guys. Seductive women. Sex, violence, murder, mayhem. The sort of thing that knocks a young idiot’s socks off, especially if the idiot (yours truly) grew up reading Nancy Drew, The Hardy Boys, and Agatha Christie.

You (the sensible, mature reader) are no doubt saying: Phooey! Sounds like a lot of tired old cliches. True enough, but Spillane sensationalized the tough private eye genre, and made it seem fresh. The books are dated now. Not surprising, since his first came out in 1947. Here’s a detail image:

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detail image Birthday tribute caricature of author Mickey Spillane famous for his hardboiled detective novels featuring private eye Mike Hammer with rebus of book titles I The Jury and Kiss Me Deadly

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A rebus is a puzzle where pictures are used to represent the sound of words or syllables. Typically, a rebus also includes letters and symbols. You put them together to “sound out” the answer.

The Spillane illustration contains rebuses which represent the titles of two of his books. Can you decipher them? Answers below.

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detail image Birthday tribute caricature of author Mickey Spillane famous for his hardboiled detective novels featuring private eye Mike Hammer with rebus of book titles I The Jury and Kiss Me Deadly

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How good is the caricature? Here are some photos of Spillane, who certainly looked the part of a tough guy. Interesting bit of trivia: Spillane played his own character, detective Mike Hammer, in the movie version of his novel, The Girl Hunters (1963). It co-starred Shirley Eaton who played the “gold paint girl” in the James Bond movie, Goldfinger.

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photos of author Mickey Spillane famous for his hardboiled detective novels featuring private eye Mike Hammer with rebus of book titles I The Jury and Kiss Me Deadly

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Rebus answers: I, The Jury, his first and most famous novel (1947), and Kiss Me, Deadly (1952). Here’s the final again:

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Birthday tribute caricature of author Mickey Spillane famous for his hardboiled detective novels featuring private eye Mike Hammer with rebus of book titles I The Jury and Kiss Me Deadly

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Do you read thrillers and detective fiction? Who’s your favorite author?

Do you like puzzles and word games? What’s your favorite kind?

Do you sing the Goldfinger theme song when you’re in the shower??

Hope you’ll leave a comment.

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20 Comments leave one →
  1. March 16, 2015 2:22 PM

    Lovely illustration. My Grandad used to leave us little rebus notes as kids so thanks for that little dose of nostalgia too.

    Like

    • March 17, 2015 8:25 AM

      Thanks, Laura! A grandad who left rebus notes– every kid should have a grandad like that! I was lucky enough to have one who’d include doodles in the margins when he’d write a letter to my mom– he was clearly an early influence! Always great to see you. : )

      Liked by 2 people

      • March 17, 2015 8:37 AM

        That’s great! I hope you still have those letters.

        Like

        • March 17, 2015 9:39 AM

          Alas, no, but I can see them very clearly in my mind’s eye. He wrote with a fountain pen– the kind you fill from an inkwell. And the ink was very blue. We didn’t know it at the time, but he was teaching us a very important lesson: there’s more to life than text!! : )

          Liked by 2 people

        • March 17, 2015 10:15 AM

          That’s fabulous. What a great connection you have between yourself and your grandfather.

          Like

  2. March 18, 2015 1:15 PM

    Oh what a super cool guy he was! I had to laugh at my attempt to get the second rebus. I guessed Whistle Me Deadly. Your caricature is spot on! Well done for a milk and cookies kind of guy! (I have a feeling, Mark, you only eat hardboiled cookies.) This was a superb post in every way. And now you’ll have to excuse me, I’m suddenly hungry for some hardboiled macaroons! :b

    Like

    • March 19, 2015 8:48 AM

      Haw! My dear Linda! Your jolly comment made me laugh so hard, I spit out all my hardboiled cookie crumbs!! But that was good, ’cause it gave me an excuse to eat s’more. No, wait– that’s a different kinda cookie… : )

      Whistle Me, Deadly… yes, I remember that one!!– about the guy who gets scalded to death by a tea kettle! Man, was he steamed… : P

      Macaroons– I can see we have similar ideas about good nutrition. Always lovely to see you, thanks for that wunnaful comment!! : )

      Like

  3. March 20, 2015 2:33 AM

    As I mentioned on Twitter, I’m not directly familiar with Mickey Spillane, but the way he impacted the culture I remember in my childhood, I knew he had an impact. Plus the movie Fletch (not read the book, yet) made a LOT more sense to me when I was told the author was parodying his style.

    Like

    • March 21, 2015 3:17 PM

      Who’s that guy in the battered fedora and trench coat?? Ah, Jak– I thought that was you… : )

      Ol’ Mickey has been parodied a lot over the years. I can still recall being absolutely convulsed by one in Mad Magazine, where the “author” was credited as “Mickey Spillblood.” I’d never even heard of Spillane at the time, but I was still in tears. One thing has always been true: when other people parody your style, you know you’ve arrived… : )

      Always good to see you, thanks for checking in! : )

      Like

      • March 22, 2015 12:46 AM

        Thanks for the link, Mark. Reading it right now. Mickey Spillaine still has cachet with today’s audiences. I can think of the Wachowskis’ The Matrix as one, more particularly with one of the animations comprising The Animatrix (where a sendup of Mike Hammer was especially deliberate).

        Like

        • March 28, 2015 12:34 PM

          Hi, Jak! You are clearly well-versed in satires and parodies, and I must say I get a great charge out of them myself.

          I find the tough private eye fantasy very appealing. That’s why I have a ratty old bathrobe that looks like a trench coat, and a sleeping cap that looks like a battered fedora. : )

          Like

  4. March 21, 2015 10:31 PM

    What a great post, Mark. As always, I love your illustrations!

    I haven’t yet read a Mickey Spillane book, but I will. I enjoy the tough private detective genre.

    When I looked at photos of Spillane on Google, I thought he could have been an actor with his looks. He looks like a tough private eye. Then I finished reading your post and saw he did act in his movie. Very cool.

    Favorite author? From today’s writers – Janet Evanovich. From yesterday’s writers – I still enjoy a good Perry Mason Mystery by Erle Stanley Gardner. I’m nearly finished with one now.

    Word games? My all-time favorite when a kid was Perquacky. Did you play? And as a youngster, I LOVED rebus puzzles and books.

    Sing in the shower? Never! The neighbor dogs would howl. πŸ™‚ Hope you’re having a great weekend, Mark!

    Like

    • March 28, 2015 12:26 PM

      Hi, Maddie! Always a pleasure to have you check in!

      Yeah, that’s an interesting little category Spillane’s in: authors who have played their own character in a movie. I can’t think of any other author who can make that claim. Of course, you’ll be the second person to do it when Hollywood comes to its senses and snatches up the rights to one of your Susan Hunter novels… : )

      “Perquacky”?? Must confess I’ve never heard of it– tho it sounds very similar to what they write on my admittance papers at the sanitarium… : )

      Thanks for a great comment, and for all your support!!

      Like

  5. March 22, 2015 8:54 AM

    Mark … I love your rebuses. I got the first one. The second, I should have given it a little more thought and I would have gotten it. πŸ˜‰ I’m betting Mickey Spillane would love your caricatures. You nailed him perfectly.

    I loved Nancy Drew, The Hardy Boys and Agatha Christie’s books. I’m sure I also saw a Mickey Spillane movie or two – not sure if I read his books. Hard boiled? You got it. He was the epitome of the detective who could see thru the scams. Puts me in mind of Humphrey Bogart’s character in “The Maltese Falcon.”

    Like

    • March 28, 2015 12:46 PM

      Thanks, Judy! That second rebus was definitely tricky– reminds me of a lot of crossword puzzle clues these days.

      Nancy Drew, The Hardy Boys– yes, indeed! I used to love the chapter titles: The Hand At The Window, Footprints On The Porch, The Whisper In The Night. No wonder my pulse was always racing as a kid… : )

      You’re absolutely right about Bogart and all those wonderful old film noirs. Spillane certainly had a lot to build on, and that’s half the battle, as Custer said at intermission… : )

      Thanks as ever for your cheery support!!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. March 22, 2015 10:05 AM

    I wonder why I never have seen this guy before. Usually we get all and everything from the US πŸ˜‰
    Thanks that you closed this gap in my education. It might happend to be, that I attent a TV quiz and because you I would be able to answer the question ” Who was Mickey Spillane”?
    The men with bullets in his name!

    Lately I saw coincidentally an old Columbo repetion. Did you like him?

    Like

    • March 29, 2015 8:34 AM

      My dear Tutti! I’m sorry Germany imports so much American pop culture. It makes a person’s brain very soft. Also: very empty. I speak from experience… : )

      Not too surprising that you haven’t heard of Mickey “Mr. Bullets” Spillane. He was at the peak of his fame way back in the 1950s. Fame is fleeting, but talent endures– that’s where you and I have a big advantage… : )

      I never liked Columbo. He had a nice trench coat, but he was so annoying. I always rooted for the bad guy, but alas!– Columbo always won!! : )

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Lily permalink
    March 31, 2015 5:04 PM

    Learned a new word today – rebus! I like them. It’s like playing a visual form of charades! πŸ™‚ Thanks for the lesson, Mark!

    Like

    • April 4, 2015 12:05 PM

      Ha! I confess I had to google that word and check before using it– because I can never quite remember if “rebus” is the right word for them funny little picture thingies with plus signs. Indeed it is– even tho it sounds like what you have to do if the first bus doesn’t take you all the way to your destination… : )

      Thanks for hoping aboard the wheezy ol’ Armstrong Flyer, Lily!!

      Like

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