Max Allan Collins
Max Allan Collins early in his career (1982)
Max Allan Collins early in his career (1982)
Born (1948-03-03) March 3, 1948 (age 76)
Muscatine, Iowa, U.S.
Pen nameBarbara Allan, Patrick Culhane
GenreMystery in the following media: novels, screenplays, comic books, comic strips, short stories, and historical fiction.
Notable worksRoad to Perdition
Notable awardsInkpot Award 1982
Shamus Award 1984 and 1992
SpouseBarbara Collins

Max Allan Collins (born March 3, 1948) is an American mystery writer, noted for his graphic novels. His work has been published in several formats and his Road to Perdition series was the basis for a film of the same name. He wrote the Dick Tracy newspaper strip for many years and has produced numerous novels featuring the character as well.


Writing career

Collins has written novels, screenplays, comic books, comic strips, trading cards, short stories, movie novelizations and historical fiction. He wrote the graphic novel Road to Perdition (which was developed into a film in 2002), created the comic book private eye Ms. Tree,[1] and took over writing the Dick Tracy comic strip from creator Chester Gould.[2] Collins briefly wrote the Batman comic book in 1987 and crafted a new origin for the Jason Todd character.[3] Collins and artist Terry Beatty created Wild Dog at DC that same year in a self-titled limited series. The character later appeared as a feature in the Action Comics Weekly anthology.[4] As of 2016, Wild Dog became a recurring character in the Arrow television series and is portrayed by actor Rick Gonzalez.[5]

Another Collins contribution to the Batman franchise was scripting the English-language translation of Batman: Child of Dreams in 2003.[6] He wrote books to expand on the Dark Angel TV series. He has written books and comics based on the TV series franchise CSI. In 2006 he wrote Buried Deep (also released as "Bones Buried Deep"), based on the TV series Bones.[7]

He has written two sequel novels to Road to Perdition: Road to Purgatory and Road to Paradise. He wrote three more graphic novels starring the characters from Road to Perdition. These graphic novels, called collectively On the Road to Perdition, form the basis of the film.[8]

He co-founded the International Association of Media Tie-in Writers with Lee Goldberg.[9] The IAMTW is an organization for writers of tie-ins and novelizations.[10]

Collins studied in the Iowa Writers' Workshop at the University of Iowa.[11]

Collins is a fan of the mystery writer Mickey Spillane from childhood and later became close friends with him. The two collaborated on a comic book series in the 1990s called Mike Danger. Upon Spillane's death in 2006, Collins was entrusted to finish various uncompleted works by Spillane including Dead Street, The Big Showdown, and an ongoing series of Mike Hammer novel completions, beginning with The Goliath Bone in 2008. To date, Collins has completed thirteen Spillane Hammer novels, with the most recent being Kill Me If You Can, published in 2022.[12]

In 2021, he and Canadian actor/writer Dave Thomas teamed to write the sci-fi mystery novel The Many Lives of Jimmy Leighton. [13]

Movies and music

In addition to his work as a writer, Collins has written and directed four movies: Mommy, Mommy 2: Mommy's Day, Real Time: Siege at Lucas Street Market, and Eliot Ness: An Untouchable Life (based on his Edgar Award–nominated play).[7] All four were produced independently on location in Collins' hometown of Muscatine, Iowa. The first three are available on DVD—separately or in the Black Box set—from Troma Team Video, and the Ness film is distributed by VCI Entertainment. The DVD release of Real Time: Siege at Lucas Street Market being notable for being one of the first films to take advantage of the multi-angle feature on DVD players, thus giving viewers the opportunity to watch the story unfold from different viewpoints.

Collins has written and performed music with his rock band, Crusin'.[14]

Political views

Collins is a Democrat, describing his political views thus: "I think of myself as slightly left of center, but my father thought of himself as slightly right of center, when he was slightly right of Genghis Khan. So who knows? I do know that I veer left when the right is getting out of hand, which they frequently do."[15]

Personal life

Collins and his wife, Barbara, have a son, Nathan.[7]

In 2008, the band he started in 1966 in Muscatine, Iowa—the Daybreakers—was inducted into the Iowa Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame.[16][17] Ten years later, in 2018, Collins was again inducted into the Iowa Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame as a member of the band Cruisin'.[18][19]


Collins received an Inkpot Award in 1982.[20] He won the Shamus Award in 1984 and 1992.[21]

Selected bibliography

Collins with Leslie Nielsen in 1982

Quarry series

This series features a former U.S. Marine sniper turned professional assassin after returning from the Vietnam War in 1973.

Cinemax created a TV adaptation of Quarry. Written by Michael D. Fuller and Graham Gordy based loosely on the book series, the project centers on a Marine marksman who, upon returning home from Vietnam in 1972, finds himself shunned by those he loves and demonized by the public. The disillusioned vet is quickly recruited into a network of contract killers and corruption spanning the Mississippi River.[22][23] The show was cancelled in May 2017.[24]

Nolan series

This series features a professional thief, similar to and apparently inspired by Richard Stark's "Parker" character, who operates in the Midwest.

Mallory series

The Mallory series is about a mystery writer in Iowa who solves crimes.

Nathan Heller series

Collins' longest running series and arguably his best known work is his Nathan Heller series. Heller is a Chicago private investigator who gets involved in famous crimes and meets famous people of the 1930s and 1940s, including Orson Welles, Frank Nitti, and Sally Rand. The first novel in this historical fiction series, True Detective, won the 1984 Shamus Award for Best P.I. Hardcover from the Private Eye Writers of America. Collins won his second Shamus in 1992 for the Heller novel Stolen Away,[21] an account of the Lindbergh kidnapping. His 1999 novel Flying Blind sees Heller investigate the disappearance of Amelia Earhart, along the way becoming romantically involved with her. With the release of Chicago Confidential, Collins moved the action into the 1950s. Target Lancer, about an alleged attempt to assassinate John F. Kennedy in Chicago just weeks before the actual assassination in Dallas, was published in November 2012.

Eliot Ness series

This series of novels is about real life Untouchable Eliot Ness's career as Director of Public Safety in Cleveland.

Dick Tracy series

Main article: Dick Tracy


Road to Perdition series

Title Author Release Date
Road to Perdition Max Allan Collins with Richard Piers Rayner June 1998
Road to Perdition Movie tie-in novel Max Allan Collins June 2002
On the Road to Perdition Book 1: Oasis Max Allan Collins with José Luis García-López and Josef Rubinstein May 2003
On the Road to Perdition Book 2: Sanctuary Max Allan Collins with José Luis García-López and Steve Lieber December 2003
On the Road to Perdition Book 3: Detour Max Allan Collins with José Luis García-López and Steve Lieber July 2004
Road to Perdition: On the Road (*) Max Allan Collins with José Luis García-López and Josef Rubinstein/Steve Lieber December 2004
Road to Purgatory Max Allan Collins December 2004
Road to Paradise Max Allan Collins December 2005
Return to Perdition Max Allan Collins August 2011[25]
Road to Perdition: The New Expanded Edition (Novel) Max Allan Collins November 2016[26]

(*) Note: Road to Perdition: On the Road, is a single-volume collection of On the Road to Perdition Books 1–3.

Disaster series

CSI: Crime Scene Investigation novels

Main article: CSI: Crime Scene Investigation

Title Author Release Date
Double Dealer Max Allan Collins November 2001
Sin City Max Allan Collins October 2002
Cold Burn Max Allan Collins April 2003
Body of Evidence Max Allan Collins November 2003
Grave Matters Max Allan Collins October 2004
Binding Ties Max Allan Collins April 2005
Killing Game Max Allan Collins November 2005
Snake Eyes Max Allan Collins September 2006
Mortal Wounds * Max Allan Collins October 2006

CSI: Miami novels

Main article: CSI: Miami

Title Author Release Date
Florida Getaway Max Allan Collins August 1, 2003
Heat Wave Max Allan Collins July 5, 2004
Exotic Racing Bombers Of Death Max Allan Collins June 19, 2003

Criminal Minds novels

Main article: Criminal Minds

Title Author Release Date
Jump Cut Max Allan Collins November 6, 2007
Killer Profile Max Allan Collins May 6, 2008
Finishing School Max Allan Collins November 4, 2008

Jack & Maggie Starr series

A mystery series set in and around the American comic book industry during the tail end of the Golden Age of Comic Books

J.C. Harrow Series

Other television novels

With Mickey Spillane

Main article: Mickey Spillane

Writing as Barbara Allan (with wife Barbara Collins): Trash 'n' Treasure series

Other Barbara Allan books

Writing as Patrick Culhane




AiT/Planet Lar

Big Entertainment/Tekno Comix

Dark Horse Comics

DC Comics

Eclipse Comics

First Comics

IDW Publishing

Marvel Comics

Renegade Press

Titan Comics


  1. ^ Markstein, Don (2009). "Ms. Tree". Don Markstein's Toonopedia. Archived from the original on October 25, 2015. Collins teamed with artist Terry Beatty to introduce Ms. Tree in the first issue of Eclipse Magazine (May, 1981).
  2. ^ Collins, Max Allan; Gould, Chester (2003). Dick Tracy: The Collins Casefiles, Volume 1. Miamisburg, Ohio: Checker Book Publishing Group. p. 5. ISBN 0-9741664-2-1.
  3. ^ Manning, Matthew K.; Dougall, Alastair, ed. (2014). "1980s". Batman: A Visual History. London, United Kingdom: Dorling Kindersley. p. 167. ISBN 978-1465424563. Jason Todd's origin had been a virtual carbon copy of Dick Grayson's. However, with the clean slate offered by Crisis on Infinite Earths, writer Max Allan Collins decided to make the characters more different. ((cite book)): |first2= has generic name (help)CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  4. ^ Martin, Brian (August 2017). "Where the Action is...Weekly". Back Issue! (98). Raleigh, North Carolina: TwoMorrows Publishing: 64.
  5. ^ Damore, Meagan (April 13, 2017). "Arrow: Wild Dog & Black Canary Upped to Series Regulars for Season 6". Comic Book Resources. Archived from the original on June 11, 2017. Wild Dog was introduced at the beginning of Arrow Season 5.
  6. ^ Manning "2000s" in Dougall, p. 266: "Translated into English by a voice familiar with chronicling Bruce Wayne's adventures, writer Max Allan Collins, this epic story followed a Japanese reporter...who traveled to Gotham City."
  7. ^ a b c "Biography". The Official FOMAC Website. Retrieved March 13, 2017.
  8. ^ Jagernauth, Kevin (October 14, 2011). "Max Allan Collins Says 'Road To Perdition' Sequel Still Happening; Talks Beatty's 'Dick Tracy' Doc". IndieWire. Retrieved March 13, 2017.
  9. ^ "International Association of Media Tie-in Writers". Archived from the original on September 6, 2015.
  10. ^ "About the IAMTW". International Association of Media Tie-In Writers. Retrieved March 13, 2017.
  11. ^ "Max Allan Collins a 2017 Grand Master of Mystery Writing". Iowa Writers' Workshop. March 13, 2017. Retrieved March 13, 2017.
  12. ^ "A Conversation With Max Allan Collins On Graphic Novel "The Night I Died"". Mystery Tribune. Retrieved March 13, 2017.
  13. ^ "Dave Thomas and Max Allan Collins take mystery to the multiverse". Retrieved November 30, 2021.
  14. ^ Kuhlenbeck, Mike (November 19, 2015). "Psychedelic Siren: Crusin' with Max Allan Collins and The Daybreakers". Iowa Free Press. Archived from the original on February 26, 2017. Crusin's lead singer and keyboardist Max Allan Collins is better known to fans as a prolific author of novels, short stories and comic books.
  15. ^ Collins, Max Allan (February 2, 2010). "Collins Hits The Third Rail". Archived from the original on April 18, 2015.
  16. ^ "Friends/Family/Fans of Max Allan Collins".
  17. ^ "Iowa Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame".
  18. ^ "Crusin' to Be Inducted into the Iowa Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame".
  19. ^ "Iowa Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame".
  20. ^ "Inkpot Award Winners". Hahn Library Comic Book Awards Almanac. Archived from the original on July 9, 2012.
  21. ^ a b "Shamus Award Winners". The Private Eye Writers of America. Retrieved July 2, 2017.
  22. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (April 3, 2013). "Cinemax Orders Contract Killer Drama Pilot Based On Max Allan Collins' Quarry Books". Deadline Hollywood. Archived from the original on October 17, 2015.
  23. ^ "Pilot Scoop: Cinemax Orders 1970s Drama Quarry". TV News Today. April 5, 2013. Archived from the original on September 17, 2013.
  24. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (May 31, 2017). "'Quarry' Canceled By Cinemax After One Season". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved May 31, 2017.
  25. ^ "Return to Perdition". Vertigo. August 24, 2011. Archived from the original on October 28, 2014.
  26. ^ Breen, Jon L. (2017). "The Jury Box". Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine. Archived from the original on August 27, 2017.