Mike Mist

Created by Max Allan Collins and Terry Beatty

It’s been a long, long road for MIKE MIST, the handsome Chicago private eye with a taste for comic books and bad puns, and a flair for solving murders in a minute or two. A pet project of Max Allan Collins and Terry Beatty, co-creators of that other long-running comic book P.I., Ms. Tree, Mike has appeared in at least a hundred short shorts in assorted comic strips and books. They’re essentially updates of the old two minute-mysteries, adapted to the comics form.

Usually a dozen panels or less, with the long-suffering, intellectually-challenged, appropriately-named Lieutenant Dimm as his baffled Watson, Mike first showed up as the upper third of a weekly syndicated, tabloid-sized page of six different comics by Collins and Beatty, ironically titled The Comics Page. It only ran for about a year, and only appeared in a dozen papers or so, but The Chicago-Reader picked up Mike Mist near the end of its run. Mist then showed up in Mystery Magazine until that digest-sized mag bit the dust. Mike finally got a permanent home when he started appearing as the backup feature to Collins’ and Beatty’s Ms. Tree comic book. He also appeared in several full-length adventures with the magazine’s heroine, and even a few prose tales. As Collins’ workload picked up, his wife Barb jumped in and took over the scripting chores on both the strips and some of the short stories.

These weren’t always exactly fair-play mysteries. The solutions often relied on sleight-of-hand wordplay and puns (including some truly horrific groaners), knowledge not contained in the stories or arcane knowledge of detective fiction, old movies and TV shows, comics, rock’n’roll and everything else under the sun.  But, fair play or not, they were almost always entertaining — and it’s not like you’d invested hours in them, anyway.

Unfortunately, when Ms. Tree made the jump to DC, Mike wasn’t asked to tag along. But rest assured that he’s bound to pop up sooner or later. Collins and Beatty’s characters are more persistent than Energizer Bunnies, and a lot more fun.

When Collins and Beatty finally acquired the reprint rights to the old Johnny Dynamite series, they finally gave Mike a bit of backstory. Supposedly, Mike grew up on Johnny Dynamite comics, and when he was older, he actually went to work for his hero, the infamous “Chicago Wild Man” private eye, becoming a partner in his agency. When Dynamite retired, Mike bought out the agency.

The Mike Mist Minute Mist-eries collected thirty-eight of Mike’s adventures from The Comics Page, and many of his later adventures were collected in The Ms. Tree Casebook #3.

COMICS

  • THE COMICS PAGE
    (Syndicated, 1979-80)
    Weekly

    • “Death Takes a Powder” (first Mike Mist ever; reprinted in #6)
    • “Death Comes Special Delivery” (September 10, 1979; #9)
    • “Murder’s a Messy Business” (September 17, 1979; #9)
    • “His Last Act” (October 22, 1979; #9)
    • “Trick or Trick” (October 29, 1979; #9)
    • “Stamp of Suspicion” (November 5, 1979; #9)
    • “Final Chapter” (November 12, 1979; #9)
    • “It Happened in the Night” (March 17, 1980; #9)
    • “Murder Cruise” (March 24, 1980)
    • “Chill Will” (May 5, 1980)
  • MYSTERY MAGAZINE
    (Monthly mystery digest).

    • “You Only Die Once”
    • “Silence Isn’t Golden”
  • THE MIKE MIST MINUTE MIST-ERIES
    (1981, Eclipse Comics)

    • “Mechanical Error”
    • “Web of Flames”
    • “A Nice Place to Visit”
    • “Long Distance Call”
    • “Death Meets a Deadline”
    • “Neither Rain Nor Snow Nor Mist…”
    • “Takes One to Know One…”
    • “Yes, Virginia, There is a Lt. Dimm”
    • “Publish and Perish”
    • “The Big Blackout”
    • “Delayed Broadcast”
    • “Do Not Overlook a Thing…”
    • “The Corsican Falcon”
    • “Wax Impression”
    • “Worse Than His Bite”
    • “2 Friends on Vacation”
    • “Capitol Crime”
    • “Exception to the Rule”
    • “Electric Guitar”
    • “Give Up the Ghost”
    • “Dimm Neighbor”
    • “Off the Track”
    • “Donohoe’s Dark Secret”
    • “Hot Rox”
    • “Cry Uncle”
    • “Mourning After”
    • “Indoor Fishing”
    • “Poe Answer”
    • “False Stepp”
    • “Sudden Stop”
    • “Fit to Print”
    • “Open and Shut Shut Case”
    • “Death of Paige”
    • “Key Witness”
    • “It Wasn’t Easy”
  • E-MAN
    (1983, First Comics).

    • “The Butler Didn’t” (No. 2, May 1983, No. 2)
  • MS. TREE’S THRILLING DETECTIVE ADVENTURES
    (1983-84, Eclipse Comics)
    Back-up feature.

    • “No Laughing Murder” (February 1983; #1)
    • “Death in the Deep End” (April 1983; #2)
    • “Crime Takes a Hike” (July 1983; #3)
    • “Damsel in this Dress” (October 1983; #4)
    • “Too Damp Bad” (November 1983; #5)
    • “Death Takes a Powder” (February 1984; #6)
    • “Death Has an Eerie Ring” (April 1984; #7)
    • “If the Shoe Fits” (May 1984; #8)
    • “Murder at Mohawk” (1984; #9; full length story with Ms. Tree)
  • MS. TREE
    (1984-85, Aardvark-Vanaheim)
  • “Long and the Short of Death” (August 1984; #10)
  • “See No Evil” (September 1984; #11)
  • “Wertham was Right” (October 1984; #12)
  • “You Only Die Once” (November 1984; #13)
  • “Claus for Alarm” (December 1984; #14)
  • “Suitable for Framing” (January 1985; #15)
  • “Snow Job” (February 1985; #16)
  • “Four-Color Phony” (April 1985; #17)
  • “Silence Isn’t Golden” (May 1985; #18)
  • MS. TREE
    (1985-89, Renegade Press)..

    • “Disappearing Act” (June 1985; #19)
    • “Woman in White” (October 1985; # 22)
    • “Railroaded” (November 1985; # 23)
    • “Blood Will Tell” (December 1985; # 24)
    • “Shattered Alibi” (January 1986; # 25)
    • “Staged Suicide” (February 1986; # 26)
    • “Blind Suspicion” (March 1986; # 27)
    • “No Shot in the Dark” (April 1986; # 28)
    • “Lucky Number” (June 1986; # 30)
    • “Overdrawn Account” (July 1986; # 31)
    • “Tag! You’re It!” (September 1986; # 32)
    • “Ticket to Write” (October 1986; # 33)
    • “Time Out for Murder” (November 1986; # 34)
    • “Dial “M” for Murderer” (December 1986; # 35)
    • “When Dynamite Explodes” (February 1987; # 36)
    • “Answer Phoney” (March 1987; # 37)
    • “Final Edit” (April 1987; # 38)
    • “Game Over” (May 1987; # 39)
    • “Witness Solution” (October 1987; # 41)
    • “Soaked” (November 1987; #42)
    • “Cold Cash” (December 1987; # 43)
    • “Fear of Frying” (February 1988; # 44)
    • “Murder Cruise” (April 1988; # 45-November 1988; # 48: 4-part story with Ms. Tree)
    • “Death in the Driver’s Seat” (November 1988; # 48; short story)
    • “Diamonds Aren’t a Girl’s Best Friend” (May 1989; # 49)
    • “Bum Rap” (July 1989; # 50)
  • MS. TREE 3-D
    (August 1985, Renegade Press)
    One-shot.
    • “Death, Diamonds and Danger” “A Pair of Eyes” (August 1985; #1)
  • MS. TREE ROCK ‘N’ ROLL SUMMER SPECIAL
    (1986, Renegade Press).

    • “Music to Murder By” (August 1986; #1)
      A full length story with Ms. Tree
  • THE DETECTIVES
    (1993, Alpha Productions).

    • “Image of Death” (April 1993; #1))

COLLECTIONS

  • The Mike Mist Minute Mist-eries (1981, Eclipse Comics)
  • The Files of Ms. Tree #3: The Mike Mist Casebook (1986, Renegade Press)

RELATED LINKS

Report respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.

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