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
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 Eclipse), I wanted to give the audiences stories that meant something to me, with characters they hopefully would come to care passionately about.