by Clyde Hall. Some works are lost forever, like Sylvia Plath’s Double Exposure. Others linger but despite unique qualities, fall from the notice of modern readers, like The Blank Wall by Elisabeth Sanxay Holding. Still other important, pivotal books go out of print, are largely forgotten or considered lost even while genres are built on their foundations. 1986’s Work for a Million by Eve Zaremba is firmly in the final category. But it’s not just coming back. It’s bringing a graphic novel adaptation with it.
Canadian publisher Bedside Press recently announced the return of this lost piece of pulp history starring the first out lesbian detective protagonist. Founder and publisher Hope Nicholson stated in a release that she had never heard of its main character, Detective Helen Keremos, until she received an email from Margaret Atwood (The Handmaid’s Tale) asking for assistance and advice on getting the novel re-released. “I did some quick research online and could see why she thought of me instantly for help. A character who premiered in an era I dearly love, the 1970s, set in Canada, starring the first openly lesbian PI, and written by an out lesbian woman? This is the type of literary history I adore, forgotten but essential and groundbreaking.”
A Kickstarter campaign has been launched for the book’s new printing, which also funds an all-new graphic novel adaptation by writer Amanda Deibert, artist Selena Goulding (both contributors to The Secret Lives of Geeks and Secret Lives of Geek Girls), and letterer Ed Dukeshire. Sean Phillips (Criminal) is the artist for the graphic novel cover, the preview featured below courtesy of Bedside Press. Sami Kivelä (Abbott) is creating a new cover for the prose edition. The project’s proceeding with original author Eve Zaremba’s full approval and with her wife, Ottie Lockey, assisting in the material’s organization.
Work for a Million is a story of PI Helen Keremos, a clever, witty, and incredibly skilled detective who needs a break from the bustling Toronto scene and plans on returning to peaceful Vancouver. The only thing standing in her way? Wrapping up a final case by protecting wealthy singer Sonia Deerfield and finding out who’s sending the diva death threats. Amidst a crowd of predatory associates and hangers-on, Helen and Sonia begin to feel an attraction that surpasses bodyguard duty. As threats become attacks, the PI suspects Sonia’s not the only target their mysterious nemesis has sighted in for the kill.
From Bedside Press: Bedside Press, the Canadian comic book and prose publisher celebrates their five year anniversary by unearthing Eve Zaremba’s long out of print novel, Work for a Million! Largely unknown, and originallypublished in 1986 by Amanita Press, Work for a Million was notably the first pulp novel to star a lesbian private investigator!
Helen Keremos originally premiered just under ten years earlier in 1978, but it was in Work for a Millionthat she was at her best. In addition to reprinting this groundbreaking lost work of fiction, Kickstarter comic book thought leader and Bedside Press publisher Hope Nicholson looks to fund an all-new graphic novel adapation by Amanda Deibert and Selena Goulding.
“When Margaret Atwood emailed me one day, to ask if I could assist some friends of hers with advice, I had never heard of the detective Helen Keremos” says Bedside Press founder and publisher, Hope Nicholson. “I did some quick research online and could see why she thought of me instantly for help. A character who premiered in an era I dearly love, the 1970s, set in Canada, starring the first openly lesbian PI, and written by an out lesbian woman?? This is the type of literary history I adore, forgotten but absolutely essential and groundbreaking.”
Witty, sly, and incredibly skilled at her job, Helen Keremos is tired of the busy Toronto life and just wants to truck back to Vancouver and peace. But before she goes, she’s hired for one last job, to protect the newly wealthy struggling songbird Sonia Deerfield, who’s been receiving death threats and attempts on her life. With predatory “friends” all around Sonia, it’s hard to tell who Helen can trust. As the danger increases around them, Helen and Sonia find themselves drawn to each other for more than just protection. Soon, Helen realizes that Sonia isn’t the only one with a target on her back, as the mysterious blackmailer turns their attention to her too…
Nicholson continues, “Out of all her adventures, the one that struck me the most that I had to work with was Work for a Million. Not only is it a steamy noir set in Toronto, but it features a will-they-won’t-they romance between the femme fatale and our dashing detective, Helen. I immediately knew that I didn’t just want to give advice, I wanted to publish this as a graphic novel. Eve, and her wife Ottie who has been instrumental as the organizer of this project, both agreed on this path.”
Bedside Press will also be reissuing the original prose novel with a new cover by Sami Kivelä (Abbott), while the graphic novel will be adapted by Amanda Deibert and Selena Goulding, both of whom had previously contributed to the crically acclaimed anthologies, The Secret Lives of Geeks and Secret Lives of Geek Girls, with a breathtaking new cover by Sean Phillips (Criminal).
Nicholson concludes “This book, both in its original prose, and in this new graphic novel (both of which are part of the Kickstarter), is an important part of crime fiction history, LGBT history, feminist literature history, and Canadian literature history. And yet, even though it’s set decades in the past, the energy sparkling between our leads feels very fresh and exciting. This is the perfect gift for those who love pulp and crime comics, with a Bogart-esque tough PI lead who still has a soft spot for vulnerable people to protect.”