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Toonhound presents...






British Comic Strips
   Harker - issue one - from Ariel Press

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      creators: Roger Gibson
                     (script, plot, lettering)
                     Vince Danks
                     (artwork, plot)

      publisher: Ariel Press
    published: April 2009 - March 2010
                     12 issues / 2 trade paperbacks


    DCI Harker and DS Critchley are the proverbial chalk and cheese of police.
    Harker is a gruff and shop-soiled individual with a keen eye for detail and a
    most cynical tongue. His bald bold aide, meanwhile, is something of
    a ladies man who sports a natty line in slick black suits and a quip for
    every occasion.

    In their first full-length assignment - "The Key of Solomon" - Harker and
    Critchley investigate an horrific ritual killing close to the British Museum,
    in London.
The six-issue path of deduction leads them to an Occult group
    with sex and death on their minds. Then, in "The Woman in Black", the
    duo stumble upon a murderous game of cat-and-mouse in Whitby that
    seems to have been lifted straight out of an Agatha Christie novel.

    It would spoil things to go into any more detail about either case, but suffice
    it to say, both stories are rollicking, riveting reads. Danks' architectural panels
    are almost photographic in detail, and they're married beautifully to Gibson's
    dialogue, which is pinprick sharp
. Harker and Critchley seem to have sprung
    into action fully-formed. They're not comic cyphers, they're a living, breathing
    detective duo who might well have stepped straight out of an ITV drama.

    DCI Harker takes his cue from Jack Frost, or Lieutenant Columbo, though
    he's still very much his own man, with his own particular "look"; a creased
    grey linen jacket, and converse-style trainers. He's forty-plus, he's been
    around the block enough to have had his enthusiasm for life eroded to
    cynicism, but his attire suggests he's still clutching at his youth. He hasn't
    lost his zest for life quite yet, despite his gre
ying temples...

    Oh, can you see? - You can get all that detail about the character, just
    from his appearance. That's why this is a winner. It takes itself seriously.
    And it's clear that each real-life has been researched and documented
    just as meticulously. It feels like you're there, on the case, with
    our heroes.

    Harker - issue one - from Ariel Press Harker - issue five - from Ariel PressHarker - issue six - from Ariel Press

    Old pros

    Gibson and Danks are actually old pros on the comics and small press scene
    (see their bios here and here). In 1997, Vince Danks set up his self-publishing
    venture, Ariel Press in order to bring us "Sapphire", and latterly, an anthology
    called "Raven". Both of these projects explored the notion of creating a cracking
    Saturday night tv show in comic form, but Danks himself says that for a
    variety of reasons, the finished articles never quite gelled.

    But Harker works brilliantly.

    The comic was born out of a discussion at the Birmingham Comic Expo, in 2008.
    Vince had shown particular interest in a quirky detective character called Griffin
    that Roger had created for the "Raven" anthology, a decade earlier. Griffin swiftly
    became Harker and he and DS Critchley were presented to the market via a
    special preview - Issue Zero - before the comic launched officially as an
    ongoing monthly, in April 2009.

    Gibson and Danks have completed just the two "Harker" mysteries, thus far.
    They made for a twelve-issue run that concluded in March 2010. Both have
    been collected into trade editions. Roger has also completed the first draft or
    two for a proposed standalone Harker novel. "The Murder Club"
takes place
    in Mayfair, in between those first two comic book cases.

    Since then, however, things have been rather quiet because the creators
    have been involved in protracted negotiations to relaunch Harker on a bigger
    comics stage, via a mainstream publisher. It's all very exciting, but it
    means that fans like us have had to wait a painfully long time for their
    next case. The hiatus has been simply murderous!


    Harker's growing casebook

   Book One: The Key of Solomon
   Six monthly issues - April-September 2009

   Book Two: Murder By the Book
 Six monthly issues - September 2009-March 2010


   The Murder Club
   a Harker novel by Roger Gibson - coming soon!

    » Purchase your copy(s) of Harker direct from Ariel Press 


     On the web

Ariel Press

     The official site for all things Harker, with extra info, a regular
     blog and - most importantly - comics and books to purchase
     or download...

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© Roger Gibson & Vince Danks / F2011