Plot, script, letters by Roger Gibson & plot, art, covers by Vince Danks.
I love really good genre writing. There’s few feelings in the world better than settling down with a good noir thriller or watching a really great bit of big, stupid sci-fi. It’s a comforting, warm blanket of a feeling. And Harker’s got that feeling in spades.
This is one of those books that I knew I was going to enjoy within the first ten pages. It had that feel of a great genre work, grabbing you and taking you exactly where you wanted it to go. Every page had something on it that pressed the right buttons for the bit of my brain that goes silly over great genre stuff. A little bit Sherlock Holmes, a little bit X-Files, CSI, it’s all these and so much more. But most importantly it gave me that immediacy that is incredibly rare, that feeling within the first few pages that this was going to be something special, and by the end of issue 2, it still felt like that - a hugely entertaining comic.
(Harker and Critchley, just your average special investigating double act. Art by Vince danks from Harker issue 1. Published by Ariel Press.)
So here’s what’s going on in Harker:
“A horribly mutilated body has been discovered on the steps of st George’s Church in london, just around the corner from the British Museum. Detective Chief Inspector Harker, and his assistant Detective Sergeant Critchley, experts in multiple homicides, are on the case. The body is unidentified and appears to be the result of a horrific ritual killing. Harker is skeptical, but book fibres found underneath the victim’s fingernails have led our detectives on the search for an Occult book: The Key Of Solomon“.
Doesn’t that just sound great? Thankfully, Gibson and Danks more than do justice to that very enticing hookline. The genre trappings are all there. The police procedural investigation, the crime scene investigation, the autopsy, the legwork, the finding of the clues; it’s all there, exactly where it should be. Add to that the mysterious supernatural goings on to get one really great comic book series. But on top of a really lovely idea, really well executed the thing reads incredibly well; the dialogue’s cracking; quickfire buddy chat with Harker as the mysterious straight man to Critchley’s rapid fire, slightly unhinged funny man. It’s not standard comic book dialogue either, this is the sort of thing you’re more used to hearing on the latest critically acclaimed US import drama series. Very, very good, very real stuff.
(Harker and Critchley, sounding every bit like the top quality TV show they appear to have escaped from. From Harker issue 2, art by Vince Danks, published by Ariel Press.)
Vince Danks’ art always impressed with the previous comic of his; Sapphire, but his work here is a cut above that even. The super detailed work here is amazing. His figures just flow so naturally across the page and his backgrounds are truly wonderful to look at. The story appears to take place in a very tightly defined area of London and I get the impression from the art that I could almost use these panels to find my way around.
(Vince Danks’ frankly beautiful artwork that you can use as a map of the area it’s set in. Reminds me of Gerhard from Cerebus fame in the meticulous detailing of the backgrounds and the architecture. From Harker issue 2.)
Criminally Harker is one of the comics affected by the recent tightening of Diamond Comics minimum order requirements, meaning that only issue 1 made it into Previews, the Diamond Comics listings magazine. Potentially this can kill the book, as the creators now find themselves having to do the work of distribution themselves. It’s a sad reflection of the industry we’re in that something that’s so much fun, so well done, so well drawn and essentially everything good about genre comics can’t sell enough to get onto the distributor lists yet so much atrocious dross does make it in. So if you’re hunting for Harker on the shelves of your loval comic shop and it isn’t there, make sure you tell them about it and how they can stock it by simply getting in touch with Roger or Vince through the website.
Harker is available through the few enlightened shops that sell it and through the Ariel Press website. The website also has a special downloads section with a special issue 0 and preview of issue 1. Issue 1 & 2 are out now and issue 3 is imminent.
Make it a priority to get hold of these first two issues of what should become, if the world of comics were a little bit better and fairer than it is at the moment, a huge hit.