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Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Harker: Grumpy Cop on the Loose

One thing I missed about not getting to this year's Bristol Comic Expo was the chance to catch up with writer Roger Gibson and artist Vincent Danks, the team from York-based Ariel Press, who always have a gem of a title on offer at the event.

This year was no exception: the publishers of Sapphire and Raven recently launched monthly title Harker, now at Issue 4, all issues available from their web site (www.arielpress.com)

Launched in March, Harker is a gritty new British police comic from Ariel Press, written by Roger (Gravestown, The Bishop, Mad Girl) with art by Vince (Sapphire, Doctor Who).
Detective Chief Inspector Harker and Detective Sergeant Critchley are an eccentric pair of cops specialising in serial murder cases: the comic mixes up the best of British police dramas (Inspector Frost, Morse and others) with classic US dramas (Columbo, for example), the Harker series brings you monthly thrills and action, with superb art and witty, incisive scripts.

Book One: The Key of Solomon, beautifully renedered in a realistic style Vince has mastered over many years of hard work and fine tuning of his skills, features Harker and Critchley on the trail of ritualistic satanic murders - a complex web of lies, deceit and ghoulish horror, taking place in a Secret London of catacombs, blood soaked churches and Satanic Lodges.

The characters are great and every inch the British copper: Detective Chief Inspector Harker is in his late fifties, a copper set in his ways: old fashioned and irritable, eccentric and grumpy, socially inept, a loner, very much an outsider in today’s modern police force. But he’s still a superb detective, accustomed to cutting away the red herrings and getting right to the heart of a case.

Detective Sergeant Critchley is Harker’s faithful partner, a 21st Century copper, tooled up with all the latest gizmos and a hit with the birds - and very much the yin to Harker’s yang.

Ariel Press was originally created in the early 1990s by Vince, who I first met, and commissioned, back when I was editing Doctor Who Magazine. He set up the company specifically to publish his espionage thriller Sapphire. Roger Gibson soon joined in the fun, Vince publishing the Gravestown comic that he put together with Mark Wayne Barrett.

After this initial flurry failed to set the world alight, Vince and Roger returned under the Ariel Press banner with their Raven anthology, containing Vince's continuation of Sapphire, (still available in three collected editions) along with Roger and Mark's Dan Druff, and Roger's The Bishop, Mad Girl and Griffin.

All six issues of the first series Harker will be available to buy from the Ariel Press shop or to download as high resolution PDFs directly from the site's download section. They’ll be released monthly, with issue one, two and three already available to buy, and subsequent issues available on the first of every month.

Making full use of the web as a promotional tool, the Ariel Press team also offer free weekly downloads, podcasts, videos, sketches and more for fans of the series.

• Order Harker direct from: www.arielpress.com

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