New Harker and Gravestown!

Friday at 8.7.11

Breaking news! Vince and I are about to start work on a brand new Harker graphic novel, that we're planning to post free online in fortnightly segments, starting in August. PLUS!! We're also about to start serious work on our first Gravestown graphic novel, which we'll also be posting online in fortnightly segments. Each and every week you'll get either new Harker or new Gravestown - for free!!!

More news as we get it ;)

Mad Wirral Bohemians

Sunday at 8.5.11

I've been invited to join the Mad Wirral Bohemians (mostly made up of old friends of mine). You'll find my page here:
I'm not sure what the plan is with the group, but I'm hoping that at the very least my long delayed project with fabulous comics illustrator Mark Wayne Barrett might finally come to fruition...

hi to new readers and old alike! :)

Saturday at 7.5.11

I think this is as close to a mission statement from Harker as we'll ever get ;) Click to embiggen, as always.
Vince and I are planning to be in Bristol this coming weekend, hope you will be too!
Oh, and I've finally finished the first Harker novel 'The Murder Club' - I'm planning to find a publisher for it (and for it then to be an ongoing series of books, as I'm already working on the second), though in the meantime, I'm thinking of putting it on Lulu...
Maybe in time for Bristol? Could be a plan...
Oh, and if you're interested in reading the first chapter (now heavily revised and reposted just a few minutes ago), take a look here:
Part 1
Part 2

Cover for Armageddon Patrol

As Vince continues to draw our new project Gravestown, and I continue to colour Harker, Vince has taken time to draw a cover for John A Short's Armageddon Patrol - isn't this rather wonderful? Click to embiggen!

Roger and Vince in Torchwood Magazine

Friday at 19.11.10

Just thought I'd let you all know that Torchwood Magazine #24 is now out in all the finest newsagents, and it features an 11 page Torchwood strip in full colour by me and Vince - hope you enjoy it!

In other news, although our website is currently out of stock of both of the Harker collections (we sold the very last ones we had at the Birmingham comic convention), we're now doing a small reprint, so if you're missing one of them and want to order, pop back next week and we'll have some in stock!

And I'm still colouring Harker - will post another page in a few days :)


Harker in colour

Wednesday at 10.11.10

So today I started colouring Harker. Two pages down already, another 240 to go. Why would I be doing this? Are there fiendish plans afoot? I couldn't possibly tell you ;)

Harker: The Murder Club - part 2

Tuesday at 9.11.10

Here's another excerpt from the forthcoming Harker novel, continuing from part one, which you'll find here. Hope you enjoy!


Harker sighed with relief as he emerged out of the room and into the daylight, back amongst the living. It was a perfectly sunny day, not the kind of day he wanted to spend idling with the dead.

He made his way towards his car, which was parked amongst a small group of police vehicles at the end of the leafy cul-de-sac. The morning London traffic was a gentle rumble in the distance, masked by the trees. Large Victorian dwellings lined the quiet road around him, each of the houses set back from the street, hidden behind tall gates and even taller trees. It was suburban London at its finest and most expensive. Harker couldn't decide whether he loved it or loathed it. He was in a funny old mood this morning.

He took a long drag of his cigarette and leaned against the bonnet of his old Morris Six, lost in thought. The cigarette tasted good as he drew on it slowly, allowing the smoke to drift down his throat, taking the time to savour it before blowing it out casually through his nostrils. Smoking was a bad habit he clung to with enthusiasm, if only because so many sanctimonious people disapproved of it so thoroughly.

He eased back against the car and sighed to himself with vague self pity. It wasn't just the corpse that was getting him down. He knew he was using that as an excuse. He was still stuck in bloody London, that was the real issue. They were supposed to be a mobile team, moving around England to deal with whatever cases came their way, and yet here they were investigating another murder in this godawful city. A not-so-mobile team, then. He hated this place. It was dirty and old and decaying, and it was packed with tourists and rats and far too much traffic. A place of impatient people, ignorant drivers, one way roads and grime.

He had been hoping to be able to take a break. This constant wallowing in death was never good for him and it had been a while since he had been able to put his job behind him. Whitby was delightful at this time of year, and it was where he had wanted to be today. He was supposed to be on holiday. Then Critchley had phoned him and told him that there was another case for them and his heart had sank. More death, more corpses, more problems to be solved. Harker wanted to be building sandcastles, not rooting around in morgues in this godforsaken city. London always smelt of death to him.

Harker finished his third cigarette of the day, flicked it onto the ground by the side of the Morris Six and stubbed it out with his toe. He noticed Critchley wandering over to him.

"Sorry about this, guv," said Critchley. "I know you were fancying a break. I didn't want to call you but they insisted it had to be you."

The detective sergeant propped himself up against the car bonnet alongside his boss. He pulled out his sunglasses from the pocket of his immaculate black suit pocket and slipped them onto his nose, gazing up into the cloudless morning sky. Birds circled lazily overhead, enjoying the early morning sunshine. Critchley took a deep breath of fresh air, pleased to be away from the lingering smell of death, hoping the scent wouldn't cling to his new suit.

"We investigate multiple homicides, Critchley," said Harker, watching with quiet disdain as a splatter of bird crap landed on the front windscreen of his car. "Where's the first body? Where's the first murder? Is this even a murder? Why are we here?"

"Isn't it a little early to be getting all philosophical on me, guv?" Critchley gave his boss a cheeky grin. Harker cast him a withering look in return which the sergeant playfully ignored. "But there is at least a chance that this is a serial killing. Apparently there was another death here a week ago. Some bloke drowned in the swimming pool. So this is the second one in a week. They thought it was enough of a coincidence to at least call us in, given that we were in London anyway."

"Our fame clearly precedes us," Harker replied wryly. "We need to be careful of this, Critchley. Suspicious deaths happen in London all the time. I don't want us to get stuck here. I hate cities. Especially this one."

"London's a terrific place," Critchley said, brushing aside Harker's practised cynicism. "So much to see, so much to do. It could be a lot worse you know. I mean, we could be in Leeds."

"Don't even joke about it." Harker opened his cigarette packet and tugged out another one. He tapped it on the box, slipped it between his lips and lit it swiftly, popping the lighter back into his pocket. "So tell me what you know about this one. I've seen the corpse. I need some context."

Critchley pulled out his Blackberry and leaned next to his boss against the bonnet of the Morris Six, reading from the information he'd been sent. "This is the Mayfair Gentleman's Club. I'm sure you saw the sign at the door. It's owned and run by a Mr Arthur Quincey. The place is members only, full of rich people with nothing better to do all day than smoke pipes and gamble on the horses."

Harker took a disdainful look towards the Club behind them, set back from the road and surrounded by ornate iron fencing. The Club was housed in a gothic Victorian pile, with huge windows and elaborate baroque detailing. From where Harker was stood, the building appeared relatively modest in size, situated amongst simple gardens and neat lines of trees, but a glimpse along the side of the house revealed just how far back the building continued. It was clearly a large, exclusive and expensive place in which to spend time.

"Yes, thank you Critchley," Harker grumbled, scratching his arse. These early starts did nothing for his piles. "I'm well aware of your prejudices against the upper classes. Can we move onto the more pertinent details of the case please?"

Critchley smiled and continued. "I'll start with the first of the two deaths if that's okay. Everything in its right place. That's what you always say."

"Just get on with it Critchley." Harker took another drag on his cigarette.

"Well apparently last week some big American financier by the name of Charles Burrell Junior drowned in the indoor pool here."

"This place has a pool?"

"It's got a pool, a gym, a bar, all kinds of stuff guv. I had a bit of an explore before we looked at the corpse."

"It's alright for some. Anyway, carry on."

Critchley returned to the notes on his Blackberry. "At the time it looked as if there were no suspicious circumstances to this first death. Burrell had been drinking heavily and sniffing coke in the shower room, and then he drowned whilst taking a swim. So the investigating team concluded that it was death by misadventure. They're still doing the paperwork on that one down at the station and then this happens."

"This Burrell bloke was a drugs user? Can't rich people find anything better to do with their money?” Harker took another long drag of his cigarette and watched with mild disinterest as Jenny Griffin's forensic team walked in and out of the gothic building, ferrying various bags and mysterious apparatus. “So what's the name of our new corpse?"

"Our hanged man is Robert Allison," Critchley replied, checking his notes. "He was something big in the banking industry. Do they still call them fat cats? Or fat bankers? Anyway, he visited the Club regularly and the guy earned more money in a day than you and I see in a month. He's officially the first suicide they've ever had in here. He's also, it says here, the brother of William Allison, Assistant Secretary at the Home Office."

"Well now we know why they called us in," Harker grumbled. "Bloody politician's privileges. This Club is probably full of the loathsome little reptiles."

"Politicians, Lords, foreign dignitaries. This place attracts a wealthy clientele, guv."

"So that's two deaths in a week in the same Club. I can't imagine the owner is going to be especially thrilled by that." Harker took another tug on his cigarette and mulled it over for a moment, glancing up at the impressive facade of the Victorian building. This was just the sort of place in which he could see himself retiring, if it wasn't for all the rich nobs and the fact that it was obviously well beyond the range of his income.

"Okay Critchley, you know the routine. Talk to friends and family members and whatever work colleagues he had. We need to find out if this guy had a reason to want to kill himself. Put uniform on that for now, will you, and slip me any statements you think I need to see. Was there a note?"

"No note," said Critchley, double checking the report on his Blackberry. "Suicides nearly always leave a note. Why wouldn't he leave a note?"

"Maybe he left it somewhere else. It could be back at his house or maybe on his email or something."

"Who emails suicide notes?"

"I don't know, Critchley. You tell me, you're the bloody computer whizz kid. Get that checked out too, will you?" Harker thought to himself, tapped the excess ash from his cigarette and took another pull from it. "I'm wondering why he'd do it so publicly. Suicide is a private thing and this is anything but private."

"Maybe he wanted to be found. Maybe he hoped that someone would interrupt him before he did the deed. A cry for help and all that. Would someone try to hang themselves as a cry for help? Might be considered a little extreme."

"Two deaths in a week." Harker brushed aside Critchley's response. "Two deaths in the same place. Did you know that almost never happens? And whenever it does my nose starts to itch. Always assume the worst, Critchley, it saves so much time."

Harker took a last puff on his cigarette, flicked it away into the gutter and tugged his tatty linen jacket straight. "Go find out what's taking them so long to remove the body," he said, easing himself off the car bonnet and striding towards the entrance to the club. "I want to be in that room. In the meantime I'm going to go and talk to the owner, our Mister Quincey."

Radio interview with Roger and Vince

Thursday at 28.10.10

You'll fins a fifteen minute interview with Vince and I, hosted by Alex Fitch, recorded at the Birmingham International Comics Show, at the following link:

Vince and I talk about Gravestown, Harker, the use of locations in comics, the way we work and the handling of the horror medium amongst other (hopefully) interesting topics. If you download the mp3, you'll find our interview starting at around 24.35, following the phone interview with Alex de Campi. Hope you enjoy it!

Harker: The Murder Club - part 1

Tuesday at 26.10.10

Okay, so as I mentioned in a previous post, self-publishing the first Harker novel through Ariel Press is a really bad idea. However, serialising it (or at least a portion of it), turns out to be a rather good idea. So let's do just that. Here's your first weekly taste of brand new Harker, starting with the first few pages of Chapter One. This is still a work in progress, but I think I'm close to a final draft now, though there may still be slight changes when it's finally published. I hope you enjoy this first taste, and come back here next Monday for the next instalment!


Harker knew a violent death when he saw one. Corpses and cornflakes were part of his regular morning routine. He'd have preferred a cooked breakfast, but greasy food was never a good idea before visiting a corpse. He could never be entirely certain he'd be able to keep it down.

Today's example was particularly gruesome: a lone body suspended by the neck from a rope in the centre of a small, darkened room.

It wasn't pretty. Harker didn't want to look at it. The face of the corpse was an unpleasant shade of purple, the swollen flesh tinged with flecks of pale blue. The eyes bulged wide open from their sockets. The mouth was gaping, the tongue black and protruding. The rope around its neck creaked as the hanged man swayed slowly back and forth, a horrific pendulum.

One glance was definitely more than enough for Harker. It was making him feel queasy and he didn't need to see his breakfast again. He was already regretting the smoked kipper. Dead people unnerved him at the best of times and the tongue thing was making matters infinitely worse.

Around the body, Jenny Griffin's white-clad forensics team got on with their work, crammed into every corner of the room. The dangling corpse was photographed from every angle, the cameras flashing again and again, freezing the corpse in time.

A final photoshoot for the family album, Harker thought to himself. Look, here's me stood in front of the caravan in Bognor Regis. And here's me riding the donkey on the beach in Skegness. Oh, and here's me dead. I'm not really at my best in this one.

Harker forced himself to take another quick look, absorbing the details. The dead man was middle aged and heavily set, dressed in a brown pin stripe suit. His collar was snagged on the rope, distorting the fit, but he could see that the lines of the suit were tailored and sharp and the tie was conservative and classy. There was a gold watch on the corpse's wrist.

The clues were easy enough for an experienced copper like Harker to read. The body was a businessman with expensive taste and plenty of money. Underneath the corpse a small stool was laid on its side, discarded where it had fallen. It certainly looked like a suicide, but Harker had learnt never to take things at face value.

The team fussed with relentless efficiency, recording and bagging every last detail. Harker stood in the centre of the room, keeping his gaze well away from the corpse and forming a calm and quiet presence amongst the chaos. A few moments of silence for him to ponder the scene and to take it all in. Complete concentration was everything in this game.

"Want me to have a delve around, guv?"

Briefly startled, Harker turned to DS Critchley behind him and raised an eyebrow irritably. Critchley grinned back, unconcerned. The young sergeant was looking as sharp as ever: his new black suit fitted him far too well, his shoes gleamed, his head was freshly shaven and his goatee was trimmed to perfection. Harker gave his assistant a weary look and sighed, unable to muster a similar enthusiasm. He desperately needed some caffeine.

"Help yourself Critchley. Try not to get in the way." Harker ran his fingers through his own ruffled and tatty hair, feeling tired and crabby. He tugged ineffectually at his own crumpled jacket and yawned. "But don't let them take the body down until every inch of this room has been photographed and catalogued."

Critchley trod carefully around the forensics team, his gaze darting across the room as he took everything in. "Yes, I think they know that, guv."

"I don't care if they know it. Make sure of it anyway. It's what you're here for. Don't let them miss a thing."

Harker loathed early mornings. Even his shoes didn't feel like they fitted properly today. He glanced down at his feet and noticed that the laces of his scruffy old Converse sneakers had come undone again. He slid down to tie his shoelace, popped up again just as quickly hoping that no-one had noticed and took another furtive glance at the corpse. The body stared back at him glassy eyed, as if screaming to be allowed down from the rope. The fingers of the corpse were clawed desperately. Harker shuddered at the sight and quickly turned away. This wasn't helping his mood.

Critchley moved closer to take a better look at the body. He slipped his Blackberry from his pocket, tapped in a few notes and took some photographs for reference. He noticed the corpse staring at them both and gave it a cheeky wink in return. The corpse looked on passively.

"No sense of humour, some people," Critchley quipped. "So do we reckon this was a suicide? I've not seen a hanging before. Do they all look like this?"

"Pretty much. But something about this one doesn't sit right with me." Harker took another look at the face of the corpse and then just as quickly tore his eyes away. Critchley stepped closer to the body to get a better look, ignoring Jenny Griffin's raised eyebrow as she dusted for prints nearby.

"Please be careful," she reminded him, tugging with irritation at her white overalls. "I don't want your feet stepping on anything important."

"Don't worry luv, I know what I'm doing."

Critchley leaned into the corpse. He studied the face, lingered for a few moments and rubbed again at his goatee thoughtfully. "He does look a little startled, I'll give you that. Could it have gone wrong? Maybe he intended to break his own neck as he dropped and it didn't happen. So the rope tightened around his neck and he's stuck there slowly throttling himself to death. It's not like he could practice it first or anything."

"If you're going to hang yourself," said Harker, looking around the room, looking anywhere but at the ghoulish corpse, "well, that's a pretty elaborate way to kill yourself, don't you think? Suicide is something you plan, not something you do on a whim. If you're going to go to all that trouble, I'd say you're pretty damn sure you want to get it right."

"What are you getting at?" Critchley stepped over the fallen stool under the body's feet, noting it's position.

"If you're that determined to be dead then why struggle? Look at his face, Critchley. Look at his clawed hands. This man struggled and fought for his last breath. Why would he do that?"

"Panic? People panic when they can't breathe. It's an automatic reaction."

Harker grumbled dismissively and took another look around the room, scanning and storing it in his memory. "Maybe you're right. Maybe I'm just getting cynical in my old age. I'm going outside for a cigarette. Come and get me when the body's been taken down, I can't bear to look at it any more."

"Will do, guv." Critchley watched as his boss turned and left, and smiled with slight embarrassment towards Griffin. "You know what he's like. He hates getting up this early."

Griffin tutted audibly.

(more next week)

Creating Gravestown: 2 - plotting

Friday at 22.10.10

Plotting is where the real work starts for us. It's all very well thinking about a project and talking about it and doing lots of fannying about, but for our working method the plotting session is crucial, as it's where I try to transfer those images in my own head into Vince's head, so that we're both visualiising the same thing, and where he throws in his own ideas to improve and refine it.

Vince and I do this at the pub. More specifically we do this at the Dormouse pub in York - in the summer it has a lovely outdoor area that is perfect for thinking and exchanging ideas, and when colder it has roaring fires and scrummy food. Writers like roaring fires a great deal! There's nothing quite like a good roaring log fire and a refreshing pint of beer to really get my creative muscles working - most of my best ideas have been aided by a small dose of refreshing English ale.

I'd spent the weekend whilst at BICS giving Vince as much detail as I could about Gravestown, particularly concentrating on the novel I wrote three years ago, which would form the basis of the opening elements of the story. So the plotting session was all about refining those ideas, both of us throwing in a whole bunch of new ones, waving our arms around expressively, pulling together a full storyline for the first six issues so that we'd know where we're heading. Once that was done we zeroed in on the specifics of issue one.

We've always done this the same way, throughout our work on the Harker monthly. Once I have the issue firm in my mind, Vince gets his pen and paper out and draws 20 boxes on the page - one box for each page of the comic. Here we block out the pacing of the issue and I tell Vince what I need - it might be a full page here, two pages for conversation there, three pages of action here, giving him the main images in my mind (in this case the house, the doors, the bridges, the pump room, the cliff face, the spooky child etc) and placing them in their right context (and of course the right order) so that Vince knows what happens and when. Vince scribbles notes into each box as we talk, until we're both satisfied that the pacing feels right and all those pesky boxes are filled with exciting stuff.

Armed with all of this information, Vince takes the notes home and works them into twenty pages of rough thumbnail layouts - effectively the entire issue is drawn rapidly with stick men, working out the storytelling (i.e. where the characters are placed in each panel to tell the story in the most efficient and exciting way - one of Vince's real skills) and blocking it out carefully. It's just like drawing storyboards for a movie, getting those camera angles right before the photo shoot.

You'll notice that there's still no script at this stage - Vince and I work 'Marvel-style', drawing the issue first and then scripting over the artwork. This leaves Vince much freer with the artwork, able to add his own ideas and flourishes, and makes the scripting a little more fun for me.

As of today (Friday) Vince has now finished the thumbnails, so the next stage is the photo session, which we're doing tomorrow afternoon. On Monday, the drawing begins...