Harker Issue 3 - annotations

Friday at 24.7.09

Issue six is at the printers, and Vince and I did a little happy dance, Book One completed on schedule. No rest for the wicked though, and we're now well into Book Two - I'll have the covers of issues 6 and 7 to show you in a couple of days. First though, more annotations, this time for issue three...

This is Harker and Critchley sat outside the Museum Tavern, a real pub directly opposite the British Museum and just a few yards away from the Gosh comic shop. The pub was the work of architect William Finch Hill, well known for his music hall designs. In the early eighteenth century a pub called the Dog & Duck stood there, its name reflecting the hunting that took place on the surrounding swamps and ponds. The British Museum was built in the 1760's, at which point the pub changed its name. Past customers apparently include J.B. Priestley, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Karl Marx.

Page One
Harker makes the point that the scene before him is particularly cheesy - a plot point that goes over Critchley's head. As a comic and fantasy film geek, discovering a scene like this has to be a real pleasure for him, and he believes in the reality of it. Harker, of course, isn;t fooled so easily.

Pages Four - Five
Here we have the first hint of the true nature of the cult - four of the ten cult members here refer to the sexual aspect of the cult's activities, and you can safely assume the other six are simply being evasive about it. Check out the chap in glasses fourth from the right - that's Mr Johnson, and you'll be seeing him again later. The woman to his right is his wife, Mrs Johnson.

Page Seven
The poster behind Simmons in panel five is the cover of Moonchild, a 1917 novel written by famous British occultist Aleister Crowley. The plot involves a war between rival groups of magicians (an echo of our own story) over the fate of an unborn child. Grant Morrison made much of this in his magnificent comic series 'The Invisibles', which I'd highly recommend.

Page Eight
"I'm a dead man. I'm dead." A particularly accurate prediction - Simmons is the next murder victim, as we'll see next issue.

Page Ten
A lovely little detail here from Vince - have you noticed the spider on that pile of books to the left in the top panel?
"Stay away from any Wicker Men" - a wry reference to The Wicker Man, a very wonderful 1973 film featuring Christopher Lee as the leader of a cult on Summerisle, and the terrible fate of policeman Edward Woodward. There was a remake a couple of years ago, but ignore that and watch the 1973 original.

Page Eleven - Twelve
A slow pan from the steps of the British Museum, through the gates, and across the road to the Museum Tavern, beautifully drawn here by Vince.

Page Thirteen - Eighteen
This six page sequence split the critics, half loving it, half a little uncomfortable with it. We knew it would be a little controversial but were keen to give it a go, as an experiment in a different kind of storytelling. The pub interior here is the real interior of the Museum Tavern. This sequence falls at the direct centre of the six issue story - it's the middle of the book - and as such I think it's one of the most important scenes, summing up the story so far, the difference of opinion between our two detectives, and the relationship between them. Check out the little storylines Vince gives to the other characters in the pub, which I have Harker referring to obliquely in the script, in a nod to the early stylings of Alan Moore - it's a fun technique to use!

Page Nineteen
"Wonder what the bird at the museum is doing tonight?" Clearly she had the evening free, as we'll see at the start of issue four...


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