Comics Bulletin Sunday Slugfest

Monday at 28.9.09

I thought you might be interested in five reviews posted today on the Comics Bulletin website - Harker has been featured in their Sunday slugfest, and it was a real delight for me to read five reviews in one go! They all seemed to like it, though poor Thom Young (hi Thom, if you're reading) kind of missed that Harker is very deliberately postmodern, and that we're using the conventions of television detective dramas (in this instance Poirot, the awful Murder She Wrote and Sherlock Holmes) in order to poke a little bit of fun at them, and twist them playfully for our own purposes. Once he's got that, I think he might like the comic a little more ;)

Anyway, here are the reviews, on the whole really positive - and I was genuinely thrilled and delighted to read them!


Hi, "Poor Thom" here.

My only response is that there should be an indication that you were playing with the conventions of television detectives for satirical purpose. However, playing with conventions for any purpose is not in itself part of postmodern aesthetics, so I have no idea what you mean by your work being "deliberately postmodern."

In any event, I don't think any of the other reviewers caught on that your were "playing with the conventions" either. They just weren't as bothered by your cliches as much as I was.

What you failed to notice, with respect, is that the set-up was deliberately intended to resemble a typical Murder She Wrote episode. I loathe that series (and others like it) with a vengeance, so we gave Harker typical circumstances from that series, and had him spend the entirety of the next issue refusing to get involved with the case, entirely because he thought it was just as stupid and cliched - he says pretty much those precise words himself in issue 8. Read it, and you'll see. It's called 'irony', which is what the series is all about.

"What you failed to notice, with respect, is that the set-up was deliberately intended to resemble a typical Murder She Wrote episode."

Actually, as I indicated in my review, I DID notice that. I just don't think you did an adequate job in setting it up as a satire. It came across as more of an homage than a spoof or satire.

However, if you want to continue placing the fault on me as the reader for being too dense rather than you as the writer for not making your intent clear, that's your prerogative--isn't it?

The intent is made very clear in issue eight, Thom, as I've already mentioned. Try reading it, and you'll see. Issue eight was written and drawn weeks before your review, incidentally.
The previous six issue series also played with satire, using typical tv cop conventions and exploring / deconstructing them humourously. Regular readers are by now fully aware of this - Harker isn't (and has never been) a straight drama series, it's a comedy drama, filled with irony. Is it my fault you hadn't read the previous six issues, perhaps?
The correspondence on this issue is now closed.

"The intent is made very clear in issue eight, Thom, as I've already mentioned."

Yeah, it's a shame I reviewed issue #7 when the intent should have been clear but wasn't, isn't it?

"The previous six issue series also played with satire, using typical tv cop conventions and exploring / deconstructing them humourously."

I was given issue #7 as a "jumping on point" for the series, which means I shouldn't have had to read your first arc in issues 1-6.

I am curious, though, in what way you believe your work is a deconstruction of TV cop conventions? What do you see as the binary oppositions in which one of the two elements is "privileged" over the other in TV cop shows, and how are you using Derrida's critical theory in your work of fiction?

Thom, I've already stated that correspondence on this issue is closed. This is now my final response on the matter, I'd ask you to please listen and then go elsewhere, since you clearly don't like my comic.
At no point have I personally suggested that issue #7 was 'a good jumping on point'.
The satirical intention of the 'Murder She Wrote' theme is indeed clearly signalled (to anyone who still hadn't picked up on it) on page 18, where Harker says: "You're not going to believe this, but I've just witnessed a murder. Nope, I'm not having you on." and on page 19, where Critchley says: "A murder at your hotel? Get outta here, that only happens on the telly.". If this is too subtle for you, then you're not going to like the comic, as gentle irony runs throughout the series.
The basic, underlying premise of the Harker series is a celebration and examination of the detective genre in all it's forms, incorporating those elements I especially enjoy, and gently taking the piss out of those I dislike.
I also make the assumption that anyone who buys issue #7 will then go on to enjoy the rest of the story, and will watch with interest as the whole set-up of issue #7 is taken apart. In issue #8, Harker says: "I dont want to end up like one of those tv coppers who stumble across murders wherever they go, and feel compelled to solve them. The whole thing's ridiculous. I hate those bloody shows. Real life isn't like that." To which Critchley responds: "Yeah. Rosemary and Thyme? They're like the angels of death of gardening. Digging up bodies in every allotment." Harker adds: "It's a load of old toss. It's stupid, Critchley, and I won't have it. Did you ever see The French Connection? That's proper policing. Fast cars and lots of shouting. Proper detective work. None of this Agatha Christie shite. Mystery novelists getting bumped off, my arse."
I don't see how I could have made it any clearer, quite frankly. This conversation didn't fit into issue #7, as issue #7 was all about setting up a situation in which it would be assumed by the reader that Harker would behave in a certain way. These assumptions are brought crashing to the ground when he in fact spends the entirety of issue #8 messing about elsewhere and enjoying his vacation, refusing to get involved.
You seem to think that I should have made that intention clear in issue #7. This is missing the entire point. We wanted the reader to expect the story to continue in the usual tv manner. The pay-off comes in issue #8 when in fact all of this careful set-up is turned on its head. Had I signalled that more clearly in issue #7, the joke would have been ruined.
I'm not prepared to engage in any further debate about this (or to discuss Derrida with you to satisfy your craving to score intellectual points), as this is my personal blog, not an internet forum.
This correspondence is now (finally!) closed.

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