Fresh Meat: Harker: The Book of Solomon by Roger Gibson and Vince Danks

Harker: The Book of Solomon by Roger Gibson and Vince DanksHarker: The Book of Solomon  is a graphic novel by Roger Gibson with art by Vince Danks (available August 28, 2012).

When a series of gruesome cult killings take place near the British Museum, DCI Harker and his assistant DS Critchley are called to London to solve the case.

Middle class satanists, dusty old bookshops, a labyrinth under the museum, a frantic car chase, and wry, cutting humor all combine in this love letter to classic British detective television series.

What I really miss about my childhood, besides the lack of any serious responsibility and bills of course, is the fact that any time there was a major crime involving a Goth, it was always evidence of a satanic cult’s grand design in action. We even had our own spooky county road through the woods that was supposed to go by one of their sacrificial tables. Sure it may have been a slab of concrete, but the Satanists were real, I tells ya. It’s this kind of unambiguous, knee-jerk reaction to crime that I loved about Harker: Book of Solomon.

He would have gotten away with it too...
He would have gotten away with it too…
At its core, Harker is a wonderfully written, beautifully drawn Gothic novel married with a buddy-cop show like Lethal Weapon or Starsky and Hutch. Just imagine it as a slightly more gruesome episode of Scooby Doo. Scooby happens to be a bald womanizer and Shaggy is a cynical, bitter British Detective Inspector and Velma is their unshakable, dead-body-loving coroner.

You got that image in your head? Good. Hold on to that. Now the stage is properly set for DCI Harker, his partner DS Critchley, and Jenny, the plucky cutter of the dead, as they try to figure out what ritual style killings have to do with a satanic cult and an ancient occult text, reportedly bound by bits of human skin.

The book opens with a murder (don’t they all?); the second in a week. Harker and his partner are called to London-town to assist, you know, being experts on serial murders and such. Things get spooky fast and what remains constant is Harker’s unflinching skepticism. He is cynical, squeamish around dead bodies, and believes in good, solid police work.

It’s always better to brown bag it on a murder investigation...
It’s always better to brown bag it on a murder investigation…
It’s the characters that make the comic come together. Well that and the art, but more on that in a bit. Harker and Critchley make a great pair. Harker is the cut-and-dried, abrasive intellectual who has seen it all and gets excited when he finds a first edition of A Study in Scarlet at the London Library. Critchley, on the other hand, is the Watson to Harker’s Holmes. He is a womanizer and emotional foil. He goes with what he sees on the surface as opposed to Harker and his gut feelings.

Aside from characters, where this book really shines is in its construction and art. Drawn by Vince Danks, the art is detailed, nuanced, and really sells the Gothic atmosphere. Lacking any third person narration, each panel is wonderfully organized and drawn so you can see everything happening clearly. There is a particularly wonderful scene set in a pub, which includes an exchange between Harker and Critchley. The two inspectors hardly move at all and instead banter back and forth about the case. What stands out about this scene is all the action going on in the panels. It’s as if there is a whole other story going on around them, but they are wrapped up in the case. It shows more about the characters’ relationship as friends and co-workers than almost the whole rest of the novel. It’s a great scene and wonderfully done.

Originally a British comic, Harker: The Book of Solomon is an example of what I wish American comics were able to do more. It is a serious, well-developed story that blends art and words to make a fantastic comic. Unless someone is willing to put in the legwork and dig up the gems that are being put out by the indies out there, you’ll be hard pressed to find a book like this put out by the major publishers. It’s a solid story with great art, and if you are a fan of crime comics, I highly recommend it. Hopefully they will manage to bring over the next Harker story, Harker: The Woman in Black, for more 1990s Goth goodness.

Have you checked out anything like Harker? Know of anyone putting out great crime comics? Comment to enter for a chance to win!

Sorry, this sweepstakes has ended.

Stay tuned on our Sweepstakes page for more offers!

Guy Adams, Daniel Stashower and Harker form the mystery prize pack!

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. A purchase does not improve your chances of winning. Sweepstakes open to legal residents of fifty (50) United States and the District of Columbia, who are 18 or older. To enter, fill out entry at https://www.criminalelement.com/blogs/2012/08/fresh-meat-harker-the-book-of-solomon-by-roger-gibson-and-vince-danks-longon-detective-comic-graphic-novel  beginning at 12:00 p.m. Eastern Time (ET) August 21, 2012. Sweepstakes ends at 11:59 a.m. ET on August 28, 2012 (the “Promotion Period”). Void outside of the 50 US and DC and where prohibited by law. Please see full details and official rules at https://www.criminalelement.com/page/official-rules-the-weird-crime-comment-sweepstakes. Sponsor: Macmillan, 175 Fifth Ave., New York, NY 10010

TIP: Since only comments from registered users will be tabulated, if your user name appears in red above your comment—STOP—go log in, then try commenting again. If your user name appears in black above your comment, You’re In!

Check out all of our new releases coverage in our Fresh Meat series.


Christopher Morgan works for CriminalElement.com and HeroesandHeartbreakers.com. He lives in New York City, and prefers Grayson to Todd any day of the week.

Read all posts by Christopher Morgan for Criminal Element.

Comments

  1. Jerrilynn Atherton

    Can’t wait to read it!

  2. Michael Papagermanos

    Sounds amazing, and of course the format if done right would be awesome!

  3. Barbara Bibel

    It looks like fun. I look forward to reading it.

  4. Marina Moore

    [color=#000000][b]Looks like a great book![/b][/color]

  5. Nora-Adrienne Deret

    I’d love to win these books to add to my collection of graphic art. My comic books collection itself goes all the way back to the 1950’s.

  6. Francis Cardosi

    Fantastic!

  7. Matt Oh

    Such a great sweepstakes! I love the detective noir genre and this graphic novel sounds right up my alley!

  8. James P. Pope

    very cool books

  9. Susan Meek

    You guys are hitting it out of the ball park with this giveaway. These books really sound great & I’d love to win them.

  10. Aaron Robbins

    What a great collection

  11. Andrew Kuligowski

    I like that graphic novels have progressed beyond the superhero genre that I remember from their infancy (Maus excluded, of course). And I’m really looking forward to reading this – I like things that don’t lock themselves into a particular genre, but blend the edges (rather than simply try to shatter the concept and come up with something so avant-garde that it reads like cr-p.)

  12. Pam Howell

    Nice books.

  13. Jon Quandt

    Looks like this “harkens” back to some of the more creative things that Vertigo was doing back in the 90’s (the likes of Grant Morrison and Garth Ennis, especially)….looking forward to checking it out!

  14. Carol Lawman

    I’ve not read him before but it sounds interesting!

  15. Catherine Myers

    I love a mystery and I love Sherlock so bring it on

  16. Anna Mills

    “Middle class satanists” sounds intriguing and thought provoking! No matter, I want to read this!

  17. Allison Moyer

    Dusty old bookshops, a labyrinth under the museum! Very cool…count me in.

  18. Chrystina Williams

    Sounds interesting! Thanks for the great giveaway!

  19. Jeffrey Tretin

    Thank you for the giveaway.

  20. caite fitzgerald

    Something a bit different for me..

  21. Robin Weatherington

    Looking forward to reading it!

  22. Cindi Hoppes

    I would be thrilled and honored to win these books…
    Many thanks!
    Cindi
    jchoppes[at]hotmail[dot]com

  23. Lisa Kaiser
  24. shawn manning

    Love the Houdini series. Only have the 1st one though.

  25. Marissa Culp

    Love noir, love graphic, love the Brits… What could be better?

  26. John Dozier

    would love to get the Houdini and Holmes books!

  27. Joanne Mielczarski

    Can’t wait to read these books – weird is good!

  28. William Fee

    Sounds cool.

  29. Karen

    love wry humour if it is done right

  30. Karl Stenger

    Looks great. I’d love the chance to read the books.

  31. kce1976

    Another good series is the twins of Dr. Watson (Richard and Emma) by J. Brooks Van Dyke. The first two books No Ordinary Terror and The Corot Deception are true to othe area and true to the time. The third book is being edited now.

  32. Marjorie Pawley

    So much pleasure to give to someone! Hours of reading & it would be a joy to have these in hand.

  33. Mitchell Glavas

    As a rule, I like to keep my genres separate, but this looks like it could work without being totally absurd.

  34. Louis Richards

    Harker sounds interesting.
    I’ll have to look out for that book.
    If I don’t win it.

  35. Elizabeth Chaldekas

    Any inside jokes about Dracula?
    Graphic novels usually have too much going on in the panels, but this one looks interesting! Hope it comes out in e-book format so I can enlarge some of the panels.

  36. Rob

    Oooo- Sherlock Holmes !!!

  37. Pete Tass

    Book me!!!!!!!!!!!

  38. elizabeth findlay

    J. harker, graphic novel & solving a crime!! To good to pass up.

  39. Andrew Beck

    What a great cross section of authors and mystery genres! Criminal Element you have outdone yourselves!

  40. Ric Marchi

    Vince Danks’ art is perfect for this genre. He really captures the feel of this story. Nice review, Mr. Morgan.

  41. Craig McCall

    Why is it that the Brits excel in the detective fiction genre? No matter the answer, bring me more!

  42. Peter W. Horton Jr.

    I want these books! This is a author I have not read yet.

  43. Clydia DeFreese

    Sounds like a great read! I can hardly wait! Thanks

  44. Michael Teague

    Harker sounds like a great graphic novel! I definitely will be adding that to my to-read list.
    If you haven’t read anything in the Barker and Llewelyn series, I recommend you do so.
    http://www.willthomasauthor.com/books.php

  45. Jean Feingold

    I have yet to experience a graphic novel and am not sure what the format brings to the genre of the mystery.

  46. christina johnston

    love graphic novels!

  47. Margot Core

    Middle class satanists, dusty old bookshops, a labyrinth under the museum, a frantic car chase, and wry, cutting humor …

    What more could a person ask for really?

  48. Angela Eppley

    would love a good mystery, thanks for the chance.

  49. Angela Eppley

    would love a good mystery, thanks for the chance.

  50. Patricia Hill

    I love British Mysteries.

  51. Andy Speed

    I love a good crime graphic novel, and there aren’t enough of them. Can’t wait to try this one.

  52. Doreen Sheridan

    Can’t decide which I love more: detective comics or genre-bending historicals. I suppose I shall need to read more books like these (or, perhaps, these books, should I be so lucky) to determine a preference.

  53. Shaunterria Owens

    Hope I win, this prize is awesome

  54. Kelley Tackett

    I can’t wait to get my hands on these. Adding them to Goodreads right now! Thanks for the information.

  55. Diane Pollock

    Great post, makes me want to read!

  56. Bob Alexander

    Amazing! I gotta win…gotta win…gotta win.

  57. Gary Anderson

    Any chance this will become a televison show? The British do mysteries better than anyone –in my opinion.

  58. BookReaderTaylor

    WEE!

  59. Andrew Beck

    This book sounds deliciosly subversive! who would have thought that the “pencil-men” would be like the good guys this time and the vamps the bad! If Tom Clany’s iridescent prose doesn’t more, thenI’ll proably go out for dinner at 8 o’clock, right when Broadway WEstis becoming a local venue, destite all the presures.

    1

  60. Irene Menge

    Harker sounds like marvelous fun and the other books put this giveaway over the top. I just hope I win.

  61. Janet Stewart

    Please enter me to win!

  62. Ed Shannon

    Looks great!

  63. Marie-Louise Molloy

    [color=rgb(64, 224, 208)]Huge graphic novel fan and would love to read a new to me series! ‘0)[/color]

  64. MaryC

    I haven’t read any graphic novels – this sounds like one I would definitely enjoy!

  65. tom coady

    It sounds intresting. I never heard of harker before. i’ll check it out

  66. barbara studer

    look good: would make a great gift for my son!!!

  67. L L

    Nice post. The characters sound interesting.

  68. James Curnalia

    Sounds like an awsome graphic novel, and a hell of a give away to sweeten the pot.

  69. D. Ann Williams

    This is an awesome sweepstakes. I’ve got to check Harker out

  70. Jim Hersheway

    Looks exciting, right up my alley.

  71. Gabrielle Hodge

    This looks awesome!! 🙂

  72. John Clark

    These types of graphic novels are really neat. We have a bunch in out library collection and teens are amazed at how cool they are after a steady diet of the Japanese stuff.

  73. Justine Heredia

    These graphic novels look great! I absolutely live Sherlock Holmes!

  74. Cheryl English

    These novels sound spectacular. Sherlock Holmes rocks!

  75. Micheal Shea

    Looks awesome!

  76. Saundra K. Warren

    Sounds interesting! Haven’t read any graphic novels before

  77. Yvonne Bressani

    Sounds like a great giveaway!

  78. Neroon

    I’m up for something different.

  79. Dale Gear

    Sounds great!

  80. Melissa Keith

    OMG! British dicks and middle class satanists?!
    HARKER appeals to me immensely. Och! All the books appeal. I want to win very badly!! TA!

  81. Blake Tullo

    Sounds like a fun read, can’t wait!

  82. Jim Belcher

    Graphics, Houdini, and Holmes! How can you beat this?

  83. Susanne Troop

    I love to read!

  84. John Maline

    Would like to give these a shot!

  85. Jaime Hypes

    Awesome choices- thanks for the chance!

  86. Donna Cunningham

    “Harker” sounds great. I don’t have the Houdinis either. Will Have to look for them if I don’t win.

  87. Anthony Schultz

    Awesome! I am a huge comic book fan (I review them for a living actually!), and I am always on the lookout for something fresh. The indie market is exploding right now, so regradless I will be picking this up to read. Thanks for the info!

  88. Desmond Warzel

    Count me in, please!

  89. Alyson Widen

    What a wide range of criminals up to no good and Houdini thrown in to boot.

  90. Beth Talmage

    This looks like something my brother would enjoy.

  91. jason fiske

    Fantastic books to read.

  92. vicki wurgler

    great love to read these!

  93. Larisa LaBrant

    Asked my local library to acquire this graphic novel. It looks like a twisty mystery graphic novel – an excellent evening’s entertainment.

  94. rita devine

    i just recently started reading graphic novels and now i’m hooked. I love em!

  95. carolk

    These look graphically appealing!

  96. Sean Fox

    Pick me, pick me!

    These look great.

  97. Amber

    I’d love to win! Thank you for the giveaway!

  98. Keith Wright

    Great contest!

  99. Larry Collins

    Can’t wait to read these stories! Keep up the great work!

  100. Elizabeth Swanson

    Looks great! I love mysteries. I’ve been listening to some crime/mystery audio books in the car and am hooked.

  101. alyce poalillo

    These all look good-hope I win so I will be set for fall reading

  102. Edward Vandenberg

    These all look like good books with interesting plots.

  103. Daniel Morrell

    looks like some fun reads, thanks for the giveaway

  104. DeeAnn S

    Not familiar with Harker. Another new one to try! Thanks.

  105. Peter Tomaszewicz

    Love to read, need to win

  106. Peter Tomaszewicz

    Love to read, need to win

  107. cheryl wong

    would love to read this

  108. Joe Hauser

    Very cool!

  109. runner

    Who doesn’t like big bold comic book artwork. Really neato!

  110. Clayton Klein

    great, thanks !

  111. Ed Nemmers

    I heart these graphic novels!

  112. Cheryl McCauley

    Cant wait to read this.

  113. Joseph Miller

    Would enjoy reading these.

  114. Max Cage

    Pick me! I am dying to read this!

  115. Susan Tremayne

    I read every day; am reading a lot of mysteries.

  116. kathy pease

    Thank you for the great giveaway please count me in 🙂
    kathypease(at)gmail(dot)com

  117. Heather Slater

    Please register me, [b]Harker: The Book of Solomon [/b]sounds amazing.
    [b] [/b]

  118. Susan Smith

    Sounds Great, I’d enjoy reading these

    s2s2 at comcast dot net

  119. Vikki Micco

    Sounds interesting.

  120. Cary Gordon

    I’d really love to read these.

  121. Daniel Vice

    This would be great

  122. deeanne adcox

    Please enter me to Win 🙂

  123. tamatha hunter

    great giveaway, thanks so much

  124. trish mckee

    This sounds like a great read! Thank you for this giveaway!

  125. Sand Lopez

    I would love to win this!

  126. Susan Smoaks

    this sounds like a great read!

  127. Jennifer Peaslee

    Cool giveaway! Thanks!

  128. Kayce Crews

    Count me in!

  129. calvin kuhn

    Can’t wait to read it! Sounds great!

  130. Les Slusarczyk

    Such a wonderful contest. They sound like wonderful reads!

  131. Susan Marks

    scary sounding

  132. Jessica Ellibee

    I’m definitely going to look into this.

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