||Roger Gibson, Writer/Co-plotter
I grew up reading comics, devouring as many as I could get my hands on, and have been writing and drawing my own comic strips since I was old enough to hold a pen. My earliest published work was as part of a comic / art / fiction collective known as Early Spring, a collective that continues to thrive and create new work, and which produced nearly thirty quarterly limited-edition photocopied magazines in the 1980’s. I tried my hand at Doctor Who strips, a wobbly comic strip adaptation of Michael Moorcock's The Chinese Agent, and various other solo stories and collaborations with other fan artists and writers.
Eventually I became active enough in 'fandom' to be asked by Martin Skidmore, editor of Fantasy Advertiser, to interview Richard Piers Rayner, who was then the artist on Hellblazer. Through him I also met Vince, who was working as art assistant to Rich and also posing as his photo-reference model of John Constantine. This began a lifelong friendship with Vince which proved to have a huge influence on my career.
As Vince began to publish his own Sapphire comics in the late 1990’s through Ariel Press, his self-publishing imprint, I began to work on two comic strips myself for Ariel Press: Gravestown and Dan Druff, in collaboration with Mark Wayne Barrett. Gravestown would be the only one of these projects to briefly see the light of day as a single issue, before the self-publishing implosion took Ariel Press temporarily out of action.
Vince and I came back to the self-publishing arena a few years later, determined to produce a new British anthology comic that was as much like “a good Saturday night's telly” as we could manage. The result was the Raven anthology, containing Vince's continuation of his Sapphire strip, my solo photo strip The Bishop, and the second of my projects with Mark, Dan Druff (and its later spin-off, Mad Girl). My final solo strip in Raven was the detective comic Griffin, and with that I quietly withdrew from drawing comics and concentrated instead upon writing, producing a new novel every year, including a new adaptation of the Gravestown comic, a contemporary fantasy called Loop, a series of steampunk romances and, more recently, a series of Harker novels.
Harker grew from a conversation I had with Vince in the bar at the Bristol Comic Convention in 2008. Sales of his Sapphire project had never really taken off, and he was considering either retiring from comics or trying an entirely new project. He asked me if I’d object to him continuing the Griffin comic strip I'd begun in the final issue of Raven. Griffin was a quirky detective, with Critchley, his cocky sidekick. "Feel free to take him if you want," I said. Vince replied that although that would be nice, he didn't want to work on it on his own, as he'd had enough of the solo thing to last him a lifetime. "Well,” I offered, “what if I were to write it for you?" By the end of the evening we'd begun to flesh out the structure of the comic, the first story, and the way we saw it progressing afterwards. A name-change of the lead character later, Harker was the end result, initially self-published by Ariel Press, and now an ongoing series of graphic novels from Titan Books.
Other comic work has included a short Luther Arkwright strip for Valkyrie Press, a critically praised Torchwood strip for Torchwood Magazine, and ongoing work on Gravestown with Vince. The steampunk and Harker novels should have a home shortly, with more to follow in both series.