Loose Ends

T.M. Maple
Hmm. Yes, I guess I can see the reason for your cautious approach---the "mature reader" advisory, & the rather direct explanations in the text page on the inside front cover. I can see where certain people might get upset at what they would see in the story itself. Now, mind you, I'm not saying that there is any­thing scandalous about the story---not at all!  It's just that some people leap to false conclusions, or look only at the surface (particularly those who are just looking for "something"), and that would lead to them being upset, rather than any real and valid reason.

As you point out, all of the "questionable" trappings make perfect (and relatively innocent) sense in terms of the story itself. But, as I'm sure you are aware, people sometimes run roughshod over the truth in their search for a target!  Also, to be fair, you couldn't add complete background details in the space of only one issue that would make the situation easy to see for its true state.

Still, I thought that you did handle the "bondage" scene very well, and that it was quite acceptable in terms of both meaning and execution. It certainly did reveal some crucial aspects of the main characters, Charol and Memree. Furthermore, Charol was properly remorseful at her unthinking misdeed.

Now, getting down to the story itself, I thought it was pretty well conceived. In a world dominated by men, we have a strong woman (a brave warrior) teamed up with a weak woman (tossed out unprepared into the cruel world). I think there is a great opportunity for them to learn from each other and to grow. In the process I'm sure they'll find that apparent strengths are sometimes weaknesses, and apparent weaknesses sometimes strengths.

The concept of Memree as a "blank slate" was very nicely done. In fact, I was surprised at the amount of general knowledge that she displayed. If she has no personal memories at all, how can she have the general knowledge (at least to some extent) of a normal person--especially since she didn't previously possess that knowledge naturally, since she was "simple minded"? Was there some sort of teaching process involved in the memory transfer, or did she get the general knowledge from her "donor"?  And if she did, then she might have some "general"
information not usually available to a normal woman!

All in all, a promising start. I will be interested in seeing where you take things from here.

Me too. We'll learn more about Charol in #4, and about her past; Memree isn't very keen to investigate her life before our story began, but we'll certainly get to know more about how she is now. There can be different degrees of amnesia; in Memree's case, she's lost all conscious recall of her past, but can still talk, cook a meal, and generally function in society. "Somerset Holmes'' didn't have to wear diapers, right? The experimental magic involved in wiping out her past and boosting her intelligence may yet show strange side-effects, but she may well have gained some general knowledge from Lord Restormel - or from Atzmon!

Simon Webb

BARBARIENNE #1 seems to be fairly intriguing, but as it was only the "start-up" issue, we have yet to see the personality of Memree. It would have been nice to have kept the clasp-gag on her, as this would have been a fairly original idea, but you had to take it off. I suppose it would have got boring with the gag on all the time.

I can see why it is for mature readers ---I thought Redfox didn't wear a lot!  It is a lot more suggestive, as well.

I told Memree about your suggestion, that she should keep on wearing the gag, and now she's not speaking to you...

A.C. Maynard

Having been an avid fan of "Redfox" since issue 5 appeared, it was mainly out of curiosity that I picked up BARBARIENNE recently--and I must say that I was very pleasantly surprised, both with the quality and clarity of the artwork, and with the way the characters were set uip at the beginning. Most comic characters seem to appear by "magic" - that is, they are suddenly presented, without any past, or history. Here, on the other hand, one can visualize and understand the characters' behaviour far more thoroughly. Charol also bears the scars to show her past encounters - unlike Conan and Red Sonja, who, after many years of fighting, don't even sport a pin-prick between them!

However, Charol comes across to me as someone who acts without thinking, much of the time, and, considering the relationship between them, it is reasonable to assume that some lesbianism would occur. This, I feel, would be completely in character, and would also give their companionship a little more depth, more feeling and comfort (commodities in very short supply for both of them), without interfering with the plot.

Redfox, it isn't.

Excellent, it is.

Thanks. Giving Charol and Memree a lesbian relationship would certainly have followed the direction that recent sword and sorcery paperback novels have taken, but I'm fairly sure that it would have offended some readers, and some of the US distributors we rely on to get our comics into the stores. I prefer to keep them heterosexual - it keeps the opportunities for stories more open and keeps us clear of stereotyping.

Mike Browne

I  was looking forward to the release of this title, mainly due to my love of sword & sorcery. The introduction of both the main characters was fair and logical enough, as should be expected; -- my only moan on the writing side is on the setting of the story -­ the place comes across as Victorian EngIand with swords and a dollop of magic, to give it that S&S feel. All the supporting characters, except for the bribe-taking gatesman, look & feel as if they are expecting a pipe-smoking consulting detective, rather than a female mercenary. Perhaps you could give out details of the land in one of the letters pages, explaining the internal workings of the town. I don't know whether the basic idea was to give the country that English/Victorian style, or whether Nick's artwork forced it that way.

Concerning the artwork, I was, to say the least, disappointed with many of the opening pages of the book. It showed little originality, and felt as if Nick was uncomfortable with his subjects and their setting. Charol in particular was poorly drawn; perhaps Nick had not done enough preliminary sketches of her before he began work in earnest.

Luckily later in the book the art did begin to improve, to a style which I hope will become the mainstay of the book. I mean in particular from page 11, where letratone was introduced for the first time, giving a more stable look to the art. Another fine example was page 14, where Charol's outfit had been toned ---giving her greater depth, and a nicer look and shape.

One thing I also noticed was the use of book titles on page 9: "Daily Brail", and "Just Comics Catalogue"  (no. 28, methinks?) These may make a nice visual joke for the artist, but they do lower the tone of the book, so please, can we lose them?

Well, that's enough gripes from me - I only want to make the book that much better. Finally, how about calling the letters page "Barbarienne Backlash", or just "Backlash", due to Charol's back, and also as a comment on what to expect, to and fro, from the letters page? What do you think?

In a word - tacky.  Help! Somebody, come up with a better name, or Mike may just win the all-expenses-paid night out on the town with Atzmon!  Jokey book titles appear in a lot of comics; nice to see Nick's still a fan of David Bowie...

Well, I wouldn't call the costumes we see Charol and Memree in "Victorian"; I wanted fairly civilised & welI-organised towns, showing fair prosperity, but the rich have done themselves pretty well for millenia, so I'd say the level of technology needn't be above what we had a thousand years ago. Charol and Memree are adventuring in a fairly comfortable part of their world; we will visit less civilised parts in time, never fear.

And that's about all we have got room for. Thanks to Noel Tominack for his brief but positive comments, and Andrew Reilly for the technical analysis of Charol's armament, and the rest of the letter - critical but encouraging, on balance! (Sorrv, Andrew - no "T.M. Maple Summer Special" this year...) If anybody else has sent in a letter on #1, it was not in time for this page - but it has a good chance of being used next issue!

Nick was complaining that I had, in the finest traditions of comics publishing, "over-hyped" his talents. He came to BARBARIENNE a little rusty, perhaps, but I think it's remarkable how quickly he's loosened up, and begun turning out the best art of his career, despite me giving him some pretty difficult panels to draw  He approached me hoping for a one-off 6-pager, and I hung a regular comic on his shoulders.  He is coping with the burden admirably.

And thanks, too, to Graham Bleathman, whose work for Harrier I don't mention often enough. He created the BARBARIENNE title logo, and many others, including
, SENTINEL, the logos on SWIFTSURE #s 13 & 14, and the revised REDFOX logo we've used since #5. Harrier owes him a debt of gratitude.

BARBARIENNE  #4 should be along in two months, with "Fever Dream" by the usual team. Charol and Memree have decided to use some of the money they've collected this time to get Charol's scars removed; but they don't realise that, for this to be done, she must relive the most traumatic moments of her past. I think it'll make our best issue yet -- but I may just be a little biased!          -Martin Lock
That was the letters page, as published by Harrier - all on one page, using the magic of tiny type.  Some people knew more about our heroine's future than I did, it seems!   I've taken out the addresses, presumably no longer valid.  Certainly not valid for T.M. Maple, surely the best and possibly the most prolific writer of letters of comment to comics, ever!  Sadly, he died a few years ago.  He was a good friend-by-mail, and the comics scene is the poorer for his passing.