With this issue, we welcome to our team John H. Marshall as the new
BARBARIENNE penciller-in-residence. Originally, the idea was that John would pencil issues six to eight, a three-part adventure we call "Barbarienne versus Cuirass", but Nick ran into serious deadline problems on #4, so we persuaded John to come on board an issue early.
John is the artist, both pencils and inks, on our new companion title CUIRASS --- devised by me and written by Alan Cowsill, it's sunlit sword & sorcery, with a teenage girl discovering an old, magic piece of armour (the "Cuirass" of the title, which my dictionary defines as "a metal breast and back plate forming body armour", first syllable pronounced like "cure", second syllable to rhyme with "gas") and leaving home to seek a life of adventure. Meet her first next month in HARRIER PREVIEW #1, which features a complete introductory CUIRASS tale, then come back a month later for CUIRASS #1, the start of our new unlimited sword and sorcery saga - monthly!
HARRIER PREVIEW #1 also includes the first episode of a second series, which continues in a 4-issue bimonthly mini-series, NIGHTBIRD. Cameron Smith is the artist, and he is doing excellent work; it's written by me, and it stars an all-female spaceship crew, out to make their fortune any way they can. It's a comic that has taken a while to get launched; originally Fox was going to pencil it, & Dave Harwood supply the inks, quite a while before they finally began to work together in REDFOX, but Fox never could find the time he thought he'd have. Now at last I've found the right artist; the work on "Bird in Flight" in HARRIER PREVIEW is good, but in "Compact of Fire" in NIGHTBIRD #1, Cam really comes into his stride.
HARRIER PREVIEW #1, I should say, is a co-presentation with our friendly Titan Distributors, and features a mid-section full of details of British and European comics albums they're supplying comics stores with these days. In Canada it's a mere 95c; in England it's an unbeatable 25p; in the USA, would 75 cents suit you? If we don't get big orders for it at those those prices, then the market must be sicker than anybody suspected!
Anyway, BARBARIENNE #5 is John H. Marshall's first-published full-length tale - and could end up a collectors' item because of that! I'm sorry we couldn't give you advance notice, but #4's text page was already set before we managed to bring him in for this story, which is our last under the "mature readers' box on the cover. Next time, it's all good clean sword & sorcery mayhem, under the expanded title, for issues 6 to 8 only, of BARBARIENNE VERSUS CUIRASS, in which - well, you don't want me to spoil the story for you, do you? I could tell you that XXXXXX returns; I could describe Hugo to you, reveal the secrets of the catacombs beneath Castle Grishelm, tell you why XXXXX betrays Charol and Memree, or even reveal who gets killed at the end of #7--but won't it be better to get to find out for yourself? You will have guessed that ... er ... some major character from CUIRASS guest-stars in the story, but there's here's more to the adventure than a standard swordfight or three between the title characters of two comics - Harrier tries harder than that, you know!
I think it all works pretty well - but then, I wrote it! John Marshall is very enthusiastic about the whole adventure, and reckons it's "the best fantasy trilogy of the year"--all I'm saying is, try not to miss it! While for convenience it is being billed as a "cross- over", you don't need to buy CUIRASS as well just to follow the story; thanks to an early plot suggestion by Alan Cowsill, no part of the trilogy effects the CUIRASS title at all, though naturally, we hope that you'll put both titles high on your personal reading list.
So happy with the "new direction" for BARBARIENNE is John H. Marshall that he has volunteered to stay as penciller on a regular basis, and is urging me to put this title, like CUIRASS, onto a monthly schedule. For that, we need extra sales.So, if you like the idea, spread the word. I'm already working on the next serial, "The Spektros Saga", which looks like a lot of fun. If it's monthly, it can run for more issues, and I think the situation would benefit from that ... but the decision is in your hands.
Due to difficulties with communicating across the Atlantic, this paragraph only applies, really, to Britain; to aspiring British artists, in fact. Rob Sharp has reported that AVALON is now fully booked up, so please don't send your work to him. Instead, John H. Marshall is taking on the job of being Art Director; send your samples to the main Harrier address (enclosing return/response postage and a covering letter), and they'll be sent on to John, who will give help, encouragement, and candid comments. If he reckons you've got potential, he'll help you to reach pro standards, and maybe a Harrier assignment; if he thinks you can't draw, he will tell you that, too!
Our letters column should return next time; my apologies for monopolising this space, but this is all stuff you need to know. This isue is a bit "lightweight" on the scripting side, I feel - but the team of John H. Marshall & Nick Neocleous gives it a great boost, so I can hardly wait to see John's pencils on the first part of the trilogy.
That is BARBARIENNE VERSUS CUIRASS #6, in two months, published at the same time as CUIRASS #1. Do join us, because It's going to be great! Reserve yourself a copy now... -Martin Lock