who are these people, anyway?
Charol is an adventurer, a warrior, an ex-mercenary. On one assignment she discovers Memree, locked in a deep and dank dungeon - a victim of some magical experiments by the she-warlock Atzmon. Memree can remember nothing of her old life before Charol rescued her, though it seems that she'd been a lackwitted scullery-girl before Atzmon magically boosted her intelligence - in a spell which killed its other victim, Marius Restormel, who Charol had been hired to find. Not wanting to return to her old life, Memree persuades Charol to take her with her on her travels.
In BARBARIENNE #5, they end the activities of a gang of slavers, freeing their captives & killing or enslaving the slavers themselves. The head of the gang, Griffin, had her own servant imbonded to her, a mute woman called Cleve; Griffin's enslavement frees her of her loyalty to Griffin, and Cleve makes it clear that she wants to go with Charol and Memree for a while.
Atzmon, meanwhile, has possessed a new body, and, eager for revenge, has conjured the spirit of a famous female warrior out of the past: Verdandi, who was also known as "CUIRASS" because of the magical breastplate she wore. This swordswoman has been convinced that Atzmon is good, and that Charol has been hired to kill her - Atzmon has sent her to kill Charol, and they have fought. Cuirass won the fight, injuring Charol in the shoulder - but the bravery she showed, and Memree's pleas for mercy, led her to show compassion, and leave without killing Charol.
Cleve has led Charol and Memree to the ruined Castle Grishelm, promising that it holds treasure they can share. But she is after more than gold; will her quest succeed, or could it, plus a second visit from Cuirass, prove fatal for the injured Charol?
"The Slavers" (#5) was an enjoyable, if rather unremarkable story. It seemed to be pretty standard adventure fare. A nice little romp,but not particularly significant in the lives of our two main characters, I'm afraid.
In fact, the chief noteworthy event of the issue was the debut of what is apparently your new permanent art team: John H. Marshall and Nick Neocleous. I was very impressed and quite satisfied with their work. Though Neocleous had developed his illustrative prowess in the first four issues and had his own strengths, there was still an air of awkwardness about much of his work. However, this has disappeared almost entirely now that he has teamed up with Marshall. Each one of them contributes strongly to the overall finished product ---a cleaner, more effective package is the result.
All in all, a nice "tune up" for what is apparently supposed to be a blockbuster three-parter starting next issue. (And if I may backtrack a moment, the Marshall/Neocleous art in "The Slaver." looks even nicer than the Marshall art that appears on the back cover, in the advertisement for CUIRASS!)
One thing about the story, though. If I was Tayne, I wouldn't be so ready to make Griffin my slave. After all, though she was no match for Charol, she did have skills of her own, and would now be very bitter in addition. Not the ideal-- or most trustworthy -- servant.
Well, Tayne never intended to keep her more than a few days. She'll get shipped off to a slave trader, and by the next time we see her... but let's not get too far ahead of ourselves! Slave collars are not designed to be removed by their wearers; those chains Tayne was using looked rather strong to me, too.
Actually, our "permanent art team" is currently John Marshall & Dave Roberts, though we're hoping to persuade Nick to come out of retirement for "The Choice", the story that follows on after the end of this trilogy, to help us catch up on those ever-pressing deadlines.
CUIRASS, unfortunately, despite great efforts to launch it well, with HARRIER PREVIEW, this cross-over, and some fine ado, did not get the orders it needed. So, CUIRASS #1 is the only issue we will be publishing now - we do, however, have some exciting plane, which will include the continuing Cuirass saga... of which, more next time!
May I congratulate you & your team on a great a series. And John H. Marshall's art in #5 is superb: Charol, Memree and Griffin are really alluring.
The Charol/Griffin fight scenes are dramatic, and their outfits are stunning ---so is Memree's, though you could shorten that mini to micro, and perhaps give her boots?
The scripting is great: an uncluttered storyline with twists which are unpredictable and fine. You say the scripting in #5 is "lightweight"...well, obviously you've got high standards.
Thank you for the best comic series in years. I am eagerly awaiting CUIRASS.
And thank you for writing; I'm sorry to have cut out a number of paragraphs, but your points are well taken. Costumes will vary, according to the situation; what looks fine beside a swimming pool wouldn't be right for an arctic blizzard ---or vice versa. Memree's footwear in #5 didn't quite come out as I'd intended--it looks more as it should on the page to the right here, where we've got sandals with long lacing-straps that go up the calf, wound round. They must take ages to put on!
If you're still missing any issues, a request to us here (Harrier Publishing, 33, Chester Road, Northwood, Middx, HA6 1BG, England), with a cheque or postal order (made payable to me, Martin Lock, please), will solve the problem... We have still got copies of each and every comic we've published - and that's roughly 120 different comics now! Some, such as the early REDFOX issues, are a bit expensive now... but worth it!
The next item: credit where it is due. Colour separation work on BARBARIENNE #5 was by Nick Neocleous, while for #6 Rob Sharp was kind enough to do the honours. Darrell Andrews has taken over that task as of this issue; he also supplied the colours for the "Cuirass & Barbarienne" back cover ad last time.
But now, a word about this particular issue's plot---the climax, for example! I suggest you read the story first, if you haven't yet done so ...
Right. Well, the cover was a teeny bit of a giveaway, wasn't it, so you can't say you weren't warned. After all, this comic isn't called CHAROL - as far as I can tell, "Barbarienne" can apply with equal merit to Memree, or even Cleve. On the other hand, maybe your scripter has not taken leave of his senses, and will be giving a perfectly logical, planned-in-advance explanation next time, which will make everyone happy. Heck, maybe it is all a dream, or a hoax to fool Atzmon ---or even an imaginary story?
But there's a cover repro for #8 on page 33, if Preney print the correct ad there ... Memree attacking Cuirass, and no sign of a miraculously-restored Charol?
Anyway, let me just say that the story isn't over, and now would be a bad place to stop reading.
Of course, with the market for black & white independent comics, and even their
glossier full-colour companions, still in steep decline, with a lot of titles you are being stopped from reading them, because they're being cancelled. Or your
local supplier isn't ordering copies for you to buy - which soon comes to the same thing. As a reader, some of my favourite comics have vanished; TREKKER from Dark Horse went very suddenly, for example. and Eternity's THE ROVERS too, to join NAZRAT among that publisher's long list of casualties. ENCHANTER and ESPERS left Eclipse's line-up rather abruptly, and even Blackthorne has axed some titles I was enjoying - LABOR FORCE, CROW OF THE BEAR CLAN, NERVOUS REX. It's difficult to think of a publisher who's not had to cancel worthwhile titles - and of course some publishers have themselves had to go out of business. It is difficult for the individual reader to do anything to ensure that the titles he enjoys will be among the comics that survive, but what he or she can do is let their supplier know which titles they're keenest on. To give the store a "standing order" is the best idea---but just to mention the names of favourite titles could be useful, so that BARBARIENNE, or DEADFACE, or !GAG! for example mean just a little bit more to him next time he confronts the multipage monthly order form he has to fill in for his distributor. Our problem is getting comics into stores; It's no use you telling us "Harrier distribution is terrible in my town" -- that's a problem only your store manager can solve.
Free plug time: the UK Comic Art Con this year, UKCAC'88, is being held in London on September 24th and 25th, with lots of garrulous guests, including Los Bros Hernandez and all the top Brits. Advance booking is advised; £10 for both days, cheque/postal order payable to UK Comic Art Convention, and sent to P.O. Box 360, London WC2H 9TB, England. Or an SAE will get you lengthy details. You'll find an all-night film show, a charity auction, the ever-popular dealers' room, art displays, signings, sketchings, lots of panels and interviewing, your own bag of useful stuff - and friendly company. So send your booking now, along with a stamped, self-addressed envelope (from overseas, enclose 2 international reply coupons instead), and mark September's last weekend on your calendar.
And yes, Harrier will be there; with a table selling our back issues, probably. I'm likely to be there much of the time, and other contributors should drop by... John Marshall certainly. So, if you want to chat, or show us photocopied pages of your art or script, or browse through our back issues - well, why not?
But, in the meantime, don't forget to report back here in a couple of months for
BARBARIENNE VERSUS CUIRASS #8, and some important news'! -M