Harrier Comics

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This article is about the British comics publisher. For the comic book character, see Harrier (comics).
Harrier Comics
Status defunct (1989)
Founded 1984
Founder Martin Lock
Country of origin United Kingdom
Headquarters location Northwood, Middlesex
Key people Martin Lock
Phil Elliott
Publication types Comic books
Fiction genres Superheroes, Science fiction, Adventure, Humor
Imprints New Wave

Harrier Comics (officially known as Harrier Publishing) was a British comic book publisher active in the mid-to-late 1980s. Harrier was notable for putting out black-and-white comics in a mold more similar to American comics than typical British fare. During their short existence, Harrier published more than 120 issues of over 30 titles.

History[edit]

Harrier was founded in 1984 by Martin Lock, a former member of the British Amateur Press Association. The success of Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles led to a short-lived explosion of black-and-white independent comics in the United States in the mid-1980s. The U.K. publisher Harrier's titles followed the same mold (unlike most British comics publishers, who favored the comic magazine format). Harrier's aesthetic was also inspired in some ways by the bold design of the UK's Escape magazine.[citation needed] The company's name was an homage to the famous British-designed military jet the Harrier.

Harrier's first title was Conqueror, written by Lock, which ran for nine issues. Its popularity spawned a number of spin-offs and one-shots, published throughout 1984 and 1985. 1985 also saw the first volume of Swiftsure (also written by Lock), which ran for six issues and was followed by a second volume in 1987.

In 1986, Harrier released Avalon, which ran 14 issues, and Redfox, which ran ten issues before being picked up by Valkyrie Press. Second City and Shock Therapy also debuted in 1986. That same year, Harrier published one issue of Lew Stringer's Brickman (a parody of Batman), which featured pages drawn by notable British creators Dave Gibbons, Mike Collins, Mark Farmer, and Kevin O'Neill, and an introduction written by Alan Moore. (A number of top UK professional comics artists gave their support to Harrier by contributing covers to various Harrier titles.)

1987 was Harrier's most active year, as they published the series !Gag!, Barbarienne, Deadface, Grun, Nightbird, and Swiftsure vol. 2; as well as the one-shots By The Time I Get To Wagga Wagga, Captain Oblivion, Conqueror Special, Deathwatch, More Tales From Gimbley, and Watchcats. In 1987 Harrier also debuted its New Wave imprint — the first title published under it being Glenn Dakin and Steve Way's Paris the Man of Plaster, which ran for six issues. Also in 1987, the Harrier title Redfox won the Eagle Award for Favourite New Title.

In 1988, Harrier released another batch of new titles — including Harrier Preview, Kalgan the Golden, Moon Fighting, Nick Hazard, Sunrise and Vignette Comics — none of which lasted for more than two issues. That year, Harrier's New Wave imprint released the four-issue Sinister Romance, Ace, and Bacchus.

By the spring of 1989, low sales forced Harrier to close its doors forever.

Notable creators associated with Harrier[edit]

Harrier first published Eddie Campbell's long-running character Bacchus, first in Deadface and then in a self-titled comic.

Harrier's New Wave imprint featured Glenn Dakin's work, in Paris, The Man Of Plaster (with Steve Way) and the anthology !Gag!. Dakin (with Woodrow Phoenix) also co-edited, wrote, and drew the New Wave humor title Sinister Romance.

Long-time British comics creator Phil Elliott edited !Gag!. Harrier also published two collections of Elliott's A Tale from Gimbley stories, as well as Elliott and Paul Duncan's four-issue Second City title.

Two of three completed prologues for an unfinished story by Grant Morrison and Tony O'Donnell titled Abraxas were published as back-up stories in Harrier's Sunrise #1-2 before it's cancellation. They were printed in black and white although the original art was in color. [1]

Titles published[edit]

Ongoing series[edit]

  • !Gag! (January 1987 - Spring 1989), 7 issues
  • Avalon (October 1986 - February 1988), 14 issues
  • Barbarienne (March 1987 - November 1988), 8 issues
  • Conqueror (August 1984 - December 1985), 9 issues
    • Conqueror Universe (1985), 2 issues
  • Cuirass (1988), 4 issues
  • Deadface (April 1987 - October 1988), 8 issues
  • Grun (1987), 4 issues
  • Nightbird (1987), 2 issues
  • Redfox (January 1986 - July 1987), 10 issues — series picked up by Valkyrie Press
  • Second City (1986), 4 issues
  • Shock Therapy (December 1986 - August 1987), 6 issues
  • Sunrise, 2 issues
  • Swiftsure
    • vol 1. (May 1985 - January 1986), 6 issues
    • vol. 2 (July 1987 - January 1988), 4 issues
    • Swiftsure and Conqueror (March 1986 - May 1987), 8 issues

One-shots[edit]

  • Brickman (1986)
  • By The Time I Get To Wagga Wagga (1987)
  • Captain Oblivion (1987)
  • Conqueror Special (1987)
  • Conqueror Special Preview (1984)
  • Deathwatch (1987)
  • Harrier Preview (1988)
  • Kalgan the Golden (1988)
  • Moon Fighting (1988)
  • Nick Hazard (1988)
  • A Tale from Gimbley
    • Some Tales From Gimbley
    • More Tales From Gimbley (1987)
  • Vignette Comics (1988)
  • Watchcats (1987)

New Wave imprint[edit]

  • Ace (1988), 1 issue
  • Bacchus (1988), 2 issues
  • Paris the Man of Plaster (May 1987 - September 1988), 6 issues
  • Sinister Romance (1988), 4 issues

Further reading[edit]

  • Amazing Heroes #128 (Nov. 1, 1987)
  • Sabin, Roger. Adult Comics: an Introduction (London: Routledge, 1993), p. 69.
  • Wiater, S. and Bissette, S.R. Comic Book Rebels (New York: D.I. Fine, 1993), p. 176.

References[edit]