Backstories To The Bryant & May Books No.6
The Casebook of Bryant & May (Graphic Novel)
This book contains two illustrated untold cases for Bryant & May, which take them through the streets of London in search of the Soho Devil, and up the Telecom Tower to search for a severed hand. I worked with Keith Page, the brilliant artist of Commando Comics, to recreate Bryant & May as illustrations.
I have a great affection for British comics, the strange periodicals that were the exact opposite of their American counterparts (although I loved those too). Delivered along with the adult papers, they were surreal, informative, downright peculiar, and produced by British artists with recognisable styles. My idea was the recreate the experience of reading one, and Mr Page kindly supported me in this, producing some astonishing artwork for the project. We decided to take a different approach to the material, making the stories more fantastical and peppering them with famous faces from old films.
Mr Page drew all of the streets and buildings featured in the book with superb accuracy, and caught much of the flavour of the novels. Some readers said upon seeing the detectives that this wasn’t how they imagined them; that is to be expected.
But I think we produced a rare and beautiful artefact. We know what happens to such artefacts, though – they remain rare. No matter; we did it to please those who appreciate such things, and ourselves. If you have a copy, hang onto it – there will probably never be another.
The Bleeding Heart
The PCU’s latest case involves a teenager who sees a dead man rising from his grave in a London park, and hears him speak. The next night, he’s killed in a hit and run accident. Stranger still, in the minutes between when he is last seen alive and found dead on the pavement, someone has changed the boy’s shirt.
But Arthur Bryant is sent off to find out how someone could have stolen the ravens from the Tower of London. It appears that all seven birds have been snatched from one of the most secure buildings in the city. And legend says that when the ravens leave, the nation falls.
The PCU uncovers a group of latter-day bodysnatchers, visits a strange funeral home and goes to Bleeding Heart Yard, where a gruesome London legend involving a heart pierced with arrows seems connected to the crime…
The story grew out of its locations, a small park and the eponymous yard nearby which houses a very nice restaurant. The legend of the Bleeding Heart is mentioned by Dickens and others, and of course Dickens is strongly associated with the areas of Clerkenwell and Farringdon – there are a wealth of literary connections to explore in the neighbourhood.
Often the tiniest London parks have gravestones in them that go unnoticed. I grew up thinking that gravestones were something to have a picnic on, there were so many of them in the parks near our home. Add that fact to the city’s true history of body-snatching, and the undertakers that buried Nelson in Red Lion Street, and you have a really creepy case for Bryant & May.
I do not quite understand how Christopher Fowler gets away with it. His series is witty, charming, intelligent, wonderfully atmospheric and enthusiastically plotted.’ – The Times