Backstories To The Bryant & May Books No.6

Bryant and May

B&M Splash

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

5 comments on “Backstories To The Bryant & May Books No.6”

  1. K Page says:

    Mr Page, currently wading through the mud of WW1 for weeks on end, really enjoyed working on it.

  2. Matt says:

    I thought the case book was fantastic really loved the stories and the artwork was a really fabulous visualisation of the work of B&M.

    The bleeding heart was one of those books that made you feel you were on the street with the team, loved the opening chapters that just left you wanting to find out more.

  3. Peter Arcane says:

    Just got myself up-to-date by finishing The Bleeding Heart – thoroughly enjoyable, thank you.

  4. Wayne says:

    Loved both these B&M books. Thanks for posting the notes about them. I have just pre-ordered The Burning Man roll on April 2015! Oh and then of course what will happen after that? No more B&M to get me through through the year, nothing to look forward to? Surly not, hope there is always hope, you could always do the short story collection or maybe even just introduce them into future novels as you did in the past with Soho Black etc…..

    Long live B&M.

  5. m says:

    I wish I’d started on the Bleeding Heart when I was in London as I was near to so many of the locations. I did at least make sure to see Mornington Crescent station. I just finished the book and am realizing how reluctant I am to see them go.

Comments are closed.