Glasgow is a rather special city, in the heart of Scotland. It’s defined by such characteristics as enduring community rivalry, sharp wit, dark humour and a lively association with crime. No doubt many of you will be familiar with the distinctive flavours that this city can add to dramas such as Taggart, Rebus and The Field of Blood. This exuberant town is the locale for this first collection of stories from writer, Jim Alexander (Batman, Metal Hurlant, Star Trek Manga).
Within this trade, we are initially served three shorts, illustrated by Garry McLaughlin (Junkie Dad, Taking Flight). Our protoganist is one Detective Inspector Brian Fisher. The first installment, ‘GCBC’, focuses on Fisher’s interview of a suspect following the discovery of a bloody, hacked forearm in an alleyway and a subsequent arrest. Fisher is undoubtedly an intriguing character. Whilst clearly an adept investigator, it is his intuitive wit and ferociously accurate instincts that mark him out as something unique.
This suggestion is compounded and raised to another level, as Fisher chooses to goad the suspect into revealing his true nature by freeing him from his handcuffs. In the ensuing and rather explosive progression, we see that the true revelation is that of Fisher’s own special pedigree. He is indeed a Jekyll and Hyde character, both Good Cop and Bad Cop. McLauglin’s art is clean, energised and expressive. There’s a level of characterisation that adds much to the storytelling, along with an accomplished use of the enclosed space of the interview room.
Subsequent stories address separate cases, each with their own individual and entertaining angles. The Glaswegian dialogue adds much vigour without any excessive brogueishness or cliched stylings. It’s reassuringly grounded as each character is simply allowed to speak for themselves. Crazed chemists, hospitable little old ladies, young hardened thugs and hapless victims are portrayed with confident depth.
Will Pickering (Burke and Hare, Something Fast) and Luke Cooper (Wolf Country, Hollow Girl), expertly render the final two extended tales, ‘Under Investigation’ and ‘Tiny Acts of Kindness’. In both instances, the art is delineated with poise, some panache and an essential urban grit. At this point, the stories seem to step up a gear, as one has an understanding of Fisher’s personality, abilities, motives and fears. Certain deeds are justifiable only to a certain degree. He has genuine doubts over the path he treads and fears losing control of both his circumstances and his actions. He is never in a position of certainty and yet the ongoing self examination avoids the trap of mawkishness. This is a man of some alacrity. Whilst isolated out of some necessity, one feels he is ultimately destined not to live apart.
I particularly enjoyed the reassuringly mug-stained police reports as transcribed by Detective Fisher, that are interspersed through this book. They serve to add a more thorough appreciation of his psyche, along with a greater clarity regarding Glasgow and some of it’s people, as seen through his eyes.
This is a collection of tales eminently written by Alexander that whilst undoubtedly packing solid punches, are told with considerable maturity, much humour and a refreshing versatility. John Wagner provides an introduction in which he refers to the storytelling as ‘… a narrative that sweeps you up and carries you along like a leaf in the wind’. I would not dare to disagree.
You can find out much more about this excellent book at www.Roughcut-Comics.com