Jack Herriman (Scene of the Crime)

Created by Ed Brubaker, Michael Lark & Sean Phillips

Troubled, one-eyed JACK HERRIMAN runs a small, one-man detective agency in San Francisco with the aid of his Uncle Knut, a once famous crime scene photographer, and Molly, his uncle’s sweetie, in Scene of the Crime: A Little Piece of Goodnight, an intriguing 1999 four-part comic series from the folks at DC/Vertigo, under the umbrella of the Scene of the Crime series. With just the right Chandleresque mix of cynicism and bittersweet vulnerability, the four-parter was a definite winner, sure to thrill you… and then break your heart. The art and text work perfectly together, in a tough-minded tale of loss and redemption, revenge and forgiveness. The perfect hard-boiled tale to strip the veneer off the Oprah generation and the bad taste of far too many P.I. comics by people who hadn’t a clue about the genre.

The series subsequently garnered nominations for Best Mini-series and Best Writer in the 2000 Eisner Awards.

And the Christmas story, “God and Sinners” that ran a few months before the series as a sort of teaser, in the 1998 Vertigo Winter Annual 2, was a bittersweet heartbreaker of a Yuletide tale.  Grinchly Jack, working a skip-trace in a murder trial, has to break it to Knut and Molly that he’ll probably be in Chicago for the holidays. Except Molly suddenly remembers her cousin Beth in Chicago, and insists on joining Jack. “Joy to the fucking world,” as Jack mutters to himself.

ABOUT THE CREATORS

Writer Ed Brubaker gained notoriety for bumping off Captain America for Marvel, but originally he was known for such acclaimed projects as Lowlife (an autobiographical alternative comic), At the Seams, Detour, An Accidental Death, Prez and contributions to Dark Horse Presents, such as “Here and Now,” featuring private eye Hal Banks. He then moved on to inject some much-needed hard-boiled grit and noir depth to such superheroes as Batman for DC and Captain America and Daredevil for Marvel. He even brought DC’s original two-fisted private eye Slam Bradley back from the dead, first as a back-up feature in Detective Comics #759 (August 2001), which served as a sort of dry run for re-introducing Slam into his revamped Catwoman comic. And in 2006, he resurrected Dakota North, Marvel’s fashion model-turned-gumshoe, as a supporting character in a surprisingly noirish story arc in Daredevil. He’s since become something of an indie darling for his acclaimed crime comics, most notably Criminal for Icon (and later Image) an obvious labour of love.

Artist Michael Lark has done some great work in this genre, most notably Terminal City (a sorta retro-sci-fi/noir hybrid), and The Little Sister, a graphic novel adaptation of Raymond Chandler’s Philip Marlowe novel, but, in my ever-so-humble opinion, Scene of the Crime may be his best work yet.

But part-way through the mini-series, Lark decided that he wasn’t satisfied with his inking in the series, so a younger British artist, Sean Phillips, was brought on board to take over the inking chores. This marked the first — but certainly not the last — time Phillips and Brubaker would work together. In fact, it was the start of a beautiful friendship…

COMICS

  • VERTIGO: WINTER’S EDGE 2
    (1999, DC/Vertigo)
    One-off annual sampler

    • “God and Sinners” (January 1999)
      Written by Ed Brubaker
      Art by Michael Lark
      Herriman travels to Chicago for a cold and bloody Christmas.
  • SCENE OF THE CRIME
    (1999, DC/Vertigo)
    4 issue mini-series
    Written by Ed Brubaker
    Art by Michael Lark, Sean Phillips

COLLECTIONS

  • Scene of the Crime: A Little Piece of Goodnight | Buy this book  | Kindle/ComiXology it!
    (2000, DC/Vertigo)
    Trade paperback edition, collecting “God and Sinners” and the complete “A Little Piece of Goodnight” mini-series.
  • Scene of the Crime | Buy this book | Kindle/ComiXology it!
    (2013, DC/Vertigo)
    Deluxe, over-sized hardcover, featuring behind-the-scenes art and stories, a new foreword by Brubaker, and a slew of other goodies, including a new foreword by Jinx creator Brian Michael Bendis.
  • Scene of the Crime Buy the comic | Kindle/ComiXology it!
    (2021, Image)
    Yet another spiffy new edition, this time in paperback, designed by Sean Phillips. Promised are behind-the-scenes art and stories, a new foreword by Brubaker, and plenty of other extras.

FURTHER INVESTIGATION

Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.

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