Courier: the Adventures of Geraldine Barker #0  (Self Published)

Words and Pictures: Angie Spice

It’s been nearly a century since The Great Depression carved a deep dark mark into much of the world.  The Black Tuesday crash of 1929 sent most of Western World into a spiral that would it would take decades to recover from him.

With as many as 1 in 3 people out of work the prospects for Australians were pretty bleak and few parts of the country were worse hit than the island state of Tasmania.

Geraldine Barker is a heroine for these times.  An enterprising modern woman seeking to carve out a niche for herself as the glitter and glamour of the Jazz Age fades and the war drums ushering in World World II begin to sound.  Geraldine ostensibly braves the rugged wilderness of Tasmania as a courier for the Postmaster General but she’s got a nose for mystery and an eye for intrigue and is always on the look out for mysterious goings on.

Although this is the forth issue of Angie’s self published adventure series this Zero Issue is part prequel part origin story.  We are introduced to a young Geraldine as she visits a small Tasmanian zoo with her father.  A zoo which is home to one of the last remaining populations of the critically endangered Tasmanian Tigers or Thylacine.

Angie Spice’s manga inspired art was a surprising treat when we were first introduced to it in the back up feature of Matt Kyme’s Wrath of the Cursed.  The evolution in Angie’s art style over the last few years is amazing when you compare this issue with the earlier ones in the series.

Spice now seems much more comfortable with her style as an artist, fully embracing her love of the bold black and white line art of classic manga draftsmanship.

Her commitment to researching the fashion and culture of the era results in characters and designs that feel authentic as opposed to the Roaring 20s fancy of something like Porco Rosso or Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries.

This zero issue adds depth colour and content to the world of Geraldine Barker which has been built up over the previous through issues. The story outlined in this issue feels like a pre-credits scene or flashback sequence which will later serve as a touchstone for the characters, ideas and themes explored throughout the remainder of the story.

The zoo trip detailed in this issue establishes young Geraldine’s obsession with the Tasmanian Tiger.  Non-Australian readers may not be aware that the Tasmanian Tiger was hunted to extinction in early 20th Century by European Colonists who saw them as a threat to livestock, farming and the expansion of European Settlement. The Tiger is a recurring image through all of Spice’s Courier stories.  Not only is Barker determined to discover if any Tasmanian Tigers remain in the wild but the animal also serves as a symbol of childhood’s end and the power and importance of hope in the face of tragedy and insurmountable odds.

AS Tassie Tiger

This is a well paced and well told story with Spice pairing her deceptively simplistic line work with expressive character work. New readers coming cold to the world of Courier may be better served jumping on the debut issue first before taking a step back to explore these formative moments in Geraldine’s childhood.

You can discover more about the world of Geraldine Barker by visiting Angie Spice’s home page and then pick up this zero issue along with the three regular issues in the series over at her online store.

If you’ve enjoyed this and want to check our other spotlights on Australian Comic Creators here’s a few places to start.

  • Wrath of the Cursed: Matt Kyme returns with another genre and pulp inspired story of vengeance and violence
  • Hardboiled: The world’s premier treasure hunter just happens to be a talking egg, ’nuff said
  • Hellbent: Supernatural horror and romance by author Skyla Madi as the sins of father and visited on the son (recommended for Mature Readers)