Ace Harlen

Created by Eric Lamont

Ace Harlem

Created by John Terrill and Orrin C. Evans

In the upcoming comic book from LegacyHeroComics, writer/artist Eric Lamont plans to a revive truly obscure comic hero.

ACE HARLEM, the "famed Negro detective," appeared once and only once, in the first and only issue of All-Negro Comics, a collection of all new stories put out by the company of the same name, way back in 1947. The book, the brainchild of journalist Orrin C. Evans, featured African-American and African heroes, intended to inspire and entertain that community, and was the first known comic book written and drawn solely by African-American writers and artists.

Mind you, Ace was no superhero -- he was just a cop -- but he still qualifies as one (if not the first) black heroes in comics.

Ace was tough but fair; a two-fisted homicide dick who had a steel jaw, a fedora and the obligatory raincoat. He worked out of the 28th Precinct of New York City, more commonly known as -- yep -- Harlem, and wasn't afraid to mix it up. He seems to be well respected in Harlem, and treats everyone he encounters -- fellow officers, witnesses, suspects and informants pretty well. In his one recorded case, he never draws his weapon, even when attacked. But don't write him off as a wimp -- as Lamont points out, "Every ne'er-do-well in the debut story met a grisly death, either at the hands of a fellow criminal or by some cruel (but justified) twist of fate. Ace barely had to lift a finger!"

In his one recorded case, Time Magazine noted that "...the villains were a couple of zoot-suited, jive-talking Negro muggers, whose presence in anyone else's comics might have brought up complaints of racial 'distortion.' Since it was all in the family, Evans thought no Negro readers would mind."

Unfortunately, although a second issue was announced, it was never published. And so, the character might have slipped between the cracks of history...

Until 2015, when Lamont annouced he was "reworking" the character, and rechristening him ACE HARLEN.

Ace Harlem... was a no-nonsense, "famed Negro detective", who strongly believed that crime was a fruitless endeavor, and those who pursued it, would eventually get what was coming to them! Needless to say, Ace was indeed correct...

For the reworking, I dropped the "Harlem" moniker, and went with the more generic (but similarly sounding) "Harlen" as a surname, and relocated him... I utilized all of the characters that appeared in Ace Harlem's sole adventure... and refashioned them into an ongoing supporting cast.

If time allows, I'd like to create a weekly B&W comic strip and a monthly Sunday color installment, featuring Ace and crew!

In this ambitious new incarnation, Al is a private detective working out of King City. He's still a bad ass, but he dresses a little sharper, and looks a little meaner. He's occasionally aided in his investigations by a young forensic scientant, Willie "Whiz-Kid" Jones and Officer Nickels of the King City PD. Now he not only doesn't use a gun -- he doesn't even carry one.

This sounds interesting, but I fear it may all come to naught -- since announcing his big plans back in February 2015, there hasn't been a peep about this project.

COMICS

  • ALL-NEGRO COMICS
    (July 1947, All-Negro Comics)
    One issue
    Writers/artists: John Terrill, Bill Driscoll, George J Evans Jr,, Cooper, Cravat

  • AL HARLEN
    (2016, Legacy Hero Comics)
    Writers: Eric Lamont

Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.


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