Saturday, December 10, 2011

Best Sherlock Holmes Pastiches

I began researching Whitechapel: The Final Stand of Sherlock Holmes in the summer of 2008, and would spend the next year studying Doyle's Holmes canon as intensely as the crimes of Jack the Ripper.  However, the true inspiration for my vision of Holmes was born much earlier, and completely by accident.

I was at the Book Swap in Horsham Township, searching for new things to read, and happened upon a book titled "The Seven-Percent Solution" by Nicholas Meyer.  It leaped out at me for several reasons.  First, I immediately recognized that it must be a Sherlock Holmes novel, and second that it was written by the director of Star Trek II.

I grabbed the book and took it home to being reading it, morbidly curious that someone would DARE try and write Holmes, let alone some Hollywood big-shot.  I was wrong.  Meyer handled the characters and setting in expert fashion, and his less-formal style of prose than the traditional stories felt completely comfortable.
I later tracked down Meyer's next two Holmes books, which I did not enjoy nearly as much, but the seed was already planted.  I knew that it could be done.  

My second influence was not a book, but rather a film.  The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes was made in 1970 and featured a very human portrayal of Holmes.  Watson was a carouser and Mycroft Holmes was a government puppet-master portrayed by none other than Christopher Lee.  Admittedly, the loch ness monster aspect of the film was a bit silly, but for the most part, it was an excellent film that is absolutely deserving of its cult classic status.

The last truly good Sherlock Holmes pastiche occurred in a few all-too-brief scenes of Warren Ellis's seminal comic Planetary.  In Issue 13, the series' hero Elijah Snow tracks down a "Master Detective" in his 2nd Floor apartment, and the detective is guarded by none other than Dracula himself.  The confrontation is simply jaw-dropping.  The entire series of Planetary featured characters brought in from all over fiction (including Godzilla, Tarzan, Doc Savage, you name it) and if you have not read it, in the immortal words of Henry Rollins, "You suck and must be destroyed."

Or...er...you could just read it and therefor stop sucking and no longer require destruction.
Your choice, really.

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