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Previews: What looks good for December

The Dare Detectives: The Snow Pea Plot

It’s time once again for our monthly trip through Previews looking for cool, new comics. As usual, we’re focusing on graphic novels, collected volumes, and first issues so that I don’t have to come up with a new way to say, “ Life with Archie is still awesome!” every month. And I’ll continue letting Tom and Carla do the heavy lifting in regards to DC and Marvel’s solicitations.

Also, please feel free to play along in the comments. Tell me what I missed that you’re looking forward to or – if you’re a comics creator – mention your own stuff.

Ape

Richie Rich Gems Winter Special - In addition to their modern-look Richie Rich, Ape has also re-introducied the classic version in both new and reprinted adventures. I missed the solicit for Richie Rich Gems #44 last month (which picked up where the Harvey series left off in 1982), but the series continues with not only the Winter Special, but #45 as well.

Arcana

Dragons vs Dinosaurs - I haven’t had great luck with Arcana’s books in the past, but c’mon. The title alone…

Hero Happy Hour: On the Rocks - This, on the other hand, is no risk at all. I’m a big fan of Dan Taylor and Chris Fason’s superhero bar stories and this is an all-new, 80-page adventure. Not reprints; not even a printed version of the webcomic. It’s all-new and I need it.

Archaia

The Dare Detectives: The Snow Pea Plot Collected Edition – Archaia prepares for their publishing Ben Caldwell’s Dare Detectives: The Kula Kola Caper by re-publishing the first story that was originally put out by Dark Horse.

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Food or Comics? | Buffy, Pigs, Tomine and of course new DC titles

Demon Knights

Welcome to Food or Comics?, where every week we talk about what comics we’d buy at our local comic shop based on certain spending limits — $15 and $30 — as well as what we’d get if we had extra money or a gift card to spend on a “Splurge” item.

Check out Diamond’s release list or ComicList, and tell us what you’re getting in our comments field.

Michael May

If I had $15, I’d start with Demon Knights #1 ($2.99) and Frankenstein, Agent of SHADE #1 ($2.99). I’m excited about a lot of the DC Dark corner of the New 52; especially these two. Frankenstein is a continuation of the only Flashpoint series I stuck with and features one of my two favorite characters from Morrison’s Seven Soldiers of Victory. I wasn’t that interested in Demon Knights at first, but I was impressed by Paul Cornell’s chasing down a female fan after a panel at San Diego to pitch the series to her as something that people who are looking for great, female characters will enjoy. And I’ve been wanting to dig deeper into Cornell’s work anyway. On the Marvel side, I’m still thrilled about how well Alpha Flight is doing (creatively, I mean, but I guess it must be doing okay in sales too), so #4 ($2.99) is a must-buy for me. And I can’t wait to see how Mystery Men ends with #5 ($2.99). That’s been one of the high points of my summer, comics-wise. Finally, I’d grab X-Men Legacy #255 ($2.99) to dip my toe a little deeper into the X-Men world after being away from it for a while.

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With acquisition of The Shadow, Dynamite becoming de facto pulp comics destination [UPDATED]

With the announcement this week that Dynamite Entertainment has acquired the rights to do comic books starring the Shadow, the New Jersey comics company has become the home for a majority of pulp heroes in comics. Although an argument could have been made that DC Comics held that title when it was publishing its now-canceled “First Wave” line, with this latest announcement the Shadow joins other proto-comic heroes like Zorro, the Phantom, Dracula, the Lone Ranger, Sherlock Holmes, Buck Rogers, the Green Hornet and others in Dynamite’s line.

While this isn’t the first time that multiple pulp icons have been under one comic publisher’s roof, it’s by far the most concentrated in some time. Although most weren’t created in comics, pulp characters have  a long history bouncing around from numerous publishers over the years. The Shadow, for instance has been published by Marvel, DC, Dark Horse, Archie and even a newspaper strip that’s run off and on through the years — and his pulp brethren can claim similar paths over time.

The notable absences to Dynamite’s de facto pulp line are tied up — or have been until recently — by other publishers. DC’s rights to Doc Savage, the Avenger and Rima The Jungle Girl are currently unknown, while Tarzan resides at Dark Horse, and Moonstone, another pulp-inspired comics publisher, publishes stories about the Spider and the Domino Lady.

But with the potency of Dynamite’s line-up so far, it casts a potentially long shadow (no pun intended) on the comics industry and what’s possible.  Imagine a pulp line firing on all cylinders, perhaps even a crossover at some point or even a Justice Society-style team-up.

Update: And today Dynamite announced they’ll be making comics starring another pulp hero, The Spider.

Previews: What Looks Good for October

Spera, Volume 1

It’s time once again for our monthly trip through Previews looking for cool, new comics. As usual, we’re focusing on graphic novels, collected volumes, and first issues so that I don’t have to come up with a new way to say, “Jeff Lemire’s Frankenstein is still awesome!” every month. And I’ll continue letting Tom and Carla do the heavy lifting in regards to DC and Marvel’s solicitations.

Also, please feel free to play along in the comments. Tell me what I missed that you’re looking forward to or – if you’re a comics creator – mention your own stuff.

Archaia

The Grave Doug Freshley – A lot of publishers are doing Weird Western comics lately and that’s just fine with me.

Spera, Volume 1 – I like the sound of this fairy tale in which a couple of princesses combine efforts to save their kingdoms. It’s not that I’m anti-prince, but that’s a cool, new way to do that story.

Avatar

Captain Swing and the Electrical Pirates of Cindery Island – Warren Ellis doing Steampunk sounds thrilling, but really all they had to say was “pirates.” I bet this is still really good though, even if you’re pickier than I am.

Boom!

Roger Langridge’s Snarked #1 – After a well-loved zero-issue, Langridge’s version of Wonderland gets its real, official start.

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Toronto Cartoonists Workshop-produced Holmes anthology available for free digitally

When he isn’t writing and drawing, Ty Templeton teaches at the Toronto Cartoonists Workshop, where the “Fit to Print” class simulates a real freelance job for a mainstream comics publisher — complete with deadlines, editorial feedback and working on pre-determined characters. And eventually, publication, in the form of an anthology that will be sold at Fan Expo Canada Aug. 25-28 and digitally (for free!) through Graphicly, DriveThruComics, My Digital Comics and The Illustrated Section.

“Our end-of-the-year project takes the form of an anthology book featuring adventures of the 21st Century descendants of Sherlock and Watson, under the title Holmes Incorporated, and the work this year is shockingly good for a group of rookies trying to get their foot in the door—they deserve a little love and attention. And to sweeten the deal we wrapped our issue up in a cover by X-Men/JSA/Supergirl artist and nice guy, Leonard Kirk — who is also an instructor at our school, so it was a matter of cornering Len in the lunch room,” Templeton said. “This year we’re making the new issue (and last year’s) available as a FREE download for anyone’s e-reader, computer, phone, iPad, etc. Between the two issues it’s 140 FREE pages of the remarkably skilled comics work of some eager and talented newcomers looking to prove themselves, and all they ask is the time it takes to look at the pages.”

After the jump you can take a look at an embedded preview, courtesy of Graphicly.

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Pulp 2.0 revives Scarlet in Gaslight and other vintage tales

The Sherlock Holmes/Dracula miniseries Scarlet in Gaslight, written by Martin Powell and illustrated by Seppo Makinen, was published in 1988 and nominated for an Eisner Award the following year. It has been out of print recently, but last month Powell announced that Pulp 2.0 will publish four of his graphic novels. In addition to Scarlet in Gaslight, they include A Case of Blind Fear, which pits Sherlock Holmes against the Invisible Man; Ghosts of Dracula, in which Dr. Van Helsing and Harry Houdini battle the Lord of the Undead; and a straight-up adaptation of Frankenstein. All the books are written by Powell and illustrated by Makinen, except for Frankenstein, which was illustrated by Patrick Olliffe.

Pulp 2.0 initiated a graphic novel line late last year, launching it with the 1980s series The Miracle Squad and The Twilight Avenger, both by writer John Wooley and artist Terry Tidwell. It looks like they will be released as graphic novels, both digital and in print, with cleaned-up graphics and bonus features.

Powell talks a bit about his comics work at Jazma Online, focusing on more recent works like his resurrection of The Spider for Moonstone.

(Via Comics 411)

Food or Comics? | This week’s comics on a budget

Steel #1

Welcome to the first Food or Comics? for 2011. Every week we talk about what comics we’d buy on Wednesday based on certain spending limits — $15 and $30 — as well as what we’d get if we had extra money or a gift card to spend on what we call our “Splurge” item.

Check out Diamond’s release list for this week if you’d like to play along in our comments section.

Graeme McMillan

Hey, it’s the first week of 2011, and time to get some awesome comics, right? Right? So for my $15, I’ll pick up… Oh. Kind of a slow week, then, huh? Well, there’s always Steel #1 (DC, $2.99), the sure-to-be-controversial one-shot that launches the retro “Reign of Doomsday” crossover, and my love of James Robinson’s Justice League will ensure I pick up the Starman/Congorilla one-shot (DC, $2.99), if only to find out what all those interludes in the middle of the current “Omega” storyline are all about. Curiosity compels me to pick up Image’s Walking Dead Weekly #1 ($2.99), if only to see if it’s pretty much an exact reprint of the original first issue with a different cover, but that remaining $6 may just end up burning a hole in my pocket. Maybe I’ll put it toward my $30 haul…

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Food or Comics? | This week’s comics on a budget

Welcome once again to Food or Comics?, where every week we talk about what comics we’d buy based on certain spending limits — $15, $30 to spend and if we had extra money to spend on what we call the “Splurge” item. Check out Diamond’s release list for this week if you’d like to play along in our comments section.

Emitown

Graeme McMillan

It’s a weird week for new releases, with everyone but Marvel taking it easy and pulling back on massive hauls in order to give our wallets a nice holiday break (unless you’re a Marvel completest, in which case, yowza. Look out). That said, if I had $15, I’d put it towards the special 200th issue of What If? ($4.99), the first issue of event tie-in Chaos War: X-Men ($3.99) because I’m curious how Chris Claremont and Louise Simonson handle Marvel’s version of Blackest Night, and the second issue of Scott Snyder and Jock’s Detective Comics run (#872, $3.99), because I was really happily surprised by how much I enjoyed the first.

If I had $30, I’d put Chaos War and What If? back on the shelf, and get Emitown ($24.99) instead. I’ve heard really great things about this print collection of Emi Lenox’s autobio webcomic, and I like the idea of seeing 2011 in by discovering a new cartoonist to love.

Splurging, I’d go back to Marvel, with the brand new Ka-Zar collection by Mark Waid and Andy Kubert ($19.99). I missed out on this series back in the 1990s, but as a fan of both fish-out-of-water stories and Mark Waid stories, something tells me that this might be right up my street.

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Gorillas Riding Dinosaurs | On the Case with Holmes and Watson

Sherlock Holmes and a Scandal in Bohemia

We’ve been talking about comics for kids a lot lately in this column. I want to continue that conversation this week, but from a different angle. Let’s face it, we’ll never all agree about whether Marvel and DC superhero comics should be focused primarily on children or grown ups or if both, in what ratio. A lot of things complicate that discussion, including the origin of superheroes as children’s literature and the varying levels of nostalgia that grown-up fans attach to that.

But what if we flip that coin over? What if we take something with origins in grown-up literature and make it for kids? Does that change the arguments? Do characters created for one demographic always have to be written with that demographic in mind? I don’t think so. I don’t think it’s true for superheroes and I don’t think it’s true for Sherlock Holmes who’s the focus of Graphic Universe’s new series On the Case with Holmes and Watson.

To be sure, Sherlock Holmes isn’t the most dramatic example of a “mature audiences” character being used for a kids’ series. He’s not exactly Ripley from Alien or Ash from Evil Dead. But he’s also not standard reading for 4th to 6th graders, the target audience for the On the Case series. And if Holmes can be rewritten for 9-year-olds, why can’t Superman be rewritten for 39-year-olds? The question shouldn’t be whether or not it can be done though. I predict that we’ll read few if any comments advocating that Holmes is a grown-up character and that he shouldn’t be adapted for children. What we need to be figuring out is how to tell the story so well that neither group feels unwanted.

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Huizenga does Holmes

from "Professor Moriarty" by Kevin Huizenga

Elementary, my dear Ganges! Wildly acclaimed, prodigiously talented cartoonist Kevin Huizenga has taken a break from chronicling the vagaries of our daily existence in his series Ganges and (the late, lamented) Or Else to take on the greatest detective in literary history and his arch-nemesis. (No, not Batman and the Joker, but I like the way you think.)

At his blog, Huizenga has posted a two-page comic featuring the first and final face-to-face confrontations between none other than Sherlock Holmes and Professor Moriarty. The strip is part of the Famous Fictional Villains show at St. Louis’s Mad Art Gallery, curated by Huizenga’s friend, fellow cartoonist, and occasional collaborator Dan Zettwoch. The opening reception for the show — which features baddies ranging from Macbeth‘s witches to Alien‘s facehugger, interpreted by Zettwoch, Huizenga and over a dozen other artists — takes place tonight from 7pm to 11pm.


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