“Sherlock Holmes” Projects for January!
With Caliber Comics reissuing my Sherlock Holmes pastiches, The Adventure of the Opera Ghost and The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Holmes, as individual graphic novels and publishing my and Matthew J. Elliott’s new book Sherlock Holmes is on the Air! later this month, I thought this would be a good time to share this brief interview about these projects that will be appearing in an upcoming issue of Caliber’s promotional e-magazine Caliber Rounds:
Cal: Sherlock Holmes seems more popular than ever with the Guy Ritchie film franchise and two television programs, Sherlock and Elementary, but there is also a long-running radio series that you are a part of.
Steve: A very, very small part. Imagination Theatre is a weekly anthology radio series syndicated in the United States and abroad, and it’s been broadcasting original Holmes stories since 1998 and adaptations of Doyle’s stories since 2005. So far I’ve had two pastiches produced, “The Adventure of the Petty Curses” and “A Case of Unfinished Business,” and another slated to be produced, “The Adventure of the Wrong Gentleman.”
Cal: Your two produced scripts are part of the new Caliber book, Sherlock Holmes is on the Air!?
Steve: Yes, along with two more IT Holmes scripts by British writer Matthew J. Elliott. There’s also a foreword by Lawrence Albert who plays Watson on IT, an interview between me and Matthew, an introduction by me, and illustrations by Josh Werner.
Cal: The IT Holmes adaptations are about to reach a milestone, aren’t they?
Steve: They sure are. IT will soon be the first radio series to adapt the entire Holmes Canon with the same writer, Matthew, adapting all sixty stories plus the same actors, Albert and John-Patrick Lowrie, playing Watson and Holmes. It’s quite an accomplishment!
Cal: “A Case of Unfinished Business” seems like a bookend to your graphic novel The Adventure of the Opera Ghost, in that one is set before The Great Hiatus in “The Final Problem” and the other is set afterwards.
Steve: That’s right. “Opera Ghost” is a pastiche pitting Holmes against Erik, The Phantom of the Opera, but it’s just as much a story about Watson coming to grips with the loss of his wife and then having Holmes return from the dead, as it were. “A Case of Unfinished Business” takes place after “The Final Problem” and shows Watson just starting to mourn Holmes while getting on with life after 221B. “The Adventure of the Wrong Gentleman” will follow “Unfinished Business” and is the first of a few scripts I’m writing set during The Great Hiatus that show how difficult it would be to put an end to Moriarty’s organization even after the Professor’s death.
Cal: Does your other graphic novel, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Holmes, have any association with these stories?
Steve: No, none.
Cal: How come you haven’t paired Holmes with other famous fictional characters in your radio scripts like you have in the comics?
Steve: The producer, Jim French, wants to adhere to the tone of the original Holmes Canon. There have been IT stories where Holmes has met historical figures like H.G. Wells and fictional characters like Doyle’s Professor Challenger, so something like Gary Reed’s Murder at Moulin Rouge would fit, but not borderline fantasies like my comics pastiches.
Cal: So what inspired you to have Holmes meet Erik and Dr. Jekyll?
Steve: I didn’t read Gaston Leroux’s The Phantom of the Opera until the early Nineties, after Andrew Lloyd Webber’s musical spurred publishers to bring it back into print after decades of being unavailable. While I was reading it, it just seemed to me that Erik would make an excellent opponent for Holmes. I’ve never been interested in writing a pastiche where Holmes meets a fantastical character like Count Dracula, but there’s nothing supernatural about Erik. He’s incredible, but not impossible, and I’d argue more brilliant and less predictable than Moriarity. Erik isn’t evil like the Professor, but I couldn’t call him a good man, either.
Cal: Isn’t Mr. Hyde a fantastical character?
Steve: He is, but I’d argue he is a plausible character, or more plausible then, say, Griffin the Invisible Man. Rather I’m right or wrong about that, Gary Reed came up with the story’s title to go with a pastiche he wanted to write, and I was so captivated by it that I finally asked Gary if I could write the pastiche. I was fascinated by the idea of pitting a moralistic man like Holmes against a hedonistic hypocrite like Jekyll, as well as seeing how a rationalist like Holmes would react to discovering the truth behind Jekyll’s secret life as Hyde. In Robert Louis Stevenson’s novel, a friend of Jekyll’s, Hastie Lanyon, sees Hyde transform into the doctor, and Lanyon is so horrified he eventually loses the will to live. I would argue that Holmes’s reaction would be much more practical.
Cal: Any plans for more Holmes pastiches in the future?
Steve: I hope I’ll write more Sherlock Holmes comics, but right now I don’t have anything planned. For the time being, I’ll probably concentrate on those Great Hiatus radio scripts I mentioned, although, now that I think of it, it would be pretty awesome to adapt those into comics down the road. We’ll see. Only time will tell.