Hey gang! This update is going to be a smaller one, and I am going to take a look at DC Comics’ run of Sherlock Holmes that started in 1975 and lasted one whole issue. Yeah, believe it or not the series sadly lasted one issue, making me wonder if DC only had room for one master detective spot, and Batman was their choice. But more than likely, it was a rights issue or just very poor sales for issue one that kept this from becoming an ongoing series like planned. But before we go to the comic review, let’s talk a little about Sherlock Holmes and his impact on culture. So we have to start at the beginning with the stories for books (4 total) and magazines short stories (56 official). In 1887, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle created a fictitious detective by the name of Sherlock Holmes for Beeton’s Christmas Annual for the short “A Study in Scarlett,” and the story was so popular that he was asked to write more stories based around this character. He did so with glee until he grew sick of the character and wanted to move on, but the fans and publishers wouldn’t allow him so he continued unwillingly, even at one point killing off Holmes in the short story “The Adventure Of The Final Problem,” only to bring him back by fan request. But even after the books and short stories, Sherlock Holmes would gain even more fans with films and shows!
The first Sherlock Holmes movie was made in 1916 and stared William Gillette as Holmes and Edward Fielding as Watson. Many more would follow in the 20’s and had such actors as John Barrymore, Clive Brook and Eille Norwood playing Holmes. But Holmes’ true movie break started in 1939 when actor Basil Rathbone stepped into the role as the great detective for 20th Century Fox and made “The Hounds Of Baskerville” and “The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes.” Both films were hits at the time, and from there Universal picked up the series and made a total of 12 films that included “Dressed To Kill”, “The Spider Woman”, “Terror By Night” and “Sherlock Holmes and The Voice of Terror”. Sadly in 1946 the Rathbone era of films ended, and many other films based around Holmes would pop up that included Hammer Horror’s “Hound of Baskerville” starring Peter Cushing as Holmes in 1959. “The Private Life Of Sherlock Holmes” had Robert Stephens in the roll and had him searching for the Loch Ness Monster in 1970. Nicholas Rowe played a teenage Sherlock Holmes in 1985’s “Young Sherlock Holmes”, and most recently Robert Downey Jr. played Holmes in 2009’s “Sherlock Holmes” and then again in 2011 in “Sherlock Holmes: A Game Of Shadows”, and these are only a few films that were made about the iconic character.
Sherlock Holmes has also been a TV draw and has had numerous live action shows and even cartoons. Most of these series are on England’s BBC, who brought us other great shows like The Young Ones, Monty Pythons Flying Circus, Dr. Who, The Mighty Boosh and horror host show Dr. Terror Presents to name a few. The most recent BBC Holmes inspired show is called simply “Sherlock” and started in 2010 and is on its third season that starts in 2013. In September 2012, CBS began a new show called “Elementary” where the Holmes legend is set in modern times, and one time Charlie Angel Lucy Liu plays Watson. Not to mention in 1999 on Fox Kids, the animated show “Sherlock Holmes in the 22nd Century” aired for two seasons. Showing that Holmes is not only a box office hit but also a boob tube hit!
Not only has Sherlock Holmes conquered books, movies and TV, he has also stepped into the world of video games and has made a nice little mark in that digital entertainment. While there are way too many to talk about, Holmes has had games on so many systems that include Commodore 64, PC, Sega CD, Turbografx 16, Nintendo DS, Xbox 360 and PS3. While some are text based adventures and point and click games, others have you fighting Jack The Ripper and clearing your name of murder. The newest Holmes game out via Atlus for PS3 and 360 is called “The Testament of Sherlock Holmes” and has been meet with some good reviews. Who knows what future systems await a Holmes game and only time will tell when he will pop up next on our home consoles to solve a crime or two.
But wait, Holmes has also been made into a comic book hero many times from different companies like Dell, Classics Illustrated, Dynamite, IDW, Blue Water, Moonstone and so many more. While none of his comic series had a full long run lasting more then 23 issues, he still remains a draw and has had comics based on him as late as 2012 from Blue Water comics in a series called “Sherlock Holmes Victorian Knights” that as of now is still running and with its fourth issue out soon. While he has not become a top seller in comics, Holmes remains a popular character and even has teamed up with Batman once!
One other thing I should talk about is the 1986 film “The Great Mouse Detective” by Disney that had a detective mouse named Basil, who also happens to live on Baker Street (in the same house as Sherlock Holmes) and takes the case of trying to find a missing little mouse girl who has been kidnapped by a bat. The cool thing about this film is when you hear Sherlock Holmes speak in the film, it’s actor Basil Rathbone’s voice that was taken from his classic Holmes films. Not to mention horror film icon Vincent Price voiced the film’s lead bad guy. This film, like everything else animated Disney touches, was a hit and sparked all types of merchandise from stuffed dolls to a video game. Growing up I found this film a fun little throwback that had a simple plot and a very likeable lead character. If you have not seen it check it out for sure.
Before we get into the review, there are a few other things I would like to talk about. The first is the closing of Hostess, the company who gave us not only Wonder Bread but also Twinkies, Ding Dongs and HoHo’s. Wonder Bread began making bread in 1921 and became a favorite of kids as they used the likes of Howdy Doody and other TV stars to promote the surgery white bread. But the company was mostly known for their snack cakes made popular by mascots like Twinkie The Kid and others like Fruit Pie The Magician, Captain Cupcake, King Ding Dong, Happy Ho Ho, Chief Big Wheels and Chauncey Choco-dile. It was a sad day when 2012 marked the end of a company that made its mark so deeply in American culture, and not to mention the fact that thousands of people are now out of work as the planets are all now closed. Times had been hard on the company, who mismanaged money and could not keep up with the health food trend that is sweeping America, and when workers went on strike over pay decreases this was the final nail in the coffin of the struggling company. I know someone will come in and buy the brands from Hostess, but it just won’t be the same, R.I.P. Twinkie The Kid and company, you and your sweet snack cakes will be missed.
I do have a funny story about a Hostess product aimed at people my age when we were kids: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Pies, a crispy pie crust with a very sugary pudding center and green icing on the crust. Sounds great right..right? They were terrible, but I found myself asking for them at grocery store Big Bear because they gave away stickers inside the package and I had to collect them all. So I would get my mom to buy me one, and I would force myself to eat this terrible snack enjoying the crust more than the terrible pudding death that waited for me inside. At some point I know I came close to getting that sticker set and packed away many of the Turtle Pies. So I feel good that I did my part back then to help Hostess stay alive. I know many people did enjoy the Turtle Pies, but I for one was not a fan…but as I said I did sill eat them.
Another cool thing about Wonder Bread was the free giveaways and mailaways. You could get cards from football stars to DC comic heros to even Warner Brothers cartoon characters like Bugs Bunny. One of the best things they ever offered was Wun-Dar, a brown haired version of He-Man for the Masters of the Universe toy line, who was a mail away and has become one of the most collected figures in the line. Not to mention that he is so popular that Mattel made an updated version of the character for their order direct Masters Toy Line. Companies just don’t do these kind of cool promotions anymore leaving this generation of kids having to do with out the excitement of the “giveaway” But then again, kids in this day and age are glued to their over priced Apple products so I am sure a free toy is nothing to them. Man, I just sounded like a grumpy old man!
It’s funny like everything that disappears, Twinkies have now become a collectors’ item as people have snatched up stores’ stock to sell them high on Ebay and Amazon. Only in America would some one pay $80.00 for three boxes of Twinkies online. But enough of this depressing stuff of people loosing their jobs, the death of Twinkie The Kid and friends, nasty pudding turtle pies and the lack of giveaways. Let’s just look at this blonde girl eating a twinkie, a hottie and sexy singer Katy Perry eating ice cream.
Two updates ago, I told you about the first no budget movie that I was apart of with Fairmont Productions called Teen Suicide and its sequel Suicide 2. While we were wrapping up Suicide 2, I began working on another project with my brother called “Twisted Batman Theatre” and Brass Bros was open for business. My older brother Bryan was in college at the time, and I was just a year fresh out of High School in 1999. He was taking a Shakespeare class at Sinclair Community College, and for one of his projects he decided to make a video. So he wrote this script that combined the 1960’s Batman TV show starring Adam West with the works of Shakespeare and had the idea to make the film stop motion by using his Super Powers Batman and Robin and would add Billy Dee Williams as the guest detective (a Star Wars Power of The Force Lando Figure). The team would have to solve the cases of Romeo & Juliet and Macbeth. The script was funny and filled with pop culture references, Shakespeare quotes and one liners, and my brother also took the time to make sets for the figures that almost looked like early silent German horror films meets Pee-Wee’s Playhouse. He borrowed our grandparents’ VHS camcorder and hired me as the camera man and to do a few of the voices needed. We set up the “sets” in the basement and began the long process of making the film. How we pulled off the stop motion was we would hit pause while recording and move the figure where we wanted and then un-pause it, and we would do this as quick as possible all the while he would be doing the voice overs as we filmed. This process made tempers fly, and I can’t count how many times I quit or got fired from this production, only to come back for more. Even though it was a pain, I still enjoyed working on this film a lot. Not only did I get to make another film but I got to help my brother make his vision come to life. The filming took a few days and many hours to complete, my brother hand wrote all the credits, did his best INXS Mediate video impersonation and then edited the film on two VCR’s. The best thing about the film was he also used many of the Batman rogues like the Super Power figures of The Joker and Penguin, the Toy Biz versions of The Riddler and Mr. Freeze, The Batman Returns Catwoman and The Animated Series Bane and gave them a plan that was lifted from an old Cracked Magazine. I had a blast on this film and got to voice Paul Stanley of Kiss (Kiss was used to portray the Witches from Macbeth) and do the laugh for The Joker, and would do it again in a heartbeat.
Twisted Batman Theatre played to his class, got a great response and earned him a good grade for the project. It did so well that he was asked if they could show it on monitors in Sinclair’s then soon to be reopened media department. Bryan of course okay’d it but was never sure if they played it. After that the film sat and collected dust for a short time until we decided to open Independent B Movie, and Twisted Batman was snatched up by us and was released on VHS at conventions we attended. It sold pretty well to people who remembered and loved Kenner’s Super Powers toy line and not to mention to Batman fans. Years later the film had a very short DVD run, but was recalled when the disc was found to have a flaw in one of the extras. Brass Bros was going to work on a sequel to Twisted Batman in the early 2000’s but it never came about. I had even planned sequel I was going to direct in 2007, but that never came about either. Bryan would go on to make a short film called Nightmare (that we will talk about shortly) and then had a film he started called “The Kenny Rogers Project” in which he mixed horror and humor into a film about Country Music Star Kenny Rogers alongside George W. Bush and rocker Ted Nugent who were killing people and making people sick with roasted chicken. The film had many faces in it that would become main stay actors for years to come including Matt Hoffman, Josh Weinberg, Garrison Kane and Jason Gilmore, but sadly was canceled midway through filming. Bryan would also try his hand at making a public access show years later with “Josh Vs.” a show that had my friend Josh Weinberg challenging celebs at horror convention to dumb contests like arm wrestling and push-ups. He filmed one episode where Josh had a staring contest against Sid Haig (House of 1000 Corpses), but lost faith in the project after the first episode footage went “missing,” and David Hess of Last House on The Left let him down on episode two. While it’s quiet now who knows what lies in the future for Brass Bro.’s Studio.
Sometime in late 2001/ early 2002 my brother took a class at Sinclair alongside Josh Weinberg that was being taught by local filmmaker Andy Copp, and one of the class projects was to make a short film. He made another mostly stop motion film called “Nightmare” that followed an old man on his deathbed that sees visions of a bloody eyed baby doll, a ventriloquist dummy with a cracked face, a hooded masked wearing demon, death himself and a woman who holds a heart. The film was shot in my bedroom at the time, and while I did some camera my brother shot this one mostly himself. In fact, the only live person in the film was a girl named Carley Owens who was in Bryan’s class and worked at Blockbuster Video down the road from the one I worked at. A scene was shot and never used in which I played the hooded demon who jumped up from his rocking chair and pointed a gun at the old man’s head. Sadly that footage is lost forever. Like Twisted Batman Theatre, Nightmare found a home with Independent B Movie and was released on VHS and sold fairly well. The short film was also a extra on the short printed Twisted Batman DVD.
But now onto the DC comic of Sherlock Holmes! Remember I grade these on a standard 1-4 star rating and am looking at how well the comic keeps to the source material, its entertainment value, and its art and story. This review was made possible by Mavericks Cards and Comics.
Sherlock Holmes ***1/2
Released in 1975 Cover Price .25 DC Comics #1 of 1
Sherlock Holmes has been targeted and escapes an attempt to snuff out if life as he walks down the road. Even at home on Barker Street another chap makes an attempt at ending his snooping ways. So he and Watson decide to get out of the country for awhile to avoid the murder attempts so they head to a snowy mountain region, and while on a snow covered mountain the man behind the attempts shows his face. Both he and Holmes struggle atop the mountain, and both are believed to have fallen to their deaths during the struggle. Holmes knew his attacker would be there and even sends Watson away on a task before the fight. Watson returns home, and a man is gunned down in the streets with a firearm that makes no sound. As he is looking into the murder, he is visited by a homeless man who turns out to be Sherlock Holmes alive and well and looking to help crack this case of the silent gun murder. Once more using his brain, he is able to set the killer up using a stuffed doll of himself showing why he is considered one of the best detectives in the world. So I am sure you’re wondering he survived the fall. To that I will say, I don’t want to spoil it all for you.
This could be one of the best Sherlock Holmes comics I have ever read and follows the classic story well, adding just a little more spice to make it appeal to fans of Batman, Dick Tracy and other hip detectives. Sherlock Holmes has only the slightest trace of the cocky attitude that he has in most of the books, making him more likeable. The chemistry that he has with Watson in this issue is top notch and again goes back to the way Batman and Robin interact and even the way Dick Tracy and Sam Catchem work together. The art style is really good and has the DC of the 70’s look. It’s strange to start your first issue off with what looks like the death of the title character, but it also works really well as it hypes you up to see just how you will survive his fall. This issue also delivers on his return, and it’s great to see the master detective dressed as a homeless man to set up a assassin who is trying to kill him if he in fact did not die in the attack. The art is top notch DC work, and the cover is eye catching and very cool It’s a shame this is the only issue in this series as I really would have looked forward to reading them for this blog. Also, below this is a cool picture of Batman and Sherlock Holmes showing both of DC’s greatest detectives.
The City of Chicago needed a master detective on November 22nd 1987 during a Dr. Who marathon when the broadcast signal of PBS Channel 11 was highjacked by a strange man in a Max Headroom mask. The pirate broadcast sound was muffled as the man yelled, groaned and said all types of odd things from new Coke slogans to even humming the theme from the cartoon Clutch Cargo. The broadcast ended with his bare ass bent over with the rubber mask to the side of the camera as a person smacked him with a flyswatter. The broadcast only lasted a total of 90 seconds before the signal was cut by the pirate. This was really his second attempt at this as earlier in the night he made a small broadcast during the news on WGN Channel 9. To this day no one has been able to identify who this man was and why he did what he did. I for one enjoyed his odd antics that I was able to see thanks to my brother Bryan and our friend Andy Copp, who had the incident on a VHS tape. The Max Headroom Pirate has never stuck again, and no one is sure if he ever will, but one thing is for sure he is still out there waiting and watching the airwaves of Chicago. I am sure that if Sherlock Holmes was a real person, he would have found out who this broadcast pirate was.
Speaking of pirate broadcasts, the other famous one happened a year before in 1986 when a man named John MacDougall going by the code named Captain Midnight was upset by the treatment satellite dish owners were getting from movie channels like HBO who were charging fees to watch. So he hacked into their feed and placed a simple text message that ran for about 4 1/2 minutes that said “Good evening HBO From Captain Midnight $12.95/Month? No Way! [Showtime/Movie Channel Beware!].” His message was clear, and he wanted HBO to see that the fees just were not right. But unlike the Max Headroom Pirate John was caught and forced to pay a high fine and be on a year of probation.
In 1977, the United Kingdom also had a strange pirate broadcast that only affected the audio of a TV Station from an “Alien” named Vrillon who said he was a representative for the Ashtar Galactic Command and wanted to tell us Earth people that we need to get rid of our evil weapons and to live in peace and be ready for our evolution as a race. The message went on for about four minutes before he left our world. Many think this was a hoax, and the British government passed it off as one but those who heard the distorted voice think it might of really been a message from an alien from beyond the stars. Much like Max Headroom this pirate never was caught. Below is an image of what Vrillon is thought to look like.
Wow, this update took us from Sherlock Holmes to Hostess closing to Twisted Batman and ended with pirate broadcasts! My next update is something I spoke about in my look at the AniMax issues from Star Comics, and that’s a list of my top 10 Cartoons, Toy Lines, TV Shows or Celebrities that should have been made into a comic for Star, if they would have lasted that long and or could have nabbed the rights to do so. I will also be joined by some guests who will share their top 5, so until then, stay young at heart my friends.