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Scott’s Classic Comics Corner: A Study in Sherlock Pt. 2

This week I look at Silver and Bronze Age comic book appearances by Sherlock Holmes.

Dell’s Four Color series features two issues (Four Color #1169 and Four Color #1245) published in 1961 under the banner, the New Adventures of Sherlock Holmes. I’m not sure if these were tied into a TV or radio series. I believe Frank Giacoia and Bob Fujitani contributed the artwork, but I think I read somewhere that Mike Sekowsky penciled them. Nevertheless, both issues feature moody covers by the great George Wilson.

That same year saw another interesting Holmes appearance, as he was one of many high profile characters featured in Action Comics #283. This is a Red Kryptonite story, so all bets are off in terms of logic. This one has more than a little in common with the Kid Eternity stories I mentioned last week. For those looking to save a few dollars, the story was reprinted the 3rd volume of Showcase Presents: Superman.

One of the more well known Holmes-based comic book is the 1975 DC one-shot entitled simply Sherlock Holmes. I’m sure there is an interesting story as to why a second issue was never to be seen. The creative team of Denny O’Neil and ER Cruz had just come from the cancelled Shadow series and the story here are quite strong. I’m also a big fan of the Walt Simonson cover. Here’s a mystery for you folks to solve for me. I’ve always suspected that the ER Cruz drawn Sherlock Holmes story from Detective Comics #572 was inventory for the 70s. It just has that feel. Is that the case, or have I been hitting the opiates too hard?

The very next year Marvel got in on the Holmes action with back to back issues of its black and white Marvel Preview magazine. Marvel Preview #5 and Marvel Preview #6 feature an extend two-part adaptation of the Hound of the Baskervilles. This must be one of the first times in comic book history that a Holmes story was not squeezed into 20 pages or less. It’s good stuff written by Doug Moench and penciled by the vastly underappreciated Val Mayerik. Both issues feature nice Ken Barr covers. I haven’t searched for these too actively, but I would say that they seem to turn up less frequently than others from this title.

That very same year, DC had Sherlock Holmes facing off against the Clown Prince of Crime in The Joker #6. Comic fans were in the middle of some sort of Holmesmania in the mid-70s. I’m surprised Charlton didn’t jump back on the bandwagon at this point. I don’t want to ruin the surprise in this one, but it is a very entertaining, if a bit silly, read.

Finally, I want to draw your attention to a series of Sherlock Holmes stories that may have slipped under the radar of most fans, at it appeared in a fairly obscure magazine published in the dying days of Warren. The Rook was a spin-off from Eerie magazine and, by my count, Sherlock Holmes made four appearances in this title. The first was in a minor role in one of the time travelling protagonist’s adventures while the remainder were dedicated Holmes stories, including an adaptation of A Study in Scarlet. These are some of the best Holmes stories I’ve read, and should not cost too much.

So, that’s a brief history of Sherlock Holmes in Classic Comics. He’s also had a good career post 1985, but that’s a story for someone else to tell.

For more comic book chatter – check out my blog: Seduction of the Indifferent

8 Comments

Fine work, Scott. Some of these look very cool — I love that Dell cover. I will definitely look into snagging a few of these for myself some time.

Another great column, Scott.

Umm, I’d bet money Mike Sekowsky never came near that Sherlock page you posted at the top. Neither the drawings nor the layouts look anything like his work.

Scott, if I recall correctly, and for those interested in following up on your great survey of Holmes comics, the Warren run in Rook actually continues over into Eerie for a further issue or two following the cancellation of the former. You are right, it is a good adaptation with top drawer art (from Caravana and Panaligan)

I don’t think the Sherlock Holmes story in Detective #572 was left over from the 70s. For one thing, ER Cruz’s art on that story looks too different from his 70s output. I’m not sure if Mike W. Barr was doing much writing for DC in 1975, either. And I think Barr talked in the text piece for that issue about what a coup it was to get ER Cruz back drawing Holmes. There wouldn’t have been much reason for Barr to hide that it was an old story if that was the case.

That’s weird. I was almost certain that O’Neil wrote the Holmes story in Detective #572.

Ah, for the days when Action Comics would promise an “all Red Kryptonite issue.” And is that a seagull scheming against the Man of Steel in the last panel of the second page? Seriously, dude, a man is measured by his enemies…

That’s weird. I was almost certain that O’Neil wrote the Holmes story in Detective #572.

Just pulled my copy, and Mike W. Barr is the only credited writer for the issue. O’Neil was the editor, though.

From the text piece on the inside front cover where he talks about the conception of the issue, Barr writes:

And for Sherlock Holmes, E.R. Cruz was pressed into service, again illustrating the character he brought to life in DC’s one-shot Sherlock Holmes comic in 1976. (That issue was scripted by the same guy who holds the editorial reins on this issue, Denny O’Neil. E.R. was Denny’s first — and only — choice.)

Of course, the greatest Holmes appearance of the bronze age is the one in Nova #20, feature Factor X, the Robotic Sherlock Holmes! Well done Wolfman and Infantino, well done!

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