Pop Culture Gadabout
Sunday, May 25, 2008
      ( 5/25/2008 11:54:00 AM ) Bill S.  

"WATSON! MY GOD! YOU'VE GROWN A SECOND HEAD!" The hero of Omaha Perez's black-and-white graphic novel piss-take on the world's greatest detective, Holmes (AiT/Planet Lar), is far removed from the familiar deerstalker capped brainiac we're accustomed to seeing. This Sherlock Holmes is a half-crazed dope fiend more concerned with looking good in the press than in actually solving the case. Prone to paranoid drug-induced delusions and the occasional half-murdered hooker, he's a comic disaster as a detective and an even worse human being.

Other writers have attempted to take Conan Doyle's condescending model of ratiocination down a peg, of course - Nicholas Meyer's Seven-Per-Cent Solution gave us the image of a Holmes going cold turkey, while Billy Wilder's much-bowdlerized movie The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes centered on the image of the famous misogynist falling in love - but few have done it with as much gusto as Perez. He even shoves friend and companion John Watson into the mire, presenting him as an enabler and the most unreliable of narrators. "The baser instincts of man are not to be found in Sherlock Holmes," Watson states, just before we're given a scene featuring the shadow of the great man's shlong being dangled before a freaked-out prostitute. "I'm a teetotaler myself," he tells us after we've already seen both our narrator and an in-drag Sherlock getting snockered at a "rough establishment." Turns out Watson's not even that good a doctor, declaring one character dead when she's very much alive.

The largely irrelevant crime to be solved in Holmes (originally serialized as a four-issue AiT comic book) has to do with the theft of Joseph Haydn's skull, an artifact that we're led to believe was originally removed from the great Austrian composer's grave by eager phrenologists and put on display in the British Museum. In between stops at the local brothel and opium den (complete with a great over-the-top hallucination), our detective hero makes half-hearted stabs at determining the culprit, jumping to the conclusion that his possibly imaginary nemesis Moriarty is being guilty of the crime. He hounds an innocent museum employee under the mistaken belief that he's Holmes' arch-nemesis in disguise. "That man would have been committed long ago if not for his brother Mycroft's lofty position in her majesty's government," Scotland Yard Inspector Lestrade states, and, for once, this famous fictional foil has it right.

Perez's art runs the range from finely detailed, especially in the long shots of Victorian era London, to rushed, yet oddly seems appropriate to this broadly dark parody. Too fine an art style would work against his story's calculated moments of crassness (it's the same principle that allows the South Parkers to get away with any number of grotesque outrages). His covers/chapter headings are deceptively well wrought, though: labor intensive scratchboard pieces that are only replicated during the opium den hallucination sequence. The rest is serviceable cartoonwork, even if the niceties of wearing a hat regularly seem to elude the artist.

As one of the most recognizable figures in western literature, the brain of 221B Baker Street has seen more than his share of affectionate parodies and pastiches over the years. I can't see a lot of hard-core Holmesians accepting this rowdy funnybook mistreatment of the holy canon, but to anyone who's ever felt that the great detective was way too full of himself, The Adventure of Haydn's Head may prove just the right tonic.
# |

Pop cultural criticism - plus the occasional egocentric socio/political commentary by Bill Sherman (popculturegadabout AT yahoo.com).

On Sale Now!
Measure by Measure:

A Romantic Romp with the Fat and Fabulous
By Rebecca Fox & William Sherman

(Available through Amazon)

Measure by Measure Web Page

Ask for These Fine Cultural Blogs & Journals by Name!

aaronneathery.com News
Aaron Neathery

American Sideshow Blow-Off
Marc Hartzman

Arf Lovers
Craig Yoe

Sean T. Collins

Barbers Blog
Wilson Barbers

The Bastard Machine
Tim Goodman

The Beat
Heidi MacDonald

Kevin Church

Big Fat Blog
Paul McAleer

Big Mouth Types Again
Evan Dorkin

Laura "Tegan" Gjovaag

Blog This, Pal!
Gordon Dymowski

Rod Lott

Cartoon Brew
Amid Amidi & Jerry Beck

Cartoon Web Log!
Daryl Cagle

Clea's Cave
Juana Moore-Overmyer

Collected Editions

The Comics Curmudgeon
Josh Fruhlinger

The Comics Reporter
Tom Spurgeon

Christopher Butcher

Comics Waiting Room
Marc Mason

Comics Worth Reading
Johanna Draper Carlson

a dragon dancing with the Buddha
Ben Varkentine


Electromatic Radio
Matt Appleyard Aaron Neathery


Eye of the Goof
Mr. Bali Hai

Fred Sez
Fred Hembeck

Greenbriar Picture Shows
John McElwee

The Groovy Age of Horror
Curt Purcell

The Hooded Utilitarian
Noah Berlatsky

Hooray for Captain Spaulding
Daniel Frank

The Horn Section

The House Next Door
Matt Zoller Seitz

Howling Curmudgeons
Greg Morrow & Friends

The Hurting
Tim O'Neil

I Am A Child of Television
Brent McKee

I Am NOT the Beastmaster
Marc Singer

In Sequence
Teresa Ortega

Innocent Bystander
Gary Sassaman

Irresponsible Pictures

Jog - The Blog
Joe McCulloch

The Johnny Bacardi Show
David Allen Jones

Dirk Deppey

King's Chronicles
Paul Dini

Let's You And Him Fight
One of the Jones Boys

Mah Two Cents
Tony Collett


Michael's Movie Palace

Nat's TV
Nat Gertler

Ned Sonntag


News from ME
Mark Evanier

No Rock&Roll Fun
Simon B

Omega Channel
Matt Bradshaw

Pen-Elayne on the Web
Elayne Riggs

Peter David

Dorian White

Progressive Ruin
Mike Sterling

Punk Rock Graffiti
Cindy Johnson & Autumn Meredith

Revoltin' Developments
Ken Cuperus

Marc Bernardin

Matt Hinrichs

Self-Styled Siren

Spatula Forum
Nik Dirga

Tales from the Longbox
Chris Mosby


The Third Banana
Aaron Neathery & Friends

Thrilling Days of Yesteryear
Ivan G. Shreve, Jr.

Toner Mishap
B2 et al

Trusty Plinko Stick
Bill Doughty

TV Barn
Aaron Barnhart et al

Unqualified Offerings
Jim Henley

Various And Sundry
Augie De Blieck

Video WatchBlog
Tim Lucas

When Fangirls Attack
Kalinara & Ragnell

X-Ray Spex
Will Pfeifer

Yet Another Comics Blog
Dave Carter

A Brief Political Disclaimer:

If this blog does not discuss a specific political issue or event, it is not because this writer finds said event politically inconvenient to acknowledge - it's simply because he's scatterbrained and irresponsible.

My Token List of Poli-Blogs:

Roy Edroso


Jane Hamsher

James Wolcott

Lance Mannion

The Moderate Voice
Joe Gandelman


Amanda Marcotte & Friends

The Sideshow
Avedon Carol

Skippy, the Bush Kangaroo

Talking Points Memo
Joshua Micah Marshall

This Modern World
Tom Tomorrow

Welcome to Shakesville
Melissa McEwan & Friends

Blogcritics: news and reviews
Site Feed

Powered by Blogger

    follow me on Twitter