"Collection of Strange Episodes" [WIST]
Sometimes, the best thing you can do to a treasured character is to show them in their worst light - to take an unflattering look at a character and in doing so, and show how much you revere them.
Omaha Perez's graphic novel Holmes: Haydn's Head (published by Ait/PlanetLar) does precisely that - it takes a darkly humorous look at Holmes and Watson, and tells a very compelling (if rather unique) Holmes story.
Imagine, if you will, Holmes as a high-functioning addict, with Dr. Watson as his willing enabler. A high profile theft that is meant to be kept secret (and based on actual historical events). A collection of strange episodes that somehow reach an inevitable climax....Although much of this sounds sacrilegious to the canon...it's actually quite a humorous tale that juxtaposes canon (and canon-sounding) narration with "real" events that make this a pretty solid read.
(Of course, let me be very clear - much of the humor is definitely adult-oriented, and the book contains much profanity and nudity. This may not be the best gift for those Sherlockians who are more sensitive or thin-skinned. But I happen to like adult-oriented humor, and even Perez himself admits that there is a specific 20th century influence on Haydn's Head).
Perez's story - and his art - really drive home the Victorian period setting without seemingly forced, and his woodcut-style covers are extremely evocative. (Interior art is similar to Eddie Campbell's work on Alan Moore's From Hell graphic novel.) The narrative is relatively straightforward, and the book is a very simple read. Quite frankly, it's a pretty solid addition to any collection of Holmesian pastiche.
However, the humor is not for everyone, but quite frankly, Perez's unique take on the Holmes/Watson dynamic is well worth checking out. It may not be everyone's Holmes, but for a small group (like myself) it's their kind of Holmes.
Editor's note: Gordon regularly covers the intersection of Sherlock Holmes and the entertainment industry. You can also find him at Blog THIS, Pal! and Comic Related.
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