Sherlock Holmes may be immortalized as the world's greatest detective — but what was he like when he was starting out?
That's the question that will be answered by Scott Beatty and Daniel Lindro in Sherlock Holmes: Year One, due out in January by Dynamite Entertainment. Looking at the first uneasy alliance between Sherlock Holmes and Dr. John Watson, we caught up with Beatty to talk about what is different — and what will remain uncompromisingly the same — about our heroes in the beginning of their crime-fighting careers.
Newsarama: It seems like everything's been coming up Sherlock lately, with the recent Robert Downey Jr. movie, and the TV show, and now this comic. Do you think it's Sherlock Holmes' time to return to the cultural zeitgeist?
Scott Beatty: Actually, I don't think Holmes ever left. Just look at the current television landscape, or the primetime schedule for the last few decades. Seriously, would we have any police procedural—or umpteen Law and Order permutations—without the deductive groundwork laid by Holmes? Castle is a gender-bender take on Holmes and Watson. Or look at any other detective teaming on the small or big screen. Wasn't the recent Sherlock Holmes film as much a "buddy cop" flick as it was a period piece?
Nrama: For you, what's the appeal of a character like Holmes? What's made him last as long as he has?
Beatty: I think there's always an abiding respect for the smartest guy in the room, especially when he's the hero and has both an unwavering belief in justice and will pursue it with a similarly dogged determination.
Nrama: Now, with this story, it's a Year One — meaning this will be showing how Holmes begins his journey as the world's greatest detective. What's the big difference between him "now," and the man he will eventually grow up to become?
Beatty: The difference is youth and "relative" naivete, which I believe comes with age and experience. Holmes is a work in progress, and he knows it. He's attempting to make himself into what he believes he should be. All other concerns (and relationships) are secondary.
Nrama: Let's talk a little bit about casework here, since that'll presumably set up the world of Sherlock Holmes. What sort of mystery will the great detective be cracking this time?
Beatty: The opening issue begins with a heist caper that brings Holmes and Watson's orbits together for the first time. It also sets the stage for Year One's overarching mystery, "The Twelve Caesars," a murder plot that forces the (for now) amateur sleuths into what is initially a reluctant partnership. And the latter is primarily because Watson doesn't know or trust Holmes all that well. And he's afraid he never will.
Nrama: Obviously, with a character like Sherlock, I think there's sometimes a danger of stagnation — but since this is his beginning, he can really learn and changing outside of his external conflicts. As far as Sherlock, the man, what's at stake personally for him in your series?
Beatty: Holmes can be single-minded to the point of having tunnel vision in certain circumstances. Empirical knowledge is often less important to him than the leaps in logic he believes are more crucial to deductive reasoning. For Watson, he's inscrutable, and thus infuriating. Thus, the mystery of Sherlock Holmes (Who he is? What he is?) drives Year One: as much as "The Twelve Caesars."
Nrama: And you can't have Sherlock Holmes — particularly not an origin tale — without Watson. Considering the character has fluctuated in his many appearances from being kind of slow to being an equal partner to Holmes, what'll Holmes be like in this book?
Beatty: Watson is the narrative voice. He's far from slow. He's a physician and a former soldier. Watson is quite capable in many regards, and Holmes needs him in ways neither quite fathom just yet.
Nrama: Let's talk a little bit about the artist you're working with, Daniel Lindro. Can you tell us a little bit about his style? What strengths does he bring to the table here?
Beatty: From what I've seen so far, Daniel brings a real sense of authenticity to our depiction of 19th century London. He's definitely doing his research, and (no pun intended) there's a detailed dynamism in the action that sets this apart from previous Sherlock Holmes graphic interpretations.
Nrama: Finally, for those who still aren't sure about Sherlock Holmes, what would you tell them to bring them on board?
Beatty: It's crime. It's high adventure. It just happens to be set in Victorian times. But it's also character-driven fiction featuring two of the most compelling heroes in the mystery milieu. It's elementary!Are you experiencing a Holmes renaissance?