Designing the Detective: John Cassaday Talks Sherlock Holmes

Cassaday on Designing Holmes

Sherlock Holmes #2 Sherlock Holmes #2

We’ve been telling you about Dynamite’s latest classic character that they’re bringing to comics for a little while now.

In May, writers Leah Moore and John Reppion, along with interior artist Aaron Campbell kick off Dynamite’s new Sherlock Holmes series with the storyline, “The Trial of Sherlock Holmes.” Along with the writers and artist, award winning artist John Cassaday in on the team as well, illustrating evocative covers that embody a classic Holmes.

We spoke briefly with Cassaday about bringing Holmes to life in iconic cover images.

Newsarama: John, with Sherlock Holmes you're up to what - five or six classic characters that you've helped redesign for Dynamite. What's the attraction and appeal of going in and defining these characters, artistically for you?

John Cassaday: Reinventing the wheel can sometimes only hurt the effort. While there's some redesigning involved in almost any reintroduction, you must be very careful to not get carried away and drift too far from the original. Being faithful to the source always comes first. It should never be about the artist.

NRAMA: Speaking of Sherlock specifically, what references did you go by for your version? Is this a straight from Doyle look, or is there some Rathbone and others in there?

JC: With Sherlock, there's no real redesign, but rather a scaling down from the generic, almost caricature Holmes. It's more about the man himself and a realistic approach. The story dictated this and the writers wanted to be sure we weren't getting into cliche' territory. There are several different influences. From the various actors to the book illustrations, I looked at everything I could to come up with a definitive, but believable Sherlock...

NRAMA: That said then, what elements had to be there to define Holmes as far as you were concerned? What defining characteristics does he have that, when he walks into a room unnamed, people think, "That's Sherlock


JC: That's the thing. Without the trademark deerstalker hat and coat always on him, you gotta be sure the other cues are all there. Sherlock's not tough, though. The nose, the pipe, the calm suspicious stare... Yeah, everyone knows Sherlock Holmes.

Sherlock Holmes #2, black and white by Cassaday

Along with first looks at the black and white and color covers to Sherlock Holmes #2, Dynamite has also provided Newsarama with a selection of acclaim the series is already getting from those who’ve seen early pages:

"Forget what you've heard: Sherlock Holmes is alive and well and living inside this book!" - Joe Michael Straczynski - writer of Thor

"A fantastic opening shot, literally, to a great new Holmes mystery that I can't wait to read the next chapter of." - Ed Brubaker - Writer Captain America, Incognito, Daredevil, Criminal and Angel of Death on Sony's

“A classic locked room mystery, deploying Conan Doyle's core cast with huge skill and conviction. Sit back with your favorite seven per cent solution and enjoy...” Mike Cary - writer, X-Men: Legacy, Felix Castor novels, Hellblazer, and The Unwritten

“Arthur Doyle may be dead, but reading Leah Moore and John Reppion's depiction of his immortal hero, Sherlock Holmes, will make you believe in his soul with us forever. One of the BEST revitalizations of a character I have EVER read.” Marc Guggenheim - writer of Amazing Spider-Man, Eli Stone, co-writer of Super Zombies and co-writer on upcoming Green Lantern Feature Screenplay

"A faithful interpretation of one of fiction's very best characters that will please purist and newcomer alike. The game is afoot once again and I look forward to reading more."- Brett Matthews - writer on The Lone Ranger comic and Eisner and Hugo Nominated writer

“Wow. Just wow. THE TRIAL OF SHERLOCK HOLMES is classic in the best sense of the word, it takes characters we all know and love and breathes new life into them. You can tell the writers adore the characters. A thrilling read”. Brian Lynch - Co-Writer Angel: After The Fall and Spike Asylum

"Dynamite's Sherlock Holmes launch and story is reminiscent of the their publishing of The Lone Ranger. Taking a classic character, making him accessible for today's fans and giving him new life. I am also always impressed by John Cassaday's cover designs, and his execution, and Holmes is no let down, in fact, it's taking it up a notch. Leah (Moore) and John Reppion are writing a story that will help cement their careers. Creating a new original story instead of an adaption of previous works is a plus for comics and Holmes fans!" Jae (Dark Tower) Lee - artist Dark Tower and cover artist Dead Irons

"Moore and Reppion bring new life to the iconic Holmes and Watson, with a tantalizing tale and their hallmark attention to period detail. Whether you're a dedicated Sherlockian or a Holmesian newbie, grab this one!" – Leslie S. Klinger, author of the New Annotated Sherlock Holmes series. (

“3 reasons to pick up Sherlock Holmes #1 from Dynamite:

1. It's Sherlock Holmes minus all the Hollywood cliches, but with what feels like a great mystery at it's pounding heart.

2. This engaging mystery forces you to quickly turn page after page as you 'race the clock' along with Sherlock Holmes.

3. It's the return of harcore mystery to comics. As Holmes would say, 'The Plot Thickens' and we all get to go along for the ride.”

Vince Gonzales – Former CBS and CNN Correspondant and investigative reporter, current Super Zombies co-writer

"I'm a huge Sherlock Holmes fan and a fan of both Leah and John. This can sit proudly beside Peter Ackroyd and Billy Wilder as one of the best reinterpretations of the character. Great stuff." Mark Millar writer - Civil War, Wolverine, Kick Ass, Wanted


Drawing the Detective: Artist Aaron Campbell on Sherlock Holmes

Bringing Sherlock Holmes Back to Comic Books


Twitter activity