No Place Like Holmes!

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When good ideas go bad

No Place Like Holmes! was a short-lived 19th Century comic interpretation of the Sherlock Holmes stories, adapted by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, for the younger reader. It lasted only one page before Conan Doyle realised that his idea was truly, truly abysmal and should never be continued. To this day, only three copies remain in existence: two are in the hands of private collectors, while the other is held by The British Library as an example of literature gone wrong.

For once, in the canon of so-called "graphic novels", there was no involvement by Alan Moore, although he had a damn good try at drafting some storylines involving hideous beatings, drugs and a mysterious anti-hero.

edit History

Following the 1893 publication of "The Adventure of the Final Problem", with resultant national mourning for Great Britain's favourite detective hero, Conan Doyle received an unexpected and significant extortion demand. Realising the hypocrisy of reneging on his insistence that there would be no more stories, yet with no other source of income, the natural escape route seemed to be to retread the old material. With a quick call to his artist, Sidney "Syd" Paget, Conan Doyle proposed reworking their mutual efforts to make the stories accessible to a younger, less literate audience, as well as combining several earlier stories into a literary portmanteau story, "The Adventure of the Adventurous Adventure".

edit Production

In order to speed up publication, Conan Doyle and Paget used the existing illustrations from several Sherlock Holmes stories. These were pasted into a standard comic book layout, with speech bubbles used to convey dialogue. This the first page of this comic was produced in just twenty minutes - an astonishing feat at the time - which was exactly long enough for Conan Doyle to realise that he was making an enormous mistake.

Even as Paget completed the export of the completed page to an overly large .gif file, Conan Doyle panicked and tried to abort the process. Although the file save command was terminated, their trusty LaserWriter II had already buffered seven copies, which were subsequently printed. These were hidden amongst Conan Doyle’s private effects and never seen again until after his death.

edit Technology

Conan Doyle and Paget were fortunate to have access to an Apple iMac G3 to undertake the editing, although neither were proficient graphic designers. This explains the poor choice of typeface. Layout was completed using a dodgy copy of Photoshop 6 that Paget had pirated from a friend.

edit Mystery

In an eerie forecast of future events, involving the final adventures of the well-known boy wizard, lithographic images of the front page were leaked onto the telegraph network of the day and subsequently viewed by more than seven people. Although Conan Doyle described the unknown individuals who attempted to spoil the story as “Terrible, terrible people”, no suspects were ever brought to justice.

edit Loss and Subsequent Rediscovery

In early August 1930, following the death of Conan Doyle, a small party gathered in a south London solicitor's office to hear the reading of Conan Doyle's will. Shocked to hear that all his fortune had been bequeathed to fallen women, the friends and family found themselves charged with the safe destruction of the pages of No Place Like Holmes! for the good of all humanity. They cast them onto the fire in disgust and left to find the fallen women who had received money they had no damn right to receive, the filthy strumpets.

The solicitor charged with reading the will managed to recover just three pages from the fire with only minimal scorching - the other four were lost to the flames. The surviving copies were locked in the safe and promptly forgotten.

For nearly seventy five years, nothing was heard of No Place Like Holmes! until the safe was opened. Scholars of the work of Conan Doyle examined the documents and verified their authenticity, before trying to throw them on the fire again.

Recovered once more from the flames, these final three copies were immediately sold on eBay for £2.99 (plus £5.00 postage and packing). Although the buyer's identity has never been confirmed, one page was presented to an ungrateful nation for posterity, with the other two being sold for considerably more to collectors of crap.

edit Cultural Impact

In the years immediately after the inadvertent printing of "No Place Like Holmes!", Conan Doyle came to realise that he was now just a bitch for writing ever more Sherlock Holmes stories. He spent the rest of his natural life writing ever-more derivative tales, such as:

Who4
Li'l Holmes chases the dragon
  • Sherlock Holmes and the Adventue in Paris
  • The Strange Affair of the Eighth of Prime Columbian
  • Sherlock Holmes Saves Christmas
  • The Mystery of Why I'm Still Writing This Shit
  • Sherlock Holmes and the Mystery of the Potato
  • Sherlock Holmes and the Philosopher's Stone
  • Dr Watson does Dallas
  • Sherlock Holmes vs. the Evil Surfer Nazi Cannibals

Conan Doyle denied the existence of No Place Like Holmes! to all who asked about his life's works. Even after death, when contacted through a séance, he insisted that only the only tales of Sherlock Holmes were written in full text.

Nobody ever thought about doing another Sherlock Holmes cartoon until Disney bought the rights to Conan Doyle's estate and released a 1978 test animation of "Li'l Holmes and the Mystery Gang" as an attempt to combat the ever-growing threat of Scooby Doo.

Naturally, it sucked.

edit The Future

Nobody wants to attempt animated Sherlock Holmes ever again. You just can't draw ingrained 19th Century stereotypes (gypsies, sinister foreigners, poor people, women, Queen Victoria and so on) in that much detail.

That said, the crazy Japanese are working on a manga version, Sheruroku Homesu 20X8. As with all manga, the story is so convoluted that you end up being distracted, at which point the narrative begins to sound like static in your head.

Anyway, Sheruroku Homesu 20X8 will tell a story of the famous cybernetic detective attempting to protect twelve schoolgirls from tentacle rape by (kssssssssssssssssshhhhhhhhhhh) with some beasts from the eight dimension, summoned by a lonely outcast who was only looking (kssssssssssssssssshhhhhhhhhhh) by getting some new fusion units, only to be taught the dark secrets of the Utsokira (kssssssssssssssssshhhhhhhhhhh) due to a University project which could save the world from the threat of the (kssssssssssssssssshhhhhhhhhhh) with a pineapple.

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