Thursday, December 31, 2009

SHERLOCK HOLMES Mysteries Volume One

Over twenty years ago I wrote a graphic novel featuring Sherlock Holmes and Count Dracula, entitled Scarlet in Gaslight. I still vividly recall pounding out the original manuscript on my portable typewriter in my little spider haunted basement apartment in my old hometown of Louisville, Ky.

The story was written mainly out of frustration as I had been unsatisfied with two previous novels from other writers, both of which I left unfinished, dealing with a similar theme. Also, this was very early in my career and I'd had a few short story anthology sales, mostly science fiction tales, which encouraged me to attempt something of greater length.

After a bit of deliberating, which included the painstaking process of carefully rereading not only Bram Stoker's Dracula--but also Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's entire Sherlock Holmes Canon, consisting of four novels and fifty-six short stories, and finally, I was ready to begin.

I remember the tale flowing pretty easily, tripping me up only a couple times (such as when I had to stop and figure out how Holmes was ever going to get rid of the hundreds of vampires which I'd set loose to terrorize London). Much of the story seemed to write itself and I never once felt as if I was "working". This was much too much fun for that.

Once the manuscript was completed, I nervously sent it to Ray Bradbury, at his very kind invitation, and he immediately encouraged me to look for a publisher. In those days before the internet, I began the comparably costly process of snail-mailing the first completed issue to every independent comic book publisher I could think of. Literally no one was interested. Usually I never even heard back from them. Still, knowing that giving up and quitting was a sure way to fail, I kept at it. I was beginning to feel like there was something very wrong with me.

Suffice to say, for almost two years, I received back nary a nibble until Malibu Comics snatched it up and Scarlet in Gaslight ultimately went on to receive an Eisner Award nomination for Best Limited Series. Finally, and quite suddenly, I was off on a full-time career as a professional writer. I could hardly believe my luck.

Now, toward the close of 2009, it’s amazing for me to realize that Scarlet in Gaslight is entering its sixth printing, together with the fifth printing for A Case of Blind Fear, both collected in an elegant new edition of SHERLOCK HOLMES Mysteries Volume One. I suppose that this is no small accomplishment for two mere creator-owned mystery/adventure stories from the frantic old days of the "Black and White Glut".

Even so, as I've always said, it's really Sherlock Holmes, not Martin Powell, who sells these stories. In many ways, throughout my long career, he's been my very best friend, even if I did choose to ignore that fact for a number of foolish years. I also owe a tremendous debt to Seppo Makinen’s brilliant illustrations, to Joe Gentile at Moonstone for continuing to carry the torch, and for the late, great Don Thompson of the legendary Comic Buyer's Guide, for his inspiring early endorsements.

Over the past several years, I’ve grown considerably in my affection for Scarlet in Gaslight and A Case of Blind Fear . And, hopefully, the Great Detective will continue to allow me to share in his adventures for a long time to come.

SHERLOCK HOLMES Mysteries Volume One will be on sale around Valentine's Day 2010.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Sherlock Holmes to the Rescue

I ventured out into the Christmas blizzard to see the new movie yesterday afternoon, and I must confess that I loved it.

This is an excellent Sherlock Holmes film, and one of the very best in depicting his brilliant lightning fast brain. While Robert Downey, Jr. is physically rather unlike the literary detective, his superb performance convinced me, in mere minutes, that I was indeed watching Sherlock Holmes. Jude Law is a very capable Dr. Watson, and Rachael McAdams' presentation of "The Woman", Irene Alder, while not exactly Canonical, is my favorite version of her character on the screen so far.

Director Guy Richie's breathtaking recreation of 1890 London oozes with foggy atmosphere and looming thunderstorms. It is a beautifully dangerous-looking place. The mystery itself is clever and epic in its construction. As a special innovative bonus, Richie allows us inside the Great Detective's mind during his rapid-fire observations and deductions. The result is dazzling. Besides Holmes' physical prowess--something actually described by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in many of the original tales--I could not help but be astonished by the hero's mighty brain as well.

Regardless of what some unknowing reviewers may say, along with certain self-proclaimed Sherlockians who'll wildly criticize the film without seeing it, this is Sherlock Holmes. And it's a grand incarnation. They are really missing something special.

I fully intend to see the movie again before it leaves the theater.

The sold-out audience was completely and positively involved from the very start, and were obviously delighted with the film. This was probably Holmes 101 for most of them and I think it's a very fine introduction to the classic character. I don't consider it much of a gamble for me to predict that this will easily be the highest grossing Sherlock Holmes film in cinema history. At least, until the release of the sequel (with Professor Moriarty!) which is already in the works.

I had a touch of the holiday blues, as usual, before seeing it, but now I'm quite fine. Once again, Sherlock Holmes has saved me.

Every movie isn't everyone's cup of tea (I detested Titanic), but--as a Sherlock Holmes writer of two decades (and life-long fan)--I give the new film full marks.

This is my favorite Christmas present of 2009.

Four out of Five Stars.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Scary Christmas to All!

And to All a Ghoul Night!

Happy Horrordays!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009


Sherlock Holmes
is such a fabulous character that his own creator, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle--even after four novels and fifty-six short stories--didn't even begin to exhaust his possibilities.

The Great Detective returns in 2010, in a new prose anthology from Moonstone, co-edited by Joe Gentile and yours truly.

My own professional history with Sherlock Holmes is a long one. Sometimes it's hard for me to believe that it's been over twenty years since I wrote Scarlet in Gaslight, feverishly thrashing out the manuscript on my old portable typewriter in my crappy little basement apartment in Louisville, Ky. After gaining some generous insight and encouragement from Ray Bradbury, I began sending out the story to every appropriate publisher I could think of, and patience finally did the rest. Ultimately, about two years later Malibu Comics snatched it up, and the story no one else seemed to want went on to receive an Eisner Award nomination. Plus, Scarlet in Gaslight has since gone through five different printings, from various publishers, with a sixth from Moonstone itself just around the corner.

I was to write several more stories of Baker Street's most famous resident in the years to follow, and--happily--there appears to be no end in sight.

Then, when Joe Gentile approached me about co-editing, and contributing, to a brand new Sherlock Holmes anthology, some months ago, you can probably imagine my enthusiasm from the start. It was especially thrilling for me that I was responsible for choosing about half of the authors myself, plus I was encouraged to help shape this book in the particular image I wanted. Mind you, this won't be a typical standard collection of Holmesian tales. There is an abundance of such volumes already available from other publishers, and many of them are very good indeed, but I wanted this one to be unique and I purposely hand-picked the very best available writers I could toward those ends.

There's still a lot I can't yet say about this massive, extremely exciting project. I can relate that all of our esteemed authors have enthusiastically leaped at the chance to write Sherlock Holmes, especially once they learned of the peculiar theme of this very special anthology. We're even already considering doing a second volume to contain the abundance of imaginative wealth that keeps pouring in.

Joe and I been moving very slowly so far, allowing our contributors the necessary time to free up their schedules (including the snail's pace that the Holiday Season always seem to bring), but we're nearly ready to go and I'll be spilling the whole thing here on my blog, and on Facebook, shortly after the start of the New Year.

It has been a tremendous joy dealing with these amazingly creative men and women, most of whom I didn't know personally, except through their own fantastic fiction. A wonderful unforeseen bonus included in this project has been that some splendid friendships have developed as a result. I'm extremely grateful for that, as these newly found relationships have made my life much richer.

Once again, I owe it all to Sherlock Holmes.

Stay tuned!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Holmes for Christmas and More

Amazon is nortoriously slow about making additions or corrections to my Author's Page, but here it is in case anyone would like to peruse.

Happy Holidays!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Thumbs up for THUMBELINA!

Great new review of my recently published children's book, THUMBELINA!

The Year of the Great Detective

I just received the very welcome news that the new printing of my graphic novel collection, SHERLOCK HOLMES MYSTERIES Volume One, has more than made Diamond's rather strict order requirements. This book will contain both Scarlet in Gaslight & A Case of Blind Fear (for their 6th and 5th printings, respectively) and a brilliant new cover painting by Gary Carbon. The publisher is Moonstone. There may be new interior extras, too. Will let you know when I find out.

Close on the heels of that brand new edition, Moonstone is also offering its companion tome, SHERLOCK HOLMES MYSTERIES Volume Two again. This book contains my graphic novels The Return of the Devil & The Loch Ness Horror, both, of course, starring the Great Detective.

So far, that's five of my own Sherlock Holmes tales reappearing in 2010...with two new Holmes projects in the works, as well.

Here's a secret sneak peek at one of them.

Thanks to everyone for their enthusiastic orders and please stay tuned!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Sherlock Holmes in the Lost World...Returns!

Great news!

Just received confirmation that my adventure/mystery tale Sherlock Holmes in the Lost World (first published last year in the excellent Gaslight Grimoire), will now reappear in a longer novella form, in a new Sherlock Holmes anthology from a different publisher in 2010!

More details soon as I'm allowed to post them.

Stay tuned!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

The PHANTOM Unmasked Issue # 1

The art on the first issue of
THE PHANTOM UNMASKED, is now complete. Here are a few sample pages (minus my clutter of dialogue), with pencils & inks by the incredible Hannibal King, and colored by the amazing Andrew Dalhouse. The series will be published by Moonstone. Check Previews, as I believe issue number one will be solicited very soon.

I wrote this Phantom mini-series as a sort of homage to the suspenseful pace of Alfred Hitchcock, full of twists, turns, and mystery, I included, of course, a brilliant, and beautiful, icy blonde protagonist. Hannibal and Andrew have added to that atmosphere perfectly. Thanks guys.

Hannibal is currently hard at work, illustrating my concluding script. I'll be posting pages from that issue, as well.

Stay tuned!

(Click on pages for a much larger image.)

Friday, November 27, 2009

DRACULA Returns!

Well, it barely missed being in the stores for Halloween, but Moonstone's horror anthology
VAMPIRES: Dracula and the Undead Legions, is now available for the holidays, should you know any classic vampire fans who've been avoiding the Twilight books.

My short novella, The Evil of Dracula, is the lead feature, a prequel of sorts to Bram Stoker's novel, and follows my own past continuity for Count Dracula.

Here's my original pitch, after being approached for the story by editor Dave Ulanski:

Count Dracula invades the fog-shrouded streets of London seeking blood, power...and retribution. As the most terrifying creature on Earth, he has only one fear; the eternal damnation that inevitably awaits him, an unending agony haunted by teeming masses of his murdered victims. Having lived far more than a single lifetime, the Count knows there is no escape from Hell.

Van Helsing, with the aid of Dr. Henry Jekyll, are secretly on the threshold of a phenomenal discovery, which will eclipse the greatest achievements in history--erasing forever the hold of Evil upon the soul of humanity. Suddenly, even for the ancient vampire, there is Hope.

A pact is formed of blood and honour, but even as the magic of Victorian medicine is mixed into the dark nature of Dracula, a greater horror is hiding in the shadows.

Inspired very much by the Hammer Studios productions starring Peter Cushing and Sir Christopher Lee, it was their films that enchanted and fueled the fires of my imagination while I was still in my early teens. Hammer's Horror of Dracula is, I believe, the greatest vampire film ever made.

There are also terrific terror tales in this same volume by horror specialists L.A. Banks, P.N.Elrod, Elaine Bergstrom, and others.

My story is, quite simply, a labor of love and has quickly become my own personal favorite of my many Dracula stories, and I hope that it whets your own appetite for the macabre.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

"O! She Doth Teach The Torches To Burn Bright"

I know what I'm thankful for. Several things, really.

Last summer, as some of you may recall, Lisa went through major surgery. It was tough, nerve-wracking, and very scary. Neither of us knew what the ultimate outcome would be. Strange, perhaps, to say--but the experience made us closer. Somehow all that anxiety and fear helped create an even stronger bond. Now, all is well. Perhaps better than ever, because we know how fragile this reality is.

Also, my writing career has continued to peak, which is extraordinary to me. The past few years have been such a whirlwind of book contracts and deadlines and more contracts, that I often feel I'm dreaming. And a fabulous dream it is.

As reported here just last week, I recently completed a rather extravagant graphic novel translation of Shakespeare's MACBETH, which has been one of the highlights of my 22 year career. My editors, Donald Lemke and Michael Dahl, were apparently pleased enough with my job that they offered me my own choice of their three remaining planned Shakespearean plays. The posted picture should give more than a hint of my enthusiastic choice. Truth be told, I'm ecstatic.

My father, who will be 85 years old in a couple weeks, calls me weekly from Kentucky, catching me up with all the family gossip. Mom passed away nine years ago this month, and I miss her terribly. There are so many things I wish I'd told her, and asked her. It's ironic, perhaps, that Dad and I are closer now than we ever were while I was growing up. He worked all the time back in those days and hardly ever said a word to me, but now we never seem to run out of things to talk about. He's also become one of the funniest guys I've ever known. I really should write this stuff down, one of these days. Perhaps I'll even use this blog as a testing ground.

So, here we are with another Thanksgiving creeping up on us. As anyone can see, I've much to be thankful for.

Hope all of you are as lucky as me.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Happy Birthday, Boris Karloff!

The Monster was coming!

The news went through my boyhood neighborhood like a lightning bolt. Dozens of my fellow suburban urchins raced down cracked gum-dotted sidewalks, scurrying home to warm up their rabbit-eared television sets. Humid crackles of suspense hung in the air, like the thrill kids feel before a thunderstorm.

A special broadcast of Frankenstein, the one, the only, the great original, was on at eight ‘o clock!

It was quite an event on our street, comparable—almost—to the Apollo Eleven Moon Landing a year later. That late summer Saturday evening, with the sun not yet set and the streets oddly empty of bicycles, everyone was glued to the tube ready to watch the greatest, and most famous, horror film ever made. Just imagine, being treated to Halloween, two months early. We were the luckiest kids alive.

Mind you, even by that early age, I was already a seasoned Boris Karloff fan. He was the first "movie star" I ever remember recognizing, and my older brothers have told me that I could pronounce his name at the age of three. I'd already knew much about him in treasured copies of Forrest J Ackerman's Famous Monsters of Filmland, rereading the magazines ragged. Besides the occasional monster movie on TV, his likeness kept me company in the form of an Aurora plastic model kit, I'd also seen Karloff on The Red Skelton Show, and his long-running Boris Karloff Tales of Mystery was one of the earliest comic books I actively collected.

Karloff's masterpiece, Bride of Frankenstein, is the first of his many films in my memory. I must have been five years old, or younger, when I originally saw it and the experience has never left me. Somehow, I think I must have related to the poor lumbering beast that he so eloquently portrayed. At that age I must have felt just as alienated, inarticulate, and certainly as awkward around my much more athletic older brothers. Among other things, I wore orthopedic corrective shoes during that period that looked, and felt, like the Monster’s own heavy boots. Boris and I quietly understood each other.

So, by the time the original Frankenstein appeared on our local TV stations, this was a very big deal for me. Apparently, for lots of others, too, as I was to happily find out.

I had been cordially invited to join my next-door neighbors for the movie, three sisters close to my age, so that we could watch Frankenstein on their new color TV, the first such contraption in the neighborhood. I tried in vain to explain to the girls that the movie wouldn’t be in color no matter how much their dad paid for the set. There didn't seem to be any disappointment, though, when the grainy old black and white print began to run.

I’ll never forget Boris Karloff’s classic grand entrance in the film, backing through the darkened doorway and turning slowly to reveal Jack Pierce’s iconic Monster makeup in a startling series of rapid-fire close-ups. Making the scene even more memorable was the ear-splitting scream suddenly shrieked by Pam, the seven year old sister. She finally calmed down during the next commercial, but when the Monster reappeared it was bloody murder all over again. At that point her mother promptly ordered the girl to bed.

Pam’s older sisters, their mother, and I finished watching the film, mesmerized. As the ending credits rolled we heard a soft whimpering from the hallway, only to discover Pam crying her eyes out at the fiery demise of the Monster. Scared as she was of him, there was still room in Pam’s heart to feel sorry for the anguished, unwanted creature.

For years afterward, Pam would ardently insist that she frequently heard “Frankenstein, after midnight, stomping down the street." A spooky notion that she appeared to truly believe, but I could tell that it brought some welcomed magic and mystery into her life. Where ever she is now, probably a mother herself, I wonder if she still hears the echo of those giant footsteps outside her window?

I wonder if her own children are lucky enough to hear them, too?

Join in on more of the monstrous Karloff birthday celebration at: