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.


  1. Hi Martin, Congrats to you on your career! Thank you for sharing your story.
    I hope your new year is bright!

  2. Hi Martin: I sincerely hope I can get a copy of Volume 1 for review. Try to make up for lost time, n'est pa?

  3. Not sure what I'll be given in way of comps, but if possible I'd be honored to send one to you. We'll see what I end up with.

    Otherwise, perhaps I can convince the publisher to do so.

    Wonderful to see you here, Jessie!

  4. An Eisner--that's impressive. Perhaps I can track one down, the story sounds interesting.