Sunday, June 12, 2011
Sherlock Holmes. Soul of the Dragon. Northstar Press (1995)
This is an anthology of three short Sherlock Holmes stories within a framing sequence all written by Joe Gentile with a different artistic team on each story. All the stories are black & white. The framing sequence shows Holmes granting Watson permission to publish some more cases from his records. The first of these is "The Much Maligned Musician", art by Dave Ulanski & Bill Halliar,in which a very talented and egotistical musician commits suicide after being publicly revealed as gay. Sherlock Holmes finds that the evidence points to murder.In "Man of Medicine:Doctor of Despair", art by Alison McDonald, Sherlock Holmes becomes involved in an unusual kidnap case that uncoils nicely into something more. The final story "The Assassin's Lament", pencils by Pav Kovacic, inks by Lynda Licin, Kate McCoole and Joe Gentile starts with Dr.Watson assisting a woman and leads to murder and links with Professor Moriarty. All the stories are neatly constructed, capture Holmes and Watson effectively and give the great detective a chance to shine.
The art in the three stories varies very considerably and does not equally serve the story in each case. The art in the first story has clarity and depth, it is too rounded and clean to be entirely successful. The figure work is slightly static and feels a touch overdrawn. Dave Ulanski & Bill Halliar do have a very strong design sense and the variety of angles used in the panels is distinctive and effective.
With "Man of Medicine:Doctor of Despair" Alison McDonald's art is too flat, it illustrates the story without illuminating it. The style does nit capture the dynamic action needed by the story, it slows the narrative down too much and there is too much line work in the panels to allow them to breathe.
The art in "The Assassin's Lament" is the only one to try to actually exploit the possibilities of black & white, using the contrasts very assertively to create mood and action. The cast are the most individual and developed and the action is sharp and forceful. All told these are enjoyable stories created with interesting artistic choices and strategies which provide mixed results.