Watson & Holmes preview checks the pockets

New Paradigm Studios has released a preview for its upcoming Sherlock Holmes adaptation, Watson & Holmes.

Sherlock Holmes has been trapped in the zeitgeist for longer than anyone reading this can remember. It’s such a classic story, and such an interesting character that despite literally hundreds of previous adaptations, new looks at the character are still fresh and compelling if well done.

Bringing the iconic characters into our own time isn’t exactly a new concept, but as our culture constantly changes, it’s possible for even this idea to shift and renew year after year. Meaning, each author can give their own twist, and the least sacred among the details they may change is the races and genders of the characters, though folks are still shocked to hear that the lovely Lucy Liu will be playing Doctor Watson in the new American Sherlock Holmes television serial, Elementary.

We shouldn’t be shocked though, so we should also not be put too far asunder by this portrayal of the famous pair by writer Karl Bollers and artist Rick Leonardi on the Paradigm label.

In Watson & Holmes the characters are a pair of young black men solving crimes in a run-down urban environment. Watson is a doctor at an understaffed hospital, and Holmes is an eccentrically dressed private detective who recruits the doctor into his crime solving business, and his friendship.

“In working on this book it was decided that it isn’t enough just to put the Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson characters in 21st century America, Watson & Holmes needs to create a new identity for them. If we are serious about telling stories that can reach new readers we have to tell stories that reflect the vast number of people who aren’t well represented on comic shop shelves,” the creators recently explained.

“The Watson and Holmes of this book are a rarity in today’s comic marketplace- African American men who are smart, well spoken, old fashioned heroes. It’s well past time for comics to have intelligent and well rounded portrayals of all races, genders, and sexual orientations featured prominently and what better way to do it than with two of the most beloved characters in all of English literature. It is our hope that Watson & Holmes can prove that there is a market for any character, and there is an audience who want to see people that look like them on comic pages, as long as they are done well.”

They also feel they are making a statement with the pricing and online availability of the book. “Comics shouldn’t be different than any other medium. You go online to download your music or your movies. And like a song in iTunes, comics should have that feel of something you buy on a whim, because you are curious. That’s how we all discovered them, in supermarkets or on newsstands. That’s what we need to get back to.”

The preview below seems a bit “deviced,” but perhaps the story will develop a better flow in the following pages. It’s tough to establish characters in so small a space as this. For the price, though, it’s certain worth giving the comic a chance. Watson & Holmes #1 will be available this August.