Review: The Lighter Side of Sherlock Holmes: The Sherlockian Artwork of Normal Schatell
We’ve just tipped over into July, but I have one more Happy June reading review to share!
It must be obvious to the meanest intelligence by now that I am – and have for a long time been – a devotee of Sherlock Holmes, the best and wisest London detective I have ever known, who is also “the most incurably lazy devil that ever stood in shoe leather”. I’m equally fond of his good friend, Doctor John Watson, who claimed to have a wandering wound, shaken nerves and a tendency to be up at ungodly hours.
Sharing my fascination and affection with these fellows who seem to fit in every time and place is the late Norman Schatell, whose Sherlockian cartoons are collected in this entertaining little volume from MX Publishing.
Normal Schatell was a very active part of Holmesian fandom throughout the 70s until his death in 1980. His sketches in this book are not always crisp and clean – many are lightning panels he was as likely to draw on envelopes as to prepare for print – but they are all charming and cheeky. Some of the best have a subtlety that deeper knowledge of the stories rewards, and I often found myself laughing away to myself as the penny dropped.
Not content simply to draw cartoons, a portion of the book showcases Schatell’s witty and imaginative “Impractical Arts and Crafts” with ideas and designs for items like The Very Kinetic Holmes Marionette, a working model of the Great Grimpen Mire and the Eddie Rucastle Roach Stomper.
Schatell even created a series of ‘folk art Holmeses’, with the very recognisable figure rendered in the styles of Central African, Iranian, Mexican and even Egyptian statues and carvings, before rounding off the collection with some of those envelope-sketches mentioned earlier.
The only down side of the book is that Schatell’s handwriting has been reproduced, as-is, to describe some of the cartoons – and sometimes the writing is cramped and messy and very difficult to read, which is a shame. A larger reproduction or retyping the text might have helped those of us who are a bit more myopic than the Great Detective.
Nevertheless, the cartoons usually speak for themselves and the whole thing is enormously fun.
Buy The Lighter Side of Sherlock Holmes
- The Lighter Side of Sherlock Holmes: The Sherlockian Artwork of Norman Schatell (Amazon.com)
- The Lighter Side of Sherlock Holmes (Book Depository)
- The Lighter Side of Sherlock Holmes (Barnes and Noble)