Noon on Saturday, July 1, saw SOB John Longenbaugh and me (PFL David Haugen) mounting a stage to explain to a handful of audience members attending GearCon2017 in Portland, OR why Sherlock Holmes should be part of Steampunk. While preparing my comments the week before, I came to understand how complex a character he really is.
David and John at GearCon 2017
It is easy for writers and illustrators to choose the deerstalkered, inverness-caped, magnifying glass-holding super detective who never loses a case for any genre they wish. Put a deerstalker on a cowboy and you’ve got a Western Sherlock; put an inverness cape on a robot and he’s Holmes. John even had a Steampunk comic on display that was a perfect example of simply relying on the tropes.
While Holmes is very much a man of the Victorian, industrial-evolving last decades of the 19th century, the real Holmes is a man trying to be the best at the profession he has chosen. Fortunately for us, he is not a machine, as demonstrated in this exchange between Holmes and Watson in “The Adventure of Silver Blaze”:
“…On Tuesday evening I received telegrams from both Colonel Ross, the owner of the horse, and from Inspector Gregory, who is looking after the case, inviting my cooperation.”
“Tuesday evening!” I exclaimed. “And this is Thursday morning. Why didn’t you go down yesterday?”
“Because I made a blunder, my dear Watson—which is, I am afraid, a more common occurrence than anyone would think who only knew me through your memoirs.…”
So while I applaud writers and illustrators who do identify Holmes with the Steampunk movement, I encourage them all to dig deeper in their works to express the real man that is Sherlock Holmes!
Other con-goers in great costumes!