The Game’s Afoot Again
♦ Tripwire welcomes the return of former contributing writer Scott Braden in his fourth in an occasional series about comic series that never were. Today it’s a story with a strong connection to this very site: Joel Meadows and Andy Bennett’s Sherlock Holmes and The Empire Builders…
Sherlock Holmes: The Empire Builders
“Sherlock Holmes: The Empire Builders looks at how history could have taken a different turn for the real world using an iconic fictional figure,” explained writer Joel Meadows from his London home.
“It is an alternate world story that I was working on around 2003. It deals with a world where Sherlock Holmes is an old man and has fallen out with James Watson. Within the story, Arthur Conan Doyle’s Great Detective is a diminished figure”
Meadows is no stranger to comics and pop culture fans. The founding voice of this very website Tripwire The Genre Magazine, as well as a journalist and photographer for over twenty-five years, Meadows teamed with artist Andy Bennett, whom he met at a comic convention in Pittsburgh, PA, around 2002. It was there that Meadows began to formulate what would become his engaging alternate history story.
“The two scientists who discovered the DNA double helix in the real world were Francis Crick and James Watson. So, this got me thinking: What if this was the same James Watson who was Holmes’ confidante? The story does deal with cloning and experimentation, so the wheels in my head started turning.”
Another important character in the story is Oswald Mosley. Meadows explained, “Mosley was a real figure, a particularly unpleasant pro-Nazi politician and rabble rouser in England who was pro-Hitler, and I thought it might have been interesting to introduce a real life historical figure into the fictional world of Holmes and The Empire Builders.”
As the story progresses, it is revealed that Watson has died in India. “The death of Watson acts as a catalyst that forces Holmes out of his stupour to fight the forces of evil here,” said Meadows, “as he has lost his close, albeit estranged, friend.”
Watson isn’t the only hero singled out in this alternative epic. There’s also his son.
“Dr. Watson’s son knows they have somehow unraveled the secrets of DNA to create an army of seemingly unstoppable super soldiers, controlled by Mosley.”
With story in hand, Meadows took his Sherlock Holmes: The Empire Builders to the comic book capital of the world: New York City. All the way to the offices of DC Comics.
“If I remember, it went to Karen Berger at Vertigo – and I can’t remember who else it was sent to. I do remember that it was sent via my friend, Mark Chiarello, who is currently DC’s Senior VP Art, Design and Collected Editions. This was before Image Comics was a potentially receptive home for creator-owned projects. What was the feedback? I don’t exactly remember as it has been over 15 years. I think they thought it was interesting but not quite for them.”
After building this story more than a decade ago, Meadows is receptive to returning to the project. “I haven’t spoken to Andy in a while,” said Meadows, “and he is pretty busy with his own work. But I am looking at doing more with my comic work over the next couple of years. The dialogue is very clunky looking back at it now, but maybe the plot still has some potential.”
Lost Tales©2018 Scott Braden. All Rights Reserved