It’s here! Debuting this weekend at C2E2 in Chicago, my new limited edition print: “The Game is Afoot!”
Sherlock Holmes is one of literature’s greatest characters, and holds the Guinness World Book of Records title of “most portrayed literary human character in film & TV”, having been depicted onscreen 254 plus times by over different 75 actors. This limited edition print caricatures a selection of eight of the most recognizable of these portrayals, spanning over 90 years of Holmes on the big and small screens.
I did a lot of thinking as to which of the many portrayals of Holmes I wanted to include in this artwork. I had a few criteria that I felt was important to impose on any choices:
- Had to be representative of a particular decade (or two)
- Had to be of a recognizable and famous actor outside their Holmes role, OR
- Someone who was a ‘definitive’ Holmes if famous mainly for that role
- Someone whose portrayal or the show/movie they did it in I didn’t personally hate
In light of those criteria, I came up with the following eight Holmeses:
- John Barrymore (1920s)– Arguably the first “big budget” portrayal of Holmes in commercial film, Barrymore was a high profile silent film actor cast as the Great Detective in the 1922 silent film “Sherlock Holmes”. He had to be the first in my lineup.
- Basil Rathbone (1930s-40s)– For many the definitive Holmes in film, Rathbone was also an accomplished actor in swashbuckler films where he often played the villain. Still, he’s probably best know for playing Sherlock in 14 Holmes films from 1939-1946… including some rather bizarre ones set in more modern times (meaning the 1940s), but a couple of Victorian era pieces. I consider him physically to be the closest to the Conan Doyle character and Sidney Paget‘s original illustrated depictions.
- Peter Cushing (1950s-60s)– Cushing was a very high profile actor as well, and his portrayal of Holmes in the 1959 film “The Hound of the Baskervilles” is notable for being the first Holmes film in color. He was also cast as the Great Detective in a BBC series in 1968 (actually he took over the role from Douglas Wilmer). Plus he was Grand Moff Tarkin in “Star Wars”… it doesn’t get any bigger than that!
- Christopher Plummer (1970s)– Plummer was another famous actor from many roles, and played Holmes in the 1979 film “Murder by Decree”. I chose him for the 1970’s decade because he’s got so many notable roles outside Holmes including “The Sound of Music” and “The Thornbirds”, plus the man has won a Oscar, two Emmys, two Tonys and a ton of other awards.
- Michael Caine (1980s)– This will doubtless be the most controversial of my choices. Caine is famous for countless film roles and played a comedic Holmes in the 1988 film “Without a Clue” opposite Ben Kingsley as Watson. It’s controversial because it’s the one non-serious Holmes in this group, and many Sherlockians hate the spoofs. I like spoofs (obviously) and I wanted at least one goofy Holmes in the group… and this is my favorite of that genre.
- Jeremy Brett (1990s)– Brett played other roles, but for many he is the definitive Sherlock Holmes in all of media adaption. It is hard to argue with that…he was brilliant in the Granada TV series which ran from 1984-1994, even though his health problems and some weird scripts in the later episodes didn’t end the show in the best way.
- Robert Downey Jr (2000s).- I’m not a really big fan of his casting as the Great Detective in the big-budget films “Sherlock Holmes” (2009) and “A Game of Shadows” (2011), but I did enjoy the movies as fun action flicks. I didn’t mind the playing up of the physical aspects of Holmes so much as I thought casting a Holmes who is almost a head SHORTER than Watson was ridiculous. Plus Downey Jr. seems to play one character these days… his Homes was Tony Stark with an English accent. Still, this one had to be in there.
- Benedict Cumberbatch (2010s)– The one non-Victorian era portrayal of Holmes in my group, Cumberbatch is so good in the role and the updated version is so clever and well done, there was no question I had to end the lineup with him from the “Sherlock” BBC series, 2009 to present.
I am sure many will be unhappy I didn’t include their favorite Sherlock in the print, but I had to limit them somehow and I thought eight to be a good number. Those that almost, but didn’t quite, make the cut were Nicol Williamson from “The Seven-Per-Cent Solution”, Douglas Wilmer from the 60’s TV series and John Neville from “A Study in Terror”. These shows were all pretty good but the actors aren’t really recognizable other than as Homes. I know other very recognizable actors have portrayed Holmes at one time or another, like Christopher Lee, Charlton Heston, Peter O’Toole, Peter Cook, Roger Moore, John Cleese (sort of), George C. Scott (sort of) and others, but I felt their portrayals to be minor and not very notable in and of themselves… mostly noted because of the actor’s themselves and not their portrayal of Sherlock. I also didn’t consider Nicholas Rowe from “Young Sherlock Holmes” just because I don’t think much of that movie and a didn’t want to do a kid in the group. Finally, I didn’t include Jonny Lee Miller from the recent updated Holmes TV show “Elementary” because that show SUCKS big time.
The little background elements are things from different stories in the Holmes canon. If you don’t know what they are, get busy reading the original stories!
So, I know what you are all thinking… how much will one of these prints set me back? Well, here you go:
- 450 signed and numbered prints
- 11″ x 24″, elegant matte finish professional print
- Only $25.00 (cheap) plus shipping
Now, if you REALLY have a lot of dough burning a hole in your pocket, you could splurge and get one of only eight Special Editions, with include not just one of the prints, but the original inked artwork of one of the Sherlock Holmes caricatures, like this one:
- 8 signed and numbered prints, designated “Special Edition”
- 11″ x 24″, elegant matte finish professional print
- One of the eight pieces of original inked artwork of the caricatures of Sherlock! 11″ x 17″ pen/brush and ink
- Only $125.00 (not-so-cheap) plus shipping
Here’s a gallery of the different Holmes caricatures from the print:
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