Watson and Holmes Ends Print Serialization, Returns to Digital
I’ve enjoyed the issues of Watson and Holmes I’ve read. It’s a new, urban take on the classic Sherlock Holmes setup — the characters are black, it’s set in Harlem in New York City, and Watson (who’s intended to be an equal character, thus the billing flip) is a medical intern returned from Air Force service in Afghanistan.
The comic started as a Kickstarted digital miniseries, but it was so successful that they announced plans for an ongoing print comic series. Six issues were released from July to December 2013. However, the latest Diamond Previews cancellation list shows that upcoming issues #7 and #8 have been cancelled by the publisher, New Paradigm Studios.
The first five issues have been collected in a paperback, Watson and Holmes: A Study in Black. They’re written by Karl Bollers and drawn by Rick Leonardi (#5 drawn by Larry Stroman). The publisher is run by Brandon Perlow, and this interview with Perlow and Bollers talks about the future of the series, which will skip single issues, returning to digital serialization, and print graphic novels in future.
We will continue to release stories in web and digital comics (Comixology, Amazon, and others) as we finish them. Having a trade format allows us to take our time and not be in the monthly grind, as well as working our PR to build for the collection. Trying to get PR and coverage on a monthly basis to get people in the shops every month is no easy task. I think one needs the right talent and book to succeed in the “Wednesday market”. I would say many of our Sherlock Holmes fans, for example, do not go to comic book stores frequently, and prefer a trade, especially the older ones. The “floppy” format works better for the Big 2 titles, licensed properties, and big Image creators. It’s a model that’s more economically viable after expenses for those companies as it’s easier to recoup production and printing costs immediately. Trades end up being extra money for them.
They also plan to continue using Kickstarter, and Perlow drops this hint about some of the comic distributor’s future plans: “I know Diamond was talking about fulfillment solutions for Kickstarter, and the company’s abilities would make that a great match.” The plans for a second collection are as follows:
I would say summer of this year at earliest. The next book would have individual stories versus a long storyline. We will have “chapters” released throughout the year digitally and online. Issue #6 done by Brandon Easton and N. Steven Harris (released December 11 in stores) [and] issue #7 by Steven Grant, Hannibal Tabu, and Dennis Calero will be in it. We have a one-shot story based on a classic Sherlock Holmes story written by Lyndsay Faye (writer of Dust and Shadow, Gods of Gotham, and Seven for a Secret), and she will write a multi-chapter Irene Adler story. We will also consider adding the Chuck Dixon and John Ostrander stories as well. All these stories will build on the relationship between Watson and Holmes and add to the next storyline written by Karl Bollers. Karl is overseeing the other stories to make sure they are “on model” and to add little things that lead to his story.
I think he’s right, Sherlock Holmes fans by definition like books, not short comics. Aiming for the bookstore market, and for selling to the wider audience (beyond the “Wednesday market”, as Perlow puts it), digital is the way to go.