My head is exploding!
Anthologies have always been a dicey commodity in the comic book industry. They rarely sell well and seldom garner critical acclaim. The reason for this is that each individual contribution to an anthology has very little “meat” to it. A short story of one to eight pages, if it is any good, just leaves the reader frustrated, asking, “O.K., and then what?”
A story of eight pages in regular text can easily become a classic, because of the infinite amount of visualizing that the reader can engage in. This is not the case with comics, where the visuals are mapped out for the reader right there on the page. A comic page reads lightening fast compared to a page of text and before the reader knows it…it’s on to the next page.
Anthologies are usually compiled in one of three formats. The first is totally random, where each contributor presents their unique characters and vision that is unlike any of the other entries in that book. The second revolves around a common theme, like love or war, and all the stories contained in it deal with that unifying topic. The third is the type that uses as its unifier a certain well known character or team of characters.
However, reading Holmes, Inc. I ran into an entirely different dynamic than I had ever encountered in a comic anthology before. It revolves around a team that the vast majority of people have never heard of. O.K., I can accept that…let me read on and figure out what each of these characters is all about.
I read one story after another and at one point said to myself, “I’m not really finding out anything about ANY of these characters.” Any given character in one story was a completely different person in the next. One story would have that given character expressing opinions of a clearly political or intellectual bent and in the next story that same person was running amuck chopping off the heads of monsters willy-nilly. The whole thing made very little sense.
Understand that I do not blame any of the contributors for the dreadful confusing nature of the book. If an artist isn’t told, “NO! This particular character would never do OR THINK this,” that creator will just continue on his merry way and never learn anything.
This book is supposed to be Ty Templeton’s teaching tool for students aspiring to create comics. The students can’t be held to account if they don’t receive any discipline. It’s the teacher here who doesn’t receive high marks from me.