Sherlock Holmes Gets Reinvented In Harlem For a New Digital Series

By Todd Allen

I found something unexpected in my in-box yesterday.  A digital comic called “Watson and Holmes.”  That title might not always catch my attention, but I recognized the name of Rick Leonardi (Spider-Man 2099, Uncanny X-Men, Nightwing) and writer Karl Bollers seemed like a name I’d heard before (Emma Frost, X-51, Sonic the Hedgehog), so I downloaded it.  And it was good.

In the print world, its almost always open season for Sherlock Holmes.  Sherlock is public domain and there’s a pretty good market for new Holmes stories.  Dynamite had a Sherlock comic a couple years.  Right now the profile on Holmes is a little higher with the more action oriented Guy Ritchie film franchise, the modern day BBC “Sherlock” and the upcoming CBS “Elementary” (modern day, in New York and with Lucy Liu as Watson).  Reinvention is the name of the game.

Watson and Holmes is set in Harlem (which technically would follow the CBS New York setting, though likely a different neighborhood).  Both Holmes and Watson are black.  Holmes is a little more polite than the other current takes, with the first issue emphasizing his mysterious ways as he first meets Watson.  In this version, Watson isn’t a doctor.  He’s medical intern.  He’s also a former para-jumper in Afghanistan, suggesting military service.  In the BBC Sherlock, Dr. Watson (while actually being doctor) is also just back from Afghanistan.

Issue one concerns an assault and a missing person.  Largely, it serves as an on-the-move introduction to Holmes and Watson.  Secondarily, it puts them in their Harlem setting.  The characterizations are consistent enough with the source material, given the modernizing tweaks.  The modern trend of having Watson be a little tougher continues.  The pacing is faster than the originals.  There’s more movement to the clue-gathering than the Doyle deliberations, but that’s the pacing you’d expect with the comics format.

The second story arc (and this is just the first part of a story) will be where we see if this incarnation has legs, but as a first chapter this does a good job.

The publisher for Watson and Holmes is New Paradigm Studios.  This is their first comic and it quickly shot up to the #1 spot on ComicsPlus.  Brandon Perlow, who runs New Paradigm, says he’s digital only for the moment — partially because he thinks comics should be affordable entertainment.  (Watson and Holmes is $0.99.)

His thoughts on being exclusively on ComicsPlus are also interesting.

Right now we are  exclusive with Comicsplus as they are independent creator friendly. I would go with Comixology if they were open, but they aren’t taking submissions now. They pretty much have become the “Diamond” of digital.  Other digital options are in the air right now, but it’s Comicsplus for the near future.

This is not the first time I’ve heard talk about the difficulties getting into Comixology, but it is the first time I’ve those concerns directly expressed to me.  Digital exclusives… call it a developing story.

Watson and Holmes is recommended for Holmes fans and readers of crime comics.


  1. David D. says:

    And in the original Doyle Watson was a wounded veteran of the Second Anglo-Afghan War. So that is not just a connection with the BBC Sherlock, it is also a connection back to the original. (And, given the modern vs. 1800s contexts, a reminder of what things stay the same even with a modern update. Like wars in Afghanistan.)

  2. This looks really good. Love Rick Leonardi’s work.

  3. Take a listen to the fantastic Sherlockian podcast I Hear of Sherlock Everywhere’s interview with the writers behind Watson and Holmes here: Since I heard this interview I’ve been waiting for the release of this comic which I think did a great job of modernizing Holmes and Watson in a new setting – and in a different way than the other three modern takes ongoing at the moment.

  4. monopole says:

    Um, Para-Jumper in Afghanistan doesn’t “suggest military service” it means that he was USAF Pararescue in a war zone:

    They are USAF Special Ops medics who perform rescue of wounded pilots behind enemy lines among other things. They are best of the best medics/paratroops and generally considered to be elite even amongst Special Ops.

    Short version he’s a BAMF…

  5. Just read it. It doesn’t just look really good, it is really good.

  6. Kurt, thank you very much(Especially coming from you). I think this is some of Rick’s best work in years.
    Monopole, yes he’s a BAMF. That’s our point of this.

    To add to the Comixology story, they avoid publishers who don’t have a print copy available as they want day/date with comic publishers as that was relayed to my editor.

  7. I shall check this out. I’m a hug fan of the Sherlock mythos and all its incarnations.

  8. >> To add to the Comixology story, they avoid publishers who don’t have a print copy available >>

    This isn’t true of, say, Monkeybrain, who are digital-only.

    >> I think this is some of Rick’s best work in years.>>

    It’s very, very nice.

  9. If they put it out in a format I can read on my digital reader (Kindle Fire), I will buy it in a matter of seconds. This looks right up my alley, but unfortunately isn’t anywhere near my alley right now.

  10. Nick, would these work? I know its on amazon too. And specifically Kindle fire.

    ComicsPlus is now available on the following platforms —
    iOS (iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad)
    The Web in HTML 5 (stream on your Desktop or Tablet device)

  11. put comics+ on my phone just for this, really wish they had used graphicly so i could read it on my tablet tho

  12. Kurt, that is true of Monkeybrain. I think I’m just too small fry for them. If I had like 6 or so titles in the can, maybe they would take me seriously. Im glad Comicsplus is receptive to smaller creatives.

  13. Brandon, the book is excellent! We’re honored to have it in ComicsPlus. Thanks for the kind words!

  14. Thanks Steve! Issue 2 is even better, and the next title will get people talking too.

  15. bperlow, Comics Plus isn’t available through the Amazon store so my Kindle Fire won’t load it.

    Find a way to get Comics Plus approved for Kindle use and I’ll gladly buy this in a heartbeat.

  16. Hey Steve can you look into Nick’s issues with the kindle fire?

  17. I would pay them twice their asking price for a PDF of this!

  18. From Steve.
    Regarding the Kindle, we currently do not sell any product via that platform. We are in ongoing discussions with them, but for now, the only way to view our books on their devices is to do it from our website at

  19. Terry, I agree. I would pay for this happily from DriveThruComics or a direct PDF download.

  20. Nick and Terry, Let me see if I can set something up for folks like yourself.

  21. @bperlow That would be awesome! Thanks!

  22. Also, comiXology doesn’t require day-and-date, even for print publishers (though it’s preferred, of course).

    I just bought this on iVerse — can’t wait to read it this weekend!

  23. I just think Comixology are picky. Its not an open door there.

  24. contest to win original Leonardi sketch on the
    Watson and Holmes facebook page!

    like it, and wait a hour for contest.

  25. Richard H says:

    Looking forward to this. Loved Rick’s work on Spidey 2099 – and Karl’s own on Muties (anyone read that? Back in NuMarvel).


  1. […] The Beat, Todd Allen recommends Watson and Holmes, which is 99 cents and exclusive to Comics […]

  2. […] Paradigm, the imprint behind the Watson & Holmes digital comic, is announcing their NYCC plans including the usual ashcans and then something slightly more […]

  3. […] were previously two issues released digitally, but the series by Karl Bollers and Rick Leonardi was so well-received that it’s moving to print. It’s a good read, an African-American take on the Sherlock […]

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