Sherlock Book Reviews - The Lighter Side of Sherlock Holmes

Posted by Steve Emecz on

David Marcum

I discovered this book very late. It was originally published in 2013, but in my quest to acquire all traditional Sherlockian pastiches (and most of the scholarship as well), I let this one slide by – a mistake on my part, which I’m glad has been corrected.

Mr. Schatell was friends with a number of Sherlockians, and was clearly a very knowledgeable Sherlockian himself. This can be observed in the nearly 300-pages of collected cartoons and sketches collected here. The author’s son, Glenn Schatell, indicates in his foreword that his father had hoped to publish these drawings in the 1970’s, but the plan fell through. Fortunately, they’re now permanently collected here.        

These are to be savored slowly. Read just one or two every day to appreciate them better. And then when you’re done, begin again.  

I regret that it took me nearly a decade to acquire this book, but I’m glad that I did. It should be on every Sherlockian’s shelf.


The Sydney Passengers

Although I was aware of the name, I don’t know that I had seen more than a couple of Norman Schatell’s Sherlockian cartoons so I approached this collection with a great deal of anticipation. A good number of the drawings raised a smile and I laughed out loud at some of the cartoons.

Mr Schatell’s drawings are affectionate, knowledgeable and never sarcastic or mean-spirited. I was at times puzzled, though, until I realised that the collection seems to contain every extant example of Mr Schatell’s artwork about Holmes and Watson including working sketches, envelopes addressed to noted Sherlockians which he decorated with drawings, uncaptioned drawings (or those for which a caption had not yet been finalised ) and multiple variations on the same cartoon concept.

Once this aspect of the book was appreciated, it became an intriguing look into the mind and creative process of a highly esteemed Sherlockian artist of the 1970s.


The Baker Street Babes - Amy Thomas

As an art lover, I derive special joy from visiting museums like the Met in New York or the National Gallery. There’s a somewhat impish part of me, however, that takes more than a little delight in The Far Side and any collection of cartoons from The New Yorker I can get my hands on. It’s difficult to explain the appeal of a humorous cartoon—you either get it or you don’t, much like lolcats or anti-joke chicken. If, like me, you’re the sort of person who enjoys cartoons, The Lighter Side of Sherlock Holmes is right up your street.

During the 1970s, artist Norman Schatell published prolifically in The Baker Street Journaland various other prestigious Holmesian publications. This book collects over three hundred of his cartoons and presents them as a delicious buffet to delight humorously-inclined Sherlockians. Books of cartoons make wonderful coffee table accompaniments, because they bear opening over and over again to discover new things to enjoy. Schatell’s work is both whimsical and respectful. It’s obvious he was a skilled artist and a knowledgeable Sherlockian, so part of the fun for readers is finding the in-jokes he included for those who are in the Holmesian know.

My one beef with the book, the fact that it’s a little hard to read the written text on a few cartoons, actually adds to the charm: Apparently, several of the included illustrations are actually reproduced from illustrated envelopes Schatell sent to his friends, so a bit of a homespun feel is to be expected. Norman Schatell’s artwork added a great deal to the world of Sherlock Holmes fandom in the 1970s. Thankfully, due to his son Glenn’s efforts, new-wave fans can now enjoy his collection of humorous, irreverent, and delightful cartoons for years to come


Also available from:

Amazon USA    Strand Magazine (special offer)

Amazon UK    Book Depository (free worldwide shipping)

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