Sunday, February 9, 2014

Our little town.

The irony of a three-day Sherlock convention called "Elementary" being held over in the UK this weekend makes me smile a bit. It also makes me smile for a lot of other reasons.

It's a strange new Sherlockian world now, thanks to Sherlock. There are now Sherlock Holmes conventions out there, a fact which last year's 221B Con suddenly brought miraculously to life. And for an entity in the convention business like Starfury Conventions to go, "Hey, there's a market for a Sherlock convention!" and then bring in Benedict Cumberbatch, Lars Mikkelsen, and company to entertain the fans . . . well, that's something we've never seen before.

Watching the Sherlock boom's effect on the old school Sherlockian world has been interesting.

It's a little like if Sherlockians lived in a sleepy little hamlet we were all comfortable in, and a huge, bigger-than-the-town-itself modern housing development, complete with big-box stores, got dropped right on its outskirts. There were those bored locals who immediately drove over to the new development to see what it had to offer. And there were also, of course, those townies so invested in our little town as it was that they went about their daily habits as if nothing had happened . . . and maybe grousing a bit about the johnny-come-latelys wandering into old town from the new part.

Most residents of our little Sherlockian town fall somewhere in the middle of those two extremes. We're all curious as to what the census signs are going to read in ten years. But man, is this a cool time to be a Sherlockian. Seeing a young face with a mop of curly hair attached to the name "Sherlock Holmes" all over the place is something none of us would have predicted ten years prior to now, but none of us could have predicted the effect the internet was going to have on us in 1990, either. Sure, you can still write a letter and put it in a mailbox if you want to ignore the societal shift, but most of us don't see the world as a letters-and-mailbox place anymore.

And I think that's the thing that really puts a mad spin on the rise of Sherlock. Benedict Cumberbatch is the first Sherlock Holmes of the internet age, and reaping all the benefits of our new technology. The influence of our last great Sherlock, Jeremy Brett, cannot even be compared to the Cumberbatch, because Tumblr, Twitter, Facebook, etc., didn't exist back then. I have no doubt that if there had been the internet of today in the 1980s, Starfury Conventions would have been doing Granada Holmes cons. Heck, if we'd have had the internet in Rathbone's day, he'd have been crazy huge on the convention circuit.

Gillette had a popular stage-play. Rathbone had radios and black and white movies. Brett had color television and VHS tapes. and now we have Cumberbatch and YouTube and Netflix streaming. Each successive Sherlock Holmes has gotten a more powerful medium and reached more people, and each has brought in new Sherlock Holmes fans to the core community. Thirty year from now, a new actor may be taking advantage of some pipe-it-directly-into-your-brain technology and be an even bigger Sherlock sensation still.

And our little Sherlockian town will never be the same. But it never has been, really.


  1. I'd like to point out that though A Scintillation of Scions is not a convention, but a symposium, we have had the support and participation of "Sherlock" fandom since just a few mere months after the creation of the Baker Street Babes. Lyndsay has spoken at the Scintillation, Kristina has spoken twice, as have members of other "Sherlock"-based groups such as Sherlock DC. In attendance have also been the organizers of 221B Con. Though we are on a small scale (by choice--the goal being to give Sherlockians a chance to celebrate Holmes, Watson, and fandom while getting to know each other) we have certainly been on the map in your sleepy little hamlet for some time now. Truth be known, I was asked for guidance during the initial planning of 221B Con as I had successfully created, organized, and managed the Scintillation since 2007. Mega-cons are wonderful and fun, and I love such things, but remember that until last year's 221B Con, there was no other inclusive gathering of traditional and new fans than the Scintillation. We were there, opening the doors and extending the hand of Sherlockian friendship to "Sherlock" fans before any of the old school Sherlockians had even deigned to notice their existence.

  2. And there will even be an 'official' convention now, haven't your heard?

    "The event will be run by Massive Events in association with Hartswood Films and Showmasters Ltd"

  3. Luckily there is still a place for us 'letters and mailboxers' too. (Does anybody archive e-mails?) History comes alive in letters. I suppose that 'other stuff' will finds its place.

  4. What a too-apt metaphor: the "sleepy little hamlet" of the Sherlock Holmes hobby and the "bigger-than-the-town-itself modern housing development, complete with big-box stores" of BBC "Sherlock". When Anderson's Empty Hearse Emporium dropped down beside the pool on McCarthy's farm you can be sure no environmental impact assessment was run first nor a thought given to the economic result it would have on Morley's General Store downtown. When the statues of Rathbone and Bruce and Brett and Burke/Hardwicke when up in the town square, the town council made sure they were smaller than the Doyle statue that was the heart and focus of our little burg. They were just actors, after all, wonderful but only interpreters of what we really held dear. When we went to the library for some light reading, we knew that Mary Russell, Shadwell Rafferty, Sigmund Freud, Count Dracula and a slew of others were not part of the Canon, but at the new development with its lure of shiny new buildings lit in bright neon people are told there are many canons, some just as good or even better than the original. The Moffat Mall offers Sherlock Burberry Coats, John jumpers, Jim crowns and Molly lab jackets that are now all the rage. Yes, our Sherlockian town will never be the same, but as long as we remember and cherish what made our town unique and special, those 60 stories, our town survive and thrive.

    On a personal note, I want to say I appreciate this recent run I've had returning to the Peoria comment section. I don't know what mercurial whims run through Culverton Smith's head, but when he commands Staples to let my comments cross his threshold, I do value them.