The subject of bibliography came up last week, and that constant desire to somehow create a resource that points to any known work on Sherlock Holmes. And how it now seems almost incredible that once a single man made a pretty good run at such a thing. Which makes sense, because Ron DeWaal was, indeed, a runner.
When DeWaal's The World Bibliography of Sherlock Holmes came out, in that age before computers, when typewriters and index cards were our tools, he managed to list 6,221 entries of things having to do with Sherlock Holmes and his associated folk. That was 1974.
Six years later, in 1980, he came out with an additional volume, The International Sherlock Holmes, which brought his grand total up to 12,356.
In 1994, The Universal Sherlock Holmes built on that and doubled it again to 24,703.
In 1994. Twenty-three years ago. Now, a single fan fiction archive seems to have over 59,187 stories featuring Sherlock Holmes. Search the major online retailer for "Sherlock Holmes" related merch and you get 45,269 results.
Sherlock Holmes is a monster.
We can't track him precisely any more. We can see patterns, collect the big events, follow certain trails that interest us . . . but the totality of Sherlock? He could probably take out Cthulhu, if all his words were given physical form.
He's kind of scary, if you start going down that road. And our Van Helsing, for those two decades from 1974 to 1994 is surely not up to tracking this immortal grown so powerful of late.
But, truth be told, none of us needs that monster. We can be happy with our own little manifestations, be it Basil of Baker Street, Johnlock of BBC seasons one and two, or just those sixty tales in the Doubleday Complete. So many of the best ideas, games, and tales come up time and again, whatever community of Sherlockians you find yourself in. One needn't read it all to be complete, or even an adequate Sherlockian.
The only scorecard any of us really needs to fill out is the measure of our own pleasure in what we do encounter about the great detective. The fact that there is so much of it out there just means we don't have to look very hard any more to find something else to delight us.
But, hey, if someone wants to battle that modern hydra that is the totality of Sherlock Holmes materials, well, we're all cheering for you. And I'll add a Sherlock-type "By Jove!" as well, because you might want to be a demigod son or daughter of Jupiter to pull it off.
And get a legendary crew besides.