We recently chatted with Michael Lent, creator of i, Holmes, a man who makes it his business to know the most famous fictional detective. He deduces the centuries-spanning attraction to Sherlock Holmes, his perspective on the “fairer” sex, and what’s to come for his Holmes incarnation.
AP2HYC: When were you first introduced to Sherlock Holmes?
Michael Lent: The Speckled Band was the very first Sherlock Holmes story I read. I guess I was about ten years old. It was really a perfect introduction to the Sherlock Holmes canon because the story has everything a young reader could want: epic intrigue, baboons, cheetahs, questionable home repairs, and of course, a poisonous snake.
AP2HYC: When did you decide to write i, Holmes?
Lent: i, Holmes is something I’ve been thinking about for a very long time. After arriving in Hollywood, I had a chance to pitch the basic story line to a top executive at Sony Pictures. I didn’t sell the project then but kept coming back to it in between other books and movies I was working on. Luckily, in 2012, I had breakfast with my friend David Rambo who is a veteran television writer/producer and playwright. He was very enthusiastic about the story and encouraged me to develop the graphic novel while considering a television series. David has worked on CSI, V, Revolution, Empire and the upcoming Will for TNT, so he has one of the best ears for story in Hollywood. David offered to help, so I knew I had to commit to bringing i, Holmes to life first on the page.
Once we were satisfied with the story we started adding members to our team. Marc Rene and Dan Parsons were artists I respected and letterer Marshall Dillon was the letterer we wanted to work with. Rene and I had worked on two previous projects together including The Machine Stops, published by Alterna Comics. We has a great experience working with Peter Simeti at Alterna and The Machine Stops had made some Top 10 lists for 2013, so we were eager to catch lightening in a bottle again.
My inspiration for i, Rose came from rereading The Complete Sherlock Holmes, Volume 1. Afterwards, I started to think about how every generation has re-imagined Holmes and Watson and their universe for more than a hundred years. We all know that Holmes uses unparalleled logic and skills of deduction to solve seemingly unsolvable mysteries, yet I think it’s the contradictions of his personality that fascinate us most in 2017. This dichotomy of hyper-logic and personal demons gives the world of Holmes and Watson its timeless quality.
That’s why most artistic mediums including stage and radio plays, television, films, video games, and other media by over a thousand writers have adapted the original stories in new ways. As a writer, you’re always aware that you stand on the shoulders of the giants who came before you. People like Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, William Shakespeare and Jane Austen. I, Holmes was my personal take on the Doyle stories, especially A Scandal in Bohemia.
AP2HYC: What led you to have your Sherlock Holmes character be a teenage girl in modern day New York City?
Lent: I thought it was time for a woman to try the pipe on for size. Then the birth of my daughter Sophia Skye had a lot to do with the development of the main character i, Rose. Women, particularly young women, face a lot of challenges in our society and their voices aren’t always heard. So I think dads have a special responsibility to be a role model for them during their formative years when they are vulnerable.
In many ways, i. Holmes is a story about loyalty. With i. Rose and her developing relationship with Annie, her possible investigative partner, we have two people – two young women – who are developing a personal connection despite many external and internal obstacles that stand in their way. Not the least is that prior to meeting Annie, i. Rose never had a truly meaningful relationship with anyone in her life. Not even parents. Friendship and trust weren’t hardwired into her existence, yet she yearns for these things on a subconscious level. Unfortunately, yearning for something and making it a reality are two very different things, especially when someone wants you dead.
As I said, adapting the Sherlock Holmes stories can be a litmus for the times. In our 21st century society where females still feel pressured to slide into designated roles, loyalty among women can be particularly difficult to achieve. Back in my graduate school, there were ten students in the writing track. Only two were women. Almost as a survival mechanism, the women immediately formed a friendship; however, I soon noticed that they had to compete for the attention of faculty and colleagues. The woman who became “one of the guys” had an easier time of it. People volunteered for her projects and took her work seriously. Over time, the friendship between the two women didn’t survive.
With i, Holmes, we wanted to explore some of those pressures, plus throw some gnarly weapons and a nefarious plot into the mix. Nothing tests the bonds of friendship like a C-4 plastic explosive. The first three-book arc of i, Holmes is an origin story set in 2009. I lived in New York before Los Angeles and it seemed the most like London as far as American cities go. Subsequent stories will be set in Washington and San Francisco, too.
AP2HYC: What are some classic Sherlock Holmes story lines/characters you hope to explore in I, Holmes?
Lent: The first three books explore Sherlock’s relationships with Irene Adler, Lestrade and Professor Moriarty. A Scandal in Bohemia is the most obvious story line we delve into with i, Holmes.
AP2HYC: What can we expect next from you and i, Holmes?
Lent: Now that the first three-book arc is all but done, we have a new story line in the works for the graphic novels. Meanwhile, a television pilot is being developed by David Rambo’s production company Rambopolitan Pictures. Right now, David is on-location for Will, a new TV series based on the formative years of William Shakespeare that’s being produced in London and shot in Wales. It’s inspirational and surreal to Skype to David who is in the midst of bringing to life 16th century England.
Thanks Michael! Investigate i, Holmes for yourself here.
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