Thursday, January 6, 2011

Sherlock Holmes and John Schoenherr

Note: This post was significantly expanded on April 8, 2014

My father introduced me to Sherlock Holmes when I was 11. I’d already been watching the Basil Rathbone movies and drawing pictures of the character, so, technically, the introduction had been made years before, but it was then that ever-logical Dad suggested that I read the original stories so I'd know who Holmes and Watson really were.

Before long, I’d become an absolute fanatic and, besides collecting everything Sherlock Holmes-related I could get my hands on, I appropriated the original art for Dad’s sole Sherlockian illustration. He made it for Mack Reynolds’s science fiction story, “The Adventure of the Extraterrestrial,” which appeared in Analog magazine for July 1965. It was job #303 in his work-log, commissioned on March 29, 1964, and it was either one of the last jobs he did in his Long Island City studio, or one of the first ones his did in the small bedroom workspace in his new, old house in rural New Jersey. The ink-on-scratchboard drawing netted him $150.00. By the way, for copyright reasons, the aged Holmes seen in the picture was only referred to as “The Great Detective” in the text.

I always thought Dad’s Watson resembled his own father, though my Grandpa Schoenherr never had a walrus mustache like that (he did have his own copy of The Complete Sherlock Holmes, however). I remember, too, Dad pointing out that he’d deliberately updated Holmes’s unanswered-correspondence-tranfixing-jack-knife with a more modern switch-blade.

My father was definitely a Sherlock Holmes fan (though never a crazed one) and he attended scion society meetings with me before I could drive. He also enjoyed Arthur Conan Doyle’s Brigadier Gerard tales and it was a long-time wish of his to illustrate The Lost World - featuring Professor Challenger, who my father resembled somewhat. (Dad never got the chance - though this painting hints at what could have been - but, evidently, his one-time brother-in-law, Ray Sternbergh, painted the cover for the Pyramid Books edition of the novel.)

I should note that a few months before making this illustration, my father received the following letter from the Little Green Man Science Fiction Awards Society of Kansas City, Missouri.

Devoted Sherlockians will recognize one of the names on the letterhead. Here, too, is the April 1963 cover mentioned in the letter - and still more devoted Sherlockians should note that the author of the cover story, Winston P. Sanders, was the sometime-nom-de-plume of Poul Anderson.

1 comment:

  1. Great story and beautiful illustration. I love dramatic lighting and the staging of the elements in this piece.