|Johanna Draper Carlson at a familiar address|
Johanna Draper Carlson will talk about “The Sherlockian Visual Canon: Key Sherlock Holmes Comics” at the Holmes, Doyle, & Friends conference in Dayton, OH, on March 25. Let’s learn more about her.
How and when did you first meet Sherlock Holmes?
I don’t remember, exactly, but it was quite a while ago. (What a great beginning! Maybe that’s why I’m not a chronologist for the stories.) I read a lot of mysteries as a teenager, and I recall being very happy to receive the Baring-Gould Annotated for Christmas one year after seeing it at the library. That was my first Holmes book of my very own, and I loved learning more about the setting and context of the stories.
How and when did you become a Sherlockian?
I began attending meetings of the Notorious Canary-Trainers, the local Sherlock Holmes group, a few years after I moved to Madison, WI, a decade ago. It was great fun to talk about the stories every month, but I’d say that I became a dedicated Sherlockian when I rediscovered my love of all things Holmes during the pandemic. Between a number of events happening online and needing a lot of distraction, I dove deeply into all flavors of Sherlockiana, whether print or media or meeting people virtually.
Tell us about your background with comic books and graphic novels.
I’ve read comics as long as I can remember, but I began collecting them during graduate school. I was getting an MA in Popular Culture in Bowling Green, Ohio, where my primary area of study was hackers in the media. Spending time online for research, I soon picked up an interest in fandom studies, particularly superhero fandom. A few years thereafter, I wound up working as webmaster for DC Comics when they were still in New York City.
That didn’t last long, as I wasn’t interested in settling in that area, but I’ve been reviewing and writing about comics, graphic novels, and manga ever since. My website, ComicsWorthReading.com, has been going for over two decades now and was selected for inclusion in the Library of Congress in 2019 as part of the Comics Literature and Criticism Web Archive.
How did your interest in Holmes and comics come together, and what have you done with that?
In normal times, I would attend comic book conventions with some other comic journalist friends. During lockdown, we started video chatting online to keep in touch. I was talking about my newly rediscovered interest in Sherlock Holmes, comparing how different fandoms worked, and they asked about comic book versions. I started researching (and collecting—online shopping was a great distraction), and I realized that there was an opportunity to create a website describing and categorizing the various comic stories featuring Sherlock Holmes. SherlockComics.com came into being just under a year ago, on 2/21/2022. (More about how and why can be found in my essay in the Writing Holmes! book.)
What Sherlockian events and conferences have you taken part in?
I presented on trends in Sherlock Holmes comics at the 2022 DePaul Pop Culture Conference, “A Celebration of Sherlock Holmes,” and I hosted a panel on Mycroft Holmes for last year’s 221B Con. I’ve also had the pleasure of attending the Jubilee@221B anniversary of the Toronto Bootmakers and the Arthur Conan Doyle Collection and the opening of the International Exhibition of Sherlock Holmes at the Minnesota Historical Society. Meeting people at events like those have led to me presenting online on comic-related topics for the Cesspudlians of London (Ontario) and Five Miles From Anywhere societies.
Additionally, I write regularly for Sherlock Holmes magazine and the So Far Down Queer Street journal and irregularly for the I Hear of Sherlock Everywhere blog.
What was your favorite and why?
Given my background, I absolutely loved 221B Con. I’d been going to comic book conventions for decades, so I thought I knew how cons worked, but that was my first fan-run con, and I had so much fun talking to so many different people from all backgrounds and with all kinds of interests, all with love of Sherlock Holmes in common.
Do you belong to any Sherlockian groups?
I’ve joined the Notorious Canary-Trainers (canarytrainers.com), as mentioned above, as well as the John H. Watson Society, the Legion of Zoom, and the Sherlock Holmes Society of London.
What has it meant to you to be part of the far-flung Sherlockian community?
Meeting so many different people with so many fascinating histories and stories and insights has been wonderful. And so many are so generous! When I announced my Sherlock Holmes in Comics site, I received boxes overflowing with comics from two different people, who wanted to pass along items they didn’t need in their collections any more. That was a terrific jump-start to the site. Other times, I’ve been invited to various gatherings and get-togethers just because we all like Sherlock. It’s a behavior I want to model in myself, passing along knowledge and memories and good will and friendship.
Although Holmes, Doyle, & Friends Seven, March 24-25, 2023, is closed out for vendors, participants can still register here.
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