Hasslein Blog: CUBING: Fictional Detectives


Hasslein Blog

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

CUBING: Fictional Detectives

By Duy Tano

As a young Cube, I loved detective stories. I liked the whole general aesthetic and the whole process of finding clues and piecing them together. I like the conceit, and I like scenes where they're sniffing around for leads, whether or not they have to do with a magnifying glass. In this little piece I write for Hasslein today, I'm gonna share six things that contributed to this love.

Garfield Presents... Babes & Bullets

I've spoken about this on the Cube before, but I can't do this list without this, since it actually did blow my little mind as a kid. You're used to seeing Jim Davis as Jim Davis the brand, meaning clean lines and Garfield stock poses, but then here he is, doing shadow work and setting mood. Garfield's rocking the trenchcoat and fedora as Sam Spayed (and yes, I did not get that joke as a youngster) as well, and I really like that aesthetic.

It was adapted for the cartoons as well.

The book is better though. You can get a copy of it for a cheap price here.

The Doomsday Book (Batman and Robin, Slam Bradley, The Elongated Man, Sherlock Holmes)

I didn't actually get the chance to read this as a kid, but that house ad was probably my favorite comic book house ad back then. The greatest detectives of all time? Sold (if I could have ever found it)! Plus, the dude in the trenchcoat and the fedora is named Slam Bradley. SLAM BRADLEY.

To be honest, though, I remember Ralph Dibny, the Elongated Man, as a detective so much more than Batman. I can't remember anything that would have made Batman a detective prior to the animated series, other than his being the star of Detective Comics. Still, when I finally read this, the star of the show was of course the greatest of all time, who is next on our list.

You can read The Doomsday Book here.

Sherlock Holmes

Sherlock Holmes is truly transcendent. Despite the fact that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle never seemed to like him and that his stories were very often for adult audiences, he's really clicked since his inception with a large, rabid fan base, enough to spawn fan clubs, angry letters when Doyle killed Holmes off, and discussions about what counts and what doesn't. (I'm so glad comics fans didn't start this.) My first exposure to him was a cartoon, which after much research on YouTube, I've concluded is "The Baskerville Curse." From the visual of Holmes (deerstalker cap, trenchcoat and, depending on the material, the pipe) to the whole idea of him just disappearing for a long while during the story and then having things be perfectly all right and it's going to be okay once he shows up, there was nothing about the kiddified version of Holmes that was not cool.

I do enjoy what I've read of the original short stories, and I get interested whenever I see him in a comic book, and I enjoyed the first Robert Downey Jr. movie, but this particular cartoon, where Holmes is voiced by Peter O'Toole, has a special place in my little tiny heart. You can get it here or actually view the whole series here.

Detectives Dodd and Trapper

We had a chain of used bookstores back in the day called Alemar's, and that's where I was able to get The Usborne Detective Guides, which I've talked about in length at the Cube. With Detectives Dodd and Trapper as your narrative anchors, these series of books shifts between being a story and a manual seamlessly. Dodd is the everyman detective who said it was okay to be scared, and Trapper is the detective we all wanted to be. It made a six-year-old believe that you can be a detective, and I'm sure a bunch of us got in trouble because of it.

You can get this here.

Eagle Eye Mysteries

Jake and Jennifer Eagle of the fictional town of Richview are video game twin siblings who head the Eagle Eye Detective Agency. With each mystery, you, as their newest member, go with them to each site and ask questions and look for clues. You then pick the clues necessary to solve the case, and then finger whodunnit. It was such a fun way to spend time and a great way to just kind of learn to analyze language.

I was lucky enough to find emulators of the original Eagle Eye Mysteries and its spinoff, Eagle Eye Mysteries in London, recently, and I've spent a good portion of the last week playing them. They're of course easy now for an adult, but the fun is still there.

Encyclopedia Brown

But without a doubt, my favorite fictional detective when I was a kid was Leroy Brown, known to his town of Idaville as Encyclopedia, because he just knew a lot of facts. Each Encyclopedia Brown book came with 10 mysteries, and you had to solve each one. The answers were in the back of the book.

One thing I loved about Encyclopedia Brown was that Idaville was so developed and every recurring character had a specific role. Sally Kimball, Encyclopedia's partner and bodyguard. Bugs Meany, leader of the gang the Tigers. Charlie Stewart, the tooth collector. Benny Breslin, who snores so loudly that his friends have to pack earplugs on a camping trip. Pablo Pizarro, the modern artist that Sally can't get enough of. And so on.

Thankfully, the Encyclopedia Brown series is continually in print with new editions every few years. Amazon has a bunch of them, of course!

Unfortunately, this love of fictional detectives didn't really translate into a love for detective stories when I was older with the exceptions of some Holmes stuff, so I never got into guys like Raymond Chandler, but I still really enjoy the conceit and the idea of the genre in general. And how could I not? More than any other genre, it wasthe most interactive. It felt the most like you were there.

Duy Tano is a popular Internet blogger and comic book expert. Check out his blog, The Comics Cube!, at www.comicscube.com, which tackles all sorts of different topics for all sorts of different forms of sequential art. Superhero comics, indie comix, komiks, manga, BD—you name it, it's a valid topic for discussion.

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