Expert researcher and editor Leslie S. Klinger is best known for his Edgar-winning book “The New Annotated Sherlock Holmes” and the critically acclaimed “New Annotated Dracula.” He was also a technical consultant on both of Guy Ritchie’s “Sherlock Holmes” movies. Klinger’s latest project was putting together “The Annotated Sandman” for Vertigo Comics. I had the opportunity to talk to Klinger about his extensive work providing notes and commentary for the groundbreaking and legendary comic book series.
Talk to us a bit more about how serious Sherlockians are in their passion for the character.
[There’s] this weird game that Sherlockians play. We call it “The Game.” “The Game” is that Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson really lived and the stories are true. Therefore when we play this game we look at these stories in the point of view of correcting the facts [and] figuring out where the mistakes are. It’s never acceptable to say the author screwed up. You can’t say that.
For example, we’ll take a classic Sherlockian question. Why is Dr. Watson’s wound in his shoulder in some of the stories but in his leg in other ones? There are dozens of scholarly theories explaining that. They’re all pretty funny. Of course this game is played tongue in cheek. When you look at the manuscript by Conan Doyle I’m saying to myself playing this game [while looking] at the manuscript, “OK. We don’t have Dr. Watson’s original notes of the story. We have Conan Doyle’s manuscript.”
The manuscript is one step closer to the truth than the published version. [In] the published version they went through and changed the names, the places, and all that to protect the innocent. Sometimes when you find things in the manuscript you can play the game and say, “Well, that’s more truthful. That’s closer to the real fact.” [It’s] more like looking at Dr. Watson’s notes. Anyway, so that’s one of the extra benefits of looking at the manuscripts. It’s pretty weird but that’s what makes it really fun.
You’ve actually held Conan Doyle’s original manuscripts?
Yes. On the Conan Doyle side there about 35 extant manuscripts of the stories. These are handwritten. They are the originals and mostly Conan Doyle’s handwriting. Not all of them. Some of them were written out by a secretary. They have corrections and changes. They’re surprisingly clean. There isn’t a ton of editing in them but there is some. Some of it is really interesting. I’ve done a fair amount of scholarship about those manuscripts.
There are footnotes throughout “The New Annotated Sherlock Holmes” about the manuscripts. I’ve written articles about some of them. I just wrote one. I just saw another manuscript last summer that I hadn’t seen before because it was owned by a private collector. I wrote a little piece about what was interesting in that manuscript.
Let’s chat about “The New Annotated Dracula” book for a moment.
“Dracula” is a bit different. There is no manuscript for “Dracula.” There is a typed script. It’s owned by the billionaire Paul Allen. It’s 500 pages and probably typed by Stoker himself. It has extensive corrections, changes, cross outs, deletions, and paste overs. It’s an amazing document.
I was lucky. I made contact through Sotheby’s with [Allen]. He let me come and spend a couple of days going through that page by page. My “Annotated Dracula” has hundreds of footnotes about the manuscript and how it differs from the published text. Those are very special things. They are very revealing sometimes about what the author was thinking.
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Eric Shirey is the founder and editor of Rondo Award nominated movie and comic book news websites MovieGeekFeed.com and TheSpectralRealm.com. His work has been featured on Yahoo!, DC Comics, StarWars.com, and other national entertainment websites. Besides his three decades long obsession with everything sci-fi, horror, and fantasy related in TV and movies, Eric has what some would call an unhealthy love for comic books. This has led him to interviewing and covering legendary writers and artists in the medium like Geoff Johns, Scott Snyder, Steve Niles, Bernie Wrightson, and Howard Chaykin.