The Winter 2022 Baker Street Journal includes these articles:
The Editor’s Gas-Lamp.
Arthur Conan Doyle, Grandfather of Modern Cinema: What King Kong Owes to The Lost World
by Heather Holloway.
Sherlock Holmes Gets the Anime Treatment
by Emily Frongillo.
A Forgotten Milvertonian Publication.
The Case for The Case-Book
by David L. Leal.
Rex Stout, Sherlockian
by Ira Brad Matetsky.
Conan Doyle Takes Aim
The Commonplace Book.
Baker Street Inventory.
“Stand with me here upon the terrace . . .”
Index to Volume.
* * *
The Editor’s Gas-Lamp
“I leave and heave a sigh and say goodbye!”
by Steven Rothman, Editor
Goodbyes are hard. This is the last issue of the Baker Street Journal under our editorship. The first was in 2000. That’s 23 years—exactly one third of our life—in the editorial hot seat. (Now I am going to wriggle out of the plural editorial voice and into the singular for both more and less comfort as I take a look back.)
With the exception of a volume of Christopher Morley’s Sherlockian writings called The Standard Doyle Company, I had never been an editor nor worked on a journal when the then-Wiggins of the Baker Street Irregulars, the late Mike Whelan, asked me to succeed Don Pollock. Indeed, I was (and am) not among the more prolific Sherlockian commentators. But the Journal had been a part of my life since I was 13, shortly after I first found the world of Sherlockian scholarship by reading William S. Baring-Gould’s Sherlock Holmes of Baker Street. At the time, I had been a subscriber for more than 30 years. I could not resist the challenge.
In the first few issues, I published articles that had been accepted by Don. But very soon, articles were coming to my own inbox and mailbox. (For several years, articles still arrived in typescript, often accompanied by a diskette.) I am pleased to observe that many of the authors who appeared in those early issues are still contributors. I am equally delighted by all the names that have joined them, many of them frequently.
In my first “Gas-Lamp,” in Spring 2000, I mused, “We are not yet a scholarship, judging from the only slightly disguised looks of amused contempt from my academic friends.” But now academic Sherlockian scholarship is growing at a more rapid rate than our own brand. Edinburgh University Press has begun a 22-volume scholarly edition of the works of Conan Doyle; conferences are being held; journals are being started; and very few of these do more than nod at the 100-plus years of our type of scholarship. Still, this is the 288th number of the BSJ’s “New Series,” with a further 13 of the “Old,” not to mention the 25 Christmas Annuals and the five Annuals Edgar Smith edited in the 1950s.
My earliest “Gas-Lamps” were untitled, but that didn’t last long. By the Autumn 2002 issue, I started looking for lines from songs that (at least to my mind) related to the topic under discussion. Only the late Susan Rice let me know that she recognized my game. The song sources range from Tin Pan Alley (“Button Up Your Overcoat”) to David Bowie (“Changes”), with a stop at the Disney Beauty and the Beast (“Belle”) and a great many nods to The Beatles. For instance, the Autumn 2019 title “Mad about the boy” was lifted from Noël Coward’s song of that name, and the editorial was an appreciation of Watson. The “Gas-Lamp” you are reading now takes its title from The Sound of Music and its coda from the only musical I have tried to use sparingly: Baker Street.
More than any other topic, I have used this space to hammer my message that the greatest strength of the Sherlockian movement is not the genius detective or the mysteries he solved, but the friendship between Holmes and Watson. To this end, I have applauded and scolded and held up endless examples. I have implored readers to welcome others to Baker Street and to always remember that Holmes and Watson give us an example of the finest of friendships. I do not have room to list here the many fine friends I myself have made in the Sherlockian world through my work on the Journal. My phone is always abuzz with calls, texts, and emails from them. So many people I feel so close to, whose names make me smile, and in whose conversation and writing I delight. I think of you all and I thank you for your warmth.
The Baker Street Journal does not come out without assistance. Dozens of people have reported on the various aspects of the Birthday Weekend and helped to judge the Morley–Montgomery Memorial Award. Don Novorsky, Ray Betzner, Chris Music, and Alex Katz all took turns editing the Society Reports. Ben Vizoskie and Will Walsh have photographed events, and Scott Bond and other cartoonists have entertained us. The late Donald Redmond indexed the BSJ for decades. Steve Doyle and Mark Gagen have been designing the Journal’s pages and the cover since 2009. Without their work, its look would be dreary. Scott Monty served as business manager succeeded by Steve Doyle. Now publisher, Doyle also deals with the printers and fulfillment services. Ann Lewis heroically attends to subscriptions; the problems of missing issues and forgotten renewals are endless. Randall Stock maintains the website, the portal through which many of you first met the BSJ. As international mail has become more and more a theoretical concept, we have drawn on friends of the BSJ who live abroad to receive issues in bulk and mail those domestically. Mattias Boström mails to Europe, Doug Elliott to Australia, Yuichi Hirayama to Japan, Mark Jones to the UK (succeeding the late Nick Utechin, who initiated the role of foreign mail distributor), and Charles Prepolec to Canada. Ashley Polasek and Tim Greer have helped proofread the Christmas Annuals. Since the beginning, Peter Blau has offered sage advice as both a BSI savant and a former BSJ editor. And the Baker Street Irregulars and all readers should join me in thanking my wife, Janice Fisher, an editor by trade who, since the beginning, has helped copyedit and proofread every issue. In addition, Janice has listened to me gripe and has offered counsel. I could not have done this without her.
Most of all, I must thank, first, those of you who have subscribed, and, second, the many of you who have sent your articles for consideration, your letters to the editor, and your books and other works to be reviewed. If at times I was slow in responding, it was only because—well, in some respects editing the Journal really is a one-man show, and almost a half-time job.
When I started reading submissions for the Journal in the autumn of 1999, I was impressed by their quantity and their quality. Twenty-three years on, that judgment hasn’t changed. I am regularly amazed by Journal writers’ ingenuity. They are curious, imaginative, and widely read.
I’m not going anywhere. You may see my byline here or elsewhere. You will certainly see me at Sherlockian events. Please come up to say hello so I can thank you. And please remember that the Canon truly is, in Christopher Morley’s words, “a textbook of friendship.”
“I shall miss you, Holmes.”
The Editor’s Gas-Lamp, Winter 2022, Vol. 72, No. 4.
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