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PopCultHQ Creator Spotlight: Justin Phillips, Sean Miller & Lesley Atlansky of KID SHERLOCK from Action Lab

Kid Sherlock #1 – Cover A by Sean Miller
Kid Sherlock #1 – Cover B by Dennis Culver

 

When we at PopCultHQ saw the first previews for KID SHERLOCK from Action Lab Entertainment, it definitely caught our attention. This new all-ages series from writer Justin Phillips, illustrator Sean Gregory Miller, and colorist Lesley Atlansky has a fantastic look, great message(s), lovable characters, a healthy dose of mystery, and all the makings for a successful summer series for Action Lab.

 We got the chance to speak with the creative team on this new series and they shared how the series became reality, plans for the characters and the title, and how the moral lessons found in the series will empower your youngsters to love who they are and what they have to offer. We hope you enjoy our Creator Spotlight on team KID SHERLOCK: Justin Phillips, Sean Gregory Miller, and Lesley Atlansky.
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PopCultHQ’s Creator Spotlight Interview:

Justin Phillips, Sean Gregory Miller, and Lesley Atlansky
from Action Lab Entertainment’s

PopCultHQ: From where did the concept of Kid Sherlock arise?


Justin:
The original concept was inspired by Scottie Young’s “Baby Avengers” series. My daughter was about four at the time and those books were a really good way of introducing those characters to her in a way that she really enjoyed.

Sean: Justin came to me with the idea while I was at a signing for one of my other books and pitched it. I had a pretty casual approach to the project in the beginning but the concept seemed fleshed out and that’s what appealed to me.

PopCultHQ: How did Kid Sherlock find a home with Action Lab?

Sean:
I had a good relationship with Mike Millerick, the founder of StocktonCon and Grape City Con, and he was trying to help get me and my projects some attention. He had also developed a good relationship with Dave Dwonch of Action Lab and unbeknownst to me, showed him some of my Kid Sherlock stuff. He essentially pitched the project to Dave for us at a convention in Sacramento, and everything kinda fell into place after that. Dave got in contact with Justin and I, instructed us on how to submit a formal pitch, and now here we are!


Justin:
I would attribute that largely to Sean’s artwork. Initially we had only planned on Kid Sherlock to be a webcomic. At the time we had only two single page gags posted online. Through some of Sean’s contacts, Dave Dwonch from Action Lab was introduced to Kid Sherlock. Shortly after, he reached out to us to see if we could develop what we had into a full series. We had quite a bit of material already and had tried to develop the world of Baker Elementary as best as we could. So we shifted from single page gags to developing a full story.

PopCultHQ: A vibe I got instantly, and it may just be me, was a Mr. Peabody and Sherman buddy component. Did the characters from the Rocky & Bullwinkle program or even the 2014 film play a role in the design concept?
Each issue of Kid
Sherlock will have a simple art lesson from Sean Miller on how to draw the characters!


Justin:
(Laughs) You’re not the only one, honestly, I didn’t see it till someone mentioned it. The truth is, my biggest influence may be Calvin and Hobbes. I was a huge fan as a kid and read everything I could get my hands on. The at times, contentious friendship, the adventures they had, the unique way Calvin looked at the world and himself, these are all things that inspired how I saw Kid Sherlock.

Sean: Justin was clear that he wanted a cartoony style for this book and some of the early suggestions to reference were Calvin and Hobbes and Scottie Young’s work. Its funny you mention Mr. Peabody and Sherman, because I was trying to avoid them specifically, but the parallels are obviously there. I’ve always been a really big fan of the Hanna Barbera cartoons and my initial sketches for Sherlock looked a little like Elroy Jetson. All I knew was I wanted them to be instantly recognizable, have their own personality, and have that “Saturday morning cartoon” vibe. There is only so much I can do as the penciler/inker and a lot of their final look fell to Lesley. She’s done a great job bringing Sherlock and Watson to life with her colors.

Lesley:
I’m a huge Peanuts fan, and I was getting a bit of that vibe from Sean’s art. He and Justin gave me some direction as far as how the characters looked, color-wise, which made it easy to fill in the rest. I just tried to keep the colors bright and simple so that the movement and emotions of the characters could shine.

PopCultHQ: From the previews and info I’ve come across it looks like a major component of this series is life lessons or issues kids today face. How crucial is highlighting these everyday issues or incorporating values into the series?


Justin:
It is very important to me. While I wouldn’t call Kid Sherlock a PSA, I hope that it can help any kids that may be having a hard time at school or with friends. As a kid I was shy, I got bullied, struggled in school, and had a hard time making friends. The pressure to fit in can be a lot for a kid. But with the right influences they can learn to just be themselves and that what makes them different also makes them special.

Sean: The best stories are the ones with a moral or universal principle involved! We don’t delve into anything to deep with this series since it’s primarily for kids, but they do have some heartwarming bits in there. For me, friendship was the primary focus of the series but it also does address feelings of isolation and wanting to belong. Even little kids feel those things so as creators, we hope that we can show kids that even if they are “different,” they can still fit in and play an important role in their friends’ lives. As the writer, I think that responsibility falls primarily on Justin’s shoulders, but as the artist, it’s really cool to try and convey those feelings in the characters’ expressions and body language.


PopCultHQ: You’ve mentioned that adults will even take a liking to the series and that it will appeal to fans of mysteries and the likes of the famous sleuth. Do any classic Sherlock Holmes tales come into play in your series?

Justin: Not directly, most of Sherlock’s cases deal with subjects decidedly not all ages appropriate. A few stories will have some parallels but the mysteries are definitely aimed at a younger audience. Entertaining enough for adults to enjoy but easy enough for kids to follow the story. For Sherlock fans, what I did try to include was how Sherlock investigates, how he thinks and interacts with others. Sherlock is often viewed as juvenile, so putting him in Baker Elementary was a natural fit and we really tried to put as much of Sherlock into it as we could.

PopCultHQ: A June release seems like the most appropriate time to launch an all-ages series (Summer break and all). Can we expect Kid Sherlock to be released monthly? Also, is the title a miniseries or ongoing?

Justin:
Yes, it will be an ongoing series. The first four issues will be released monthly but the the next arc will be a couple months after. We are hoping to do about eight issues a year plus the trades.

Sean:
I personally hadn’t thought about the release coinciding with Summer Break but yeah, that’s kinda perfect! As far as the scheduled release dates, each of the 4 issues will come out monthly starting in June and ending in September. The trade is scheduled to be released shortly after in October.

PopCultHQ: Can we expect to see series regulars introduced as Kid Sherlock progresses? Recurring villain, characters reminiscent of Sherlock Holmes mysteries, etc.?


Justin:
Absolutely! We have some character profiles for the supporting cast on our Instagram page @KidSherlock. We have Ms. Hudson, Watson, Lestrade and a few others. Working as many of these characters into this new world has been one of the most fun aspects of this project.

Lesley: Sherlock’s brother Mycroft is in one of the initial issues, and I love the way Justin wrote how he and Sherlock interact. Sean did a great job bringing him to life, so I hope he shows up in the future so I can color him again!

Sean: Personally, I really like drawing the characters that have all been introduced in this first arc, and I hope I can continue drawing them, but I do believe that there will be a fresh face or two in the arc to follow. You can’t have Sherlock without an appearance from Moriarty so I’m sure we’ll see him at some point!

PopCultHQ: Are there any plans for a signing appearance or promotion in conjunction with the title’s launch?


Lesley:
I’m currently working with a local shop to try and set up a Kid Sherlock coloring event and signing [Color Comics with Kid Sherlock event – June 24th at Books with Pictures in Portland, OR]. I plan on bringing a handful of black and white pages or images from the book and kids can come in and color with me.

Justin: Yes, Sean and I will be at Al’s Comic Shop Wednesday, June 14th for the release of the book. The same week on Friday the 16th, we will be at Metropolis Comix in Elk Grove, CA.

Sean: I plan on doing a signing for the release of each issue at my local comic shop here in Stockton but I also travel a bit and we’ve gotten a lot of support from shops in the area. You can count on seeing me at Stockton Con and maybe a few other shows in Sacramento as well. Action Lab is very supportive of their creators so I’d really like to hitch a ride with them to some bigger conventions I’ve never been to before. We’ll see!

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A very special thanks to Justin, Sean, and Lesley taking the time for this interview.

For an advance look at what you can expect from the series,
be sure to check out our preview of Kid Sherlock #1,
ask for it at your local comic shop, then pick it up this June!

Preview Action Lab’s New All-Ages Title KID SHERLOCK by Justin Phillips, Sean Miller & Lesley Atlansky


Be sure to follow the creative team to stay up on the latest for Kid Sherlock!

 

 

Justin Phillips – Writer

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Sean Gregory Miller – Artist

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Lesley Atlansky – Colorist

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Action Lab Entertainment – Publisher
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Jason Bennett

Jason Bennett is PopCultHQ’s chief editor, a contributing writer, and comic book reviewer/reporter. One with the Force. Browncoats Unite! So say we all!

Follow Jason on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram: @TahoeJBennett

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