from “Viz” October/November 1992
You can make arguments and jokes about Sherlock Holmes as the ne plus ultra in confirmed bachelors, fussy, detail-obsessive and somewhat scornful of women’s company. Academics have and so have comedians. Nothing as insightful as that here. Instead, in 22 panels, it's every common gay stereotype offered by the British tabloids and popular TV. It’s Holmes as a homo, yet cheerily inoffensive. It is a one-off thankfully. I think trying to flog it on a regular basis would have become too appalling in a number of ways.
You get the standard Holmes cliché combined with the gay clichés of overly expressive eyes, limp wrists, hands either fluttering or held to the face, pursed lips, prancing walk and even heels kicked up. You get all the swishy effeminate clichés of Larry Grayson (“Shut that Door”, “What a gay day”, and “Look at the muck in here”) Duncan Norvelle (“Chase me”), and even Julian Clary (sexual single entendres). You get a taste for cross-dressing and a prissy tidiness. You get “whoops”, “duckie” and sly camp bitchiness. You get a fondness for sailors, Hampstead Heath, leather clones, and an opportune sexual predatoriness. I don’t think we get a Mr Humphries reference, since mincing has never been exclusive to John Inman, but otherwise it’s the full house. I’m surprised you don’t get “Elementary, my queer Watson”, but that wouldn’t work given the joke’s set-up where everyone is oblivious to Holmes’s raging homosexuality.
Some other examples of jokes about a gay Sherlock Holmes:
Billy Wilder’s “The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes”
assorted cartoons and sketches
“Viz” was always infinitely better than its woefully crude imitators. By all accounts “Zit” was ferociously unpleasant, with “dirty queers”, “benders”, “poofs”, and “fags” thrown around in strips like “The Nancy Ninjas”, making it seem more like the tabloids which “Viz” so expertly parodied.