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Review: Sherlock - A Study in Pink #1


By Philip Schweier
June 13, 2016 - 13:34

I’ve been a Sherlock Holmes fan since I was about 12 years old, and I find the BBC’s Sherlock series to be a wonderful update of the stories of the famous detective. They’re fun and witty, while retaining the marvel that fans worldwide have come to expect from the Master Detective.

Titan Comics adapted the screenplay of the premier episode very faithfully, however, its effectiveness remains in doubt. But I’ll be the first to admit that the fault lay entirely in my own hands. Perhaps the animé-style artwork should have been my first clue, but it took me several pages to realize the story is told Manga-style. But in my defense, Titan is a British company, Sherlock is a British TV show, and I had no reason not to expect the story to be presented in a traditional left-to-right format.

Initially, I was flummoxed, thinking the poor balloon placement to be a production error. As I kept going and realized the true nature of the story, it also explained why some of the word balloons seemed way bigger than they needed to be. It’s not that I don’t appreciate the Manga-style; it was merely unexpected. After accounting for it, it was comic book reading as usual.

The story recounts the first meeting between Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, introducing both characters to both one another and to the reader. Afghan vet Watson is suffering from the psychological trauma of his wartime experience, but is eager is to join Holmes in investigating a string of mysterious suicides.

His medical knowledge adds to Holmes arsenal of brilliance, but, for all his magical insight, Holmes’ lack of interest in other people can be insufferable. However, Watson sees in him a potential adventure in the making, and despite Holmes’ peculiarities.

One aspect of Manga I do appreciate is how it simplifies the art, allowing for cleaner illustrations. Sometimes the American comics I’m accustomed to become cluttered by excessive detail. Perhaps non-Japanese comic book artists might benefit from some experimentation in the Manga style, being able to distill their layouts into cleaner designs.

The book is also published in black/white, which further simplifies the art. Digital coloring and other Photoshop effects often obscures quality rendering, rather than enhance it. Textures and shades of gray, when used judiciously, can be every bit as effective in creating visual depth.

I’m sure other Sherlock fans would enjoy seeing this modern update in comic book form during the lengthy spells between each series (or season, if you prefer) of the TV program. However, my personal preference might be for original stories not adapted from the episodes. I am uncertain of the viability of the series’ producers overseeing the creation of such a comic book series, but I’d love to see them try.

Last Updated: August 31, 2023 - 08:12

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