Tuesday, July 5, 2011

A Study in Scarlet

Sherlock Holmes is one of the most famous literary characters ever created, and this graphic novel is an adaptation of his first story. In it, we meet Holmes' reliable friend and narrator, Dr. Watson and learn how he came to live at 221B Baker Street with the great detective. The pair end up involved in a murder investigation, and Holmes, years before CSI, uses science and deduction to figure out suspect, motive, and method. The solution of the mystery takes the reader to the United States during the early, rough days of the Mormon trek into Utah.

This graphic novel is a faithful adaptation of the work of Arthur Conan Doyle, a Scottish writer who wrote a range of other works such as the science fiction novel The Lost World, and who tired of his most famous detective, even killing him off at one point, but relented to public outcry for more Holmes stories. Ian Edginton, a popular British comics writer, adapted the story. He is known for his sequel to H.G. Wells' War of the Worlds, Scarlet Traces, and various runs on 2000 AD. The art was provided by I. N. J. Culbard, who has also worked on adaptations of a great number of classic British novels. In particular, he excels at creating mood via space and facial expressions.

The reviews I have read have been overall positive. The Guardian's Rachel Cooke wrote that Edginton and Culbard did an excellent job and she "relished every page." Seth T. Hahne was frustrated that some clues were withheld before the great reveal so he could not solve the mystery on his own. School Library Journal found the book had much to offer new and established Holmes readers alike. I agree and think that Edginton and Culbard have done well capturing the spirit and tone of the original quite well.

This book was published by Sterling. These same collaborators have created two other such adaptations of Doyle's detective, with a third on the way. Previews of this book and those later volumes are available here from Self Made Hero.

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