Tony’s still in the pink.
Two issues in, it’s still quite hard to see the point of releasing the Sherlock comic-books in the Western markets.
Seriously? Sherlock in comic-books, and we’re bitching about it?
Mmmmyeah, just a little, because it’s practically a scene-for-scene, word-for-word ‘comicisation’ (note to self – never use that word again, ever) of the TV episode, A Study In Pink. So if you’re a fan of the show in the Western world, you know it back to front and front to back and word for every word. It makes sense in its home market of Japan, absolutely, because there we can only presume that Sherlock comes dubbed, so comic-books offer a way of experiencing the episodes in your native language. It’s also true of course that comic-books offer an entirely different storytelling platform to unfold the episode on.
It also makes sense if you’ve ever looked at Benedict Cumberbatch as Sherlock and thought ‘Y’know, you really need to be rendered in Manga.’ There are people who will think like that in the geek community because, to be fair to them, if ever there was a British Caucasian male more suited to rendering in Manga…well, honestly it’s probably David Tennant, but Cumberbatch is up there, his angular face and piercing eyes serving as a great subject for the art form. Less so Martin Freeman’s deliberately more rounded face as Watson, and sometimes with Freeman, artist Jay struggles to match the demands of the style with the necessity of delivering a recognisable version of the TV show.
But oddly enough, it’s not really Manga fans that the Sherlock comic-books are aimed at in the Western markets – it’s Sherlock fans, and it’s geeks who feel that itch towards completism. There’s a Sherlock ‘thing’ in the world, and therefore they must own it. We’ve all felt that itch, it’s the only reason geeks build furniture – to hold our ever-expanding collections of must-have, collection-expanding ‘things.’ On that basis, it pretty much doesn’t matter what Sherlock #2 is ‘like’ or whether some dude on the internet says it’s ‘worth’ getting. For the completist, it absolutely will be.
For non-completists, there’s arguably little in the way of necessity about Sherlock #2, which takes us from the cab ride with Sherlock and John where Sherlock explains about John’s phone through to Dawson warning Watson off spending too much time with ‘the Freak.’ What perhaps could swing the non-completist to part with the shekels for the Sherlock comic-books is their quirky coolness. Jay’s a very solid artist, and there’s an undeniable style to what they do to the Moffat-Gatiss original here – yes, it’s word-for-word and scene-for-scene but it’s not strictly shot-for-shot, and Jay delivers a couple of innovative panel-splits here to add dimensions to the original, diagonal slashes allowing for eye-widening and reactions from both parties in what are, to be fair to Moffat and Gatiss, some pretty extraordinary conversations. The artwork itself, rendered entirely in black and white, has a clean, cool vibe that makes it look like little else on the market, and the whole Manga ‘reading from right to left’ thing, coupled with the distinctly domestic drama of the adventure itself, adds to that sense of the exotic about the Sherlock comic-books.
Bottom line, if you’re a fan of the TV Sherlock, then by all means, pick this up – it’s cool enough to warrant it if you have money to spare, though it’s never going to offer spectacular surprises to the audience at which it’s aimed, and if you’re simply buying it for the shelf-cool, you might do better to wait for the collected version.
If you don’t have money to spare to buy stuff that’s simply cool, then perhaps you’d do better to save your comic-buying Holmes money for the first issue of Mycroft from Titan, out this month.
Tony Fyler lives in a cave of wall-to-wall DVDs and Blu-Rays somewhere fairly
nondescript in Wales, and never goes out to meet the "Real People". Who,
Torchwood, Sherlock, Blake, Treks, Star Wars, obscure stuff from the
70s and 80s and comedy from the dawn of time mean he never has to. By
runs an editing house, largely as an
excuse not to have to work for a living. He's currently writing a Book.
With Pages and everything. Follow his progress at FylerWrites.co.uk