Author: Steven Moffat, Jay
Publish Date: 8 March 2016
Genre: Crime, mystery, thriller, manga
Audience: Teens and up
Ever since it was announced there would be an English translation of the Sherlock manga, I have been dying to get my hands on it. For the last year or so it has been released in separate instalments, and whilst I was just itching to buy each comic, I managed to restrain myself and instead buy a complete copy – the addition of it being signed by Steven Moffat and Sue Vertue was also an extra motivation! I have never read a manga before this but I figured a good place to start was with a familiar story, and I was interested to see how the show would work in paper form.
It is safe to say that if you are a fan of BBC’s ‘Sherlock’, this manga is an absolute must-have. True to the show, the story follows Sherlock Holmes and John Watson as they first meet and together tackle the case of the poisoned suicide-murders. Ultimately, it transcribes beautifully into a manga form. The story immediately lends itself to an extreme amount of action which is powerfully depicted through the additions of written sound effects and exclamatory dialogue boxes – I felt just as gripped as if I was watching the TV show. The more intense moments of dialogue – in particular, Sherlock’s deductions – can be fully absorbed by the reader, but they still feel like they have an element of pace through the sheer amount of writing in each box. If you know the show inside out, you will notice a couple of lines are translated (or simply quoted) wrong, but thankfully it does not take away anything from the experience as a whole.
The aspect which really makes this stand out is undoubtedly the artwork. It is almost as if BBC’s ‘Sherlock’ was MADE to be a manga – each actor has such distinct features and facial expressions that they come to life splendidly in black and white drawings. And yes, I am talking about Benedict Cumberbatch’s cheekbones. Every character is instantly recognisable, and their mannerisms are depicted extremely accurately. Not only is the character artwork stunning, but the locations are also impeccably detailed. One thing the visuals really convey is the atmosphere – I think it is especially hard to depict the same location (in this case, 221B) in two different approaches without the benefit of lighting, and yet still project a complex ambience, but the artist Jay does this perfectly.
Whilst this version is the complete set, there are still page breaks to mark the beginning of each new edition. This adds a wonderful new depth to the story; the plot is divided effortlessly, and cliffhangers are seamlessly created when you would least expect them. I also found this especially good for pacing the story, as you could probably find yourself whizzing through this manga in less than an hour if you are particularly familiar with the show. However, the edition breaks means you can draw the experience out in a purposeful and cleverly constructed way without unintentionally whipping through it – however tempting that may be!
There is little to fault with ‘Sherlock: A Study in Pink’. It has been effortlessly transformed onto paper – the dialogue is seamless, and the artwork is beautiful. With such accurate character depictions, and a cleverly constructed format, this ‘Sherlock’ manga is just as gripping as the show. I highly recommend this to anybody who’s a fan of the BBC show, and I’m really looking forward to when ‘The Blind Banker’ will be released!