Comic Books & Graphic NovelsReviews

Review: A Study in Manga


[All images courtesy Titan Comics]

Sherlock_Manga Cover_ASherlock: A Study in Pink, part 1 of 6
Script by Steven Moffat (based on the TV series co-created by Steven Moffat & Mark Gatiss)
Adaptation by Jay
Lettering by Amoona Saohin
Published by Titan Comics
52 pages. Copyright 2016

Back in 2010, the BBC decided to put on an adaptation of the popular Sherlock Holmes stories. Co-created by (then) occasional Doctor Who scribes Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss, Sherlock was a modernization of the character, much in the same vein that Moffat’s previous production Jekyll did with the tale of Jekyll and Hyde. Starring a (at the time) relatively unknown Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman, no one ever predicted it would be the critical, audience, and financial juggernaut it has since become.

I should know: as I wrote in my (admittedly cheekily titled) “Why I’m (Somewhat Unhealthily) Obsessed with Martin Freeman” essay for my master’s thesis, I started watching the show because I enjoyed Jekyll and have always been a somewhat fan of the various media iterations of Holmes. I thought the idea of bringing Holmes into the 21st century was an interesting twist, and I was curious to see how it would go. Two years and six episodes later, I was obsessed with the show (and, obviously from the article above, with the actors). While it definitely has its flaws, I still consider it some of the best television that’s out there today. (In fact, I still am obsessed: I reviewed the Christmas special, “The Abominable Bride”, on my personal blog.)

As part of that fan explosion, the series found a massive audience overseas. In fact, during Cumberbatch’s promotions for Star Trek Into Darkness in 2013, they had a stop in Japan, where Sherlock (and Cumberbatch as an actor) has a popularity that makes the UK and American fans seem like nothing.

So it was with little surprise when I heard there was an officially licensed manga adaptation of the series. Originally published in 2012 in Japan (serialized in the magazine Young Ace), it was only available there until recently. Thankfully, Titan Comics managed to get a publishing deal for the comic series for those of us in the UK and the US.

Starting with a six-part adaptation of the first episode, “A Study in Pink”, the first issue in the monthly series was published on June 8, with the second issue just released on July 13. Presented in true manga right-to-left reading order, the issues also come with new covers as well as a cover gallery for the issue.

Sherlock Manga Preview

For those of you unaware of Sherlock‘s first episode, “A Study in Pink” follows the initial meeting of Sherlock Holmes (Cumberbatch) and Dr. John Watson (Freeman). John, just home from being invalidated from Afghanistan with a psychosomatic limp, joins up when Sherlock is brought in on a case of serialized suicides by Detective Inspector Lestrade (played by Rupert Graves in the series). This first issue starts with the suicides and ends just as John agrees to join Sherlock at the latest crime scene.

The manga follows the basic plot of the episode pretty closely so far. However, there is a definite manga take on the way dialogue is presented and how characters react (especially John). For the most part, the art style is very minimalistic, but in an effective way. Sherlock is the closest looking to his on-screen version, while Lestrade looks years younger than the silver fox of Graves. And, of course, Sherlock’s now infamous too-tight shirts bursting at the seams are given full manga treatment. (See example below.)

Sherlock_Manga Preview 2

It’s hard to really give a decent review, considering we’re still in the first act of the television version. But I’ve enjoyed what I’ve seen so far, although my American eye is finding the definite Japanese influence unintentionally humorous at times. If you’re a Sherlock fan, you’re not seeing anything too new, although well worth adding if you’re a die hard fan. If you’ve never watched Sherlock, it would be an intriguing way to enter into this world.

For an adaptation of an adaptation, I definitely want to check out the rest of the series to see how it compares.

For more information on the series, and to buy the first two issues, visit Titan Comics. And be sure to check out our other comic book reviews here.

You can see more of Angie’s work (and her social media connections) over at her website.


Angie Fiedler Sutton

Angie Fiedler Sutton is a writer, photographer, and all-round fangirl geek. She currently lives in Los Angeles, and primarily covers geek culture, entertainment, and the performing arts. She's been published in Den of Geek, Stage Directions, LA Weekly, The Mary Sue, and others. You can see more of her work (and her social media connections) over at her website

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