‘A Study in Scarlet:’ Graphic Novel Review

Published in 1887, A Study in Scarlet is one of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s most famous Sherlock Holmes mysteries and is also the first of the ever-popular Holmes/Watson detective duo. It’s also a natural for adaptation to a graphic novel.

In the present-day graphic novel, A Study in Scarlet, Matthew Hardy presents the retelling of this great mystery under the guise of a student play. As students of Mr. Doyle act out the book, the kids’ dialogue is witty, and the way that Hardy unfolds the story is wonderful. One of my favorite scenes is when Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson step out of the novel and into the play in Part One. It’s such a beautiful moment, bringing the past into the present. Scarlet Achary, the female student playing Sherlock Holmes, absolutely steals the show in the story. It is brilliant to have a female Sherlock Holmes (Girls really can do anything!), and she is funny, quirky, and so likeable in the lead role. The entire graphic novel turns a complex Doyle novel into something accessible for children, keeping Holmes and Watson alive for a new generation.

The art by Russell Mark Olson makes this graphic novel something special and takes it to a whole new level of amazing. I’ve never been to London, but I could feel every bit of it in the realistic art of those Victorian scenes. The children’s innocence and curiosity are captured so perfectly that the reader feels as if they know each kid intimately. Mr. Doyle’s friendly and caring expressions make you wish he had been your teacher. The coloring meshes so well with the title of the book, while not seeming too on the nose. Each panel includes smart choices in how much or how little to show the reader, balancing out the graphic novel with every page.

A Study in Scarlet is published by Portsmouth City Council, in conjunction with Conan Doyle Collect and Arts Council England, all of which gives the graphic novel a massive stamp of approval. Adults and kids alike will love this nostalgic visit to 221B Baker Street to solve a mystery with the great Sherlock Holmes.

Creative Team: Adaption: Matthew Hardy; Art: Russell Mark Olson; Lettering: Robin Jones; Editor: Elinor Winter
Publisher: Portsmouth City Council
Click here to purchase.

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