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Sherlock: The Blind Banker #1

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By Steve Thompson and Jay

It’s official: everyone loves Sherlock! The hit TV show, by co-creators: Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss, finds its way into the manga world and the results are pleasantly unique. There’s a cultural flair to what is evidently a well-done adaptation. Expertly written by Steve Thompson with sublime artwork by Jay, the book is incredibly faithful to the actors as much as the characters. Their likenesses are incredibly accurate, and it’s as if you’re following Benedict Cumberbatch as much as Sherlock Holmes, or Martin Freeman as much as Dr. Watson. Their attitudes and mannerisms are equally as accurate, proving the book to be more of a work of preservation than adaptation. Thompson writes the story faithfully, while offering just the right cues for his artist to pick up on.

The book is everything you love about the show, but it’s a comic book — manga actually. As for the, aforementioned, cultural influences — they are most evident with the difference in formatting when comparing manga to standard comics. Meant to be read in the traditional Japanese style, from right to left, with translated sound effects and fine tuned half-toned gradients, you really do get the best of both worlds. It’s good old Sherlock and at the same time a cool, stylized manga. It’s an experience through and through, which will satisfy existing fans of both manga and the show it’s based on.

Brought to the U.K. and the U.S.A by British publisher Titan Comics, Western readers are once again offered exposure to comics from around the globe. Although, when it comes to Japanese comics, it’s no secret that they are available all over the world. There’s high demand because readers know that there’s a legacy and a heritage steeped in illustration in Asia and Japan. Now that the fan base has grown as much as it has, and likewise the market being as profitable as it is, you can bet almost any successful franchise would easily translate to a manga. No pun intended.

Through precision shading and color blocking, artist Jay creates depths and mood. Jay’s blending techniques manage to create a balanced contrast, which softens the overall tone. Jay gives Sherlock himself that sharp intensity found in Cumberbatch’s delivery. Steve Thompson handles dialogue with pitch perfect pacing and placement, allowing for Watson’s dry wit to come through in ways that let you hear Freeman’s own voice. But the book is not without a sense of freshness, which can be found in camera angles, comedic beats, and dramatic pauses.

“Well done!” to the creative team for doing the beloved Sherlock justice, Titan Comics for making them available, and the cast and crew of the show worth adapting in the first place. This is just issue #1 of 6, so there’s still more to come! And, after all, “The Blind Banker” is one of the standout episodes from the first three seasons of the BBC program. There are moments coming up from the show that will be interesting to see how they are handled in subsequent issues. How’s that for an all-new level of interest for something you already know and love so much?

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