Thursday, December 29, 2011

Review #23: Sherlock's my Homie

The Hound of the Baskervilles

Writer: Arthur Conan Doyle [adapted by Ian Edginton]

Artist: I. N. J. Culbard

Published: Sterling Publishing, 2009

I saw the new Sherlock Holmes flick the other week and it was not bad. I do prefer Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark, though. In my mind, Jeremy Brett will always be Sherlock Holmes. Sorry, Rob. In any case, I recently happened to pick up a graphic novel version of the classic Holmes tale, The Hound of the Baskervilles.

The year is 1889. James Mortimer, physician, needs the help of the world's greatest detective: Sherlock Holmes. It seems his friend Charles Baskerville, a rich guy, has recently died under mysterious circumstances. Mortimer believes that Charles could have been the victim of his “family curse”: for generations, the family has been plagued by the legend of a ghostly hound that haunts the nearby moor. On the night Charles died [of “cardiac exhaustion”, which Mortimer believes was brought on by terror], his body was found on the edge of the moor, not far from a set of large paw prints. THE PLOT THICKENS.

Henry, the son of one of Charles' two deceased brothers, is eager to claim Baskerville Hall for his own, despite the possibility of a supernatural creature's thirst for his blood. He also meets with Holmes, who determines that, though the nature of the hound remains unknown, there is definitely a human element to this mystery. Watson travels to Baskerville Hall with Henry in order to keep an eye on him while Holmes attends to other matters.

Watson writes to Holmes to keep him up to snuff with the goings on, until his partner is able to join him. Together, they begin to unravel a plot involving the butler [seriously], an escaped convict, and several denizens of the DARK AND MYSTERIOUS MOOR!

My father is a big fan of the old British TV series, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, starring the aforementioned Jeremy Brett [actually, the Holmes in the book looks rather like Mr. Brett, I find], and I recall watching this episode as a wee child, but I could not recall how it ended, so that was a nice surprise.

The novel opens awesomely with Holmes and Watson inspecting the walking stick that Mortimer left at 221 Baker Street when he came by and missed them. They take turns deducing who Mortimer is based on the stick, with Holmes, naturally, being freakishly close to the truth. Classic Holmes!

I didn't have any problems with this adaptation, except I thought that they could've held off longer on the reveal of the hound, just for suspense's sake. The art looks almost like a Saturday-morning cartoon, with a very exaggerated style. It reminded me of a caricature artist you would find on the street of a large city, or one of those “how to draw” guides. It's not for everyone, but I thought it was alright. Despite the simple look, it doesn't sacrifice any detail, with backgrounds still fleshed out with zeal.

Watson character sketches found in the back of the book

So: good stuff, but if you don't like Sherlock Holmes/cartoony artwork, this probably won't change your mind.

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