A Study in Emerald (graphic novel adaptation)

Monday, October 28, 2019

A Study in Emerald (graphic novel adaptation)
Original story by Neil Gaiman, adaptation by Rafael Albuquerque, Rafael Scavone, Dave Stewart, et. al., 2018

Premise: A certain notable detective and his partner try to solve a crime in a very different version of Victorian London.

When I heard there was to be a graphic novel adaptation of "A Study in Emerald," I was immediately intrigued. Intrigued, and a little hesitant. It's a clever mashup story, combining Sherlock Holmes with Lovecraftian elder gods. I've read the original many times.

The story is already a visual feast - there's a fantastic version laid out like a period broadsheet, complete with advertisements full of easter eggs. But the conceit of the story also hinges on what is not seen by the reader, so I was curious how well the art would balance the need to illustrate the story with the desire to maintain a certain ambiguity.

Overall, I think it does very well.

It helps that Rafael Albuquerque is, in my opinion, the perfect choice for this piece. His art style meshes well with horror/mystery, and the texture fits the world just right.

My one quibble might be the design of the first horror, from the narrator's experience in Afghanistan. It was just a little too generic-Cthulhu in looks, in my opinion. Most of the other glimpses worked well.

On the other hand, I think the human character designs were right on target: conveying the sense of each character while serving the needs of the story and relative realism of the world. There are even a few visual flourishes that enhance the characters and story.

However, I would be very curious to hear the reactions of readers who aren't already familiar with the original story.

4 Stars - A Very Good Book

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