I’m not usually one for graphic novels, but I will read Neil Gaiman’s grocery list, so when my friend brought this over and said ‘you gotta read this,’ I took the opportunity.
“A Study In Emerald” closely follows Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s original “A Study in Scarlet,” but with cooler characters and monsters. To give anything else of the plot away will spoil the joy of this story too much, so I’ll leave it at that and let those who love Gaiman and Sherlock Holmes to experience the fun of this short little graphic delight.
What’d I’d really love to focus on is the art and the details. The illustrations are beautiful, and hearken back to the late Victorian style in coloring, flourishes, and typeset. It very much puts the reader in mind of the type of society and culture we’re inhabiting without Gaiman having to give us too many written details about the characters and the times. Ironically, even though the name of the book is “A Study in Emerald,” red shades are the predominant colors utilized through the beginning of the story, which I was at first confused about. However, the style choice becomes abundantly clear in section two, and the visual impact it punches definitely adds a level of purpose to the reading/viewing experience. There is also a curious Victorian advertisement at the beginning of each section, that at first glance doesn’t seem to have anything to do with the story, but by the end, you can see how they all tangentially connect. It’s a very clever play on the clues that our detective follows as the story unfolds, and gives a little something away to the reader as they move through each section of the investigation.
Like all of Gaiman’s works, this little story is cleverly wrought, beautiful to look at, and fans of both Gaiman and Sherlock Holmes will enjoy this quick read.
Bingo Square: Green