Matt Hardy & Russell Mark Olson joined forces to adapt the classic ‘A Study in Scarlet’ and retell the story for a new generation.
They tackle that by making the story the next subject for the school play and Mr Doyle’s rehearsals sees his class embrace the world of Holmes & Watson with everything they’ve got. The mix of fictional scenes and cast squabbling gives this a slick injection of realism from the beginning and Matt has found a way to highlight the main points of this classic story while easing in some character & relationship growth that helps make us care all the more about the book we have in our hands.
Russell’s art feels like vintage Russell art but the life in the pages through the clever layouts and the attention to facial expressions & the colour shading helps ensure that it’s visually engaging in parallel with the story. The merging of a world of literature & the real world is another hook for us as the story progresses and even the the interludes play a part in keeping us swept up in the whole idea. Rob Jones steps up on lettering duties too as he juggles a wide set of characters in each of the cast members and slides through some of the sequences of heavier dialogue with the deft touch the scenes need to maintain that flow.
The blending of mystery & learning is an approach I probably wasn’t expecting given the source material and while there’s a definite sense that this is an interpretation for a drama class their is the air of something special here that comes with that. A smart approach to making the original story as accessible for all ages as they possibly can – the writing, the art, the lettering and the editing from Eli Winter have played a big part in putting this together and I’m struggling to remember a time when I was swept away by a book from beginning to end like I was with this. This stunning story was created by a team with the backing of The Conan Doyle Collection, The Art Council England and Portsmouth City Council and in the end they’ve all been able to ensure that the heart of Holmes & wonder of Watson are honoured, highlighted and enriched by a graphic novel adaptation like this.
The book was distributed to school libraries in the Portsmouth area earlier this year and you can pick up a copy through The Conan Doyle Collection online shop.
You should also check-in with each of the creators over on Twitter too:
Matt – @MattPHardy
Russell – @russell_m_olson
Rob – @RobJonesWrites