Friday, February 18, 2011

The Adventure of the Speckled Band, adapted by Vincent Goodwin, illustrated by Ben Dunn

I sort of have two reviews for this book. First, from the patron or kid-reader point of view:

This is a great graphic novel! I checked it out to see what the series was like, and I think most kids would be enthralled. The text is readable and retains some of Doyle's original atmospheric language while making it simple enough for younger readers to understand. The art is sharp and attractive, there's quite a bit of talking heads, but enough action to keep the story moving. Kids who like mysteries with a little bit of horror will enjoy this comic.

Now from my point of view...this was an awful adaptation. While a lot of original language was kept, in the shortened form of the story some of it sounds ridiculous. Most of the suspecting-gypsies part was cut, of course, but they had to be left in because of the confusion over what "speckled band" meant, which makes the story confusing at that point. The art is ridiculous. The pleasant but unattractive middle-aged Miss Stoker has become a charming and helpless girl of about fifteen, I'd put Watson at a few years older, and Holmes looks like a dissipated almost-twenty. I know there are artistic conventions about these things in comics, but seriously? Then there are the weird changes in the story - Holmes doesn't straighten the poker, but he and Watson are seen at a blacksmith's discussing the case while the blacksmith hammers it straight. Why? Well, obviously a diseased twenty-year-old wouldn't be able to do any feats of strength but...and at the end, there's no actual attack. Holmes and Watson sit around for a couple hours, then there's a yell, and whaddya know, the snake picked this night to turn on its master. Must have sensed teenage detectives in the other room.

Verdict: I think kids would probably like this book and the series, but if they're all like this I can't bring myself to buy them. I'll wait for a better adaptation of Sherlock Holmes to come along.

ISBN: 978-1602707276; Published January 2010 by Magic Wagon (ABDO); Borrowed from the library

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