Saturday, September 7, 2013

Adapting Holmes: Baskervilles Graphic Novel

The Hound of the Baskervilles, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, retold by Martin Powell (writer) and Daniel Perez (artist).

I reviewed graphic novel versions of A Study in Scarlet and The Sign of the Four earlier in the year, and I must point out that this adaptation of The Hound of the Baskervilles is not in the same series. There is a version of Baskervilles in that series, but I chose to look at a different version.

This one is targeted for a younger audience, and is nearer in tone to the "Wishbone" version of the story than the original neo-horror story that Doyle wrote. There are credits to a "librarian reviewer," a "reading consultant," and a "guided reading level," as well as a pronounciation guide. All of this leads me to believe that that this book is designed for school library use. And for what it is attempting to do, this much-abridged version of the story is mostly effective.

The key plot points are all here, including the mysterious bearded man telling his cabbie that his name was Sherlock Holmes. Watson dictates much of the action to Holmes via letters. The excaped convict and the disappearing shoes are present, as are the deceptive family connections. Although extremely shortened, Martin Powell manages to tell the basics of the story in a coherent manner. And Daniel Perez' artwork, although simplistic, is clear and adds to the strength of the storytelling.

There are a few odd moments in the introduction and the backmatter. The "cast of characters" page clearly refere to "Dr. Henry Watson," and although there is a Henry Baskerville in the story, Watson's first name is John. The "about the author" and "more about Sherlock Holmes" pages at the back of the book both refer to Doyle having written 56 Holmes stories. And although there were 56 short stories written by Doyle, he also wrote four Holmes novels -- one of which is The Hound of the Baskervilles.

For a book that is clearly positioning itself for the education market, these mistakes need to be pointed out.

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