Written by Roger Langridge
Art by Andy Hirsch
Colors by Fred Stresing
If you know anything about me, you know I love Sherlock Holmes. But it’s not just the great detective I love: it’s the fact that every single tidbit of Arthur Conan Doyle’s original mysteries have been made into new worlds. We catch fleeting glimpses of Moriarty, Mrs. Hudson, and Irene Adler in the original stories, while they each have multiple adaptations dedicated to them. One of my favorite little quirks of the Sherlock Holmes stories was his Baker Street Irregulars, the homeless boys Holmes employed to act as his assistants and spies. In this miniseries, we get a new generation of detective scamps, the Baker Street Peculiars.
In the first issue, the Baker Street Peculiars meet while chasing a giant demonic Trafalger lion. We meet Rajani, the young Bengali pickpocket hose fallen on hard times. She’s joined by Humphrey, a posh boarding school boy who’s the youngest in his family, so he has to make do with the family dog, Wellington, as a valet. They’re both spurred on by Molly Rosenberg, the adventurous granddaughter of a second-hand clothing shopkeeper. After losing the lion and getting chased by a policeman, they meet a shadowy figure in a very familiar deerstalker and Inverness coat, who hires them as assistants after some prodding. However, as the last few pages reveal, things might not be all that they seem.
This book is incredibly charming. The three characters are engaging, just the sort that appeal to all ages. Molly is the first one to jump in the fray and the first one to figure things out, and its her insistence that lands them the job as assistants. Rajani is more guarded and critical, but even though she’s gone through a lot, she can open up to her friends. Humphrey is obvious and seems to always be in over his head, but he seems to have a blast all the same (though one wonders if he could get along without Wellington the dog).
The art is also charming. It’s cartoony and expressive, seeming to evoke the comic strips of the 1930’s (the comic is set in 1933). Each panel is bursting with character and detail, with little jokes in the background. Yet the art can also turn moody, with the foggy, gaslit backdrop of London giving it a more mysterious feel. The characters are cartoony without being caricatures, which is a hard balance to achieve.
My favorite thing about this comic, though, is that the creators were obviously immersed in not only Sherlock Holmes, but also the detective/adventure stories of the turn of the century. There are so many references to the Holmes stories: some obvious (the Saint Baskerville’s Boarding School) and some obscure (a bus with an ad for Garrideb, Garrideb & Garrideb Practising Solicitors). The characters’ dialects are spot on: Rajani’s Cockney accent is adorable, but I’m particularly impressed with Humphrey’s young posh accent. He sounds exactly, and I mean exactly, like P. G. Wodehouse’s character Bertram Wooster from his Jeeves and Wooster books. (There’s a Jeeves and Wooster series by Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie that you have to watch right now.) I feel like this comic could not only be fanservice for the Sherlockians and Edwardian literature fans, but it could also be a gateway for kids to get into that type of literature, as they’ll want to figure out what the references are about.
Buy this book right now. It’s going to be a 4-part miniseries, and maybe if we support it enough the creators will get to produce more. And buy it for all the kids you know: they will love it.