Norman: Vengeance of Grace

    Norman: Vengeance of Grace, by creator Stan Silas, is a graphic novel from Titan’s rapidly increasing range of original non-reprint material. It tells the story of Norman (a psychotic murderer who happens to be a child), Grace (a perfect child that happens to be a genetic experiment) and their adventures, or to be exact, Grace’s attempts to deal with Norman’s murderous antics.

    This is a horror fantasy with big dollops of manga-esque comedy, which means lots of big eyes, speed lines and upon first reading it, an apprehension of tedious, cartoony children with plate-like eyes. While there’s a lot of that in this book, Silas makes up for the art in a quirky little story that has enough interesting flourishes to make it all a bit more interesting than I was expecting. This isn’t so much routine, but it feels like its trying a wee bit too hard. A bit like the guy in the office who wears a crazy bow tie while parroting lines from The Office. I’m obviously not a fan of this type of comic, but this isn’t doing anything that makes it stand out.

    This isn’t an awful read but this isn’t the sort of comic that does anything different and what it does that’s interesting is so few and far between that for me, the book is somewhat of a chore.

    Sherlock: A Study in Pink

    The BBC series, Sherlock, is one of their crown jewels in terms of viewing figures, critical opinion, viewer feedback, as well as one of the programmes that makes the currently cash-strapped BBC an awful lot of money from having sold it to countries all over the world. A Study in Pink has been adapted into a manga from Stephen Moffat’s original script by Jay, the writer/artist, and now translated into English and published by Titan Comics. There’s some history in Japanese versions of Western media; the Spider-Man manga leaps to mind as an instant example, and this is a pretty exhaustive adaptation of the TV episode.

    A Study in Pink was the first in the series that introduced this modern day retelling of Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes story. It also made Benedict Cumberbatch an international star (his likeness is captured well here in a manga-esque way, Martin Freeman’s less so) thanks to his portrayal of a Sherlock very much of the 21st century. There in lies a problem with adapting a programme which uses 21st century technology as aids in storytelling and although Jay attempts to translate that to the page, it doesn’t quite work as effectively as it did on TV. Otherwise. though, this is an almost faithful word-for-word adaptation. with the occasional lapse in translating English to Japanese and back, not to mention some exceptionally dodgy backgrounds based on no reference material for London.

    If you’re a Sherlock fan you’ll probably love this as an oddity. For comics fans, this is a bit too by the numbers adaptation. Its readable enough but why bother with this when the TV programme exists? It doesn’t do anything too different, and at time it feels like reading a storyboard, albeit one done in a manga style. So as a comic, it doesn’t do anything interesting. This is very much what you’d expect from a manga adaptation, which leaves this really as one for the fans as something to keep them happy in-between the years between series.

    Glenn Miller

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