Since the late 19th century, Sherlock Holmes has been reinterpreted for a variety of audiences, in a myriad of ways. He and his sidekick Watson have been fascinating, and whether it’s the movies or in print the mysteries they’ve solved have been just as engaging. Now put a cherub faced child and an affable dog into those roles and things have become even more entertaining. In Justin Phillips’ comic book ‘Kid Sherlock’ there is a tripper that must be discovered before he causes more mayhem.
What makes this comic work is the nature of the case. Sherlock is right in that people go about their lives every day without taking notice of what’s happening around them. Most kids are in school, enjoying the day. But, when reading ‘Case File 4: The Tripper’ you’ll understand the difference between not noticing things, or people and being invisible. The school bully is obviously being framed and Watson is in a dilemma. Why help someone who’s terrorized you? When Watson gets in an argument with Sherlock, the memory of what’s been done to Watson drives him to tears. Sherlock takes a pragmatic approach to the situation which angers Watson even more. Ironically, this solves the case. It’s a smart way to craft a story. You don’t talk down to the children who are reading it and the narrative holds for those who are older.
As you read this issue Phillips’ work is heightened by Sean Gregory Miller’s and Lesley Atlansky’s artwork. Understand that this team effort brings together a group of likeable characters that you root for. When Watson and Sherlock are getting into it, there’s a panel where Watson is staring right at the reader. The crying comes unexpectedly and you feel for this dog. Would you want to help someone who makes your friend tear up at just the thought of him? By basing their main protagonists on the famous characteristics of a detective, the audience is already comfortable and can enjoy the story. You like Sherlock because his deductive reasoning skills are on the money, and you love Watson because he’s a talking dog, who’s a student and it’s perfectly normal. What’s more, on the last pages you learn how to draw and are taught how important the colorists and letterers are to the comic book process. There’s also puzzles and mazes for you to enjoy once you’ve finished reading.
Overall, ‘Kid Sherlock’ is a fun read. Although the children are based on adult stories, both dialogue and action are age appropriate. It’s refreshing to have a comic book you can enjoy as a grown-up as well as read along with the younger set. Even more important, it can get people looking forward to the next installment.