Review – Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency #1 (IDW Publishing)

Click to enlarge

Click to enlarge

Publisher: IDW Publishing
Writer: Chris Ryall
Artists: Tony Akins, John Livesay, Leonard O’Grady
Released: 20th May 2015

Douglas Adams’ work has made it to pretty much every medium there is – radio, novels, TV, film, video games, and there’s almost certainly someone out there who’s transferred it into interpretative dance. It’s even previously cropped up in comics, albeit in a fairly straightforward adaptation of his seminal Hitchhiker’s (at that point) trilogy. But that was, what? Nearly 20 years ago – his once inimitable stylings have not been sighted since in the form of sequential art. *cue dramatic music* UNTIL NOW!

What’s perhaps simultaneously it’s most intriguing facet, and it’s most off-putting one, is that whilst this does indeed feature the eponymous holistic detective, it’s not a straight book-to-comic deal – instead, IDW big man Chris Ryall boldly commits to crafting not just a new story, but a sequel to the two-and-a-half existing Gently texts.

This does of course raise the question of whether or not Adams’ sly, silly prose can properly make the transition to a distinctly less textual medium – one of the joys of his work is the delightful way that his prose coils and froths from the page, and it’s a big leap to translate that into a single, static visual. Ryall’s dialogue structuring certainly pulls it off – sharp, sly and occasionally spiralling off into the silly, there’s a wonderfully familiar air to our hero as he staggers through another case.

Artistically, it references the recent TV adaptation’s portrayal rather than an as-described one – gone are the glasses and red hat, in is a fuzzy, rockabilly-ish quiff, and a Doctor Who, Tenant-esque outfit. If you’re a stickler for visual consistency between source text and adaptation, you may be a little disappointed. Still, stepping past that, the art is – despite some awkward anatomy moments, and a few odd perspective lilts – solid enough to get the story told, though you can’t help but think that it lacks the visual wit of someone like Rob Guillory, who comes to mind both due to his talent (see Chew), and the fact that he’s drawn an alternate cover for this very book.

Still, it’s an enjoyable read, and promises the kind of deliciously contrived resolution that can only really be savoured in the context of this particular character. If you’re not already an Adams/Gently fan – and what on earth is wrong with you, seriously? – you’ll not find a lot to like here, despite Ryall making every effort to ingratiate you into the fold. But for those of us that are, this is great take on Adams’ lesser-known work. Worth a read.

Rating: 4/5

RSavThe Writer of this piece was: Ross Sweeney
Ross tweets from @Rostopher24

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