The Baker Street Irregulars debuted in Arthur Conan Doyle’s first Sherlock Holmes yarn—A Study in Scarlet—back in 1887. The iconic detective relied on the group of street scamps as eyes into the Victorian, soot-covered back-alleys of a London often avoided by reputable adults. But aside from receiving their own chapter title in 1890’s The Sign of the Four, these poppets tended to stay underfoot.
French writers Olivier Legrand and J.B Dijan joined artist David Etien to shine a light on these junior sleuths in The Baker Street Four, the first volume of which was published in 2009 by Vents d’Ouest/Glenat Editions before spawning multiple sequels. Publisher Insight Editions brought the book stateside earlier this month, and it is absolutely charming.
Etien helped animate films including Persepolis and Lucky Luke before tackling Britain’s dark underbelly, and his lush colors and expressive body language are particularly impressive. He and the writers set Irregulars Tom, Billy and Charlie (you’ll have to buy the book to discover the fourth member) on the case of a man with a peculiar tattoo who kidnaps young girls. The story careens into some darker-than-expected territory, but always keeps a sense of clever optimism at heart.
Paste has a whopping 17-page preview of the volume’s first chapter, which leads the trio into a criminal underworld where a former acquaintance with a fondness for parrots waits. The kids will have to find an elementary solution to escape an early grave. The first volume of The Baker Street Four is currently available with the second due out on August 8th, and should appeal to fans of DC Comics’ Gotham Academy and BOOM! Studios’ Goldie Vance.
All Baker Street Four Art by David Etien. Click on images to expand.