Meet the creator: Jay

In this week’s ‘Meet The Creator’ we talk to Jay, the artist behind the incredible manga adaptation of Sherlock.

Your likeness of these iconic actors are astounding – how do you bring them to the page?

JAY: You shouldn’t try to capture absolutely every detail. If I were to draw each individual wrinkle on Martin Freeman’s forehead or around his eyes, the manga version of John Watson would just look like he’s a very, very old man – which is wrong!

Instead, you have to get your first impression of that character down on paper, and only then compare it with the real person. For example, I always think of Watson as having round, soft eyes, but in fact they’re slightly almond-shaped and quite sharp. I have to find a middle ground between reality and “image”, until it looks perfect in the manga version.


Are there any details you have trouble with capturing?

JAY: I’m really fascinated by Sherlock’s eyes – whenever I’m drawing a close-up image, I have to make sure the shine of his eyes really works. I also have to take care when I’m drawing, because I always need to double-check the length of his face!

What’s it been like to create such a well-loved adaptation?

JAY: It’s a huge honor! Before I started this project I used to draw illustrations for a social media game, and fanart for various series. The chief editor of Young Ace (a monthly manga magazine in Japan) was a real Sherlock fan, and he just approached me with the project.

At first I wasn’t sure if it was okay to pick an unknown like me, and even when I was at fan conventions, going abroad for signings and interviews, it didn’t feel quite real!


How have you gone about adapting A Scandal In Belgravia?

JAY: I always try to be as true to the original as possible. For dialogue and other text I use the translated Japanese scripts for each episode. There are also Japanese subtitles, which sometimes provide a shorter or slightly different version of the same text, but I try to avoid using them unless it would affect the tempo of the manga.

When it comes to “directing” the story, it’s a bit different. There are plenty of scenes in the Sherlock TV series with long, slow shots. I can’t directly mimic that in the manga, because then every panel and face would look the same! Instead, I try to introduce different perspectives or approaches to what would – on the screen – be the same shot, of the same character, at the same angle.


Who would you say are your biggest artistic influences?

JAY: In terms of manga illustrators, I would say that I was most influenced by CLAMP (the all-female Japanese manga artist group behind such titles as Cardcaptor Sakura, xxxHolic, and Tsubasa: Resevoir Chronicle).

Among other illustrators, there’s also Mutsumi Inomata (character designer for the Tales Of video game series) and Range Murata (artist for The Animatrix and Blue Submarine No. 6).

Sherlock is more realistic than my usual art in order to fit the series, but you can still see elements of my original style. If I didn’t have a template – if I was just told “make a manga based on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s novels” – I’d definitely have had bigger problems with my designs!

The game is on! Pick up the Sherlock manga books in print and digitally today!


Sherlock: A Study In Pink from Forbidden Planet, Amazon, or digitally.


Sherlock: The Blind Banker from Forbidden Planet, Amazon, or digitally.


Sherlock: The Great Game from Forbidden Planet, Amazon, or digitally.


Sherlock: A Scandal In Belgravia Pt.1 from Forbidden Planet, Amazon, or digitally.