Like any media industry, publishing is constantly looking for the next big thing that will lure in a different kind of audience and engage them in ways that haven’t been tried before. The current trend is colouring-in books with very, very complicated patterns. These are aimed squarely at adults who need to do something relaxing with their hands or just fancy learning a new skill (and yes, colouring-in is a skill. Just ask a professional colourist).
Sherlock: The Mind Palace: The Official Colouring Book is a collection of very dense black and white drawings by Doctor Who comic strip artist Mike Collins. You probably know Mike’s work if you’ve ever picked up any comic book inspired by a popular genre franchise. What we have here is some rather good drawings of the stars of the TV show Sherlock in scenes that will remind you of various episodes of the TV series. Collins has made each illustration as dense as possible, so there are plenty of little spaces for you to colour in.
This is not a colouring book for crayons (though it may be a challenge to try). This is a job for your finest colouring pens and sharpies, or even a paint brush, which is rather the point. This should take you an absolute age to do. There’s also the glee of painting Benedict Cumberbatch bright green, if that’s what you fancy. The art is clear, distinctive and very pretty.
The blurb on the back promises ‘clues’ to be uncovered, but that isn’t really the case. You get the feeling that the BBC wanted to have some sort of clever puzzle theme with hard to decipher illustrations (perhaps in the style of Kit Williams Masquerade) but didn’t really give the artist time to do this. What we have instead is a Where’s Wally?-style spot the object challenge. Various pages have an incongruous thing (such as a phone or a piece of graffiti) that you have to find. Each one is related to one of the stories from the Sherlock TV show in some way, but a mystery it is not. Nor are any the pictures a ‘mind-palace’; Sherlock’s mind is a well organised machine, these drawings are way too busy for that.
Sherlock: The Mind Palace: The Official Colouring Book is a very pretty challenge for fans of colouring-in who also happen to be fans of the BBC’s Sherlock. It’s a great idea for a gift for someone, though you want to give them so good pens to play with at the same time.
SHERLOCK: THE MIND PALACE: THE OFFICIAL COLOURING BOOK / ARTIST: MIKE COLLINS / PUBLISHER: BBC BOOKS / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW