Sunday, December 12, 2010

Return of the Dapper Men HC

Jim McCann & Janet Lee

Return of the Dapper Men is an original graphic novel about a land where time has stopped, populated by children who don't grow up, but live and play in an underground city, while robots inhabit the houses up above.  Nothing progresses, but one human boy and one robot girl, Ayden and Zoe, aren't content with the way things are, and are eager to change things, despite the ignorant children who chide them.  That change comes quickly when dapper men appear in the sky.  McCann weaves a story that feels timeless (and, well, is) and feels more like a fairytale than a comic book.  There are fun characters, such as the robot Fabre obsessed with a clockwork angel that stands motionless in the sea.  McCann has created a fine, imaginative world with a nice history and backstory.  But really, it's that amazing art by Janet Lee that makes this book stand out so much.  I was fortunate enough to see the wooden blocks of art that make up this graphic novel first-hand at C2E2 last year, and I knew then that they were something special, as they were really just gorgeous.  Here, Archaia has done justice to the art by releasing it in this oversized hardcover, where the illustrations and vibrant colors have room to breathe and be appreciated.  There's a feature in the back of the book that describes Lee's painstaking process of producing this art, including cutting out lumber and painting the wood with the background colors before putting the paper illustrations over it (minus some parts of panels cut out to show off the paint on the wood).  This is a real labor of love and you can tell from all of the different pieces that come together for one lovely final product.

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