Click here for every Hey, That's My Cape column! Click here for part 1, part 2, and part 3 of our interview with the Return of the Dapper Men creative team! If a girl gushing over something she loves offends you, I suggest you click away now, because I’ve read Return of the Dapper Men.
I’d leave it at that but I don’t think my boss would like it too much if my column were only one sentence this week. But honestly? That’s the bottom line, I LOVED Return of the Dapper Men. Even though I’ve heard nothing but excellent things about the new graphic novel from Archaia Comics, I somehow managed to keep myself on the fringe of what it was actually all about so I was pleasantly surprised when I jumped in.
Return of the Dapper Men is something extraordinary, something that makes that little light inside of each and every one of us burn brighter. It may sound cheesy but there are just some stories that will do that to you and Jim McCann and Janet Lee set off fireworks with theirs.Little did I know, as I settled down to read the book in bed one night, it’s the perfect bedtime story. Set in the land of Anorev, Return of the Dapper Men can be compared to many children’s fantasy tales but is utterly unique in each and every aspect. Anorev is literally frozen in time. Clocks stand still and no one knows the meaning of past or future. This also means nothing has purpose. The inhabitants of the land consist of only two types of beings; children and robots. That is, until the Dapper Men fall from the sky.
More appropriately I should say they fly, taking a lesson from Mary Poppins, by using umbrellas. All 314 of them are identical in every way except for one that turns out to be a catalyst for a change in the world. Like the Dapper Men, one of the children is also unlike the others. While most of the children exist in an underground playground, Ayden spends most of his time above ground with the robots. Although he spends all of his time with just one named Zoe who herself is a standout. When the Dapper Men arrive, Ayden and Zoe are nudged even further into the right direction, a direction that proves they are special.
McCann manages to deliver a script that is both lighthearted and serious at the same time. Return of the Dapper Men is a magical fairytale intertwined with a philosophical lesson (which is something every good fairytale should have in my opinion). And Anorev could be an allegory for ones own head if you think about it. Sometimes we get too weighed down with what is and forget what made us who we are. McCann helps us remember to remember.
As if McCann’s writing wasn’t enough, the world of Anorev flourishes instantly with the addition of Lee. I’ve never seen art like this before. I was stopped in my tracks the first few pages completely in awe. And this from a woman who never drew comics before! She’s already a talented gallery artist but it’s no small task to adjust to sequential art. With a little guidance from McCann she picked it up in no time and surprised even him.
After seeing her art process in the rear of the book I became even more impressed. To create some backgrounds she paints a large block of wood and then glues a cutout penciled and inked page on top, varnishing everything to seal it. As McCann says, it’s a ready-to-hang gallery piece at that point but it still must be scanned to continue the process. Unless you have a trained eye you’d never imagine this much work (and more) went into this gorgeous art, it looks effortless.
The icing on the cake of Return of the Dapper Men is one hugely popular dapper man himself, Project Runway’s own Tim Gunn. He wrote the introduction for the book and shows just as much passion for it as I think I’ve shown in previous paragraphs. And it’s not about the fashion of the book, although I’m sure he got a kick out of that, he truly has a love for first-class storytelling.
Return of the Dapper Men is a fairytale for a new generation. I want to give this book to everyone I know with children this holiday season. It’s certainly something I can see being passed down generations and enjoyed by all. I’ll definitely be reading it to my nieces on our next girls’ night and I hope it sticks with them just like Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland, and others, stuck with me.Are you excited for the Return of the Dapper Men?