Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Return of the Dapper Men by Jim McCann and Janet Lee.

What You Need to Know:  This is a beautifully produced, magnificently illustrated graphic novel, that suffers slightly from an obtuse story. 

Summary:  In Andorev, where there is no time, robots live above ground, tending tasks that have lost their meaning.  Children live underground, constantly creating, never asking why.  The robots and the children do not mingle, except for Zoe, a silent girl robot and Ayden, a boy child who asks questions even if there are no answers.

Andorev changes forever with the appearance of the Dapper Men, 314 nattily dressed gentlemen who fall from the sky.  One of the Dapper Men, 41, finds Ayden and Zoe, and shows them what they have forgotten.  

What Works:  This book is breathtaking.  Lee's artwork is spectacular, combining hand coloring with decoupage to create a surreal, intricate landscape inhabited by distinct but similar characters.  Archaia has given this book the deluxe hardcover treatment, and the oversized hardcover does justice to the high caliber artwork on display. 

What Doesn't:  McCann, best known as a superhero writer, is attempting to tell a mythic fable here, and doesn't quite achieve it.  The motives of the Dapper Men, what happened to Andorev, the history of the children and robots are more implied than told.  As a result, this fairy tale story of lost time and eternal children will resonate more with adults than with children, making this an all ages title that most kids will struggle with. 

However:  Adults will adore this volume, it is unique in the graphic novel category, and a good example of an independent graphic novel.  

Who Would I Give This Book Too:  Art lovers, adults, fellow librarians.  

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