The Year’s Best-Dressed Graphic Novel

Return of the Dapper Men HC FinalChapter 16 asked me to have  a chat with Jim McCann and Janet Lee in order to get to the bottom of their new graphic novel Return of the Dapper Men. The book has been selling out following a wave of rave reviews and this wide-ranging chat included talk about the Big Bang, the nature of time, innocence, experience and the nature of the relationship between men and their machines:

Can you hear a buzzing sound? No, it’s not Rudolph’s nose on the fritz. This is a holiday surprise that finds two book creators with Nashville connections giving Santa a run for his sleigh with what looks to be one of the season’s hit holiday gifts.

Although their celebrated new book takes place in a fantastical world, Jim McCann and Janet Lee both trace their roots to Nashville. McCann, a native Nashvillian, moved to New York in 2004 to become a successful comic book author, penning pages for X-Men, New Avengers and other Marvel Comics titles. Lee lives in Music City where her art shows in local galleries and coffeehouses. Together, this dynamic duo has taken the winter shopping season by storm with one of the most sought-after titles to hit the holiday shelves.

Having been hailed as an “instant classic” by USA Today, Return of the Dapper Men has also been added to the Holiday Gift Guides of both The New York Times and Publisher’s Weekly. The first 10,000 book run of the handsome, hardcover, graphic novel was sold-out by distributors in twenty-four hours and if anything is working against the book during the year’s busiest shopping season it’s that demand is outstripping production.

Return of the Dapper Men is set in a world called Anorev, a place where time has stopped, children never grow old, and bedtime never comes. However, everything changes one day when a multitude of well-dressed gentlemen fall from the sky to set things right. What follows is a tale of destiny shared by a young boy named Ayden, a robot girl called Zoe and a wily, wise Dapper Man who seems to know more than he’s letting on.

Chapter 16: You’re story begins at the very beginning of all things — The Big Bang. It’s a real knockout opening sequence. What inspired it?

McCann: We actually begin just as time is about to start up again, and then we go back to the beginning. I wanted to give a sense of history. Janet’s art is perfect to really sell a lot of those images with minimal words. We also sort of ease the reader not only into the world of Anorev, but into the world of sequential storytelling. Those first sixteeen pages or so read more like an illustrated children’s book than anything, which was a very deliberate choice. It’s all about beginnings, in a way.

Chapter 16: Speaking of beginnings, ‘Dapper Men is introduced by Project Runway’s Tim Gunn. How did that dapper man get involved?

McCann: I had the pleasure of meeting Tim when Marvel was putting together a comic book miniseries set in the world of high fashion and modeling called Models, Inc. Tim graciously allowed Marvel to write and draw him into a story where the best dressed man in a suit donned the best suit in super hero comics — Iron Man — to “fight crimes against fashion.” I was in PR at the time for Marvel, so Tim and I did a number of events and signings together. He lives in the same neighborhood as me here in Manhattan, so we would ride the subway home together, talking and laughing and bonding. We have developed a very special and close friendship for which I am incredibly thankful. He’s one of the most genuine men I know…


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