Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Return of the Dapper Men

Return of the Dapper Men by Jim McCann and Janet Lee

Enter a world in between time, where children have played so long it's almost become work, machines have worked so long they have begun to play, and all the clocks have stopped at the same time. This is how this land has remained, until 314 dapper-looking gentlemen rain down from the sky and set off in different directions to start the world anew. Now Ayden, the only boy to still ask questions; Zoe, the robot girl all other machines hold dear; and the Dapper Man known only as "41" must discover what happened that made time stop, understand what their true places are in this world, and learn what "tomorrow" really means. The sun is setting for the first time in memory, and once that happens, everything changes!

The Return of the Dapper Men is a visually stunning fairy tale that combines steampunk with fantasy and science fiction with Renaissance style, brought to life from the minds of award-winning playwright and comic book writer Jim McCann (New Avengers: The Reunion) and critically acclaimed visual artist Janet Lee. Together they have created a world where J.M. Barrie, Lewis Carrol, and Maurice Sendak meet Jim Henson and Tim Burton. All sharply dressed in a pin-stripe suit and a dapper bowler hat. -Plot summary borrowed from Goodreads

Since I diverged from the "spooky" theme to post about the Steampunk anthology already, I thought I might squeeze in another off-theme book. This graphic novel is honestly a piece of art. If you are interested in reading it, please do yourself a favor and read from a hard copy rather than an ereader. This way, you will get to appreciate the whole effect of the book's construction, from the slightly textured cover, to the endpapers, to the bonus artwork at the back of the book. And don't miss the introduction from, slightly oddly, Tim Gunn! I'm not one hundred percent clear on why Project Runway's fashion guru and dispenser of calm was asked to write the introduction, although Jim McCann describes him as "the original dapper man" on the dedications page. Anyway. 

The art is gorgeous and stunning, the story is enchanting, and this work is an ode to so many good things: stories, being yourself, silliness, wisdom, and nice warm cups of tea. As stated in the summary, this work would certainly appeal to fans of J.M. Barrie, Lewis Carrol, Tim Burton, etc. I would add Neil Gaiman and Norton Juster to the list, and I can't believe that no other reviews have pointed out how endearingly similar the Dapper Man known as "41" is to a certain Doctor....

This is a must for fans of Steampunk, graphic novels, or anyone interested in but weighed down by the dystopian trend.

Monday, November 21, 2011


Steampunk!: An Anthology of Fantastically Rich and Strange Stories  edited by Kelly Link and Gavin J. Grant

Imagine an alternate universe where romance and technology reign. Where tinkerers and dreamers craft and re-craft a world of automatons, clockworks, calculating machines, and other marvels that never were. Where scientists and schoolgirls, fair folk and Romans, intergalactic bandits, utopian revolutionaries, and intrepid orphans solve crimes, escape from monstrous predicaments, consult oracles, and hover over volcanoes in steam-powered airships. 

Here, fourteen masters of speculative fiction, including two graphic storytellers, embrace the genre’s established themes and refashion them in surprising ways and settings as diverse as Appalachia, ancient Rome, future Australia, and alternate California. Visionaries Kelly Link and Gavin J. Grant have invited all-new explorations and expansions, taking a genre already rich, strange, and inventive in the extreme and challenging contributors to remake it from the ground up. The result is an anthology that defies its genre even as it defines it. -Plot summary borrowed from Goodreads

I've been interested in Steampunk for a long time in a sort of vague "well my friends are into it, and I like Victorian clothing and twisty copper/bronze metalwork, so maybe I like Steampunk?" way. When I saw this anthology on the shelf, and noticed that it included stories by some of my favorite authors (Garth Nix, Holly Black, Libba Bray), I thought I would give it a shot. I'm glad I did.

There is a great mix of stories here: some funny, some adventurous, several at least slightly creepy and nearly all will kickstart your imagination. There is something for everyone here, and I really enjoyed that the editors included two graphic stories. If you are already a fan of the genre, or want to get a better feel for it, I would definitely recommend this anthology.

NB: I am soooo not a Steampunk expert. From my limited knowledge, I can tell you that you might enjoy the genre/movement/fashion trend/scene if:

-You are a fan of Westerns, Sci-Fi, and/or Period Pieces in general
-You enjoyed The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (film adaptation, not graphic novel), The Golden Compass (film version),  Howl's Moving Castle (the Hiyao Miyazaki film adaptation), Sherlock Holmes (the one with Robert Downey Jr.), Wild Wild West, Last Exile, or other works from this list
-Corsets and full skirts sound like fun everyday wear (I know they do to me!)
-You enjoy top hats, goggles, pocket watches, bronze, copper, brass, tubes, gears, automata, clockwork, difference engines, alternate histories, and of course, steampowered mechanical... things

For more info on the genre, check out Steampunk.com or go to Etsy and just do a search for "Steampunk." There are thousands of examples of gorgeous hand-made jewelry, fashion, statues, paintings, odd little things with gears, and more.

Monday, November 14, 2011

It's here it's here, it's finally here!

Fellow Mockingjays, rejoice! The Hunger Games trailer has arrived!

So? What do you think?