Cover image for Dragman : a novel
Title:
Dragman : a novel
ISBN:
9781250172648
Physical Description:
330 pages : illustrations (chiefly color) ; 25 cm

On Order

Library
Copy
Location
Parts
R.H. Stafford Library (Woodbury)1On Order
Oakdale Library1On Order

Summary

Summary

From "Britain's most loved comics artist" comes a superhero epic like no other--an ordinary man gains superpowers by donning women's clothing, saving London and maybe even himself.

August Crimp can fly, but only when he wears women's clothes. Soaring above a gorgeous, lush vista of London, he is Dragman, catching falling persons, lost souls, and the odd stranded cat. After he's rejected by the superhero establishment, where masked men chase endorsement deals rather than criminals, August quietly packs up his dress and cosmetics and retreats to normalcy -- a wife and son who know nothing of his exploits or inclinations.

When a technological innovation allows people to sell their souls, they do so in droves, turning empty, cruel, and hopeless, driven to throw themselves off planes. August is terrified of being outed, but feels compelled to bring back Dragman when Cherry, his young neighbor, begs him to save her parents. Can Dragman take down the forces behind this dreadful new black market? Can August embrace Dragman and step out of the shadows?

The debut graphic novel from British cartoon phenomenon Steven Appleby, Dragman is at once a work of artistic brilliance, sly wit, and poignant humanity, a meditation on identity, morality, and desire, delivered with levity and grace.


Author Notes

Steven Appleby is an acclaimed British artist who has created comic strips for The Guardian, The Times, and the New Musical Express , among numerous other periodicals. He has also created and written a comedy series for BBC Radio 4; a highly successful animated television series, Captain Star ; and regularly exhibits paintings and drawings. He lives in London.


Reviews 3

Publisher's Weekly Review

In Appleby's offbeat fantasy, August Crimp is keeping a lot of secrets from his wife: since his teen years he's been dressing in women's clothes; when wearing them he has the ability to fly; and he used to be the superhero Dragman. This all takes place in a world in which superheroes only save those folks with the proper insurance coverage and human souls can be removed from the body and then bought, sold, or stored on tiny disks. An unknown murderer is targeting trans women, stealing their souls and dumping their bodies. (Notably, the violence of these scenes are retold in prose, reducing their sensationalism.) August, who thought he'd put his crime-fighting days behind him, gets dragged back by his old sidekick, Dog Girl, and Cherry, a girl he saved. The complex plot plays out with spirited color scenes of present-day action mixed with multiple flashbacks, shown in monochrome, including a few excerpts of news clippings and "officially licensed" comics about the exploits of their superhero milieu, with Appleby's loose, light comics reminiscent of Roz Chast and Quentin Blake. Despite its many twists and turns, the graphic novel's emotional heart lays with August's struggle to accept his own identity and its full power. Gender fluidity in this jaunty superhero story is trumpeted not only as a gift and a source of strength, but as something that might just save the world. (Apr.)


Guardian Review

Fans of Steven Appleby's brilliant cartoons know already of their unique energy; what Posy Simmonds calls his "nimble, nubbly line" seems almost to vibrate at times. All the same, his first long-form graphic novel, Dragman, will surely bring him massed armies of new admirers. Funny, sweet and emotionally true, it doesn't so much tiptoe on to fraught cultural territory as dance wildly across it. In this sense, at least, it has the added virtue of being at once both wildly transgressive and powerfully reassuring. Dragman tells the story of August Crimp, a husband and father whose transvestism, when the book begins, is a long-held secret. August discovered his passion for wearing women's clothes as a teenager when he found a stocking down the back of a sofa and instinctively pulled it on, his nerve endings tingling excitingly as he did so. But that wasn't all he discovered. Moments later, his head collided unexpectedly with a ceiling. Dressed as a man, you see, August is just an ordinary bloke. Dressed as a woman, however, he is Dragman, a superhero whose sequined frock allows him to fly through the sky like some glamorous, jet-powered mannequin. August is about to come out of superhero retirement. The long and short of it is that he and his old sidekick Dog Girl - her superpower is, you guessed it, her sense of smell - are going to have to save the world. Along the way, he must also save his marriage; his wife, Mary-Mary, having recently discovered his dress collection in a box in the attic, is furious at having been lied to. Both tasks necessarily involve his coming to terms with his transvestism, something that, it's probably important to say, his creator also once went through (in a lovely postscript, Appleby, also a husband and father, reveals that though he is content still to be called Steven, he has also been living full-time as a transwoman since 2007). It's a journey that is sometimes fraught and sometimes joyful; it's also one that involves quite a lot of jumping from high buildings and whizzing across streets and valleys at great speed. Appleby has torn up all the rules, and not only those that dictate, at this point in the 21st century, that a person's identity must be clearly labelled, pinned down like some dead butterfly. In his version of suburban Britain, superheroes are so ordinary (there's practically one on every corner), people take out special insurance to be able to pay them when they step in and save a life. Meanwhile, a scientist called Shulman Fripp has been awarded the Nobel prize for discovering the existence of the soul, with the result that the hard-up are sometimes tempted to sell theirs for hard cash. It's all marvellous fun; there's no preaching here, though Dragman effectively skewers the cult of celebrity and the everyday avarice that makes us all complicit in the dubious activities of multinational companies. Appleby's world is a pragmatic, warmly flexible sphere in which even superheroes are allowed to be complicatedly human. For him, the social media thought police do not, thank God, exist. They seem to have been laughed - or perhaps embraced - out of all existence. Appleby has torn up all the rules, and not only those that dictate, at this point in the 21st century, that a person's identity must be clearly labelled, pinned down like some dead butterfly. In his version of suburban Britain, superheroes are so ordinary (there's practically one on every corner), people take out special insurance to be able to pay them when they step in and save a life. Meanwhile, a scientist called Shulman Fripp has been awarded the Nobel prize for discovering the existence of the soul, with the result that the hard-up are sometimes tempted to sell theirs for hard cash. It's all marvellous fun; there's no preaching here, though Dragman effectively skewers the cult of celebrity and the everyday avarice that makes us all complicit in the dubious activities of multinational companies. Appleby's world is a pragmatic, warmly flexible sphere in which even superheroes are allowed to be complicatedly human. For him, the social media thought police do not, thank God, exist. They seem to have been laughed - or perhaps embraced - out of all existence.


Library Journal Review

Augustus Crimp is keeping three secrets from his wife: that he's only ever really comfortable while wearing women's clothing, that when he's dressed as a woman he can fly, and finally that he briefly served as a superhero dubbed Dragman by the media before quitting after finding the superhero community less than welcoming. When a serial killer begins preying upon trans women, Augustus is forced back into action. British cartoonist Appleby (The Coffee Table Book of Doom) imagines a world where a mysterious corporation offers people cash in exchange for their souls--leaving them dull and amoral--and superheroes only bother saving those who can afford to pay for their services. It's all very offbeat and might sound merely quirky reduced to a brief summary, but Appleby's first graphic novel is, in fact, an intricately plotted epic starring a huge cast of memorable characters and, most important, a tender, illuminating meditation on identity, as Augustus struggles for acceptance, and to accept himself. VERDICT Imaginative and uncommonly moving, with extra poignance provided via an afterword by the author detailing his personal connection to the text. [See Prepub Alert, 10/14/19.]