The Return Of The Dapper Men is one of the best comic book experiences that I have had in years. I purchased the OGN, wonderfully bound into an over-sized book with a ribbon, at Half Price Books for only $10. Any experience that begins with a deal that good is bound to leave the person involved with great joy. As I poured over the beautiful pages of Janet K. Lee art and saw a different side of Jim McCann, who I had become familiar with from Hawkeye books and Ifanboy podcasts, I couldn’t help but be pleased. The sweet little story of Dapper Men left you, on the whole, satisfied. But it also planted a virus that left you craving quality of a similar ilk. One brief pop over to Youtube.com and a search of Janet K. Lee confirmed that she was a masterful artist, but that the sequel to Dapper Men wouldn’t be out for a while. Her complicated and somewhat unique artistic process for Dapper Men was as time consuming as it was beautiful. As I put down The Return Of The Dapper Men after a second reading, I thought “Well, that was good,” and laid all cravings and expectations aside.
You can imagine my excitement while perusing this week’s comic book shipping list, when I saw that Jim McCann and Janet K. Lee were launching a new monthly series called “Lost Vegas.” Anything with the name “Vegas” gives me pause as I am somewhat of an American prude, preferring copious amounts of blood and violence to even the hint of sexuality. The comic book industry seems to be trying desperately to lead people around by their sexual organs and that offends me. The word, “Vegas,” suggests promiscuity, gratuitous nudity, and hyper-sexualized plot devices. But as I drove to Lone Star Comics Plano, I thought to myself “Jimmy wouldn’t do that to me. He loves fashion-type stuff and Janet’s designs for her character’s clothes are much more beautiful than any nude. We will be ok.” I showed up, paid my $3.50 +tax for admission and in a few short pages, I was in (or “on”) Lost Vegas.
Lost Vegas is a tour de force of beautiful art-renditions of aliens and galactic situations. Janet K. Lee is no slouch, even if each page doesn’t have multiple layers and steps to completion. Her rank and file aliens even have a distinctive look. Everything is just so bright and expansive. I was amused at the scene in the elevator with all of the hologrammed servants. I could just see her groaning a the idea of drawing 500 similar characters in one scene again (Dapper Men had hundreds of dapper gentleman on one page and was super labor-intensive). I felt like our leading man was very “Dapper” himself. Janet does a great job with realistic facial expressions on humanoid and alien alike. She doesn’t shy away from small and intricate panels or huge multi-character panels. Her art style is fearless and shows little defficiency. She’s just really justifying her Eisner award with this stunning follow-up performance. It’s like a victory lap.
Jim McCann is still a good writer and the childlike joy that he exhibits really comes across the page. In a “Saga-saturated” market, everybody is looking for the next big thing. Everyone wants that quirky world that’s so sustainable that it can carry multiple stories and encourage the reader to just get lost. Jim’s on the right track with Lost Vegas. This became apparent when I complained about this book to a friend saying, “It seems like the parts that I really liked, they jumped off of too quickly and ran as fast as possible at the parts that I didn’t care about. If they slowed down and fleshed out ANY of it, I would probably love it.” I said this with the thought echoing through my brain “I wish that I could see the Lost Vegas operate normally for a whole issue before it gets all heist-ish.” When I re-examine that thought, I realize that I am wishing that I could read an entire issue of a comic book about slaves working… That must be a pretty deep world if I want to spend more time just to watch people work in it. My complaint, when looked at in the mirror was actually a compliment. House wins!
I would highly recommend jumping into this series. It seems like it is going somewhere. After my first reading, I felt a little discouraged with the lack of plot development, but if you are a comic book reader, you know that it is almost always better when writers don’t pander to a perceived lack of intelligence. My second reading yielded much more appreciation for the concept as a whole. You are dropped in, knowing very little and that’s not a bad thing. Granted, if some of the strings aren’t tied up by the end of the series, that will be a mark against it, but Lost Vegas seems to be on the right track. You can purchase the first issue of Lost Vegas at your local comic book store or do what I did and grab it from Lone Star.
~ Scott Deaux ~