Anorev is a place where people and machines have forgotten how to remember. One day there was a “tick” but no “tock” and day but no night and without yesterday there can be no tomorrow. Books are just convenient flat objects a child can stand on in order to reach things.
Ayden is a young boy living in Anorev who doesn’t fit in, and Zoe is a machine and his friend. This unlikely pair can feel that things are wrong but are unsure what is wrong and don’t know how to fix it. Everything changes one day when the Dapper Men descend from the sky and the “tock” returns.
Return of the Dapper Men would actually be at home in the children’s, young adult or adult graphic novel collections. Part of its beauty and charm is its layers of meaning. In many ways, it reminds me of Alice in Wonderland. The language is sometimes deliberately obtuse to give it layers of meaning, which allows children and parents enjoying this story together to enjoy it at different levels. It is gorgeously illustrated with a blend of simplicity and intricacy and some wonderful, complex paneling.